GameSpite Quarterly 2, #11: Super Mario Galaxy

11. Super Mario Galaxy
I’m pretty sure Super Mario Galaxy is the most recent release on this entire list (barely edging out Portal by a matter of days). Less than two years is a pretty quick turnaround time for a game to make the top of so many people’s list of personal favorites. But I think it’s telling that Super Mario 64 is nowhere to be seen on the list; clearly Galaxy simply soaked up all the love for 3D Mario.

16 thoughts on “GameSpite Quarterly 2, #11: Super Mario Galaxy

  1. Just wanted to say how refreshing it is to see a discussion of 3D Mario games that doesn’t completely dismiss Sunshine. The game had big issues but personally I thought the water tank was great. I think it’s one of Mario’s better power-ups.

    For me Sunshine’s biggest issue was the way it pushed the series AWAY from the psychadelic Mushroom Kingdom and toward some kind of generic tropical holiday theme. It never looked like Mario to me, but I think it played well enough.

    But back to the power-up thing for a second… I don’t like the power-ups in Galaxy. The best power-ups in Mario games AUGMENT Mario’s abilities rather than change them. For example the bee suit completely changes the way Mario controls and the result is levels that FORCE the player to wear a particular suit to proceed and then strip the suit as soon as the section is done.

    I much preferred the power-ups of Super Mario Bros. 3 for example where the racoon suit only adds to Mario’s repertoire, giving the player new ways to interpret familiar environments, rather than simply forcing the player to do particular things.

    The water tank fits into this description nicely. It allows Mario to “paint” water (which is admittedly the weakest part of it’s mechanics) and it lets him extend his jumps in interesting ways.

  2. As collectathons come up towards the end of Bob’s article: there’s only a few purple coin challenges that I feel went too far, those being the ones that drop Mario onto a planet and ask him to go nuts. There’s a few challenges that are autoscrolling, which are somewhat frustrating thanks to their timed nature but aren’t usually tedious, and a few that limit themselves to a small, flat, difficult to traverse area. These ones usually have all 100 coins out in the open, and a quick swivel of the camera is enough to see where you’re up to.

    To Galaxy’s credit, the draw distance for the coins is quite large, which keeps them relatively discoverable. The biggest risk with collectathons is tedium, and if a player can see all the doodads they need to collect, they can spend some time planning out the quickest route. Galaxy exploits this in the flat areas, where the challenge is not to collect the coins but to do it under a time limit.

  3. Chris: But didn’t you save the Tanooki suit in SMB3, even though it was almost the same as the Raccoon suit? The raccoon suit DID change the controls, you could choose to float down in the air, you gained the tail-swing attack ahead of you. The frog suit controlled differently, too.

    And wasn’t Kubiro’s Shoe your favourite power-up, too?

    So what exactly was the point you were trying to make, I don’t see it; but I haven’t played SMG, just watched it.

  4. This is one of those games that literally inspired a sense of awe and wonder in me again. It’s been a long time since a game really surprised me, that really felt new. This was it. I played this until there was nothing left to do. I got all the Stars. I’m saving Luigi for another run at some point, so I suppose I haven’t done _everything_.

    As far as coin challenges go, the one with the rotating and disappearing platforms towards the end was downright evil. Talk about burning through your stock of lives…

  5. “So what exactly was the point you were trying to make?”

    The idea is that SMB3 never gave you, say, the frog suit and said “Okay, now it is time for you to play a Frog Suit level”. Sure, there were lots of levels that were easier if you had it, but you could play through the entire game with basic small Mario if you were enough of a badass.

    If SMB3 were being designed today there’d be a block with an infinite supply of frog suits and if you were unlucky enough to lose it, you’d be sent back to the beginning of the level to try again. The power-up thus becomes not so much a power-up as it is a marker that here be a minigame.

  6. I’m in agreement with Darukaru. Powerups in Mario 3 were entirely optional, which made them abit more fun than the ‘here’s the item you need to complete this part but then you lose it’ thing. I guess it’s just that powerups back in the Mario 3/World days simply changed the way you played the game, it freed up your options. I do believe there is such a thing as too straightforward.

    With all of that said I still absolutely love Mario Galaxy. I’ve always been under the impression that there are two kinds of Mario fans, the Mario 3 fans and the Mario World fans. Mario 64 really felt like an evolution of Mario World, what with all of the obscure secrets and alternate paths, huge areas of the game that some people would never even see if they weren’t looking in the right place… and then we’ve got Mario Galaxy, which is really Mario 3 3d! Very focused, tight experience, designed to really give us an undiluted Mario gameplay experience.

    Granted, there’s a lot of overlap. I don’t think any self respecting Mario game wouldn’t give us both some great gameplay and some great exploration and secrets. But this is what things break down to. I’ve always wondered if I’m correct. Mario World fans, do you enjoy Mario 64 more? And Mario 3 fans, are you in the Galaxy camp as well?

  7. ChuckBuried: I like Mario 3 and Mario World equally, to me they’re both great in their own ways and I can’t decide on one. However, I like Galaxy more than Super Mario 64, though I’m not sure if I can explain why. I never really thought of Mario 64 as an extension of Mario World, but I guess you could see it that way. Still, I think my real opinion is that I like them all for different reasons.

  8. It’s kind of strange, honestly. These games connect with me far more than they did when I was younger. I was much more into Mega Man, and I had a bit of disdain for Mario at some point, because of all the other games that would get overlooked by my short-sighted friends.

    As for the Mario 3 vs. Mario World, I didn’t really like World as much. I’m not even sure it’s necessarily the design of the game, but the control just seems odd compared to Mario 3, which I still think probably has the best control in the series. Of course, I hated Mario 3 with a passion for a long time, too, due to the above reasons, and the fact that a cousin of mine wanted me to beat it EVERY TIME I CAME OVER. That got old, fast.

    I’m hoping Mario Galaxy 2 is as fresh as this one felt. I’m also hoping New Super Mario Bros. Wii is awesome. I enjoyed the DS one a lot, even if there was a little too much a sense of momentum in Mario’s actions in that game.

  9. I liked Mario World better than Mario 3, but I’m not sure if I liked Mario 64 better.

    I don’t know what you mean about the control feeling odd. As far as I remember, they controlled the exact same, but that could just be because of the GBA ports.

    (*Well, there was the spin jump, but I don’t think that was too odd.)

  10. Yeah, I’m not sure about the odd controls either, then again I honestly couldn’t tell you if I EVER played Mario 3/Mario World back to back.

  11. He doesn’t mean they literally control differently (like different moves or buttons). He means they feel entirely differently. This is most evident in the flying. In Mario 3 it’s very manual. In World it’s half automated. You don’t make it go up – you tell it to go up and it goes up.

  12. I liked Mario World better, but I’m not sure how much that has to do with the fact that I played/beat it before I played Mario 3 (on the All Stars cart). That might also be worth noting with peoples preferences.. which one was first? As for 64 vs Galaxy, I think Galaxy is probably a better game, but had a few more frustrating aspects – the motion control sections and collecting 100 coins in a time limit on a disappering floor that requires very precise jumping with a camera that won’t stay at a constant angle. When you have a stick that naturally falls to one of 8 angles, an infinately varying camera angle that’s out of the player’s control in that sort of level just seems like bad design.

  13. Tomm is right. I was speaking not of the moveset, which is the same it’s always been, but the general “feel” of the control. It’s a bit different in Mario World, like when you run, it stays at a fairly set speed, then “snaps” to full speed. Mario also seems a little twitchier in mid-air. Mario 3 had a much more gradual speed curve, and as mentioned above, the flight mechanics are VERY different.

    Both are great games, though.

  14. I don’t know if it’s the best Mario ever, but it’s the most daring since 3. And when they’re all so perfect, I guess that pushes it over the top.

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