MCPFirst Impression: Super Mario Galaxy

Super Mario. . .in Space

For the past year, gamers have gobbled-up the Wii like they were Michael Moriarty at the Maker’s Mark distillery. However during this time, Wii owners have encountered mirages, instead of great first-party games. Twilight Princess was a great Gamecube game that really didn’t hit the mark. Metroid Prime 3, meanwhile, demonstrated the Wii’s potential, but as time passes, more and more gamers realize how truly hollow the game was.

But finally, one year after launch, the first great Wii game has arrived in Super Mario Galaxy. When the N64 launched, there were only two games available, Pilotwings 64 and Super Mario 64. Nintendo, fortunately, was able to sustain the N64 during what should have been a period of Save the Children starvation, because of the superior quality of Pilotwings and the legendary (yes, legendary) quality of Mario 64. As remarkable and innovative as Mario 64 was, it never had a proper sequel.

The Gamecube launched with the disappointing Luigi’s Mansion. And Mario Sunshine, well let’s just say that Lea Thompson has aged better. So eleven years later, without having to port a Gamecube title or maintain continuity within a trilogy, Nintendo has used its freedom to create an appropriate sequel to one of its greatest games.

I say “sequel” because from the very first moments, I was thrown into that 3D world that Mario 64 so breathtakingly created. As the first hour progresses, the game unfolds exactly as Mario 64. Princess Peach is captured and Mario must travel to different lands (in this case, galaxies), which have a set of missions, each earning Mario a star. Mario needs stars to open new places, which will eventually lead to Peach and the final showdown with Bowser. As I said, virtually the same as Mario 64.

But getting to the end isn’t what makes Super Mario Galaxy fun, it’s the journey. The exciting part of a great Mario game is see what insane level they come up with next. The designers, even at the outset, have created truly remarkable worlds that encompass the full 360 degrees of motion. While some galaxies contain call-backs to prior Mario editions, they are welcome, rather than repetitive. It’s a game that not only the casual player can pick-up, but with bonus galaxies, hidden stars and the purple coin missions (which don’t even appear until after completing the game), the game is a masterpiece for even the most hardcore of gamer.

As for the gameplay, the Wii motion control is well incorporated, but it’s by far not the core of gameplay. As for some complaints of dizzying gameplay, despite Mario facing backwards, forwards or hanging upside-down (frankly, he’s all over the screen), I haven’t need to hit up my bottle of Dramamine, yet.

I cannot wait to see how this one turns out.

Oh Canada

I have always admired the Canadian’s. No not Les Habs, but an admiration for the Canadian people and their funny colored money, odd connection to the British monarchy, ability to handle large amounts of firearms without going berserk, universal healthcare, lowered drinking age, all-nude strip clubs and rabid sports fans (I feel particularly connected with Raptors fans, as I too hate Vince Carter).

But this week, I had to give a check-minus to Canada after reading about a Nintendo commissioned study (so this should be taken with a grain of Scott Thompson), finding that Canadians recognize Super Mario (the above referenced plumber, not Lemieux) just as well as they recognize the Prime Minster, Stephen Harper.

Now before, the Canadian Chewers start flooding my inbox with America criticisms, yes, I know that it’d be a great bet to say that the average American could name more American Idol Finalists than American Presidents, but I always thought you were above this Canada. You broke my heart.

See What Your Civil War Caused

For months there have been rumors about an AAA Microsoft MMORPG getting shut-down. Well this week reported that Marvel Universe Online may just be that title. The reports stem from the fact anytime anyone at MUO developer Cryptic Studios or Microsoft is asked about the game, they have nothing new to report; no new teasers, no new trailers, no new hype, nothing.

While many love Marvel Ultimate Alliance (I found it to be incredibly boring), there appears to be some sort of disconnect between the comic book world and gaming world. The number of great mainstream comic book games can be counted on my fingers. For those who love comics and MMO “gaming,” however, the Marvel Universe appeared to be a perfect fit. Maybe someday.

Missed Achievements

This week, Microsoft announced that certain popular Xbox titles will soon be available for download onto the Xbox 360. In the interests of full disclosure (even Microsoft learns), the company nipped certain gameplay issues in the bud by providing a list of the known glitches contained in these downloadable titles. And despite this and the high price of $15 per title, gamers only decided to throw a Grade-A hissy when it was revealed that the games would not include Achievements.

Oh the horror. Well, obviously these games are now worthless because I can’t get my Achievement Points. Why would I play Halo if I can’t sit there for 12 hours begging people to take a powder so I can earn my precious Achievement Points. Oh Lord, what will I ever do because my Gamerscore is below 10,000? I better go rent Dora the Explorer’s Big Dark Cave and earn some points.

You have to hand it to Microsoft, I would have never guessed the Achievement Point System would be so addicting. And while the Achievement Point System does offer something nice for a gamer trying to get some replay out of her $60 game, we are reaching the point where the games are going to decrease in quality due to a design around the Achievement Point System, and that’s when I’m going to throw my own hissy.

That’s all for now.