Super Mario Galaxy

Mario's back and literally better than ever.

Nintendo EAD Tokyo

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By Alex Wollenschlaeger

Despite seeing Super Mario Galaxy at a few events over the past year I was far from convinced that this wasn't going to be just another Mario game. From my limited time with the game it wasn't clear to me whether the controls were anything more than a gimmick, something to help pretty up a game we've already played before. I was wrong. Very wrong.

Super Mario Galaxy is everything Mario fans and platform aficionados have been craving since Super Mario 64 redefined how we think about the genre. It's constantly fresh and entertaining and the perfectly ramped difficulty will ease you in before twisting you to your limit. In short, Mario is back, and he's better than ever.

It all starts familiarly enough. The residents of the Mushroom Kingdom are out on the streets of the realm on the night of the Star Festival, a celebration of the arrival of a sparkling comet many years ago. The occasion is expectedly interrupted when an armada of pirate ships comes floating in, and Bowser abducts Princess Peach, stealing her away to a faraway place with the help of an alien ship.

Your goal: to save the princess. Not entirely original, I'm sure you'll agree, but this nod to the past is supplemented by a huge cast of characters new and old who will help you on your way, including Rosalina, a beautiful woman who just happens to have an interstellar craft called the Comet Observatory. But there's a problem. Rosalina and the cute, star-like Lumas entrusted to her can't go anywhere until they repair their ship, and to do that, you need to help them to collect Stars.

Sprinkled around the observatory are various domes equipped with telescopes that allow you to travel to galaxies far away. These galaxies are the stages in Super Mario Galaxy, and the planets within them are the various sub-stages. The levels themselves are a good place to start, because it's their variation that is the heart of the appeal of Mario's new game.

There are dozens of galaxies in Super Mario Galaxy and every one of them has something surprising to offer. There are galaxies in a Luigi's Mansion style and ones reminiscent of Super Mario 64, others that will have you thinking back to Super Mario Sunshine and many more new and exciting ones that will thrill you with their every twist. Gravity is a crucial component of these galaxies. Stages vary from uniformly flat to perfectly round and in the beginning you'll have to concentrate to keep it all straight in your head. But you'll quickly retrain your mind to spatially orientate yourself - crucial if you want to make the precision jumps that sometimes make the game so deliciously hard.

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