Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Is Super Mario Galaxy 2 the best platformer ever created?

4:00 PM on 05.27.2010 // Chad Concelmo

The answer is yes.

Sound off in the comments!

Oh, I have to write more? Shoot. Okay, I will elaborate on why this is, but just know that there won’t be some kind of surprise ending at the conclusion of this feature. The “yes” may turn into a “YES!”, but, other than the enlarged typing, my opinion will not be swayed. NOT BE SWAYED, I TELL YOU!

In our perfect 10 review of Super Mario Galaxy 2, fellow editor and object of my man crush Dale North excitedly called the Wii sequel the “Best Mario Game Ever!” Obviously I agree with this. But I think it is even more than that. For me, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the greatest platformer ever made. The best. The #1 platform game of all time. No question.

I know saying things are the “best thing ever” is a daily occurrence for me -- just today I have already eaten the best bowl of cereal ever, heard the best song ever, and even drove down the best street I have ever driven on -- but don’t let my hyperbole-fueled views diminish your trust in my positive opinions. Although I tend to get excited about everything (did I mention this keyboard I am typing on right now is INCREDIBLE?!), when I mean business, I mean business. And with Super Mario Galaxy 2, I mean business. Serious business.

So, why is Galaxy 2 the best platformer ever created? And what makes a platformer a platformer? Hit the jump for the reasons I think Super Mario Galaxy 2 is pretty much the perfect package. (Also check the end of the post for a bonus list of my top ten favorite platformers of all time!)

The definition of a platformer

What exactly is a platformer? Originating in the ‘80s, the term simply describes videogames involving jumping on, well, platforms (e.g. the original Super Mario Bros., Adventure Island, etc.). The definition may sound overly basic -- and, sure, there are more complex sub-genres such as Mega Man and Castlevania -- but that’s pretty much the best way to describe what a platform game is and should be.

In a way, the aforementioned sub-genres are part of the problem, one of the reasons the definition gets a little muddled. A lot of platformers now are becoming more complicated, with a heavy reliance on weapons and back-tracking. Not to say that is a bad thing, but with more and more games combining multiple genres, one can start to miss the pure, unadulterated fun of just grabbing a controller, running towards a set goal, and jumping over multiple obstacles.

That’s why Mario games are so great. Even after all these years they like to stick to the basics. Mario may find a variety of power-ups during his adventures, but the games he stars in don’t veer too far from what a platformer should be all about: mainly jumping from one platform to another.

Mario is the king of the genre!

The original Super Mario Bros. is arguably the most famous platformer ever made. And although Mario has been featured in many, many different games over the years, his best appearances are still in platformers.

While there have been a couple of missteps along the way (despite how much I enjoy it, Super Mario Sunshine is rather sloppy when compared to typical Mario standards), the traditional Mario platformers have all refreshingly stuck to the basic rules of what makes a true platformer so great.

Because of this, Mario will always be the king of the genre. While other games that started as platformers moved on to different things (Jak & Daxter comes to mind), Mario trusts its core gameplay and remains wonderfully retro.

The rules of platforming

For a platformer to be a real platformer, it needs to avoid certain things and, more importantly, follow a set of rules.

1. Jumping has to be the primary gameplay focus
2. Levels needs to be mostly linear (no backtracking and open-worlds allowed!)
3. Level design is of the utmost importance

Knowing these rules, some games considered by some people to be platformers really aren’t: Cave Story, Super Metroid, Castlevania, even Mega Man. As much as I love these games, they fall more into the sub-genre of platformers, as there are many focuses outside of just jumping through levels. Cave Story and Super Metroid are full of backtracking in an open-world structure and Castlevania relies too much on weapon collection and defeating enemies. Heck, the jumping in the original Castlevania is so frustrating and hard to manage, calling it a platformer is almost a knock to the genre! A platformer with bad jumping is like a cupcake with Vegemite frosting. It doesn't work (and makes me throw up a little just thinking about it).

But why do all these specifics matter? Well, they really don’t -- a good game is a good game regardless -- but it helps to understand what a platformer really is to understand why Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the best the genre has ever seen.

Why Super Mario Galaxy 2 = the ultimate platformer

So let’s apply these rules to Super Mario Galaxy 2!

1. Jumping has to be the primary gameplay focus
Outside of the analog stick on the nunchuck, the “A” button on the Wiimote (a.k.a. the jump button) is easily the most used button in Super Mario Galaxy 2. Why is this? BECAUSE THE GAME IS ALL ABOUT JUMPING, as a platformer should be!

Every single level in Galaxy 2 involves some form of precise jumping from one platform to another. Whether it is a literal floating platform like in the old Mario games, a massive flying spaceship, or an orbiting planet, jumping from one thing to another is the game’s primary action.

2. Levels needs to be mostly linear (no backtracking and open-worlds allowed!)
The best platformers (and maybe all true platformers) separate their games into completely individual levels. Even when platformers moved into the 3D realm and simple left to right movement evolved into a free-roaming paradise -- such as the revolutionary Super Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie -- their main levels still remained separate entities (e.g. Tick Tock Clock in Mario 64; Treasure Trove Cove in Banjo).

With Super Mario Galaxy 2, this rule most definitely applies. There may be a few stars you can collect on the same level or instances when replaying the same stage will yield further rewards, but the entire game is separated into dozens and dozens of completely separate, completely varied levels.

3. Level design is of the utmost importance.
Most importantly, what separates a good platformer from a genius one is the level design. And this is where Super Mario Galaxy 2 shines. I would comfortably go so far as saying Super Mario Galaxy 2 has the best, most creative level design in the history of videogames. It really is that good.

Each level in the game is a true master class in design. Just when a sequence would blow my mind with its creativity (Spin-Dig Galaxy), another level would come along and impress even more (Flip-Swap Galaxy) ... and then impress even more (Beat Box Galaxy) ... and even more (Chompworks Galaxy) ... and then even more (Melty Monster Galaxy).

By the time the game was over I was exhausted by how much fun I had. It truly left me wondering how Nintendo is even going to think about topping this game with future titles.

Let’s imagine all of Nintendo’s brilliantly creative ideas are kept in a jar. In my mind, this jar was not only emptied into Super Mario Galaxy 2, the game’s designers actually took their fingers and soaked up every last ounce of creativity along the edges, like hungry people do when trying to get that last bit of peanut butter.

Nintendo always manages to surprise me, so I am sure their next Mario game will be stunning, but, man, it is hard to wrap my head around how Galaxy 2 could ever be topped.

Random editor's note: I LOVE THIS LEVEL!

The great comparison!

To prove my point even more about Super Mario Galaxy 2 being the best platformer ever created, let’s look at a (semi-random) list of other excellent, timeless platformers ... and how Galaxy 2 manages to school them all.

The original Banjo-Kazooie is an incredible, expansive platformer with some of the best music on the Nintendo 64.
Why SMG2 is better: As charming as the levels are in Banjo, Galaxy 2 takes things up a hundred notches. And I would never, ever criticize the addictive music of Banjo-Kazooie ... but the gorgeous full orchestrations that score Super Mario Galaxy 2 are beyond incredible.

One of the most challenging and skilled-based platformers ever made, N+ flourishes in its remarkable simplicity and daunting design.
Why SMG2 is better: N+ is definitely more challenging than Super Mario Galaxy 2, but Galaxy 2 rewards its player with more organic level design and a much fairer learning curve. Also, variety!

Drill Dozer
Drill Dozer may have not been played by many people (for shame!), but the Game Boy Advance game is an incredibly solid platformer. It is so old-school that it feels like it could have been released on the Super Nintendo -- which is most definitely a good thing.
Why SMG2 is better: Again, Drill Dozer is great, but Super Mario Galaxy 2 does everything better. EVEN STUFF WITH A DRILL!

All the other Mario games
Super Mario Galaxy 2’s biggest competition, funny enough, comes from all the other platform games in the Mario series. They are all fantastic in their own ways, but ...
Why SMG2 is better: ... Super Mario Galaxy 2 seems to combine the best of each of them. I can’t fault Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, or even the original Super Mario Galaxy on any level -- they are all absolutely perfect games -- but everything they do great Galaxy 2 just does a little better. Every wonderfully creative stage from all of the old Mario games is topped during one of the many varied, instant classic stages in Galaxy 2.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 really is the new standard for what all platformers should be.

The gauntlet is thrown down!

Okay, now it’s your chance to tell me what you think. I welcome the inevitable disagreements about my bold declaration, but, before you hit the comments, think about the giant smile on your face I know you had when playing a large majority of Super Mario Galaxy 2. Think about how many times your jaw dropped at some of the game's staggering level design.

It's pretty hard to argue the game isn't the perfect (and best!) platformer.

Let's discuss! If you do disagree, what other platformer do you think is better and why? What do you think of Super Mario Galaxy 2 in general? Do you think it deserves its current place as the highest rated videogame of all time? And where would you rank it on a list of your favorite platformers?




For the curious (and as promised before the jump), here is a list of My Top Ten Favorite Platformers of All Time! (Keep in mind I took out all sub-genre titles, including Mega Man 2, amongst others.)

1. Super Mario Galaxy 2
2. Super Mario Galaxy
3. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
4. Super Mario Bros. 3
5. Super Mario World
6. New Super Mario Bros. Wii
7. Banjo Kazooie
8. Super Mario 64
9. Drill Dozer
10. N+

What do you think?

Chad Concelmo,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
El Dango avatarEl Dango
What if the 'OOSE' thing in the new Bourne poster is deliberate? What if it's like the bad guy or something?
drmcscott avatardrmcscott
No more night Xcom. Cant sleep. No more night Xcom. Cant sleep. WOrk perofmence bad. No moe night Xconm. Nad. Cmat sleep. Hep me! HJkelp me!
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
SMT demons, huh? There's really only one choice.
Malthor avatarMalthor
One of my favourite demons from SMT is Samael, his death magic and Megido spell are always a great help( Megido especially made him the bane of golden hands in my last P4 playthrough). Plus he looks pretty badass.
FakePlasticTree avatarFakePlasticTree
Favorite demon in Shin Megami Tensei, eh? Oh, I got many but so I'll just pick one for now whom is a beast in the Persona series. Yoshitsune--Hassou Tobi, Heat Riser = Don't fear the REAPER!
Flegma avatarFlegma
Played half an hour of Last Story. Yay, British voices! But the absence of colours makes me want to play other games instead, especially in this greyscale season.
HeyItsDad avatarHeyItsDad
There's not even enough reviews out to give Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth a rating on Metacritic...what's up with this?
ooktar avatarooktar
Dat Booty.
ooktar avatarooktar
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Just came across someone who tried to debate that people don't hate change - They hate BAD change - Ahahahahahahah!
Agent9 avatarAgent9
I miss Crash and Spyro. They had a fantastic trilogy on the ps1 and I loved every minute of it. Here's one of my favorite Spyro tracks, why not post one of your favorite tracks from wither of these great games.
Larxinostic avatarLarxinostic
Many thanks to a pal from time immemorial for his sneaky late birthday present to me of a digital Amazon gift card, which I promptly redeemed for this alluring beaut. Cheers! Viva la PS Vita~ [img][/img]
Parismio avatarParismio
So I played xcom eu last night to get that xcom hype back. Half hour ago I already lost my brother, my best friends and my dog. Its been a stressful evening.
Nick R P Green avatarNick R P Green
Asides from a last proof read and any final edits, the script for my final 2015 reflection video is now complete. I will see this through to its conclusion. There'll be a blog version as always and once it's done and over with, I'll finally update my bio!
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Gore Magala set complete! That only took like 15 or 16 tries!
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
I'm glad that the Amiibo stock situation got much better. Because Hasbro sure as hell didn't get the memo with their Marvel Legends figures. These two seem more elusive than a western Lucina Amiibo!
taterchimp avatartaterchimp
Yay, finally beat the Necrodancer!
Jinx 01 avatarJinx 01
The next time you're getting riled up about game news, politics, drama, etc. just step back and be like The Dude.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -