Nintendo’s New Super Mario Brothers for the Wii, which came out in the UK last Christmas, was an excellent videogame that not only pleased gamers who had already been enjoying Mario titles for decades, but also younger players and family members who hadn’t previously had a good reason to take the plunge. The controls were simple, the gameplay was addictive and often extremely amusing, and it was a title that was perfect suited for all the family. As a result of that game’s many successes, any new fans will probably be eyeing up Super Mario Galaxy 2 with some interest, but also some confusion.
Because Super Mario Galaxy 2 probably looks pretty daunting to those who aren’t used to playing 3D platforming games, what with its precise analogue control system and hectic visual style. It’s a long way away from New Super Mario Brothers (which could be fully understood by anyone after a couple of seconds of play) but Nintendo have very cleverly bundled a tutorial DVD with their new game, which should undoubtedly prove to be an extremely smart move that will enable those who aren’t familiar with 3D Mario games (or even videogames in general) to learn the ropes with almost no fuss.
And trust us, it’s worth the effort. Quite how Nintendo have managed to better the original Super Mario Galaxy is a mystery (many Mario fans still rate it as the best ever Mario game, after all) but better it they have, and everyone who has a Nintendo Wii in their home should treat themselves to a game that some very respectable pundits have labelled as one of the finest of all time. Normally when a sequel arrives that looks so similar to the original game that spawned it, the ‘wow’ factor is completely lost, but Nintendo have acted above and beyond the call of duty to deliver something that has more imagination in one minute of it than most games can manage over the course of eight or more hours.
In addition to the tutorial DVD, the beginning of the game has been structured specifically to ease newcomers slowly into the experience. The first game’s hub-world system, which involved having to move Mario around a small (and sometimes confusing) little area before you could progress to the later levels, has also been scrapped in favour of a warm and familiar map system that harks back to the classic Mario titles, as well as New Super Mario Bros. It’s all been designed to bring out the brilliantly simple pick-up-and-play nature of the gameplay, ensuring that nobody gets confused by what they find.
But hardcore Mario fanatics needn’t worry, because the experience hasn’t been dumbed down in the slightest. It’s a full-strength Mario game right to the core, and is so bustling with so much imagination at every turn that it’s hard to find something to compare it to. Each of the game’s galaxies take one particular concept or theme at a time (like fully taking advantage of Mario’s new ability to create clouds) and wrings as many joyously fun ideas out of each one as possible, before moving on. It also gets pretty hard later on, but not in a way that will frustrate you. You’ll just have to raise your game and concentrate in order to beat it.
Some people may be skeptical about how bananas everyone has already gone for Super Mario Galaxy 2, but to play it is to fall head-over-heels in love with it. Every single one of its levels is a masterpiece of ingenious design, and this is one of those extremely rare games that is as much fun to watch as it is to play. It’s something that everyone should at least have one go at, and even if the controls remain intimidating to some, a multiplayer option allows a second player to play just as a star pointer, hoovering up the star pieces that the main player misses. It’s yet another wonderful idea, in a game that almost has too many. A must buy.