Late to the Party: Super Mario Galaxy

Many of you know that I started this feature mainly because I got so sick of the glorification of classics. So often, a project that’s beloved soon after it comes out turns out to be a piece of garbage once that sense of newness wears off. The video game industry is infamous for this in particular. Max Payne, Call of Duty 4, Heavy Rain, and Skyrim were all considered revolutionary at the time, but they aged about as gracefully as a college student’s first tattoo (ok, Heavy Rain was never good to begin with). But some games manage to stay fresh long after their release date. Some games manage to actually deserve the reputation they have. Some of them, I dare say, are actually good. So where does Super Mario Galaxy lie? Well, I hate to inform you all……….. It’s really good. One of the few games that actually lives up to the hype. Sure, it has its flaws, but this is a shining example of why I like playing video games.

Among the 1st things I noticed was how different Mario controlled in comparison to the other 3d games. He still has some slick moves, but they are far fewer than Odyssey, Sunshine, and even 64. For the most part, it’s a couple of jumps and a very satisfying spin attack. But that works just fine since the levels are far more linear in this game than the jungle gym design of the other entries. While this lack of freedom might sound less fun, the more guided experience leads to far more memorable moments where Nintendo throws whatever wacky idea they can. Bee suits, springs, toy worlds, and so much more. They rarely outstay their welcome, with the devs quickly moving onto the next idea.

Mario games have never been known for their stories and while this is no different, it’s the first one with some dramatic tension, the first one where Mario actually feels like a hero. The goofy humor is still there, but never before has beating the hell Bowser’s minions felt so impactful. It’s common for Mario to get launched from one planetoid to another with this beautiful shot of the galaxy, going through hoops of lava and escaping an exploding planetoid. But like all hero stories, the devs know when to start to slow things down and let the players goof with the quirky characters they run into.

As fun as the game is, it does have issues. The controls can act up a bit whenever gravity shifts and the motion control levels are rarely fun. Bosses have never been a franchise strength, and that remains true here, with more than a few repeats with slight variations during Mario’s journey to save the universe.

But even with those minor issues, this remains an incredible achievement of a game. It’s the type of thing that other dev teams look at and aspire to be like, the type of game that ruins other games for players. Most importantly, it is the type of game that actually lives up to its reputation. Right now, I want to delete every memory of this game in my brain so I can experience it for the first time again. It is just that good.