I have been writing reviews on this site for coming up on two years now, and I have never awarded anything a perfect 10. I’ve reviewed books, video games, energy drinks, movies, food, tech, and music — a very wide scope of products — and never experienced one single item that deserved a score of perfection. Never. I don’t know why, but I’ve just never experienced anything that I truly thought existed without some flaw, some merit of quality detraction.
That streak has come to an end, as I have finally experienced something truly perfect. No blemishes, no flaws, nothing to detract from the experience offered. Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Nintendo Wii is truly perfect in everything that it does. Of course I can’t just say that without offering something to back it up, so if you feel you need further convincing, then by all means read onward dear gamer. If, however, I’ve already swayed you, then I suggest buying the game right now if you don’t already have it in your library. This is an interactive experience that shouldn’t be missed.
We’ll start with analyzing the gameplay. It is standard 3-D Mario fare in the sense that you must battle your way through increasingly challenging stages to find the star that sits at the end of each level. That is, in a nutshell, the exact same formula since Super Mario 64, and it is still as compelling and competent as it was all those years ago. The weird thing is, the stars often don’t feel like the most rewarding part of the levels, instead the adventure to the goal is often what drives your desire to keep playing. That and the still fresh and compelling physics-based gameplay and challenges that center around different levels of gravity.
Every level is so expertly crafted that it makes every 3-D platformer before it pale in comparison. There have been countless times when I saw a new level for the first time and just smiled, not only excited and the challenge ahead of me, but intrigued as to how someone could’ve thought up such clever levels. Some of my favorites were ones that mixed multiple themes such as fire and ice, and ones that took advantage of Yoshi, who makes his triumphant return in Galaxy 2.
Mario controls like a charm, as is always the case. Triple jumps, backflips, wall kicks, long jumps — you name it, all of Mario’s standard tricks are here along with the spin which was introduced by the original Galaxy. This arsenal of acrobatic finesse not only makes it much easier to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles, but it makes everything much more interesting as well. There can be two or three different ways to get from point A to point B, depending on your play style. Making things even more interesting is the new assortment of powerups, such as Cloud Mario and Rock Mario. Even Yoshi has the ability to run at light speed and turn into a balloon, among doing other things, if the right berries are eaten.
In the original Mario Galaxy, there would occasionally be an issue with getting lost on one of the small planets thanks to the camera that couldn’t always keep up. In Galaxy 2, every level has a customized camera that has been built in a much smarter fashion to ensure that no longer happens. And it is truly impressive that I have yet to lose track of my fat plumber, despite the fact that the game forces you to run upside down, right side up, and on every other direction you could think of.
Not only is the gameplay the most immersive I’ve ever seen, but this is the most gorgeous game, both technically and artistically, the Wii has ever produced. There are times when I’m running through pillars of lava, able to see gigantic fire monsters hundreds of feet away on one of the dozens of planets surrounding me, that I just don’t understand why more powerful graphics technology even exists. This should be all we need, because it gives us more than we’ve ever wanted. Still, that technology is out there, and it is worth pointing out that Super Mario Galaxy 2 comes very close to being able to compete with the HD systems in terms of graphics. It is truly very impressive.
Just as pleasing to the senses is the games audio. Not only is every sound effect — every yelp of joy out of Mario’s mouth, ever squish of an unsuspecting Goomba’s skull, every giddy shout of glee from Yoshi — spot on, but the music is so amazingly beautiful you’ll just smile while listening to the fully orchestrated score evolve in the background of your adventures. My hat goes off to the writer, conductor and performers of Mario Galaxy 2’s soundtrack, because it is truly a masterpiece.
In order to get to the final boss fight with Bowser and save Princess Toadstool, you are only going to need about 10 – 15 hours to invest. However, that is where the real game is really just starting. After that initial 70 stars are collected and the Mushroom Kingdom is saved from peril, you’ve still got about 170 stars left to get. That’s right, Mario Galaxy houses about 240 stars for you to track down and collect, making this adventure one that will last you months, easily. If you’re a more casual player, you will probably never see all of the stars. Hell, even if you are a seasoned vet, chances are you won’t be able to see everything in this Galaxy, meaning there will always be something new every time you power it on.
Mario Galaxy 2 is perfection. It is a massive, innovative sequel to a game that was already considered one of the best to have ever existed, improving on that foundation and adding countless upgrades and new challenges. Every level is breathtaking and every challenge is rewarding. The game’s pacing is flawless. Mario controls just as you’d expect him to, and it feels very natural to move him from planet to planet, each with a unique gravitational pull. The camera never loses the character, and you will likely never lose interest.
This game is a true masterpiece, one that gamers of any merit can and will enjoy.
Score: 10/10 (Perfect)