Mario returns to greatness on Wii


For over 20 years, Mario has been the face of video games. For many, “Super Mario Bros.,” on the original Nintendo system, was their first game and is nearly as popular today. To say “Mario Bros.” is one of video games’ most important franchises is an understatement. Add to this the fact that it’s been five years since the last entry and you can see just how overdue a new Mario game is.

The latest, “Super Mario Galaxy,” hopes to pick up where “Super Mario Sunshine” left off; delivering a platformer that redefines the genre while setting the new standard.

The story should be familiar for anyone who has played Mario before. During a festival celebration, Bowser and his minions attack the Mushroom Kingdom. He kidnaps Princess Peach by ripping her entire castle from the ground and escapes into outer-space.

As Mario gives chase he is attacked and flung into space. He awakes on a strange planet where he meets Rosalina, the watcher of the stars. She travels the galaxy in her spaceship, searching for stars and planets. But Bowser has stolen all of the Power Stars that she needs to fuel her ship. Hoping to get Peach back, Mario offers to retrieve the stars before Bowser can complete his devious plan of taking over the galaxy.

Although similar to past games, Mario has never been about story — it’s always been about gameplay. “Galaxy” has the most fluid, intuitive controls on the Wii yet. It shouldn’t take longer than a minute to get used to them. They feel natural, taking advantage of Wii’s unique operating scheme without feeling gimmicky or complex. That is a great thing because the level design is insane. “Galaxy” is the new standard when it comes to designing levels. Each world is different from the previous, ensuring no two missions are alike.

Some of the worlds can only be described as something out of a Pixar film. One mission has you collecting certain items in order to unlock the Power Star. But the path through the level is formed as you run along it by blocks floating around you in space. Other worlds have different themes, such as a toy store and a haunted house, while some make use of the new gravity system. You can jump off the edge, but instead of falling to your doom you are pulled to the underside of the world. In fact, you play much of “Galaxy” completely upside down.

If this seems like it might be too challenging, don’t worry. “Galaxy” has a very appropriate difficulty level. Casual gamers should have little problem collecting the minimum amount of stars needed to beat the game while hardcore gamers are going to have to put in some extra time to get all 120 stars. Normally, a game being easy would be a drawback, but in this case it’s a plus because it encourages you to replay through levels. And trust me; you will want to play through this again.

For those unsure of the Wii’s graphic potential, “Galaxy” should put all worries to rest. This game is gorgeous. Colors are vibrant and there is always a sense of wonder. I can’t count how many times I stopped what I was doing just so I could look around and take everything in.

“Galaxy” isn’t without its faults, but even those are so small you will probably never notice them. The only thing of concern is the camera. Nintendo decided to forego a manual camera for an auto-camera. While that may seem restrictive, the camera works perfectly 99 percent of the time. In all my time playing “Galaxy,” the camera never once caused me to fail a mission.

Occasionally, your view may be blocked by a wall or it may not offer the best angle possible. Again, it rarely happens and chances are you can go through the entire game and never notice it.

If you own a Wii, “Galaxy” is a must have. If you don’t, find a friend who does and insist they get this game. It’s easily the best game on the system and will most likely end up being the game of the year.