Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
To be released: May 23, 2010
Except for the Ice Flower, every power-up from the original game will be appearing in Super Mario Galaxy 2. New to the mix of power-ups are the drill, rock suit and the recently revealed and final ability, the cloud suit.
As Cloud Mario, you'll have three clouds that you can summon as a platform by shaking the Wii Remote. You only get three cloud platforms, but levels that utilize the cloud ability are usually littered with cloud power-ups, so you'll easily be able to restock on more clouds. Levels that require the ability -- such as ones found in the Fluffy Bluff or Cloudy Court Galaxies -- mostly consist of large open areas in which the player has to create platforms to progress. Some areas in levels will have wind blowing that will move your cloud platform when created in the wind's path.
Levels are centered on Mario using the cloud power, and you'll find yourself having to plan your course of action. You'll have to move quickly, as the clouds will disappear after several seconds. Also, players will be able to "ground pound" right through clouds, and touching water will make you lose the power-up. That's a bit odd, seeing as clouds are made of water.
Just like in the original game, a second player can hop in and lend a hand in the Co-Star mode. Player two will use the Wiimote to shoot Star Bits at enemies, collect objects, help Mario jump higher and hold enemies in place.
Additionally, player two can now kill or stun enemies by shaking the Wiimote as they hold onto them. It's a simple little addition, yet it definitely makes the second player feel more involved. Player two can also send special messages heard over the first player's Wiimote speaker. By pressing on the D-pad, cheers and classic Mario sound effects can be beamed to the first player. As my co-op buddy, Rey Gutierrez, demonstrated, this feature can easily be abused. Also, player two can go to town tickling NPCs -- a funny and slightly disturbing option.
Nintendo is introducing two helpful elements to Super Mario Galaxy 2 that are similar to the Super Guide from New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Some sections in the levels will have a little television called Hint TV. The TV will show a quick video demonstration of how players should get past those sections; it's merely in place to offer a helpful tip.
The other aid players will get in Galaxy 2 is called the Cosmic Guide. The Cosmic Witch -- who looks a lot like Rosalina -- will take over the controls and play the game until the player is ready to try for themselves. The Cosmic Guide will appear if the player dies too much or seems stuck in an area. Activating the Cosmic Guide will automatically give the player a bronze star instead of the normal gold star.
I noticed during my playthrough a lot of nods to classic Mario games, especially to Super Mario World. Yoshi -- who is ridiculously cute -- will run off crying and screaming when forcefully separated from Mario. A layer of drums is also added to the music whenever Mario hops onto the all-consuming dinosaur. Another thing I picked up on was the use of the Ghost House music from Super Mario World in the ghost level in Galaxy 2. You can expect a lot of Easter eggs like this throughout the game.
Aside from some graphical improvements, Galaxy 2 is using the same engine found in Galaxy. The game feels a lot like the original, a point that has drawn a lot of criticism, but is that really such a bad thing? It's Super Mario Galaxy, but with a lot of new awesome stuff added. The star count is on par with the original, and that same Mario charm is as present as ever.
The sounds, visuals and more just kept a giant smile plastered on my face. Needless to say, if you loved the first game, then you'll definitely adore Super Mario Galaxy 2.
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