Super Mario Galaxy Impressions

After calling several times yesterday and today, Toys R Us finally got their copy of Super Mario Galaxy, so I went there right after work to pick up my copy. As mentioned previously, I choose Toys R Us as my pre-order location because they offered a $25 gift card with purchase. To my happy surprise, not only did they offer the $25, but they also had the official pre-order bonus too!

Booya!

The official pre-order bonus is a commemorative coin in a DVD sized package. The coin isn't all that cheap either. It feels like pewter, or something.. It has a lot of weight and mass to it though, so it's not going to fall apart. The yellow colored in star is kind cheap though..

Game setup

I made sure Tony was home before putting the game into the Wii and beginning my journey into the star kingdom. Before playing the game, I was instructed to update my Wii to the current firmware, which is rather interesting.

The Wii had an firmware update the other day, but I was unable to update my Wii because of networking issues. Still unable to reach the internet, my Wii was able to update using the Super Mario Galaxy disc instead. Is this the first Wii title to force you to upgrade to the current firmware?

This is quite similar to PSP games, which contain the most recent version of the firmware you need in order to play the game.

The Game

Anyways, after upgrading and restarting, I was in. The game begins with a fair amount of cutscenes and a hint of story. Quite similar to Mario Sunshine, where the first 20 minutes is moving and viewing through the introduction of the game. Once the story is set, and the rules are laid out off you go into the game.

The game laid out exactly the same as Mario 64 and Mario sunshine. In Mario 64, you move around the castle to find levels. In Mario Sunshine, you move around the island to find levels. In Mario Galaxy, you move around the floaty space thingy to find levels. On this space station are observatories you can access other galaxies which contain the stars you need to collect.

So far, the space station feels very limited compared to the Mario 64 Castle or the Mario Sunshine Island. In the previous 2 games, there were many nooks and crannies to find hidden items, levels and stars.. but, I'm really not that far at all. As you collect more stars in Galaxy, more parts of the space station are available.

Another thing that really bothers me about Galaxy thus far are the level layouts. So far, each level has been incredibly linear. You move from one floating part of the level to the next with no in-betwen. You don't have that absolute freedom you had with Mario 64 or Mario Sunshine. With those games you could go anywhere in the level. With Galaxy, you can only move to places that have a warp. It puts a damper on the whole 3D Mario theme.

Playing the game

Before touching this game, I was quite concerned with how a 3D platformer would operate with the Wii-mote. Especially the lack of a right-analog stick which has really become the standard for operating the camera. Also, platformers are designed for a traditional controller. You don't need fancy motion controls when you're simply trying to move about the stage.

Besides that, the two-handed controller provides the extra amount of stability to keep the joystick steady and stationary. A one-handed joystick without any stability makes it very difficult to move precisely where you want to.

So far, my fears have been somewhat realized. The lack of camera controls is annoying as hell, but the floaty camera isn't too bad. It will face in the direction you want to look at nearly all the time, and will correct itself fast enough that it doesn't piss you off. They do provide a first-person camera view too, if you want to look around the level.

Annoying controls

Movement has been hit or miss with me. Jumping is the number one thing you must nail down for the platforming genre. If you can't jump and land with precision than the gameplay gets in the way of what you want to do. You begin fighting with the game more than the challenges it presents.

When presented with Jumping puzzles in Mario Galaxy, I feel like I'm fighting with the controls about half of the time. This is combination of problems with the camera angle and joystick angle.

In Mario Galaxy, you are moving around clusters of objects in 3D space, most of which are spherical. Running down the side of a sphere in space won't move the camera, it'll keep itself centered on you as you begin to run around upside down. Jumping onto enemies is a pain in the ass, when the camera doesn't give you an angle to correctly view the action. I, generally, have to guess where the enemy will be and hope I land there.

One-handed movement is what I really dread about this game. With a two-handed controller, it's pretty easy to know which direction is precisely left or precisely right. With the one-handed nun-chuck, you don't have the stability and relative position of your other hand to tell your brain which way angle left is precisely 90 degrees to the left. It's relative to the position of the C-button underneath your fore-finger.

meh... maybe I'm just being to cynical.

That warm feeling

Despite those annoyances, it's still retains that beautiful awe feeling of a true Nintendo developed game. Starting my game on a Tuesday night in the middle of a busy work week doesn't give Mario Galaxy justice.

After playing for 2 hours, I wish I had begun playing on a holiday, like Thanksgiving or Christmas. A day where you have no responsibilities.. All you have is a full day and Mario in your Wii. I could play this game for hours upon hours.

That last game that made me feel this way was Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I began playing that game on New Years day around 8 or 9 in the morning, and I didn't put the controller down until 10pm.

It's that cheery Christmas feeling of having a beautiful, fun and massive game and all the time in the world to play it. ^_^

That's the feeling I get when playing Mario Galaxy.. Unfortunately, my weeknights are short, so I only made it through the first collection of levels at the 2 hour mark.

My Advice

If you have a Wii, definitely pick up Mario Galaxy, but don't start playing it just yet.. Through the next week, find a copy and hold on to it. Refrain from cracking the seal until Thanksgiving Day, or the day after Thanksgiving. Give yourself the entire day to play Mario Galaxy, because once you begin playing, you won't want to stop.

Crawl out of bed that morning in your pajamas. Drag a blanket into the living room and just veg out all day. Relive your days as a spunky youngster with the days off from school and no responsibilities, and play that game from dawn to dusk ^_^

That's probably what I'll be doing this coming Sunday.. unless my roommate sequesters the TV for football :/




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