Super Mario Galaxy 2 Review

Super Mario Galaxy 2 doesn’t reinvent the 3D Mario wheel, and in fact follows closely to the legacy of its prequel. Nintendo has been up front about this, saying that SMG2 started as a kind of "Galaxy 1.5," sporting some unused items from the first game, and it shows. But somewhere along the line, SMG1.5 turned into a full-fledged sequel, and the upgrade pays off in spades. It pays off so well that SMG2 takes unsurprisingly takes the throne as platformer king of this generation, despite obvious similarities to its predecessor.

While I don’t wish to judge the sequel based on the success or failure of the original, I will refer back to it as a point of reference for ease of explanation. For those familiar with Super Mario Galaxy, SMG2 uses essentially the same mechanics and approach, aside from a return to more traditional level selection and a slightly more limited hub world in the shape of Mario’s head. Big changes come from new challenges wrapped in the same coat of paint, like the addition of Yoshi, who Mario can ride and use to activate abilities like dash, illuminate, and float. A number of old challenges and even a few bosses return from the first game, but are thrust into new environments and use some of Mario’s new powers (cloud generation, rock rolling, etc.) to create a fresh experience. However, any rehashed material is easily overcome by the incredible amount of new planets and characters, all of which retain the classic wit and charm of the Mario series.


In terms of scope, SMG2 is the largest Mario game to date. With 241 total stars, split between 120 regular stars (that’s including comet challenges and hidden stars), 120 "green stars" placed throughout the original levels, and the final secret star. For most, this may seem too daunting a task to even begin to attempt, but the good news is that the main course of the game exhausts after 71 stars, or about 20 hours. The adventure follows the basic Mario story trajectory: Princess Peach is captured by Bowser, so Mario has to blast his way through planets and minions in order to defeat Bowser and save her.

This simplicity in story design allows for a refreshing focus on the real stars of the game, the levels, and the challenges therein. With over seven constellations comprised of around eight unique and vibrant levels each, there’s rarely a moment of stillness or boredom. Casual gamers will find a comfortably gradual learning curve, and core or veteran gamers will find no lack of trying challenges throughout. Whether attempting to grab all the purple coins in the Flip Swap Galaxy or using the Wii motion controls to navigate a lush jungle environment using a bird glider, SMG2 keeps gamers moving along at a brisk and engaging pace — certainly enough to keep gamers interested through the main course of the game.

smg2 yoshi

Like its predecessor, SMG2 is graphically stunning for the Wii, and beautifully complemented by a simultaneously interstellar and throwback soundtrack. While not much has changed, the superb lighting effects and bright, cheerful color palette often associated with the Mario series absolutely shine here. A number of retro-themed levels featuring some traditional gameplay segments (including a number of 2D portions) are brought to life with old-school Mario songs, and a good portion of the score from Super Mario 64. SMG2 is, among many other things, an honorable nod to past successes in the series, while still allowing itself room for independent growth as a new title.

It is worth mentioning that co-op returns in SMG2, though in slightly different form than in its predecessor. While the second player still can’t truly control a character, they can pick up items and coins and drag them towards Mario, as opposed to simply gathering and shooting star bits. And Luigi makes his triumphant return in the sequel as well, becoming playable on most levels about halfway through the main quest, for those who want to take a "greener" approach.

There’s just a ton of content that has been packed into SMG2, and almost every single minute of it feels fun, fresh, and true to its roots. Whether you’re looking for a real platforming challenge, a short jaunt through the Mario universe, or anything in between, SMG2 has got it wrapped in unique, skillfully designed levels, puzzles, and characters. Another check in the win column for Nintendo.

5 out of 5


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Author: Dan Crabtree View all posts by
Dan is Managing Editor for GamerNode and a freelance gaming writer. His dog is pretty great. Check him out on Twitter @DanRCrabtree.

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