There was a time before the release of Nintendo’s Wii that the console was known simply as “Revolution.” A fitting title for the interactive controller setup, early results returned a rather mundane response. The various games created for the contraption were muddled by confusing, awkward controls, and the Wii was looking less like a revolution and more like another failed experiment by a recently disappointing company.

Julie Rowe

But like nature, Nintendo found a way. The system’s greatest strength proved to be Nintendo’s in-house releases, be it the ability to download old classics on its Virtual Console or Nintendo’s own innovations. “Metroid Prime 3: Corruption” was the first inclination that the system had what it takes to pull its weight. With focused attention on the controls, the game remedied many of the issues with prior games. So with the system finally finding its stride and the company reinvigorating its name, it was time for Nintendo to do what Nintendo does: release the complement Super Mario game to its new system.

The result, “Super Mario Galaxy,” the famed franchise’s latest addition, is unquestionably the best game on the Wii and one of the best games I’ve ever played. It’s all there: a gorgeous, functional environment, interactive and intuitive controls, replay value and a fresh yet familiar storyline. What remains to be seen is the importance of “Galaxy” in the spectrum of game and console development.

A long time ago, in a ‘Galaxy’ far, far away: “Super Mario Galaxy’s” environment is entirely different from the one in previous Mario games. The game revolves around a floating space station that appears from a distance to be a psychedelic carousel hovering aimlessly in space. But the structure stands as the portal to galaxies near and far. As Mario collects scattered stars, giving the station the power to launch him further into space, new galaxies are unlocked for exploration and said star searching – remarkably similar to the castle/paintings system established in “Super Mario 64.”

He’s got that magnetic personality: Possibly the most interesting and innovative function of “Galaxy” is the way gravity functions in it. Most 3D platformers walk upside down on small objects floating in space (implying a horrible, plummeting-to-your-death end). But not “Galaxy.” The game thrives on these disorienting moments. The gravitational fields that apply to each orbiting sphere is just strong enough to hold you in while also allowing you to jump from one planet to the next in a game of intergalactic “Pong.”

Dancing with the stars: Watching someone play “Super Mario Galaxy” is a bit like chaperoning a middle school dance and watching the kids’ stilted moves. Controlling Mario is simple: use the joystick on the nunchuck to control his movements while attacking with a shake of your other hand. But using the Wiimote, the player controls a star-shaped pointer that collects “star bits” used for picking off too-feisty enemies. Mastering the game’s controls lies in the fact that it uses the Wii’s unique system but does not wholly rely on it. But the various arm movements are only half the fun. The rest lies in watching players tilt and turn their heads, trying to correct the disorienting camera angles as Mario traverses around the small planets.

Is bigger actually better?: The only real complaint to file against “Galaxy” is its playing length. Any moderate gamer can beat the game in one long night of play. Its replay value is remarkably high, though, since more is revealed after the game’s completion and through further playing.

Get that Princess some Tae Bo lessons: Seriously. The storyline of “Galaxy” revolves around the conniving Bowser once again abducting helpless Princess Peach – typical Mario fodder. And yet it would be wrong to have the game designed any other way. Mario has his damsel and will stop at nothing to save her – an innocuous, outmoded plot, but it once again feels reinvented.

The Nintendo revolution?: So is “Super Mario Galaxy” truly a revolution in gaming? It was widely rumored to be one, but the game’s lasting effect remains to be seen. It employs aspects of interactive environments and controls not yet introduced in other gaming, but how that might affect future games is unclear. What’s known, though, is that “Super Mario Galaxy” is undeniably an incredible game that will be difficult to top and stands as the greatest Mario game in an epic franchise of invention.

Super Mario Galaxy



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