'Super Mario Galaxy 2' Is Still Platforming Heaven, One Decade Later
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is now ten years old. This makes me feel incredibly uneasy, since I was 17 when I first played it, and I refuse to believe that was a decade ago. The passage of time frightens me, as it should frighten us all.
Ah well. The good news is that some things don't change. I still possess the emotional maturity of a 17 year old, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 is still about as close to platforming Nirvana as it's possible to get.
Galaxy 2 remains, for my money, the best 3D Mario game. I can already hear some of you crying about a certain N64 game, so let's get this outta the way. Super Mario 64 is a legendary classic that set down the very foundations on which all 3D platformers have since been built - but have you played it recently?
While still a Very Good Game, 64 is undeniably clunky in some places. The magic is still there, but it's starting to show its age. Galaxy 2, with its vibrant worlds, silky smooth controls, and rousing orchestral soundtrack, has aged with all the grace and charm of Paul Rudd. Which is to say it's barely aged at all.
Some of you might argue that Super Mario Sunshine is the best of the bunch, but I have neither the time nor the energy to reason with people who clearly don't want to be helped.
More Like This
Super Mario Galaxy 2 doesn't rely on crappy water pistols or over-reliance on gimmicks or power-ups. It throws new ideas and concepts at players with dizzying speed and precision, to the extent that many of the game's 49 'Galaxies' have enough well-designed concepts to sustain their own games.
One world might see you drilling through the core of a planet in pursuit of a giant robot. Another could throw you headfirst into a world where pipes, blocks and Goombas are absolutely giant. The next could have you desperately trying to stay in the light as it cuts the only safe path through a haunted house. Galaxy 2 does so much, and yet it does it all effortlessly. It commits to every single idea, no matter how big or small.
It could be argued that Super Mario Galaxy has the edge on its sequel. I wouldn't call you out on that, I suppose. Still, I would say that Super Mario Galaxy 2 offers much more of a challenge for those that want to seek it out, with an optional final level that's among the hardest platforming gauntlets ever created. Galaxy 2 also has Yoshi, whereas the first game does not, which I consider an absolute slam dunk.
So Super Mario Galaxy 2 has the edge on everything that came before it. Easily done, I suppose. Especially since Galaxy 2 had the advantage of being able to build on the successes of Super Mario 64 and the first Galaxy, while actively avoiding everything to do with Sunshine. But what about the 3D Mario games that came after? Did any of them ever topple Galaxy 2 from its pedestal? Well, no. I mean, you've seen the headline. You know what I'm getting at.
Super Mario 3D Land on 3DS and 3D World on Wii U are brilliant games. I wouldn't dare to suggest otherwise. But they've always felt less to me like classic 3D Mario games, and more like the 2D games simply adapted for 3D. By which I mean they're far more linear, focused, and have much less emphasis on exploration.
That's not a bad thing, but Super Mario Galaxy 2 invites you to really get stuck into each individual level and see what it has to offer, rather than rush through from A to B. There's a magic in that, that I feel 3D Land and 3D World were always missing. Everything feels ever so slightly more open, while still giving players a clear path to follow through levels if they'd rather simply rush through.
Mario Odyssey came close to taking Galaxy 2's crown, I have to say. The Switch platformer put 3D Mario games back on the right track, offering larger environments and a heady mix of exploration and platforming. However, having recently played through both games again, I can't help but feel Galaxy 2 offers a more rewarding blend that puts more emphasis on platforming challenge, something that Odyssey, for all its glory, offers up a little more sporadically.
That's what it really boils down to for me. Super Mario Galaxy 2 just never, ever stops. It's constantly inventive, consistently challenging, and utterly wondrous. It takes you by the hand and giddily guides you through world after world of clever ideas, ingenious mechanics, fearsome boss battles, and colourful power-ups. Surprising, heartfelt, hilarious, and engaging all at once, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the absolute pinnacle of 3D Mario games. And that's really saying something. (And we can't wait to play it all over again on Switch soon, right Nintendo?)
Featured Image Credit: Nintendo