Returning to Super Mario Galaxy 2

Nintendo’s digital re-release of the Wii classic is truly timeless.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 01/19/2015 09:00 1 Comment     ShareThis

Super Mario Galaxy 2 came out in 2010. Though its actual release was in the Spring of that year, for the sake of discussion, let’s just round up and say it’s already been five years since the game dropped. Five years! In the 1,825 days that have elapsed since, Nintendo has moved on from Wii to Wii U, and already graced fans with the exceptional Super Mario 3D World. While an incredible game in its own right, going back to replay Galaxy 2 has been a real eye opener. Re-released as a digital download on the Wii U eShop this past Wednesday following the latest Nintendo Direct broadcast, fans can download the game for an economical $10 for the next week– and they really, really should. After all, it’s not everyday that Nintendojo gives a game a whopping A+, but that’s exactly (and rightly) what we rated Galaxy 2 in our review.

A common complaint about Wii was that the system didn’t output its visuals in HD. Anyone who played Nintendo’s first-party releases, however, knows that the company worked miracles with its so-called inferior hardware. Booting up Galaxy 2 over the past couple of days, I’ve been astounded at how strong the graphics still look. There’s no arguing that 3D World is on a whole other level of visual caliber, but Galaxy 2 remains a feast for the eyes. Environments are large, varied, and packed with detail, and some clever lighting and texture implementation makes everything pop. Joined with wonderful character and enemy designs, and the game is still completely contemporary looking– it’s just slightly fuzzy. The orchestrated music is also some of the best in the series, resplendent and sweeping in a way that matches the sense of grandeur the Galaxy series is known for.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Screenshot - Explosive

When I played through 3D World, I felt that the tweaks to the controls had finally resulted in the truest representation of 2D Mario platforming in a 3D environment, and I still stand by that assertion. That being said, Galaxy 2 controls smoothly and silkily in its own way, and I find it almost impossible to declare one style better than the other. With the Wii Remote and Nunchuk in hand, Mario feels like an actual extension of my own mind when I’m playing the Galaxy games. The controls are the definition of precision, and Galaxy 2 effortlessly switches between 2D and 3D gameplay in a way that would make almost any developer blush. Sure, some might deride how overpowered Mario’s long jump is, or that the extra jump the Luma provides with a flick of the Wii Remote lessens the challenge, but I wholeheartedly disagree. Especially because Galaxy 2 is tough as nails no matter what a player tries to do.

Before my Wii U had to be sent to Nintendo the first time, and I lost all of my Wii save data, I was the proud bearer of 242 Power Stars in my Galaxy 2 save file. I worked hard for that prestige, and I’m thrilled working to get it again. Galaxy 2 doesn’t blink as it tests Super Mario fans in ways that they never have (well, to the point when the game came out, at least) in a 3D Mario title. From the very first batch of levels, Nintendo challenges players to be their best. Mastering the long jump and Luma double-jump are more a matter of survival than anything else in Galaxy 2. Yet, as demanding as I might be making the game sound, there’s a grace and flow to it all. Played properly, Galaxy 2 is like a ballet or dance between death traps and Goomba charges. The outright euphoria of making flawless runs through stages isn’t anything new in a 3D Mario game, but its done best in this one.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Screenshot - Yoshi

My biggest disappointment with 3D World was that the game didn’t have an abundance of clever boss battles. Galaxy 2 does not have that problem. It’s almost confounding to the think that Nintendo managed to stuff as many bosses as it did into Galaxy 2. What’s more, they’re well-designed and enjoyable boss battles. Whether it’s drilling through the dirt to smash Digga-Leg’s glass Power Star prison, to popping Gobblegut’s “bellyache bulges,” I continuously am reminded of just how on fire Nintendo’s designers must have been as they created the bosses for this game. Whatever direction Nintendo goes with the next 3D Mario title, I sincerely hope it looks to Galaxy 2 for direction with the boss fights, if not just outright lift some from the game.

A lot of folks continue to cry out for Super Mario Galaxy 3, and reconnecting with Galaxy 2 as I have been the past couple of days, I can’t say I blame them. 3D World and Land both created continuity between the 2D and 3D controls of the Mario games, but there’s a magic to the Galaxy series that I think both of those titles lack. Galaxy 2 is pure, unbridled spectacle, wonder, and fun. It’s level after level of staring slack-jawed at the screen after grabbing a Power Star and asking myself, “did I really just do that? And it’s not even the halfway point of the game?” It’s easy to be hyperbolic about things that we love, but there is no exaggerating just how exquisite Galaxy 2 is. It doesn’t have the moving narrative that the first Galaxy game has, but that is quite honestly the only complaint I can levy against the game. Anyone with a Wii U needs to download Galaxy 2 without hesitation. Whether it’s for the first time or not, it demands to be played, and those who do will be happy they did. For $10, it’s almost like stealing the thing.

One Response to “Returning to Super Mario Galaxy 2

  • 45 points
    lilmac says...

    I am new to Mario Galaxy and Mario Galaxy 2. I played through Mario Galaxy last year and was amazed at the sheer variety of levels and objectives. Why did it take me so long to get around to playing this game? I can see why people view Mario Galaxy as the spiritual successor to Mario 64.

    The creative streak continues with the superior Mario Galaxy 2 which I am currently playing through. Like with its predecessor, I am thoroughly impressed by the number of different game play elements the designers were able to cram into this title. Every level seems fresh and new.

    Mario Galaxy 2 is the most innovative game I’ve ever played.

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