So more or less spontaneously I decided that I owed myself a purchase of a video game, so I ordered one that I'd been itching to buy probably since the time of its release in 2010. Really what prompted me to make the purchase was my boyfriend making me realize that the last game I bought was SSBB, and that was jointly with my brother back in...what, 2009 when it came out? Then, as I thought harder about it, I honestly don't know the last game I've purchased alone, since new games are a rare thing for me and they've always been gifts. I also like borrowing games, and I'm not a scummy friend that keeps them forever. Anyway, this game, Super Mario Galaxy 2, was kind of a rare thing for me to find someone to borrow from since I don't know many people here in college that have Wiis...well, about none actually.
I guess I'll preface it with the difficulty I faced in finding this game. A few months ago, while I was either in Target or Walmart (could have possibly been late last year), I was shopping for whatever reason and decided to see if the price of this game had dropped since it was a few years old now. The answer was no. It is still a $50 game, new, and I suppose that's due to the positive ratings it has garnered. Used, I could probably find a little less (like at GameStop) but still quite an expensive game, when you think that Super Mario Galaxy (1) can be found for $20 and it was fantastic and is even like, a collector's edition or whatever. When I finally made the decision that I was going to purchase SMG2, it was no longer in stores like Walmart or Target. I ended up going to Amazon and buying it for a little less than $40 for a very good quality used game. Given the prior information, I think I actually made a smart move here.
Now I'm gong to gush why I love Super Mario Galaxy.
In all honesty, I 100%'d the first game just last year - After being stuck at 116 stars for about 4 years, I got all 120 stars, with ones like "Luigi's Purple Coins" taking me probably about 60-70 tries, Melty Molten Galaxy's Daredevil Run taking me possibly even more tries to get...while there are a lot of easy parts of this game (some would complain too easy, while I'm a mediocre skilled player) there were certainly some stars that made me want to scream (which I did) and rip my hair out (which I did not). The satisfaction of earning each one, though, in a nostalgic SM64 manner, is what really me drew in though. Then I found out that after earning 120, you could use Luigi to earn 240, and I snorted and shut off the Wii and went on with my life. Yeah, puppy that.
It's a pretty game. It's a very bright game. While a game like Skyward Sword could also fall under that category, SS tries to make a play on a different art style, with its impressionistic backdrops and whatever. SMG (and SMG2, to some degree) feels like an updated SM64. Mario is not a blocky polygon. Stars are not yellow, but truly golden and shiny like you wanted them to be. It's "glowy" too - there are several instances of "cosmic" influences showing through. It's definitely Mario in space.
Mario in space to the extent of really playing with some game physics. I mean, the gravity in these games is unbelievable sometimes. You can find a small planet, do a long jump, and make 2-3 orbits around the planet before it finally pulls you back in. You can even orbit around, get caught in the gravity of another planet, and start orbiting that one, then return to the original planet. I probably spent 20 minutes laughing at this (might have been drunk and found it extremely amusing) on the first level on SMG2. It is seriously a lot of fun.
I could gush about the music for probably a really long time, but I'll leave it at this. This soundtrack (other than the Zelda series) is probably the most memorable for me. It is also puppying orchestrated and it's brilliant, legendary, and really plays on your heart strings. It's nostalgic and just wonderful. Even SMG2 somehow managed to BUILD upon some of the tracks from SMG, like made them better. I don't know how. But it is fantastic and I am going to shamelessly download all of it.
I'm going to point out some things that I did and did not like about SMG2. Or maybe some contrasting things that I had hoped would be better.
SMG2 has a lot of puppying Galaxies. If you're not familiar, they use this word kind of weirdly - I feel like it should be Planets<Worlds/Solar Systems lol<Galaxies. But instead it's Planets<Galaxies<Worlds. While SMG used different parts of the Comet Observatory to access different galaxies (and made it rewarding when you "restored power" to them, very much resembling the Castle in SM64), SMG2 visually looks like a Super Mario game with the "World Map." So SMG2 has 7 "Worlds", each with about 7 Galaxies. I thought this was okay. It did make returning to past Worlds easier, but it also made the Galaxies so much more...meh. Like they all started blending together because of how indistinct they were.
You even start typing a word a lot and it starts looking weird to you? That's what's happening to "galaxy" right now lol.
Anyway, my main point with the Galaxy thing - that there being a lot of them in SMG2 - meant that there are less stars to disperse among the Galaxies. Therefore, by logic, less of the Galaxy needs to be explored, and so the Galaxies are smaller. They're less of the mini-universes that you step into. Maybe one, two regular stars, a comet star, and you're done. Or maybe a hidden star, if you're lucky. I personally enjoyed having to find 5-7 stars in each Galaxy in SMG, and suddenly to be cut short like that...I don't know. I recognized and appreciated each Galaxy more in SMG because I saw a lot of it. SMG2, I knocked out 50-60 stars in one day and I don't really remember the process of me getting there. It went by too quickly.
SMG2 does have redeeming qualities, though. For one, motherpuppying Yoshi being around on some levels. Luigi as well from the get-go, and eventually unlockable at the end of the game. There are some cute-as-shit characters in the game too - Jibberjays, adorable and excitable parrots; pink Bob-omb Buddies from SM64; and Whittles, cute wooden things that make very primitive but amusing statements. The new powerups are also surprisingly not half-assed - Cloud Mario is very fun, while Rock Mario can get a little irritating. I kind of missed Ice Mario (making ice platforms by jumping on water spouts was a super creative idea in the last game) and Flying Mario, but that's probably just more SM64 nostalgia talking. Speaking of which, my discovery of Throwback Galaxy (basically an updated Whomp's Fortress from SM64) got me so excited I spent quite some time examining every inch of the level.
Furthermore, the utility of Coins - instead of Star Bits taking the role of the main currency, Coins are used for Luma-transforming instead of a "high score" for an individual star that no one cares about. Comet Medals are also a neat idea - in the previous game, Comet stars only appeared after the arrival of the Comet Luma, but now Comets will appear given if you find and collect and complete a Galaxy's star with the Comet Medal. Some of them are tricky to find and collect and it is very easy to go through a level normally without even seeing it.
From what I've seen so far, and I'm at 104/120 stars for the moment, the Comet stars aren't nearly as difficult as the previous game. For example, there have been several instances where you need the 100 Purple Coins - but not every single one, as there are 110 total. It gives the player a little slack on those more unforgivable circumstances. Even the fact that the Co-Star Luma (aka Player 2) can pick up Purple Coins makes the Comet Stars significantly easier. Then again, I haven't raged over this game's version of Luigi's Purple Coins, so we'll see how I feel in a week.
Since this review is getting kind of long lol, I'll sum it up a bit. SMG2 is sort of like the Majora's Mask to Ocarina of Time. Same game engine, sort of the same goal, but quite different on a lot of things. I've been enjoying myself so far and from what it looks like, I might be getting the 242 stars in this game (since it seems like part 2 isn't entirely a repeat of the first half). SMG/SMG2 are really really great games, if you're truly a Nintendo fan at heart - so much so that I don't think I can enjoy a sidescrolling Mario game again because it's not 3D. Not to say those game aren't good, but one you get used to the liberty of exploration of these games, it's hard to go back to that. I'm happy to say that SMG2 surprised me in ways that I wasn't expecting, and I'm glad it didn't turn out to be an extended version of its predecessor.