zontan's Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
| [February 21, 2008 04:54:38 AM]
Huzzah. My faith in the Mario series has been restored. Turns out I was right to give them the benefit of the doubt- after the first observatory dome, the levels get considerably more interesting. Apparently they did actually have competent level designers. It's still Super Mario 64 in space- there's no point in even trying to deny that. But they have introduced enough new things for me to keep my interest even though they're using the same tired old plot again and again.
Gameplay got significantly more interesting in the second and third observatory domes, including everything from blowing Mario around in a bubble to turning into a Boo to racing through space by pulling yourself along with Pull Stars. I became interested once again. Also, I actually got a plot piece- the Princess Peach look-alike, Rosalina, seems to actually have a story behind her. I am intrigued, because I really don't know anything at all about her and her Luma friends (the Luma are a race of little star people).
However, I did notice some issues with it, as well- particularly in the controls and handling. It could be argued that Super Mario Galaxy comes as close to 3D cardinality as any game ever has. It's not just move around flat plane and jump. It's move around sphere, jump, get attracted to some other object's gravity field, and suddenly you're upside-down. Unfortunately, the Wiimote and Nunchuk are not really designed to handle 3D cardinality, and thus there are some control issues where it's hard to tell exactly which way I ought to tilt the controls stick to make Mario go where I want him to. Also, the camera is independent, and while you can override it to some degree with the control pad, it's a little awkward to actually do so, so occasionally there are camera issues. So far it's just cases of times when the camera won't point in the direction I want it to. I haven't seen any actual camera glitches yet, which is good.
Another major thing I noticed about the gameplay: It's a Mario game. It probably does have a difficulty curve, but I hardly notice it. Especially on bosses, where I expect them to be difficult and then they're not. In my personal opinion, if a boss doesn't kill you the first time you face him, something is wrong with the boss. But this is merely a personal preference on my part- I simply prefer games which present a greater challenge than this one does. I am sure there are other people who would find Super Mario Galaxy to be just difficult enough for them.
The basic design of the game seems to be centered around one idea: "Lol. We have gravity. What kind of crazy stuff can we do with it?" Answer: Lots of crazy stuff. In some cases, gravity is completely arbitrary and makes a 180 degree switch if you cross a certain point. Places like these will have arrows on the walls showing which way gravity is pointing where, though, just so it isn't completely impossible. There are other places where if you cross to a wall at a certain point, it becomes the floor- anywhere else and it's still a wall. Many other places are simply miniature planets, a simple sphere that you can stand anywhere on. Other times it's disks where you can be rightside up or upside down. And every so often it's platforms where if you walk off the edge you die. Usually this is shown with corners- if there is a corner, you'll fall off. If the edge is rounded, you can walk on it. Although this is not an absolute rule, it's pretty reliable.
Level design was also a big thing in this game, because it has so many levels and they're all completely different. I've been in a beehive, a haunted house, a space junkyard, a mountain riddled with cannons, a figure-eight track of water suspended in midair, and a place that was essentially a giant bowl. Each level manages to have its own feel to it, while still remaining in the same style so they don't seem out of place being together in the same game. This is probably far harder to do than it sounds, and is definitely an integral part of level design- making levels that are different enough to be interesting, yet close enough that they don't violently clash with each other. Super Mario Galaxy does this quite well, I think. And this is probably the thing I'm going to think about when I make my own game, which has levels of its own, but rather lacks a complicated 3D gravity engine.
read comments (1) -
add a comment
| [February 21, 2008 02:37:28 AM]
In the latest installment of the Mario series, Mario has finally headed out to the final frontier: outer space. Princess Peach has been kidnapped (again) and it's up to Mario to save her. Trouble is, this time Bowser has a spaceship. Mario ought to get one of those. But since he doesn't have one, he is once again up to his old tricks of platforming through various planets and galaxies in search of Power Stars.
Super Mario Galaxy's opening cutscene is suspiciously familiar. A letter from Princess Peach brings Mario to her side, only to have the party interrupted by Bowser's untimely arrival and kidnap of Princess Peach. Mario tags along, but is quickly found and blasted into deep space. In an amazing lack of oxygen deprivation, he wakes up on another planet and is told by a Princess Peach look-alike that he must go to various galaxies in search of Power Stars to save the princess.
Have you noticed it yet? Yup, it's Super Mario 64. In space. Almost down to the last plot device.
I'm sure we're supposed to be very impressed with your gravity engine, Nintendo, but that's not an excuse to make the same game twice. After playing for about an hour and a half, I've beaten the first bowser challenge and have unlocked the next observatory, but I can't help but already be bored. It's standard-issue Mario platforming. They've added in a few new tricks, like sections where gravity is by no means fixed and you'll find yourself on the ceiling very easily, and the levels have changed from planes to spheres, but I can't help feeling like I've done it before. What new content there is they use well- but there's not nearly enough of it.
Not to say that the game is bad- it's a standard Mario game, and they're almost never bad. And certainly if you've never played Super Mario 64 it will be a new experience for you. And I can give it the benefit of the doubt for now- it's entirely possible that the first set of galaxies are the easy ones, and it will get better in later galaxies. And the one bonus mission I played- Rocky Road in the Sweet Sweet Galaxy- was genuinely challenging and I liked it. So the game definitely has potential. But we'll see. Perhaps I shall find new challenges in the second observatory.
add a comment
zontan's Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
Current Status: Playing
GameLog started on: Wednesday 20 February, 2008