Updated Preview: Goomba Bashing: The Next Generation
Since its announcement Super Mario Galaxy has been one of the most anticipated titles for Wii owners worldwide. Gaming Target previewed the game a few months back, but since that time a few new details have emerged such as the Game Developer's Conference footage last March. Here is a rough lowdown of what we know so far.
As the title suggests, the principle action in Super Mario Galaxy takes place in outer space. The game starts when a mysterious creature kidnaps Princess Peach and whisks her away to the final frontier. The princess really needs to get some better security at her castle. At any rate, in true heroic form Mario blasts into space to rescue the damsel in distress. It is unclear as to how Mario can breath in a vacuum. Our running theory is that if a plumber can handle the rank stench of the New York sewage system, then outer space is a stroll in the park.
As opposed to running around vast worlds like in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, in Galaxy the plumber turned hero traverses large objects in space one at a time. These include solar bodies such as asteroids but also stranger fair like giant apples and UFOs. As these are 3-D bodies, Mario is able run around them in 360 degrees. Likewise Mario's enemies can chase him all over these spheres. One demo shows a Bullet Bill following Mario around an asteroid. In another, a piranha planet/dinosaur hybrid does the same.
The object seems to be to reach the end of the level. To do this Mario must uncover the star on each planetoid. This star serves to propel him to the next heavenly body. These stars act somewhat like the blue cannons found in Super Mario 64. The new trailer also shows Mario traversing distances through other methods. These include traveling along t a series of blue lights and running along the back of a giant worm. All in all Galaxy seems to be the strange hybrid of a Mario title mixed with some of the elements found in the Sonic series and Nights.
Controlling Mario is pretty much what you would expect. The nunchuck's analog stick steers Mario while a press of the A button on the Wii-mote makes him jump. The player can perform most of the moves from previous titles including the triple jump and back flip.
Galaxy brings something new to the table with the star reticule. This is a cursor that the player controls with the Wii-mote. This approximates the cursors found in many PC adventure titles. This reticule can be used for a number of things such as interacting with objects. In one instance the player can make bells ring by holding the cursor over them. Another notable ability featured in many demos is that Mario can stop enemies in their tracks by placing the star reticule on them. A skilled player can hold these enemies there indefinitely before stomping the hapless foe and thus forcing Bowser write yet another letter home to a minion's parents. Additionally, shaking the Wii-mote causes Mario to unleash a spin attack.
Galaxy is one of the best-looking Wii games to date. The game runs in progressive scan and 16:9. The graphics feature familiar character design from past titles (for example Mario looks similar), but in general they look much more polished. Likewise the bosses are huge. A recent demo shows Mario fighting a huge mechanical walker that is larger than the planet on which it is standing!
There is an amazing amount of activity on the screen at once. Not only is the immediate action amazing but you can also see things happening on planetoids in the distance. Keep in mind this all occurs with very little to no discernable slowdown (as of yet reported).
The game's graphics are perhaps at their most impressive when Mario is propelled through space at amazing speeds complete with impressive particle effects. The player will have plenty of time to experience all this with few distractions. This is largely because the game controls almost all of the camera movement for you. The days of messing with C buttons are over.