| Burned through Super Mario Galaxy in just a few days. I had no intention of doing this, but since this is easily, easily one of the best games I've ever played, I didn't want to put it down. Why is SMG so awesome?|
For starters, it is so awesome because I didn't expect it to be so awesome. I didn't have low expectations, but can I say I thought it would be 'just another Mario game?' As in, of course it'll be fun, collect all the stars, have some nice platforming, forget about it after I'm done. Maybe because I haven't played a Mario game all the way through since Super Mario 3, haha. Oh wait, and Paper Mario, on what was it, Gamecube? And of course MarioKart and Mario Party, but those don't count. Anyway, SMG blew my expectations out of the water. I had no idea a Mario game could do the things this one did, and it uses the Wii hardware oh so well.
It's so HAPPY. The colors are bright, the characters are all cute and whimsical, and it's all about collecting stars in order to power this house so that it can fly to the center of the galaxy so Mario can save Peach from Bowser. In the process, you and your Toads, Lumas, Mother, and Luigi discover a bunch of other galaxies that are SO CREATIVE. I cannot convey how amazing the level designs are.
In SMG, Mario can, with different costumes, shoot fireballs, become a bee and fly, become a ghost and go invisible, walk on water and ice skate. He also has a cool spinning attack/jump higher move, his signature ground pound, and a few various types of jump, including wall jumping a la Prince of Persia. With all these moves, Mario can get to every nook and cranny of the levels, where there is sure to be coins, star bits, 1-ups, secret stars, etc. Stuff is hidden everywhere. You will never find it all. And every time you die, it's all back again. The major pick-ups in the game are coins, which restore life and are your 'score,' a totally pointless thing except for showing off and competing with friends, and star bits, which you feed Hungry Lumas.
You pick up star bits with the Wiimote. There's a Luma (your cursor) that you fling around the screen to pick them up. It works so well and I feel really coordinated after playing the game. I didn't know which hand to use for which controller at first and it felt awkward, but I settled on right hand Wiimote, left hand joystick, and got the hang of it with some practice. So I'd be running with my left hand in one direction, and moving the Wiimote all around the screen in other directions picking up star bits. And always shaking the Wiimote to spin. It's cool how players have to learn to coordinate their hands. Mouse and keyboard this is not.
Enemies are fun and varied. Boss battles are also extremely fun, easy to figure out, and varied. I was worried that the game would be too easy, but it's not! You can make it easy by only doing what you have to, or there is the option that you put on yourself to try to collect that hard-to-reach coin or figure out the puzzle in this secret area to get a star, or whatever.
In addition to the main story, which you can complete once you've collected 60 stars (at this point, I still had almost 2 whole universes left to play through!), there are numerous other challenges to extend play. There are 120 stars total (I think), and I aim to collect all I can because the game is just that good that I want to keep playing it. Different types of comets will enter the atmospheres of galaxies, and these types change the galaxies in certain ways. One type is a Cosmic Comet where you have to race a clone Mario through a level and beat him to the star. Another is a Fast-Foe Comet where all the enemies and moving terrain is sped up. Another makes you beat a speed run. Another (which makes the bosses super intense) is called a Daredevil Comet and you have to fight the last boss of the galaxy with 1 HP. Can't take any damage! And after beating the game, there is a purple comet where you have to collect 100 purple coins to get a star. I've only done two of them so far. The first was real easy and the second was nice and challenging, took probably 20 minutes to get it. These comets all add a ton of challenging replay value to these great levels. Totally glad to play through all these variations of the same levels (regular version, comet version, looking specifically for a hidden star, etc.) There's also something called the Trial Galaxies that I need one more hidden star to unlock, but that sounds intriguing too.
To switch topics to the story and characters again, why does Bowser kidnap Peach? He doesn't need her for anything. He's not interested in her romantically. He just always has to kidnap Peach, be Mario's arch-nemesis. But why does Mario even care? He's not a prince. Where is the prince anyway? If Peach is a princess, who is the prince? She and Mario aren't romantically involved either. And how does Bowser go about creating universes and controlling dark matter? Does he have a Ph.D in applied astro-physics? Bowser used to just hide Peach away in castles. Now he's playing god. What'll he do next time? And is this game a commentary on evolution? It definitely espouses evolutionary galaxy formation. Does Mama represent a creator? Were the writers influenced by Carl Sagan's books? So many questions, so little answers!
And that's Super Mario Galaxy. Incredible game really. Will continue getting the rest of the stars and enjoy doing it.
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