11.13Mario Galaxy: First Thoughts
First thing, right out of the box? Nobody does it like Nintendo. No other developer makes games that show such graceful understanding of how a game should play, from the way the controls just melt into your hands to the complex actions they coax out of running, jumping, and spinning. Margret Robinson had it pegged in the first paragraph of her Eurogamer review – Mario Galaxy plays like a treasure from another world, a place where the arrival of Mario 64 ten years ago led to a revolution in the way games are thought about rather than a number of companies cancelling their in-the-works platformers out of shame. It delights and at the same time enrages; I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to play something this good, and I can’t believe the crap I’ve let fill my time while waiting.
Gameplay is hard to describe outside of elaborate hand gestures and excited sounds. Stars are hidden in small glaxies scattered throughout the universe, and it’s up to you to go find them. Each galaxy has its own notion of how little things like gravity and physics work, and despite a few shared elements here and there no two bits are every truly the same. Travel to each galaxy and between planetoids is handled by launching Mario into space, where he swoops and spins like he was born to it. After playing through nearly a fifth of all the game offers (I started at 11:30 and just now looked up), there’s fair evidence that this is where he belonged all along.
It’s a beautiful, beautiful game. The visuals are the best the Wii’s seen yet, and while no one voice will ever silence the hardcore critics and their flabbergasted rage at Nintendo’s “for teh kiddies” approach to next-gen hardware, it should quiet more than its share of outcry. You really must play it to understand the heaps and mounds of praise it’s getting in the press, because nothing else will show you just how right they’ve gotten it. Mario Galaxy is a triumph from the word go, and the little bit I’ve seen so far has already provided some of my favorite game moments of the year. Now to go find some more.