Super Mario Galaxy

Blue, Green, Yellow, Red, Green, Got it?In a well-reported stroke of probably accidental hilarity, the cover for Super Mario Galaxy proclaims to the world “U R MR GAY”. Too right.

So, Super Mario Galaxy is a Mario game of the 3D variety on the Wii. This means any gamer worth their salt should have a basic understanding of the experience. Mario retains his moveset from Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, with a few additions. He runs, he jumps, he triple-jumps, he backflips, and now a quick jerk of the Wii remote sends Mario spinning, his arms flailing around, and boosting his jump.

The structure is also the same as in previous titles, broken into a series of large levels dotted around a hub. Each level has several objectives and each one explores different routes and opening different areas as required.

And that would be enough to make this a fun game, but Galaxy has more than a few environmental twists. Most levels are comprised of a series of small planetoids hovering in space, alowing Mario to run all the way around each planetoid. The centre of gravity varies from object to object, and sometimes there is a blackhole that will suck you up if you fall into the hollow centre, or simply off a ledge on one of the flat-plane levels.

The great thing about this playful use of gravity is that you discover by doing. The world doesn’t explain itself in words, it encourages you to explore and experiment. The game is generous with lives, giving you license to be reckless, to test the boundaries of the game’s colourful environments all in the name of fun. At first, it will come close to breaking your brain, but before you know it, the crazy geometry and always strange but always coherent physics becomes second nature. When you stop playing the game, your perception of the real world starts to distort and come apart at the seams.

Nintendo have said that they see their games as being toys, and many have turned up their nose at this supposedly condescending attitude towards the so-called “art” of video games. A toy is something you play with and interactivity is the backbone of the video game. I think Nintendo are on to something. They know that what matters is the playing, the feel of the game, how fun it is. The point I am circumlocuting (in order to get this text on television?) is that the story of this game is fun and unobtrusive on the play, as opposed to a game by Hideo Kojima.

Some levels see Mario turn into a busy bee, some see him turn into a spring. Some of them are flat, some are round, some are half-invisible, some of them take place in spheres of water (awesome). Basically, from one level to the next, you’re constantly surprised by the twists and turns, whole new gameplay concepts are added and taken away in the space of one level, existing just long enough to be learnt, not long enough to make them easy or boring.

As well as being a tiny bit fun, Super Mario Galaxy is also astoundingly pretty, by which I mean it will astound you with its pretty. It’s not HD, it’s not photo realistic, the textures are not hyper-detailed, but it is bouncy bouncy fun fun fun in bright bold colours, crazy effects and bizarre enemies. Of particular note are the fur and water effects.

I wholeheartedly recommend this game, obviously, and I echo the unanimous praise this latest Mario adventure has recieved throughout the gaming world. If you haven’t already played it, then you truly are Mister Gay.

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