Super Mario Galaxy 2 review (Wii). Does this latest adventure take Mario to infinity and beyond?

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is Nintendo’s big Wii sequel to the million-selling original Super Mario Galaxy 1 that was released at the tail-end of 2007 (where it is the eighth best-selling Wii game worldwide approaching 10 million copies sold).

The game is the first direct-sequel to a Mario game since “Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island” was released for the Super Nintendo in 1995.

As you can see in the game’s box artwork, Yoshi makes his fully 3D “next generation” debut and is the major new addition to this sequel (Yoshi last appeared in the GameCube’s Super Mario Sunshine).

Super Mario Galaxy 2 builds on the core foundation laid down in the original game and has been hailed as one of the best games of all time from various videogame publications and received numerous awards.

But does the game really best the original or is it more of the same?

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a platformer in which Mario explores various Worlds, each composed of multiple galaxies (up to 7), in search of Power Stars. Each Galaxy is composed of a number of small planets or “planetoids”, each of which offers various platforms, obstacles and enemies to navigate through and defeat as you make your way to the end of the level.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 opens with an NPC telling a story (via text, fans who played the first game will know who the storyteller is). The story is told in a kind of “storybook” fashion with each scene acting as a “page” and the page flipping to show the next scene. This is reminescent of the first Super Mario Galaxy, however the “storybook” style ends here, and the scenes are made up of in-game graphics or gameplay that the player controls until they reach the end of the “page” and a new page starts.

This unique mechanism is only found in this intro though and a few other parts of the game, and is unseen after this section.

To open up the game, the storyteller speaks of how once a year, Starbits rain from the sky onto the Mushroom Kingdom. This is called the “Star Festival”.

“The Star Festival had just begun. Toads everywhere were celebrating. The Star Bits rained down from the sky.” It is at this time that Mario receives a somehow familiar letter from Princess Peach, inviting him to share in some cake (a blatant homage to Super Mario 64’s opening sequence). “Dear Mario, would you like to share some cake while we watch the shooting stars? Meet me at the castle! – Peach”.

The scene this flashes to Mario, who emerges from a pipe in classic style and then plays a brief 2D-section of gameplay that pays homage to the side-scrolling Super Mario Bros. It is here that Mario comes across a knocked out baby Luma. “The strange little fellow seemed confused… Was he lost? He seemed to take a shine to Mario…” The little guy then leaps under Mario’s cap! “Mario’s cap filled with warmth as he felt a new power surging through him.”

Mario then makes his way through the Mushroom Kingdom has celebratory Toads run amok, shrieking with delight and offering the player hints on how to play. When Mario approaches Princes Peach’s castle, you see a giant Bowser in the background wrecking havoc as you approach in the foreground! BOWSER IS BACK!

In typical fashion, Bowser has grabbed Princess Peach. As she shrieks for help, Bowser explains how he has taken the “power of the Stars” for himself. Obviously they’ve given him immense power and allowed him to grow to massive, Godzilla-like size. He then uses the fact that Princess Peach always bakes MARIO a cake as a reason to steal her, “Maybe I’ll have Peach bake ME something for once. I sure could go for a galaxy-sized cake right now!” He then whisks Peach away to the “center of the universe”. In the wreckage of the beat up Peach Castle, Mario encounters some yellow Luma’s who, upon seeing the “young Master Luma” pop out from under Mario’s cap, inquire to him “being thrown overboard too” and tell him to stay under Mario’s cap to stay safe. They explain that Mario can now use the “Power of the Stars” with Master Luma’s help. This allows Mario to use the Launch Star’s to fly to new planetoids that the Luma’s morph into.

This launches Mario to the first planet where he learns that the same “monster” that stole the Luma’s Power Stars, Bowser, is also the one who took Peach. At the end of the level he faces off against a giant Piranha Plant boss. Upon beating him, a new creature named Lubba appears on the planet and speaks to Mario.

Lubba tells Mario that he heard about him from his Lumas and that he can use Mario’s help in collecting the Power Stars Bowser has stolen. He then reveals to Mario that the planetoid they are on is actually a spaceship! Bowser attacked the ship and threw his “Luma Crew” overboard. At this moment the Master Luma living underneath Mario’s cap reveals himself. That’s when Lubba makes a deal with Mario, whom he can trust because he’s earned Master Luma’s friendship. If Mario will collect the Power Stars for him to power the Starship, he’ll let Mario use the Starship to chase after Bowser and save Mario’s “precious one”. Upon Mario’s agreement, he sends his crew to transform the planet into Mario’s head! Thus “Starship Mario” are born, and Mario blasts off to recover the rest of the Power Stars.

At this point Mario takes “control” of the Starship Mario. The Starship is completely explorable and you can run all around the giant Mario head-shaped planetoid, which is full to the brim of rivers, trees, doors, pipes and more. As you progress in the game, the Starship begins to fill in with new creatures and objects that you’ve come across from the individual Galaxy’s. This eventually transforms the empty landscape into a cornucopia of activity. At first the place is only inhabited by a few Toads and Luma’s who you can talk to. Some give advice. Others will offer help. Eventually the place will fill up with creatures and NPCs (non-playable character’s) that you can talk to.

In addition, new areas of Starship Mario will also open up as you explore more galaxies and collect additional Power Stars. The most useful of these are new areas and power-ups that allow you to win or earn 1UPs while exploring the ship. These extra lives will come in handy when you want to jump into the actual galaxies themselves; especially when you first boot the game up as you will always start with only 5 extra lives, no matter how many lives you had when you saved your game.

Three characters in particular on the Starship Mario (who are there from the beginning) are worth pointing out. One is a “Mail Toad”, who will occasionally have new letters from Princess Peach. Sometimes you’ll earn some extra lives by reading the Letters. But it’s mostly additional story/character exposition. Another main character you’ll want to talk to often is Lubba himself. The giant purple Luma will generally be hanging out near the steering wheel of the ship. He will chime in whenever a new object or creature appears on Starship Mario, and will also offer you advice throughout your adventure (he’ll even warn you when your Wii Remote batteries are low or tell you to “take a break” if you’ve been playing the game too long…. Only Nintendo games encourage you to stop playing them!). Finally, you’ll find a “Bank Toad” near the Mail Toad on the deck of the ship. Talking to him will allow you to save your Starbits and withdraw them later. Normally Starbits aren’t saved when you save your game and quite.

You’ll definitely want to spend time exploring Starship Mario after each Galaxy you’ve completed, and when you first play the game. Some places of note are the inside of the ship, which will slowly fill up with Power Ups that are on display (note that you can’t actually USE these power-ups while on the Starship unless they are found elsewhere) and a teleporter that will take you the Starshroom where you will see the Toad Brigade leader from the first game. You’ll also eventually find a pipe that will take you to an area where you can quickly and easily earn lots of extra lives. Another very important area will allow you to switch from Mario to …. someone else. Once you’ve beaten the game.

When you are done exploring Starship Mario, you can leap onto the button at the front of the ship to go to the all-new World Map. Like World Maps in other Mario games (Super Mario Bros. 3 for example. Or New Super Mario Bros. Wii in modern times), you use Starship Mario to move around the map and access each of the game’s levels; Which come in the form of Galaxy’s. There are 7 Galaxies in each World. There are 6 worlds total…..

At first you will only be able to move the Starship up to a certain point. To progress in the game and move to a further spot in each World you are required to earn enough Power Stars. This makes the game pretty linear, as you cannot play later levels until you have earned enough Power Stars from earlier stages. After making your way through the World, you will face a boss level where you will face off with Mario’s nemesis or a number of other bosses. Claim victory here and you will earn a Grand Star, opening up the next World.

The controls in Super Mario Galaxy mirror that of the original game and are built on the 3D Mario design first seen in 1996’s Super Mario 64 way back on the N64.

This means that Mario can perform nearly all of his trademark moves from Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy 1, including:

  • The Triple Jump
  • – Perform three jumps in a row with the A Button. The second jump will be higher and the third jump will be the highest with a token flip.

  • The Long Jump
  • – Run and press the Z Button to Crouch followed by the A Button to perform a very long leap.

  • The Backflip
  • – Also known as the “Backward Somersault”, press Z to Crouch while standing still or sliding (but not running) and press A. The Backflip is a very high jump that easily allows you to reach platforms above you.

  • The Butt Stomp
  • – Also known as the “Ground Pound”. Jump in the air and press the Z Button to slam into the ground with Mario’s powerful behind.

  • The Side Flip
  • – Also known as the “Side Somersault”, the Side Flip is one of Mario’s most useful moves and an advanced technique. To pull it off, simply run in a direction, then quickly press the Control Stick in the opposite direction and tap the A Button. As Mario is sliding and about to turn around, he will then flip up and over in the new direction. This advanced technique is great for reaching high platforms that are behind Mario’s back in one smooth motion.

  • The Wall Jump
  • – Mario can leap off of walls (and up narrow shafts where there is a flat wall on either side of you) by simply leaping towards a wall, keeping the Control Stick pressed against it until Mario starts sliding down, then pressing the A Button again. This is required to make it into some areas and can also allow you to take easy shortcuts.

    And returning from Super Mario Galaxy is arguably Mario’s most useful move:

  • The Spin and Spin Jump
  • – By shaking the Wii Remote, Mario will Spin on the ground. Jump and shake the Wii Remote to perform the same move in the Air. Spinning is one of Mario’s most useful moves, and can be used to Stun enemies or defeat them, to activate switches, to bust open objects like boxes or shatter crystals, and other things. When in doubt, SPIN! The Spin Jump is also one of Mario’s most useful moves for perfecting a landing from a jump. When trying to land on a certain spot, Spinning in the air to give you a little bit more time to correct your course before landing. It also comes in extremely handy for reaching higher platforms. Perform a wall jump and then Spin, for example, to easily land on the platform/ledge above you. Experiment with Spins and Jumps and you’ll begin to master Mario’s moveset. Spinning is also used to activate Launch Stars, which when jumped into and Spinning, will cause Mario to blast out to the next planetoid in a galaxy. You can also use Spins to swim faster in water, catch or throw an object and “skate” or speed up when on ice.

    There are a few other moves as well. These range from advanced techniques like the Spin Kick (run and perform a Long Jump then spin in the air, this move will kick certain enemies twice and knock them out in a single blow) and the Star Pointer. The Star Pointer is how you use the Wii Remotes pointing sensor. By pointing at the screen, a cursor will appear. You can use this cursor to pick up Star Bits (pieces of a broken Stars that are used as a form of currency and earn you a 1UP if you collect 50 of them), and to shoot Star Bits back out at enemies (often stunning them).

    The largest new additions to Super Mario Galaxy 2 though come in the form of the new Power-Ups! And first off is the return of Yoshi! Mario’s dino pal who made his debut in Super Mario World finally returns to modern day with this adventure. Yoshi does not appear in every level, but he will appear in certain ones. On those levels, you will come across a Yoshi Egg. Spin to break the egg and to hop into Yoshi’s saddle (alternatively you can also jump onto the Egg or onto Yoshi).

    When riding Yoshi, the Star Pointer will turn into a Red Dot. This Dot corresponds to where Yoshi will lick with his tongue when you press the B Button. The green dino’s token tongue is the primary means with which you will interact with the world while riding Yoshi. Point at most enemies and lick to eat them. Most of them will be turned into Star Bits. Others like Bullet Bills can be shot back out of Yoshi’s mouth in the form of a projectile attack that can be used to blow up glass casings and the like.

    Yoshi’s tongue can be used in a number of other ways as well. You will come across points or objects in levels that can be latched onto with Yoshi’s tongue or effected by pulling them out (Hold B, then press Down/Back on the Control Stick). Using this technique you can pull out new platforms, swing across gaps on suspended “Flower Pegs”, and eat various vegetables and enemies to earn Star Bits and the like.

    You can even eat several objects in quick succession by highlighting more than one. Yoshi also gains the ability to perform his token “Flutter Jump” ability, where the cute lil green dino kicks his legs rapidly at the end of a jump as he struggles to gain more height before landing. This can be used to greatly extend Yoshi’s jumping abilities and allow you to reach much greater distances than what is normally possible.

    Yoshi however it not able to perform all of the regular moves that Mario is able to do. While riding Yoshi, you can’t perform Long Jumps or Triple Jumps, although his innate abilities pretty much make up for this. You can also perform a dismount from Yoshi by essentially doing a “Long Jump” (Press Z+A), which will cause Mario to flip backwards off of Yoshi. This technique becomes crucial for reaching all new heights to collect some of the latter Stars in the game that are unreachable without partnering a dismount with a Flutter jump.

    In addition, a cavalcade of new abilities is given to Yoshi in the form of Fruits, which will grant Yoshi temporary new powers when he eats or touches one. These are:

  • The Dash Pepper
  • – Eating a Dash Pepper will turn Yoshi into the red-colored “Dash Yoshi”. Yoshi will move with blazing-fast speeds after chomping on this super-spicy pepper. As Dash Yoshi, you can run up steep slopes, giant walls and scale sheer cliffs with ease. Dash Yoshi can even run across water in order to reach places that are normally unreachable.

  • The Blimp Fruit
  • – Eating a Blimp Fruit will turn Yoshi into the blue-colored “Blimp Yoshi”. Yoshi will inflate himself like into a fat balloon. As he blows out air he will slowly rise for a short period of time. You can use the Control Stick to change the direction that he floats. Or you can hold down the A Button to make Yoshi hold his breath, which causes him to stop rising. As Blimp Yoshi, you will see an air meter appear which will slowly deplete. When it runs out Yoshi will fall back down to Earth and return to his normal size. You can use Blimp Yoshi to reach high places.

  • The Bulb Berry
  • – Eating a Bulb Berry will turn Yoshi into the yellow-colored “Bulb Yoshi”. The yellow dino will now be bright and shining, which releases a mysterious golden light from his body for a short time. This light will reveal hidden platforms and objects, lighting the way for you to walk forward. However be careful, as the bulb goes out the land you are standing on will slowly disappear. If it disappears fully you’ll fall to your doom!

    When you combine the changed up gameplay of riding Yoshi with his reportoir of moves and the power-ups above, the game offers a pretty significant new set of level designs in the stages that feature Yoshi. You’ll run up stages that feature straight up walls separated by Flower Pegs between each section, navigate dark stages using the Bulb Berry and run across water in tropical levels reminiscent of Super Mario Sunshine (Complete with the Piantas and Nokis inhabiting the place).

    The next coolest aspect of the game for Mario fans are the all-new power-ups and suits that make their debut in Super Mario Galaxy 2. Each one adds to the abilities of Mario and will be featured in certain stages. Some of the power-ups from the first game return, including:

  • Fire Mario
  • – The Fire Flower returns from the first Super Mario Galaxy. This classic Mario series staple that got it’s beginning in Super Mario Bros. 1 (But was missing from the later 3D titles including Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine) allows Mario to destroy enemies and objects and melt ice by throwing a fireball. Simply shake the Wii Remote and Mario will throw a fireball in the direction he is facing. The Fire Flower will only last for a short amount of time.

  • Rainbow Mario
  • – Since “Stars” are so commonly used in all other aspects of Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2, the “Starman” power-up from Mario’s past has been changed into the “Rainbow Star”. As before, it gives Mario temporary invincibility. While invincible, Mario can defeat any enemy he touches by simply running into them.

    If you need any more convincing, see how much fun the game exudes in the Super Mario Galaxy 2 launch trailer.

    Now let’s score the game to see what the overall fun-factor is…


    Reason: It’s super duper fun… in 3D! Nintendo have made some of the best 2D and 3D platform games ever created on the Wii and this Super Mario Galaxy sequel shows that it’s the company’s creativity that gives the Mario games unlimited potential. Did I mention it’s lotsa fun from start to end!? It’s awesome!! 😀