9th June 2009 - With E3 2009 winding up a lot of people have been complaining about the lack of hardcore games coming to the Wii. Nintendo has always been the more family friendly console and they have certainly been pushing for the casual gamer market with the Wii and the DS and it’s making them money so there may not be a large incentive for them to change. Super Mario, Legend of Zelda and Metroid would be the most popular and long standing games for the hardcore since the release of the NES with versions of these titles on all Nintendo platforms including the Wii. So let’s have a quick look at the most recent incarnations of these titles and have a look at what is coming in the future. In Part 1, we look at Super Mario.
Mario is the Italian, mustachioed, plumbing, grandfather of Nintendo. Starring in too many games to list, he is one of the most recognizable characters in the world; even non gamers will be able to tell you who he is. Starting out as an un-named carpenter trying to save a princess in the arcade classic: Donkey Kong. Mario eventually scored his own title; a 2D side scroller on the NES called Super Mario Brothers and it blew out from there. In 1996 Mario moved into the 3D realms on the Nintendo 64 with Super Mario 64 (go figure). The game was a critical success, with the use of 3D platforming and an intuitive camera system. Then Super Mario: Sunshine on the GameCube and now we have Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii.
As per usual Princess Peach is kidnapped at the start of the game by the evil dinosaur/turtle thing Bowser and Mario has to save the day. Yet this time Bowser has taken the Princess into out of space and Mario with the aid of his star friends must travel the universe from galaxy to galaxy, planet to planet to find her.
The design: Super Mario Galaxy is a well realized universe… All the planets and galaxies you visit have their own little themes and crazy designs to them, from the crazy haunted house planet! To the frozen ice worlds populated by talking penguins everything is reeking with a funny, cute and clever design. The Wii is not as graphically powerful as its main rivals: Xbox & Ps3 and sometimes it leaves games looking older and out of date, but SMG pushes the Wii to its limits and with some clever/stylish art decisions you won’t think you’re playing a last gen game. Level design at times is nothing short of a master piece. All the planets and galaxies in the game have their own gravity and this plays a huge part in the game play. You can run upside down, jump from one planet’s gravity to another’s and so on. The planets are also big puzzles with certain ways of unlocking or passing to the next area, with ideas like moving walkways with holes cut out of them or following a path that only appears just before your next step, so you better move slowly or fall to your doom. Bosses are impressive, and on a massive scale and require a bit of thought as to what game mechanic you will have to use to beat them.
Controls: I always find myself thinking that Wii controls are a gimmick, and a lot of games don’t do much to persuade me otherwise. Yet for the most part Super Mario Galaxy uses the Wii-mote to its full potential. Mario’s jumping and movement is controlled on the nunchuck leaving the Wii-mote to perform context sensitive tasks like: Spinning an enemy whose tail you grabbed, pulling Mario back and releasing him from a sling shot or collecting and shooting starbits (the currency of the game).
Music: All the classic Mario music you have grown up with is here and it makes you feel like a kid again. In addition to the Mario theme music is a classical piano soundtrack which reminds me of the early scenes in 2001: A space odyssey when the astronauts are walking upside down in the space station to Strauss’ Blue Danube. It fit perfectly in that film and I think that kind of music fits really well in SMG, giving it a great fantasy feel.
Design: Oddly enough some of my favorite parts of the game were also the most frustrating. The gravity mechanic while being innovative and cool isn’t always apparent where it is in use and you will find yourself falling off ledges to your death because in other places the world would just flip like you’re walking on the underside of a planet. The camera is another issue in places, moving about randomly when underwater and in other places not giving you the best angled view of an edge where you can fall off and die because you can’t see the next step is shorter than the one you are on.
Controls: Mario attacks with a spin move which is performed by whipping your Wii-mote. This is kind of cool but has 2 issues that really started to annoy me. The 1st being the spin attack has a weird timing on it and can be hard to attack a monster coming straight at you because you cannot spin in time to knock it back. The other issue is constantly whipping your wrist to attack monsters can become really sore and in the end I gave up on the attack all together.
Most of the time Mario controls well until you get him wet. There are quite a few underwater levels in this game and trying to control Mario underwater is like trying to do a 3 point turn in a semi trailer down a tight alleyway blindfolded. Most of the time I only managed to finish the water levels by pure luck and a lot of patience. It doesn’t help that the camera goes silly underwater zooming in and out and not always giving you a view of where Mario is.
Overall I though Super Mario Galaxy was a pretty good game. With a ton of levels to complete and extra things to do in levels you have already completed (time trials, hidden stars etc…) the game is a heap of fun to play and should be in anyone’s Wii library.
2 new Mario games have been shown and announced by Nintendo at this year’s E3 conference.
Super Mario Bros: Wii & Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario Bros: Wii looks like Super Mario Bros World on the NES which people hold as the quintessential Mario game, yet here it has been expanded to fit 4 players playing at once to complete the levels and but also get the highest score out of the other 3 players. Playing together means the camera will zoom in and out to show each person where they are in the level and when a power up is uncovered it will give out enough for each player to pick it up. The game looks more like a party title than a real in-depth Mario game, but that is just my initial impression.
Super Mario Galaxy 2: People are excited about this announcement yet to me it looked like a carbon copy of the original with Yoshi tacked on. With the original Galaxy winning a bunch of GOTY awards and being a massive fan favorite, I don’t see Nintendo changing the formula up too much, but it would be nice to see something new in this next Mario game.
Article by Daniel Watson