SUPER MARIO GALAXY Monday 05 December, 2011

MARIO_GALAXY_WEB

It’s-a me! In space! How-a can I breathe?

It’s 4:30 am in the Nintendo boardroom, Japan. Shigeru Miyamoto and the rest of the team have been at the sake since 9am the previous morning. In the middle of the table is a piece of paper which reads “Mario in ……..”. They have been trying to come up with the next Super Mario game idea for 7 months. One of the producers, fueled by a killer idea and his own body weight in alcohol, takes up the pen. In the gap he wrights “space”. Miyamoto looks at the paper. It reads “Mario in space”. As Miyamoto raises his pen to strike the producer who wrote it he trips and scrapes his pen along the bottom of the paper, then passes out. The rest of the team, seeing the squiggle as a sign of acceptance set about making what, on paper, sounds like the WORST idea for a Mario game ever…

…except it’s not is it? It’s bloody brilliant.

Ever since Mario made the leap into the third dimension he has been undisputed king of the “next-gen” platformer. The old 80’s and 90’s kids battle of “who is better, Mario or Sonic” has long since passed and anyone found to still be in support of Sonic is immediately tested for mental illness.

Super Mario Galaxy (code name “Mario in Space”) starts off very grounded in the mushroom kingdom with the carnival of the stars about to begin. Just as Mario is running from a place that very clearly had been built after Mario 64 (because in that game there were only hills in the place where this town now stands). Bowser has once again invested his money, that he got some how, into a massive ship that can go into space. Kind of makes sense now I come to think of it- if you are having your ass handed to you all the time by some plumber you really only have two choices; 1) Stop hanging around pipes and 2) Buy a space ship to get off whatever planet that sink un-blocker lives on. So thats what he’s done. Although before he sods off into the cosmos, he’s going to take the Princess Peach with him…again. What’s the subtext here I wonder? What does he need her for anyway? Anyone question this? Why a massive dinosaur lizard thing wants a slim, female, human princess? Is he going to…? Shit’s getting pretty dark at Nintendo and no one is paying proper attention. Anyway- he runs, you follow. And so Mario’s adventure in space begins!

The level structure mirrors the successful template of the Mario 64 and Sunshine “Hub” world. Each “World”, or as they are here “Galaxies”, has 3 or so stars to be found in them. Occasionally a random event comet will appear and present a special challenge in that Galaxy for an extra star. You enter a galaxy- complete the task described by mushrooms or little star creatures in the level, maybe kill something and get the star. Get more stars – get access to more Galaxies. Get enough stars, get to fight the home invading Dino-lizard. Win.

The beauty of this Mario game is… it’s beauty. Honestly the art design for this game is wonderful to behold, for a Wii game that is. It’s not exactly fair to judge it against the Xbox 360 and PS3            visual capability. It’s sort of like trying to judge two steroid pumped athletes and a crippled Dalmatian dog in a race. Not fair, not smart and the Dalmatian looks like its been run over by a horse. There’s many a time in the game where you whizz though the stars to the next planet and you have a moment to look around and go “damn, someone put a lot of effort into this”. The star vistas are beautifully drawn and the textures on the planets and items (although sometime a bit fuzzy) have been carefully crafted to suit a very well designed game. Platforming around in space looking for stars can sound a bit like looking for a grass stem in a haystack. That’s because thats exactly what it is. Seems mario is very picky about what stars he takes though, which is a pity because if he wasn’t I could have finished the game in about a minute with a total of 345’879’321 stars (aprox). They have to be glowing gold and have a face on them. I wonder what the careless git has done with those 120 I got for him last time in Mario 64?

The Wii has motion controls. Mario Galaxy does not. Therefore Super Mario Galaxy is a good game. Well I say none but it does have a bit where you use the Wii remote like a joystick to pilot a giant ball that you ride on, you waggle the remote to spin and you can point to catch star bits (which are a rubbish alternative to coins). That’s about it though. Smart move if you ask me- motion controls really have no place in a platform game and the boys at the big N must have realised this. Either that or they thought they were making it for the gamecube and in the last week of development crowbarred in some token motion controls to justify it’s Wii release (Oh Hai Twilight Princess). Seems the R&D department has been working overtime on the camera positions as you will hardly ever die because of the fault of the camera, which is a stark contrast to Mario 64 where “spazmatic” cameras where responsible for 87% of deaths.

If you own a Wii and for some bizarre freakish reason have not yet got this game then go out right now and get it. Unless the shops are closed. Im not encouraging breaking and entering; wait until its open, then buy it. You can add it the other 6 good games you have for the Wii…and there you go, you have a complete set. Everything else is trash.

Written by Brown from www.quiteenjoy.co.uk for Geek&spell.co.uk

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