My reviews of modern games doesn’t just cover the current generation but also the previous one. I admit though that a lot of time has passed since that gen first game out so this game is over 10 years old now. But it remains a classic and one I call a work of art. So let’s fly into space with Mario’s most beautiful game ever.
Released in 2007 for the Nintendo Wii, Mario Galaxy has the plumber fly into space as this time rather than just kidnapping Princess Peach and some local annoyance, Bowser (gaming’s best dad) has set out to create his own galaxy as well, making him the most ambitious villain Nintendo have ever had (Ganondorf never went that far).
The game opens up with Mario on his way to Peach’s castle having been invited there for the Star Festival (and not “cake” apparently) but then as you run through the town in front of it Bowser attacks and uses a big UFO to steal the castle flying off into space. Mario is pulled along by gravitational forces, and rather than dying in the cold vacuum of space (that would be a rather grim way to start the game) he meets this cute little blobby star creature called a Luma.
After a wee test by the Luma and what is basically the tutorial level you are introduced to the best Mario character ever made Rosalina. She is the mother to the Luma and is the closest thing in the Mario universe to god (yes that’s right the most quintessential video game series in existence, their version of god is a woman). Mario needs to repower the cosmic observatory (the games hub world) by acquiring power stars and the grand stars so you can fly to the centre of the universe and defeat Bowser’s most ambitious plan ever.
This is a Wii game so the Wii mote is obviously used and mandatory but it’s not too intrusive. Most of Mario’s movements are done with standard button movements like normal. The Wii mote abilities include Mario’s new spin ability done by shaking the Wii mote, and being able to fire star bits (items you find all over the place) by aiming the Wii motes cursor at things. This cursor is used a few times for other things like pulling Mario to blue stars or picking up star bits just by pointing at them.
There are a few special stages that have unique controls that more take advantage of the Wii motes motion sensing and the like but the core game doesn’t push you to use it more than you’re comfortable with (a lot of early Wii games had it so tacked on or so forced to use it that it made playing them rather irritating) so at no point did I feel annoyed with the controls.
Unique to this game and its semi sequel is that Mario’s platforming now takes advantage of gravity mechanics. Many of the levels aren’t set on a single large world but lots of little floating ones, on these walking over the edge doesn’t have you fall to your death but rather walk all over the object as if running on a large floating sphere. There are the standard levels too but these smaller floating ones mean every time you land on a new platform it’s often an idea to check its underside for hidden goodies. Don’t worry the tutorial level at the start gets you up to speed with all the gravity jumping.
The worlds are for the most part very diverse but late on the game does feel like they rushed a bit with some of the worlds just being rehashed versions of the earlier ones. Some of it works like a version of the Bee galaxy that’s set in Autumn but there are others that just make me sigh, like the final big boss that isn’t Bowser just being a slightly harder version of an earlier world boss.
I have long held though that video games should be held up with the possibility to be considered art much like movies are and this game is one I would tout that as going “video games aren’t art? Ok you have Mario fly through space to orchestral music and tell me this isn’t art!” Yes I consider this game a work of art, everything in it I see as a master piece as music, movement and visual imagery all come together into many memorable moments. Yes the music is amazing, a wonderful orchestral track that you should right now look up online, I even have a CD of it (old Nintendo points reward can’t get them anymore I think) and is the best piece of Mario music only being challenged by Odyssey’s big band tracks.
The game rewards you for going the extra mile and completing everything in it. Some things are minor but very heartwarming such as unlocking Rosalina’s really touching back-story in the form of her telling bedtime stories to the Lumas. However the best reward comes for full completion. While Mario Sunshine had a rather underwhelming 100% completion reward Galaxy gives you one of the best. Completing the game with getting every star unlocks the ability to play as Luigi. That’s right Mario’s much better brother becomes fully playable. And complete the game and get all the stars with both brothers unlocks the Epilogue and a special photo that’s different if you run through that with Mario or Luigi.
Mario Galaxy is a must play game, I don’t care if you have to hunt down a Wii, you need to play this game.