Reviews: Super Mario Galaxy 2

A good game, yet it's the same kind of good

note: I did include it in my SMG review, but i'm reviewing this one by itself.

Mario Galaxy was, and still is the highest point of the Mario series. The platforming worked well, the levels were colorful, and full of variety, and a soundtrack that will make even the prettiest girl cry manly tears. But how was Mario Galaxy 2, the first direct sequel to a console Mario game since Super Mario Bros 4. Mario World?

Yes, it was still good. Yes there was still a lot of variety. Yes, it was longer. And yes, the soundtrack was improved. But in the end, Super Mario Galaxy 2 was much lazier than the original Galaxy. Slight gameplay tweaks aside, it was one huge level pack. It had lots of callbacks to the previous games, hell, it even reused some tracks. If you break down the game, you can see the 30 years of Mario history. The most blatant example was the Throwback Galaxy, which was literally a blatant copy of Whomp's Fortress from SM 64. Smaller examples include the Floating blocks level, which has a strong Sunshine vibe, a faster version of a level from Galaxy, a remix of a remix of the main theme, dear lord, i could go on.

Mario's strength has always been huge tweaks from game to game. Every game had a substantial improvement from the last. 1 was much better than Donkey Kong and Mario Bros, Doki Doki Mario was strange, and unique for it's time, 3 included more variety, compared to 1, Land and Land 2 had a different setting, World included bonus levels, extra routes, and more secrets, Yoshi's Island had a colorful artstyle, and different mechanics, like the flutter jump, the egg throwing, etc, 64 was it's jump into 3D, Sunshine gave you a gun (Ok, still...), and Galaxy had gravity, more variety, and several gimmicks that actually worked. Galaxy 2, and by extension, New Super Mario Bros and Wii, didn't revolutionize. It just made small improvements, and tweaks. Other than that, it's just a big expansion pack.

But don't let that discourage you, Galaxy 2 is still a good game. The new power-ups are pretty interesting, and Yoshi's return was welcome. The level design is amazing, and well varied, and like i said, the soundtrack is substantially improved. Every original piece is catchy and at times, epic. It still retains the charm of the Mario series, and the tweaks, while very small, are still welcome. Galaxy 2 is fun, but don't expect a huge leap

Linear and repetitive

The early part of the game, certainly deserves some of the acclaim heaped over the game. You get a swiss army knife Yoshi who can grapple, spit-out and consume items and enemies using its tongue. Some nifty new items such as the drill bit that offers a new form of travel. Not to mention some great level designs; each with their own unique gameplay features.

But there are serious let downs gameplay wise. Most of the power ups are designed mostly to gain altitude i.e. the cloud, spring, bee, boo suits and the blimp fruit. Some of the "power-ups" are such one-trick ponies that at their worse they result in you dying more often (rock suit, spring suit) or they are so "meh" and pedestrian you think they barely constitute as power ups at all; especially the extremely common cloud suit. Other gameplay features are near useless and poorly designed, such as star bits which are both a form of currency and stunning ammunition.

Unfortunately these levels are often a one way street. There's no backtracking and mostly one way to progress through. If you are hoping for a 3D platforming Mario game where you have the freedom to explore around then you are going to be disappointed. Not only does the game features a gratuitous amount of 2D side scrolling sections but the ratio of land to bottomless pits means you are forced to toe the line. What really lets this game down, is that the stern A to B structure means that despite the novelties in level design, you don't get the same wow factor as other previous Mario game levels especially with how easy it is to lose lives in the game.

The game really takes a nosedive once you start with prankster comets, and green stars. You'll be forced to repeat all those game sections that you already completed just to get a few more stars. Prankster comets offer harder conditions but the worst of them will be perfect runs or timed missions. Green stars are Mario Sunshine's blue coins but much worse. Instead of just saving your progress in-level, your swooped back onto your ship. This game both rewards and punishes you with repetition regardless.

If you're expecting a payoff, don't bother. As you'll progress through the game, your boring ship becomes infested with boring NP Cs. The engine room's power-ups purely on display sum up the entire game. "Congrats, stare at these unusable power-ups suckers!"