If you played Super Mario Galaxy, the sequel will have very few surprises in-store for you. Not that this is a bad thing, most of the gimmicks from the first game have carried over to the second instalment, from the temporary fire flower to the still-less-than-fun Spring Mario as well as new power ups like the Cloud Flower and the ultimate in awful gameplay mechanics; the Rock Mushroom. More about those later. But I can basically sum up what you're about to read below; if you liked Mario Galaxy 1, you'll love Mario Galaxy 2.
Galaxy 2 opens up to a shocking sense of deja vu, the first stage you play will remind you heavily of the opening of Galaxy 1, even the boss is similar; an egg which Mario lands on and wakes up some plant-like dinosaur creature which you spin-attack it's backside to hurt. Unfortunately, you'll get constant senses of deja vu through-out the game like a world which mixes lava and ice and yet another Bee Mario orientated stage. Thankfully, the game has a lot of cool new stages and levels, sadly none of which has a lot of charm to them but are ultimately enjoyable.
You'll probably have noticed by now I'm not going too in-depth about the galaxies in Super Mario Galaxy. This is because half the fun of Mario Galaxy is opening up new galaxies like an excited child on Christmas morn, seeing what lies beyond the current present you just opened. And let me tell you, in this simile; Galaxy 2 is the best Christmas you'll ever have. Sure, there's the odd pair of socks or a scarf which is so horrible and ugly that you just don't want to touch but they're a tiny drop in the ocean of genius.
And now it comes to inform you about all the new gimmicks which Nintendo have decided we must endure. I mean, not all of the new power ups which Nintendo have added to the game are awful. Cloud Mario, a power up gained from touching a Cloud Flower enables you to make clouds by shaking the Wii remote. Easily the best power up in the game, because using you ingenuity, you can very easily make difficult challenges very trivial. You're limited to 3 clouds per flower and no, they do not re-spawn over time. The best tip I can give you? Do a backwards flip (Z button + A button when stationary) and spin.
Yoshi plays a much bigger roll in Super Mario Galaxy than any 3D Mario before it. Mario can ride Yoshi whenever he finds an egg in a stage. Much like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, you cannot just simply take a Yoshi and keep him with you until you lose him or leave him as-was the case in older Mario games and a lot of stages are set-up specifically for Yoshi, with the game becoming too easy or conflicting with other gimmicky-power ups if Yoshi were allowed to roam free. Alas, Yoshi is still quite a fun addition to the game. When you have a Yoshi, he can eat enemies on the field by hoving over an enemy with the pointer and hitting B. Yoshi can eat a lot of enemies or hazards that Mario would otherwise be unable to defeat, such as spiky plants. Everything Yoshi eats turns into Star Bits, a form of currency to unlock optional galaxies and a sort-of helpful form of ammunition which either the first or second player can shoot and daze enemies. Yoshi can also eat special fruits to obtain special powers. These come in 3 forms, a Red Chilli which makes Yoshi run around very quickly and able to scale vertical walls, a Blue Berry which makes Yoshi fill with water and shoot it towards the ground, propelling you in the air and a Light Fruit which uncovers and makes solid otherwise invisible flooring.
Also making a return are the mini-game-like motion control stages. The jump-on-ball-and-roll stages from Mario Galaxy 1 return, you know the ones, you hold the Wii remove vertically up and tilt it around to steer, yeah, those ones. The really unfun ones. A new Bird Gliding mini-game makes an appearance as well. These aren't too bad, the basic idea behind them and the control scheme used to control them are all a bit silly, really. You hold the controller flat and swivel the controller, a bit like the Manatee stages from Galaxy 1. Only instead of wilding going out of control with a fear of falling off the stage, here you have the constant threat of bashing into walls. See, I did say 'gliding', not 'flying'. Being an utterly useless bird, the thing you hold onto can only plummet downwards and you can help gravity along by tilting the nose of the Wii Remote downwards to speed up. This gives you a small (and I mean small) speed boost as well as lowering your altitude. This is necessary in all courses of the game. Trying to judge just how much you need to descend can be more than tricky, but you get the hang of it a lot faster than the aforementioned Manatee stages.
I look upon Mario Galaxy 2 and while I feel a little disappointed with the game, I do constantly think "if I was the same age I was when playing Super Mario World for the first time, I'd love this game". And it's true. Everything's there. The game is awesome for me as a grumpy 20-something, I can only imagine how happy a much younger child would be playing this game. I think kids would have a lot harder time beating this game than I did beating Super Mario World back in the day though. See, Nintendo listened to all the teenagers and 20-somethings who played Galaxy 1 and felt the game was too easy. And I'll agree, I bested Galaxy 1, 120 stars there-and-back was pretty simple enough. Now the game has blown to 240-odd stars and the difficulty has increased ten-fold. With my star collection sitting pretty at 77 stars as of writing this review. I didn't think Galaxy needed a difficulty increase, but if kids can still beat the game and more of the audience is happy with this change, then so be it.
Oh and one more, minor thing you may want to know about. You remember in Galaxy, right? Where you had all those different comets, like the purple one or the green one on the galaxy select screens? Well they're gone. Too bad. All comets are now Prankster Comets, like it or not. You wont know what trial lies ahead of you until you blast off towards that galaxy. But at least they sorted out how comets work in Galaxy 2. Now instead of relying on luck and random encounters, you collect Comet Coins, which make comets appear when you collect so many. You're also alerted when comets appear AND the best bit is that they don't disappear after a time. So you can go back and complete the comet-induced task at your convenience. Isn't that nice?
In the audio department, things are amazing. The game's soundtrack is definitely one of the many highlights for players. While Galaxy 1 focused heavily on either heavily orchestrated or heavily sci-fi sounding tracks, Galaxy 2 takes a far more experimental route with remixes of older Mario tunes in the mix along with some fantastic new tracks which I really can't pin a genre on at all.
Overall then, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a fantastic title. A little underwhelming in the end, but a vastly superior title over the first? I think so. Difficulty can be a bit iffy at times, but once you start going after all the secrets in the game, you'll be sure to encounter what I mean by increased difficulty. Changes to the game here-and-there are possibly for the worse, but with all the advances the game has made, these tiny inches backwards made are nothing to really worry about. Just sit back, relax and imagine you're a kid again. Everything will fit into place.
Wont surprise you, wont entertain you. It's a standard Mario story, it's merely wallpaper to the game.
Fantastic. Loved almost every moment of the game. The odd silly gimmick (looking at you, Rock Mario) is a slight blemish on an otherwise spectacular title.
Some of the Wii's best to date. No choppiness or slowdown to be seen. A really impressive display.
Loved it. It's one of the few games I wish there'd be an actual, proper soundtrack released for it. Not just given away through Club Nintendo in small numbers. I would throw money at it.
15 HoursA fair game time. I wouldn't expect to buy this game for any more than £32-35 at launch, so for that money, 15 hours is fair. And heck, that's without me even getting half the stars in the game. This could easily top 30 hours.