Saturday, 19 June 2010

Super Mario Galaxy 2 - Wii

The original Super Mario Galaxy rocketed our favourite plumber into orbit on an epic gravity-defying adventure quite unlike anything we had seen before.

Now, two years later, Mario is back in another star-grabbing, mind-twisting platformer, which improves on the original at almost every glorious turn, jump, leap and spin.

Of course, creating a sequel to one of the greatest videogames of all time is no easy task, but with Shigeru Miyamoto once again at the helm, Nintendo have delivered an astonishing piece of software by which all other platform games will now be judged.

While at first glance the game might seem nothing more than a by-the-numbers update to the original, there is far more to Mario's second galactic adventure than initially meets the eye.

Yes, the background story is the usual nonsense about evil Bowser kidnapping the hapless Princess Peach, but such is the joyous way new ideas and gameplay styles have been introduced, that you simply won't care.

Nintendo have gone to great lengths to streamline Mario Galaxy 2, re-introducing the familiar map which makes moving between star systems a much simpler and less time consuming affair than before.

What hasn't changed, though, are the tight controls, excellent camera system, and the ease of navigating Mario through the devious, but brilliantly realised levels.

Every new planet on Mario's adventure conjures up fresh gameplay twists as Nintendo constantly throw out new ideas challenging the player's perception about what to expect from a platform game.

While Nintendo have clearly raised the bar for level design, part of the game's magic lies in the various suit power-ups at Mario's disposal.

His bee, fireball, ghost and spring suits return, but his range of new abilities - and the way they have been woven into the fabric of the game - are equally special. Cloud Mario can conjure fluffy platforms to reach high points, while Rock Mario transforms into a rolling ball of destruction.

However, chief among his new powers is Yoshi. Mario's loveable dinosaur sidekick makes his long-awaited return to the 3D arena, having last been spotted at the end of the 1996 classic Mario 64.

Jumping on his back lets the player target enemies before unleasing Yoshi's sticky tongue to eat them. But that's not all - in one glorious level Yoshi samples the delights of a hot red pepper, causing the green dinosaur to rampage through a rollercoaster level full of twists, turns and gravitational challenges. Yoshi can also eat blue fruit, which inflates him, and a yellow fruit which turns him into a walking lantern.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is slightly tougher in places than the original game, but younger players needn't worry.

There's a generous amount of handholding thrown in to help Mario novices. Optional tutorials lead the player through the finer points, while the option for the game to complete sections is also available should the player fail a task multiple times. Your end reward for this computer-controlled assistance is a bronze star rather than a shiny gold one, but it at least shows players where they are going wrong.

Many people like to have a pop at the Wii due to its lack of graphical grunt, but Mario Galaxy 2 is a riot of bold, colourful visuals. It is a stunning looking title and also boasts dazzling water effects.

The soundtrack is more varied than the first game, with a brilliant arrangement of quirky tunes. Older gamers who remember the classic Super Mario World will grin like idiots when they hear some of its classic tracks again, while riding Yoshi is accompanied with the dinosaur's traditional bongo drum beat.

Super Mario Galaxy is quite an incredible achievement. It's jam packed with outstanding moments and trumps the original game thanks to its new power-ups and stunning level design.

It's not only the greatest platform game ever made, but it's quite possibly the finest game ever to appear on a home console. Recommendations don't come higher than that.

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