Stuff I Say

Mario Galaxy Is Magical

Posted in gaming by 51future on April 29, 2008

So you’ve probably already heard that Mario Galaxy is awesome, but some things deserve reiteration.

Mario Galaxy is a fun game.

A close friend of mine, one who I used to play a lot of Halo 2 with, used to talk about the way we played Halo when we played it. We would sit down on the couch together, at first slouching and ragtag, and as the competition would heat up we would sit up straighter and straighter. Finally, we would inch closer to the television. We eventually came to the conclusion that to play a good game of Halo 2 required a little bit of preparation.

“Time to sit down,” I would say, with a look of serious resolve on my face, “Put the TV in my lap, put my face inside– all the way inside the television, and play a game of Halo.”

Halo 2 was always a very intense gaming experience. I wouldn’t call it fun, really. Just intense. But I’ve never really expected fun from the Halo series. I expect competition, intensity, and energy. I want to… I don’t know… Tear my balls off in frustration sometimes and Halo is the game that helps me achieve that end.

Mario Galaxy, on the other hand, is a completely different experience entirely. In two days I’ve gone from 3 stars to something like 27, all within short bursts in-between laundry or cleaning the house. I haven’t once felt compelled to keep playing longer than I want to, or been subjected to anything frustrating. None of the stars I’ve gotten so far presented any insurmountable challenges– in fact, most stages have plenty of extra lives and safety nets so that it never really punishes you when you make a mistake. In addition to that all, at times, the game feels decidedly retro. It’s the closest thing to the pure, wonderful feeling that is solid 2-D platforming in a fully 3-D world. For instance, there are glass stars that you can run around inside and/or outside. There are puzzles that flip a tiny planetoids gravity for specific sections up or down, allowing you to run on ceilings or up walls. All of this is open. Much of it spherical. Completely 3-D, and yet, the concepts that stitch it all together feel as though they were taken directly from New Super Mario Bros. or Yoshi’s Island; all because of the way they shine in their simplicity. Gone are jumping puzzles where you’re fighting the camera. Now you’re wrapping your mind around satellites with core-centric gravity and cannons that should rays of colored light that you fly to your destination on. And, whenever you do fly to the next section, the game presents you with an effortless little joyride akin to Half-Life 2’s “vistas” (hauntingly beautiful post-apocalyptic stretches of terrain often situated strategically to “reward” players who had gotten past difficult or story line content) which gives you a few seconds of rest to breathe in the scenic stretches of each individual galaxy.

I had been thinking all this for a long time. Thinking it because the art direction is probably the best Nintendo’s ever put out. Ever. And then I went inside a room and suddenly the game was reading me a story about a little girl in a spaceship and a star looking for its mother.

It just feels so pure to play for fun again.

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