Summer Gaming Challenge #1 – Super Mario Galaxy

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Quick Info on Super Mario Galaxy:
Console  – Wii (also re-released on Wii U as a digital download, unchanged)
Release Year – 2007
Metacritic Score – 97
Time it took to beat – 8h33m

My first game of the challenge is done!  I was already planning on playing Super Mario Galaxy just a bit before I began the challenge, so I dived right in once the challenge begun.  And it was a blast!  I love almost every minute of it.  Though I’ll probably never go back and get all 120 Stars (and then another 120 Stars as Luigi, no thanks), I had a ton of fun with what I did play, and I’m excited to play Super Mario Galaxy 2 sometime later on.  Not now, though, don’t want to burn out on Mario.

Anyway, Super Mario Galaxy makes fairly decent use of the Wiimote and Nunchuk–most of the controls are typical button presses that could easily be mapped to a control, but Mario also has a spin that’s activated by shaking the Wiimote, and the easiest way to collect Star Bits is by using the pointer on the screen to grab them.  There are a few other Wiimote related controls as well, but I won’t get too far in-depth here.  For the most part the controls work well–there’s been a couple times where I couldn’t get the spin to activate exactly when I wanted it, but out of the probably hundreds of times I had to use it, that’s a pretty darn good success ratio.

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From there, everything is typical 3D Mario–traverse various worlds, trying to find Stars to unlock more areas, eventually getting to a boss stage and fighting either Bowser or Bowser Jr.  Each main galaxy has three main stars to find, typically changing the landscape around in said galaxy, as well as a hidden star to find, and Star Comets that impose special challenges on the player for… you guessed it, more stars.  Then there’s the more gimmicky galaxies that only have one star to grab, and Luigi running around being a jerk and you having to go and save him… there’s quite a bit to do.

I’m thankful for all the different ways stars could be grabbed, because I was able to easily get to the goal of 60 stars to reach the end area without any real difficulty.  With Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, there was a point near the end where I was having trouble getting the last stars/shines needed to make it to the end area, and it would frankly annoy me.  Essentially, no, I’m not all that great at 3D Mario games, leave me alone.  But with all the different ways to get stars in Galaxy, I was able to skip over the stars that would annoy me or whole galaxies if I wanted to, and could still make the 60 star goal easily.  I feel like I could have gotten 70 stars without too much issue, as well.

This may translate to sounding ‘too easy’, and maybe it was… but I really enjoyed Galaxy regardless.  I didn’t die too often (except for some of the mini-bosses… damn you Bouldergeist!), but that just fueled my excitement to play more… because frankly, I don’t like games kicking my ass all the time.  It’s Mario, after all.

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I had a couple gripes with the game, though honestly it didn’t bring too much of the experience down.  At first, I had a ton of trouble with the swimming controls.  I eventually got used to them, but honestly, I really didn’t like them (or swimming galaxies) all that much.  Secondly, Spring Mario is pretty terrible, both as a power and how to control him–I picked for my 60th star to be in Toy Time Galaxy, and man it was stressful trying to use Spring Mario.  I believe that power’s in Super Mario Galaxy 2 as well, but I’m certainly not looking forward to it.  Finally, walking around the starship was sort of neat at first, but it really became tiresome… it would have been nice to choose which galaxy to go to from the list on the map, but then again I guess it would have ruined a little of the atmosphere (??) the game was going for.

But none of that matters too much–Super Mario Galaxy was mostly a blast.  I fear the graphics haven’t really stood the test of time… blown up on my 40-some inch TV, everything was somewhat pixely and could desperately use a ‘smoother’ type function to make Galaxy look just a bit better.  It doesn’t take much out of the gameplay itself of course, but sometimes you’re looking at these breathtaking locales and they just don’t have the same oomph as they did in 2007.  Obviously Galaxy is not an HD game, but that’s really okay–we still love the likes of 64 after all, graphics aren’t what makes a Mario game a Mario game.

I guess to wrap up, Super Mario Galaxy is by all means a classic, and I definitely had a blast with it.  I’m glad I finally got around to it after all this time (okay that’s partially a lie, I played some of it quite a few years back but never got to finish it), and I really hope I’ll enjoy the rest of the games I’m playing this year as much as this one.

——

So for a mini-update on that, I’ll probably buckle down and finish up The Legend of Zelda.  My motivation to play it is a bit down lately, but I want to get it out of the way.  From there my game plans are:
Console – Earthbound
Handheld – Metal Gear Solid
PC – (when I get my new laptop) Shining Force II

I’m going to try and only do one RPG at a time–Shining Force II is the exception because not only do I not play PC games that often, but that’s also the only PC game I’ve picked for this year.  Metal Gear Solid is pretty far from an RPG, so I think it works great while I try and knock out the only console RPG on my list.

That’s about it!

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