Game of the week: Super Mario Galaxy 2

Platform: Wii
Price: R450
Verdict: Next-level Mario.

One of the best days of my life, as a kid, was being 10 years old and using saved up pocket money to buy a Famicom (Japanese NES) 8-bit console. I had enough cash to get two games with it and chose Goonies and Super Mario Brothers. I had played Atari and other early consoles but the NES was a milestone and Super Mario set the stage for a new era in console gaming. Anyone old enough to remember MacGyver, The A Team and Airwolf will likely also have some nostalgia attached to Mario. But you don’t have to be a child of the eighties to appreciate *Super Mario Galaxy 2 *which once again raises the bar for platform games.

This is the second in a 3D series of Mario games set in space, along with an amazing variety of power-ups and physics tricks. And it’s ridiculously fun.

The controls are a bit niggly at first, especially the irritating (to me) Wiimote-twist that you have to do to get Mario to spin up against things. This move is the same as in *New Super Mario Bros. for Wii *and I still can’t get the hang of it. I’m not a big fan of motion gaming in general but at least you can play Galaxy 2 without needing to be standing in front of the TV. You do need to point the controller at the set, however, to manipulate a star-cursor used to collect stars in the game that can also be fired as a weapon.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 requires the Nunchuck attachment for the Wii-remote and uses most of the buttons for specific jumps and moves. A second player can also join in with just a Wii-remote and control a little star that follows Mario around and helps him out. This is a neat feature, but not much fun for the second player.

So we’ve established that this game is fun, but it does also contain some of the frustration common to Super Mario titles. For example, dying will send you back to the beginning of a level and it can be highly annoying to play through again, especially if you were close to a save point before dying. There are also camera angles that sometimes make your movements difficult to judge, sending Mario flying off a planet, for example.

Those annoyances pale when compared to the storyline, however, that is as inane as they come. You can’t skip through the ridiculous dialogue about… like… candy-floss and mushrooms and stars, either. Luckily these sequences aren’t too long, but you have to wonder why Nintendo even bothers with a storyline for Mario games.

That said, the variety in Super Mario Galaxy 2 makes up for any shortcomings and will keep you busy with this game for ages. There are heaps of spherical, 3D worlds to run around on, 2D levels that set a new standard in platform gaming, gravity-reversed levels where you’re stuck to the ceiling and power-ups including a suit that lets Mario create clouds  in mid air to use as platforms and a bee suit for flying around in.

Yoshi, Mario’s dinosaur-friend is also back in this title and you can ride around on him, using his tongue to zap enemies.

If you have a Nintendo Wii this is a must-have title that will keep you busy for ages. You have to push through the first few levels before things really get going, so bear that in mind. It’s a good time. And it’s Mario.

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