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Super Mario Galaxy 2


No Invincibility Star Needed, It's Just That Awesome
In just a scant two years from the release of the original Super Mario Galaxy, Nintendo uncharacteristically cranked out a sequel to the madly popular original. While fans are typically only treated to one Mario game per life cycle of their recent mainstream consoles, Wii owners now have three to choose from. In Super Mario Galaxy 2, you are going to find a fairly identical approach to Marioís world as the previous title, yet with new power-ups and other fun surprises. The presentation is a familiar one as Marioís betrothed Princess Peach is kidnapped by a version of Bowser that can only be described as colossal. Imagine one of the gods in Sonyís God of War franchise to get a feel for the scale of Bowserís magnitude and you can tell Mario has some work cut out for him. Mario hops in his ridiculous starship and races around the galaxy to save her.



When you enter into Marioís world for the first time, you will be right at home. Stars, coins, green pipes and all the familiar levels are going to be presented along the way. Only this time, you have a familiar friend by the name of Yoshi tagging along. Our galloping green comrade gets his own array of power-ups as well. These power-ups affect the speed at which Mario navigate through a level, the heightened areas that Mario can reach and how much Mario can see in darkened areas. Itís definitely a welcome addition to the franchise and he works perfectly in the Galaxy style of gameplay.

There are upgrades to Marioís power-ups as well. Rock Mario allows the plumber to turn into a tough ball of stone to smash his enemies into the ground. A spring power-up allows him to jump incredibly high, a cloud version allows him to create cloud platforms to reach elevated areas and an invisible power-up allows Mario to travel through walls. You will also see the ridiculous Bee power-up return as well, probably my least favorite inclusion in the last SMG title.



Interestingly, the difficulty level seems amped up in this version of Super Mario Galaxy, likely paying homage to all the folks that mastered the original over the last two years. Fortunately, thereís a helpful addition for those seeing guidance through the varied levels. Itís essentially an auto-completion mode that pops up after Mario plummets to his death one too many times during the game. Granted, you have no chance at getting a gold star for completing the level, but you arenít forced into completing an overly frustrating level.

In this version of Super Mario Galaxy, the player has less freedom of choice when moving around between levels. It feels like the maps of the original titles in some respect and lays out a specific path to entering the next world. You are directed to locate a specific number of stars to move on. Fortunately, Nintendo has given you a way to alleviate the difficult path with the dynamic co-op mode. Similar to New Super Mario Bros, a second player can drop into your game at any time and help you collect coins for health purposes or pin enemies down so Mario can finish them off. Itís a creative way to get someone else to help out, although itís always more fun to control Mario instead.



Graphics

  • For a console that forgoes high-definition, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is quite stunning. You can tell the developers really polished up the graphics from the first title (which were already gorgeous) and pushed the envelope with the size of the levels this time around. The colorful design of Marioís world is extremely attractive and special effects light up the screen constantly.

  • If I had any quibble with the visual effects, there are slight frame rate issues in some of the larger worlds. Fortunately, they disappear almost as quickly as that appear as Mario races through a level. The camera also suffers from an occasional lapse of judgment, but nothing that alters the gameplay dramatically. That being said, the camera system is vastly improved from the last version of Super Mario Galaxy.

Audio

  • If you are a long time fan of the Mario saga, you are going to immediately notice some old favorite tunes that pop up from Mario games of past. Similar to the last title, the orchestral work is very polished and offers a broad, grand feel to Marioís epic adventure. As with any Mario game, the musical attachments to specific characters or levels are what animates them and SMG2 pulls this off.

  • Obviously, there are no voice actors to speak of in this Mario title. There are plenty of excellent sound effects though and the brand new enemies all have their own unique sounds, in life and death. Overall, every sound effect brings life into Marioís journey and successfully brings his work alive.

Conclusion

If you loved the first Super Mario Galaxy, you will adore the sequel. It builds on the strong foundation that the original laid out. Add in the new power-ups, our wonderful green dinosaur and a wild challenge mode to get an amped up version of Marioís world. I really havenít had this much fun playing a Mario title since his first entry into a 3D world, Super Mario 64. Fans of the long time franchise will be enamored with the amazing level of entertainment that SMG2 exudes and encouraged to push on to get their gold stars in each level. You are looking at about 30 hours of entertainment for the average player and 50 to 60 hours for the most dedicated Mario fan to collect everything. (There are also rewards for collecting everything, but I wonít spoil them here) Donít hesitate to pick up Super Mario Galaxy 2 immediately as it is well worth the full retail price.

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