Super Mario Galaxy 2 blasts off in 5 weeks!

6 05 2010

Super Mario Galaxy was a massive hit. We’re talking Quinine in Equatorial countries popular – it was that huge. And now they’re releasing a sequel – makes sense, right? That said, Nintendo have been slightly funny about their bread-and-butter Mario platform titles in recent years, having not released a direct sequel since Super Mario 64 back in 1996 (or depending on how you look at it, Super Mario World in 1991, which was followed by Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, a sequel by name but entirely different in style and gameplay) and it is with baited moustaches that we await this year’s proper sequel, Super Mario Galaxy 2.

The 3D Super Mario platform efforts have all been wonderful in their own right, with 64, Sunshine and the original Galaxy all being massive commercial and critical successes, so Miyamoto and friends really have their work cut out. As it happens only releasing one title per generation of console seems like an excellent way to punctuate the series, allowing the gameplay to largely remain tinker-free (with the addition of some neat touches and added extras to bulk things up) but each new iteration to seem fresh and beautiful on a more powerful and capable nth-generation console. Sunshine was a great game in its own right, but if we’re being honest who wasn’t happy that they basically took the mechanics of 64, spruced up the textures and gave us a new world to have a crack at? Moreover, not only do they have their first same-console direct contest within the series for 14 years to contend with, it’s also following the hugely successful New Super Mario Bros. Wii, the game that reminded us all how wonderful the old days were in a way that was entirely genuine, without a hint of irony, fad or rose-tinted glasses. How do we think they’ll do?

Thus far, it’s looking pretty good. As expected, they seem to have largely stuck to the winning formula – leave the guts the same, but perform a little cosmetic surgery to the extremities. I don’t want to dig too far into it because unfortunately I’ve not had chance to get my hands on a preview copy, I’m only going by the evidence of other people’s previews and the videos and content supplied by Nintendo themselves, but it looks like they’ve added a sufficient amount of interesting frippery to be more than just a standard update sequel (Miyamoto is as ever, keen to steer clear of the EA Sports philosophy of “let’s stick a new number on the end and watch the money roll in” by actually improving a new title). Now Mario and friends fly through the galaxy on a Mario’s head-shaped planet/starship that’s controlled from atop his bonce by a crew of friendly Toads and a pirate-ship style wooden wheel. Visually, it’s very cute, and looks easier than having to run through what amounted to a giant hub of a spaceship in the latter stages of the original to get around.

There’s also more of the good stuff: tricks and abilities. In addition to the Boo suit, spring suit and the wonderful Simpsons-Bumblebee-Man-esque comedy bee suit (and more standard power-ups like the fire and ice flowers) Mario can now don a fluffy, almost rabbit-tail-like cloud suit, that allows him to pop up a cloud below his feet to prevent a plummet into space. You only get three cloud platforms before your suit expires and you need to find another power-up to replenish, but it looks like an interesting way of spanning huge chasms and reaching the unreachable (as well as a bit of free death insurance). There’s also a rock suit that allows Mario to turn himself into a wrecking ball and smash everything in his way. He also gets to play a little ten-pin bowling with himself – looks fun, but we all want Nintendo to bring back the Tanooki suit! There’s also an improved 2-player co-op mode where the second controller can now not only collect star bits and shoot them back at enemies (as in the first game), they also gets to follow Mario as a cute little orange Luma and have a lot more interaction in the world (including actually killing enemies rather than just knocking them on their ass). It looks like it’s going to be a more fulfilling, and ultimately more fun 2-player experience, and one that’s genuinely useful in terms of beating some of the game’s more difficult areas, in the same way 2-player co-op works in Fable 2.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Yoshi

Everyone, all together now: "Yoshiiiiiiiiiii!"

Most importantly though, the most-beloved character from the entire Mario franchise returns to assist Mario in his latest adventure – Yoshi! I needn’t say any more than that, really. Sure, I was pleased there was going to be a Mario Galaxy sequel, I knew it was going to be a great game, but I wasn’t over-the-moon excited until I realised everyone’s favourite long-tongued green dinosaur was making a welcome return. Yoshi too has a number of different abilities, and in the assorted trailers you can see him in various different colours and guises, including a red one who moves very, very fast, and a blue variety who sucks in air then blows it out to launch himself skywards. Oh, and I hear Luigi’s going to be playable too, but it’s not apparent to what extent yet (he may have to be ‘unlocked’ or only be available for certain levels).

There’s a ton of Super Mario Galaxy 2 trailers and video content over at the official site with more info still to be released there in the run up to its release on the 11th June 2010 in the UK (and the 23rd May 2010 in the US).

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