Super Mario Galaxy
|Super Mario Galaxy|
Official cover art
|Developer(s)||Nintendo EAD Tokyo|
Super Mario Galaxy (Japanese: スーパーマリオギャラクシー Hepburn: Sūpā Mario Gyarakushī?) is a platform video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Wii worldwide in November 2007. It is the third 3D game in the Super Mario series and the eighth main instalment overall. The game was re-released as a Nintendo Selects title in 2011, and as a download via the Wii U's eShop in 2015. The story revolves around the protagonist, Mario, who is on a quest to rescue Princess Peach whilst simultaneously saving the universe from Bowser.
The levels in the game consist of galaxies filled with minor planets and worlds, with different variations of gravity, the central element of gameplay. The concept for the game's use of spherical platforms was first conceptualised from ideas used in Super Mario 128, a technology demonstration shown at Nintendo Space World in 2000. Development of Super Mario Galaxy began after the release of Donkey Kong Jungle Beat in late 2004, after Shigeru Miyamoto suggested that Nintendo should commission a large-scale Mario game. The game's soundtrack was composed by Mahito Yokota and Koji Kondo, using a symphony orchestra for the first time in the series.
Super Mario Galaxy was a critical and commercial success, hailed as one of the greatest video games of all time. Critics praised the game's graphics, gravity mechanics, and setting. It has since won several awards from gaming publications, including multiple "Game of the Year" titles along with a BAFTA. It is listed among the top-rated games on various aggregate sites. The game is the ninth best-selling Wii game worldwide with sales of 12.72 million, as well as the best-selling 3D entry in the Super Mario series. A direct sequel, Super Mario Galaxy 2, was released for the Wii in 2010.
Premise and setting
Super Mario Galaxy is set in outer space, where Mario travels through different galaxies to collect Power Stars, earned by completing missions, defeating a boss, or reaching a particular area. Each galaxy contains planetoids and orbiting structures for the player to explore. Each astronomical object has its own gravitational force, allowing the player to completely circumnavigate the planetoids, walking sideways or upside down. The player can usually jump from one independent object and fall towards another one nearby. Although the main gameplay is in 3D, there are several areas in the game in which the player's movements are restricted to a 2-dimensional plane.
The game's main hub is the Comet Observatory, a spaceship which contains six themed domes that provide access to the 42 galaxies available in the game. Five of the domes end with a boss level in which the objective is to defeat Bowser or Bowser Jr., which then gives the player access to the next dome via acquiring a collectable called a Grand Star. The player only has access to a few galaxies when they begin the game; as more Power Stars are collected, more galaxies become available. The player is awarded the ability to play as Luigi after collecting 120 Power Stars as Mario. Once 120 Power Stars are collected with both characters, the player is rewarded one further challenge for Mario and Luigi to complete, which upon completion, awards the player with two commemorative pictures that can be sent to the Wii Message Board.
The player-character is controlled via the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. While most of Mario's abilities are taken directly from Super Mario 64, such as the long jump, wall jumps, and a variety of somersaults, a new feature called the Star Pointer, which is a cursor that appears when the Wii Remote pointer is pointed at the screen. Essentially, the Star Pointer is used to pick up special konpeito-shaped objects called "Star Bits", which are then shot to stun enemies, manipulate obstacles, or feed Hungry Lumas (star-shaped sentient beings which act as companions throughout the game). Secondly, the pointer can latch onto small blue objects called "Pull Stars", which can be utilised to pull Mario through space. If the player becomes encased in a floating bubble, the Star Pointer is used to manoeuvre the bubble.
Early into the game, the player learns a new ability known as the "Spin" technique, which has had appearances in varying forms throughout the Super Mario franchise. In Super Mario Galaxy, the "spin" is primarily used for melee attacks, as it can stun enemies and shatter objects, and is used to trigger special propellers called "Sling Stars" or "Launch Stars" that launch Mario across large distances through space. The "spin" utility is also used for climbing vines, ice skating, unscrewing bolts, and for activating several power-ups. Other Wii Remote functions are available for smaller quests, such as surfing aboard a manta ray or balancing atop a large ball and rolling it through an obstacle course.
Power-ups and lives
Nine power-ups each supply Mario with a special costume that grants him temporary abilities. For example, special mushrooms bestow the player with a Bee, Boo, or Spring Suit. The Bee Suit allows Mario to temporarily hover through the air, climb special walls, and walk on clouds and flowers; the Boo Suit allows him to float through the air, as well as become transparent and move through certain obstacles; and the Spring Suit allows him to jump to high areas that would be otherwise inaccessible, yet lowering his mobility. The recurring Fire Flower allows Mario to throw fireballs at enemies, and the newly introduced Ice Flower allows Mario to create hexagonal tiles of ice to cover any liquid surface he walks on. The Rainbow Star grants Mario invincibility, allowing him to destroy any enemies that he touches, as well as being able to run faster.
Mario's health consists of a three-piece health meter, which is depleted through contact with enemies and hazards. When swimming underwater, Mario has an air supply meter, which quickly depletes his main health meter if it runs out. Mario's health and air supply can be restored by collecting coins, or through touching bubbles if underwater. When the health meter becomes empty, the player loses a life and must go back to a predetermined checkpoint. The health meter can be temporarily expanded to six units through the use of a Life Mushroom, with the maximum health returning to three units if the overall health falls to three units from enemy or hazard contact, or if Mario suffers instant death. Instant death can occur by being swallowed by quicksand or dark matter; falling into bottomless pits, which either consist of black holes or by leaving a planet's gravitational pull and falling into space. The player can obtain extra lives by collecting 1-Up Mushrooms, 50 coins without losing a life, or 50 Star Bits.
Super Mario Galaxy has a co-operative two-player option called "Co-Star" mode, in which one player controls Mario while the other uses only the Wii Remote to control a second Star Pointer on-screen to gather Star Bits and shoot them at enemies. The second player can also make Mario jump, or the height of Mario's jump can be increased if the first and second player press the A button at the same time. The second player can prevent some enemies from moving by aiming the pointer star at them and holding the A button.
Shortly after Mario is invited to the centennial Star Festival by Princess Peach to celebrate the comet that passes overhead, Bowser invades the Mushroom Kingdom with a surprise attack in a fleet of airships. Summoning a gigantic flying saucer, Peach's entire castle is removed from its foundations and is lifted into outer space. Mario is still at the castle's base until Kamek, one of Bowser's minions, launches Mario onto a small planet with his magic. On the planet, he meets an enchantress named Rosalina and her companions, the Lumas. Rosalina is a watcher of the stars, who uses the Comet Observatory to travel across the universe. However, Bowser has stolen all of the Power Stars that act as the Observatory's power source, rendering it immobile. Bestowed with the power to travel through space through one of the Lumas, Mario sets off on a journey across the universe to reclaim the Power Stars and restore power to Rosalina's observatory. Along the way, he finds friends from the Mushroom Kingdom such as Luigi and the Toads.
Upon collecting enough Power Stars, the Comet Observatory regains the power to transform into a comet, and flies to the centre of the universe, where Bowser is holding Peach captive. Confronting Bowser, Mario learns that his plan is to rule the entire universe with Peach at his side, using a newly constructed sun of his own via the power of the Grand Stars. Mario manages to defeat Bowser and free Peach, but Bowser's sun collapses into itself, becoming a supermassive black hole that begins consuming everything nearby. All of Rosalina's Lumas jump into the black hole to destroy it, but sacrifice themselves in the process. The black hole collapses into a singularity and explodes in a supernova. Rosalina appears to Mario as a giantess, revealing that dying stars are later reborn as new stars. Mario awakens in the restored Mushroom Kingdom, full with all of the creatures he had met in the galaxies, alongside Peach and Bowser, celebrating the new galaxy that has emerged in the skies.
The concept for Super Mario Galaxy's gameplay originated from ideas taken from Super Mario 128, a technology demonstration shown at Nintendo Space World in 2000 to exemplify the processing power of the GameCube. The demonstration's director (and future director of Super Mario Galaxy), Yoshiaki Koizumi, desired that one of its distinguishing features, spherical-based platforms, should be used in a future game, but was held back in belief that such a feature would be impossible for technical reasons. Super Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto suggested to work on the next large-scale Mario game after Nintendo EAD Tokyo finished development on Donkey Kong Jungle Beat in late 2004, pushing for the spherical platform concept to be realised. A prototype of the game's physics system took three months to build, where it was decided that the game's use of spherical platforms would best be suited to planetoids in an outer space environment, with the concept of gravity as a major feature. During development, the designers would often exchange ideas with Miyamoto from his office in Kyoto, where he would make suggestions to the game design. According to Koizumi, many ideas were conceived before development of the Wii console itself begun.
The idea for Mario to have a "spin" attack came during the early stages of development, when it was decided that jumping on enemies on a spherical map would be difficult for some players – at one point, Koizumi remarked that making characters jump in a 3D environment was "absurd". Takeo Shimizu, the game's producer and programmer, noted that the most basic action in a 3D action game was to simply run, and concluded that the easiest way to attack was to "spin", not jump. Prior to the development team shifting focus on the Wii and realising the potential of its different controls, the "spin" attack was originally planned to be executed by swivelling the analogue stick on the GameCube controller. The "spin" was initially activated via rotation of the Nunchuk's control stick, but after motion sensing was confirmed to be implemented in the Wii Remote, the "spin" was changed to be activated through shaking the latter. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata wanted to prioritise the game's "fun factor" by giving the player a sense of achievement after they have completed a difficult task; Iwata noted an increasing number of consumers giving up during a video game and thus wanted Super Mario Galaxy to appeal to that audience. In response, the development team created a co-operative mode which allowed one player to control Mario whilst the other controlled the pointer with the Wii Remote, therefore enabling lesser experienced players to enjoy themselves in the game.
The development team wanted the game to be enjoyed from the ages of "5 to 95", so during early stages of development they took steps to ensure that the player would adjust to the game without difficulty. However, Miyamoto thought that it was too easy and lacked insensitivity, asserting that a game loses its excitement when it is made unchallenging. To balance out the difficulty, Koizumi suggested that Mario's health meter should have a maximum capacity of three instead of eight, but at the same time more 1-Up Mushrooms and checkpoints would be placed in the game. Koizumi said that he wanted to alter the game's "intensity factor" by limiting the number of hits the player could take to three, as opposed to Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, which featured eight. Retrospectively, Iwata added that decreasing the health meter to three from eight is "representative of the things that players do not notice that actually changes the gameplay dramatically".
With the concept of gravity and spherical platforms being the central elements of gameplay, the development team drafted several ideas on how to implement them into the game. Koichi Hayashida, a co-designer of the game, initially expressed scepticism of incorporating a spherical playing field into a jump-based platform game, stating that it would be "a bad match". Shimizu also had a negative reaction to the idea, with his main concern being that the implementation of spherical platforms would be impossible to achieve due to technical reasons, and "felt a sense of danger" when the plan was eventually approved. However, once Shimizu started debugging the game he realised that the experience felt "totally fresh" and thought that he was "playing a game like nothing that's come before it". Futoshi Shirai, the game's level designer, stated that unlike Hayashida and Shimizu, he had a positive impression of the new gameplay elements. Shirai liked the idea of being able to run on different types of planetoids, and came up with designs such as planets in the shape of ice cream and apples. Due to the game being set in outer space, the team could devise a lot of ideas that would have otherwise been hard to implement in other Super Mario games. Shirai said that the benefit of working with a spherical-shaped world was that they could design and discover new things, with Kenta Motokura, the game's artist, similarly stating that the player would be continuously enjoying their adventure by travelling to new planets. Koizumi appreciated the "free and open" feel of developing the game, saying that it enabled the team to make the game more fun for the player.
Throughout development, staff members enjoyed the level of freedom the game offered, in particular the transforming abilities of Mario. Iwata noted that Mario's Bee Suit was popular with women, and also stated that the titular character's other suits were designed to add variations to the gameplay. According to Hayashida, the idea to include transformations in the game came from Koizumi. One of the female members of staff who worked on Super Mario Galaxy wrote a note saying "I want a Bee Mario" when asked by Koizumi what they wanted to transform Mario into. Shirai stated that the development team always discussed their ideas together, and devised ways to incorporate an idea into the game and make it more entertaining. Iwata concluded that having the game take place in space was advantageous, as it was flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of ideas.
After development was finished, the team reflected that the fundamental part of a Super Mario game was to make the player think about how "fun" it was to play the game itself, rather than simply finishing it. To accomplish this, Koizumi made sure that there were certain areas of the game which could be enjoyed by all types of people, including children. Shimizu added that Super Mario Galaxy's ulterior motive was to have everybody "gather around the TV", as he felt that a game starring Mario was not necessarily something which could be enjoyed by playing alone. The game was made to support six different save files – Shimizu liked the idea of one player looking at the progress of another player and seeing how they compared against their own. Iwata stated that when the first Super Mario game was released, there used to be "many more" people gathering around the television who would enjoy watching the gameplay experience. Iwata asserted that well-made video games were more enjoyable to spectate, and hoped that Super Mario Galaxy's co-operative mode would tempt someone who does not usually play video games to join.
|Super Mario Galaxy: Original Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Mahito Yokota and Koji Kondo|
24 January 2008(Japan)
|Genre||Video game soundtrack|
|Length||1:07:05 (Original Edition)
2:09:54 (Platinum Edition)
During development, Mahito Yokota, who was in charge of the musical direction, originally wanted Super Mario Galaxy to have a Latin American style of music; and even had composed 28 tracks in that style. Latin American percussion instruments had already been featured in previous Super Mario instalments, such as steelpans, bongo drums, and congas. For Super Mario Galaxy's theme, Yokota used Latin American instruments and a synthesiser to replicate the sounds featured in old science fiction films. The composition was approved by Yoshiaki Koizumi, the game's director and designer, but when Yokota presented it to the game's sound supervisor, Koji Kondo, he stated that it was "no good". When asked why his music was rejected, Kondo responded: "if somewhere in your mind you have an image that Mario is cute, please get rid of it". Incensed by the rejection, Yokota almost resigned from his job, but Kondo implied that Mario's character was "cool" and instructed him to try again.
According to Yokota, he was under the impression that Mario was suited for children, causing him to create "cute" music that would appeal to the targeted audience. Three months later, Yokota presented three different styles of music to Miyamoto: one piece had an orchestral sound, the other had pop music, and the last featured a mix of both orchestral and pop music. Miyamoto chose the orchestral piece, as it sounded the most "space-like". Yotaka stated that Miyamoto chose the piece without knowing that Kondo actually wrote it. In a retrospective interview, Satoru Iwata said that Miyamoto chose the music that sounded "space-like" because he was looking for a sound that would express the game, in contrast to the tropical sounds of Super Mario Bros. Yotaka revealed that he initially struggled to create music that sounded like a Super Mario game, but as time progressed he declared that the songs he made for the game had "become natural".
To create a sense of variety with the soundtrack, Yokota and Kondo wrote pieces individually; Kondo composed four pieces for the game whereas Yokota composed the rest. Kondo composed the pieces that Yokata specifically requested, as he thought that the game's soundtrack would "end up all sounding the same" if it were composed by one person. The game originally heavily utilised the Wii Remote speaker for "all sorts of sound [effects]", but Masafumi Kawamura, the game's sound director, decided they were redundant when played in tandem with those from the television. Kawamura decided to restrict Wii Remote sound effects to those triggered by Mario's actions, such as hitting an enemy, feeling that it better immersed the player.
The game's soundtrack features 28 orchestral songs performed by a 50-person symphony orchestra. Yokota initially had concerns whether or not orchestral music would fit in with the rhythm of a Mario game, but thought that such music would make the scale of the game "seem more epic". Kondo, on the other hand, believed if orchestral music were used the player would be "obligated to play the game in time to the music". To synchronise the soundtrack to gameplay, Kawamura utilised similar techniques he used to synchronise sound effects in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and Donkey Kong Jungle Beat — in which the game synchronises MIDI data with streaming data, resulting in sound effects playing at the same time as background music. To make synchronisation possible, the audio team requested the orchestra to perform at different tempos set with a metronome.
The official soundtrack was released on 24 January 2008. It was initially an exclusive to Club Nintendo subscribers in Japan, although the soundtrack became available to European Club Nintendo members in November 2008. The soundtrack was released in two versions: the Original Soundtrack, which only contains 28 tracks from the game, and the Platinum Edition, which contains another 53 tracks on a second disc for a total of 81 tracks.
The game received critical acclaim and was a commercial success upon release, becoming the sixth highest rated game of all-time on review aggregator Metacritic, having an aggregate score of 97 out of 100 based on 73 reviews. By the end of September 2016, Nintendo had sold 12.72 million copies of the game worldwide, making it the third best-selling non-bundled Wii game and the ninth best-selling Nintendo-published game for the Wii.
The visuals and presentation were the most praised aspects of the game. Chris Scullion of the Official Nintendo Magazine asserted that the graphics pushes the Wii to its full potential, and stated that its visual effects and large playing areas would constantly astound the player. Jeremy Parish from 1UP.com noted that despite the Wii's limitations, the visuals were "absolutely impressive", especially when modified at a higher resolution. Computer and Video Games's Andrew Robinson opined that Nintendo favoured gameplay over graphics, but thought Super Mario Galaxy "got both perfect". Margaret Robertson of Eurogamer called the visuals an "explosion of inventiveness", stating that the game's detail is only matched by its mission design ingenuity. Andrew Reiner of Game Informer approved of the game's portrayal of water and particle effects, but noted the visuals were in similar detail to Super Mario Sunshine. Patrick Shaw from GamePro opined that the game takes full advantage of the Wii's capabilities, both in terms of presentation and control schemes.
Regarding the presentation, Game Revolution's Chris Hudak thought that Super Mario Galaxy was a "next-gen reincarnation" of Super Mario 64, stating the game was polished, engaging and evocative. Alex Navarro of GameSpot commended the colourful and vibrant level details, animations and character designs, stating that "there simply isn't a better-looking Wii game available". Furthermore, Navarro praised the game engine's ability of keeping frame rate drops to "infrequent bouts". Bryn Williams of GameSpy asserted that the game had the best visuals on the Wii, saying that the graphics "are out of this world" and that its wide range of colours produces "better-than-expected" texturing. A reviewer from GamesRadar stated that "words simply can't describe" the game's visual concepts. Louis Bedigan from GameZone thought the visualisations from Super Mario Galaxy contrast from the blocky characters of previous Super Mario games, praising the planet designs as beautiful and everything else as "pure eye candy". Matt Casamassina of IGN thought Super Mario Galaxy was the only game that pushed the Wii console, stating it combines "great art" with "great tech", resulting in what he described to be "stunning results". David Halverson of Play opined that the game was "supremely" polished and featured "gorgeous next-gen" graphics.
The gameplay, in particular the gravity mechanics and use of the Wii Remote, was also praised. A reviewer from Famitsu commented on the game's tempo, believing it was "abnormally good" and that the different variations in level design and difficulty gradually "builds things up". A reviewer from Edge praised the game's use of the Wii Remote, stating the control schemes were more subtle and persuasive as opposed to the "vigorous literalism" of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Scullion was initially sceptical about using the Wii Remote as a pointer, but admitted that "within mere minutes it felt like we'd been doing this since the days of Mario 64". Scullion also thought that the game's strongest aspect was the "incomparable" gameplay. Parish praised the fluctuating gravity that was featured in the game, stating that it "makes even the wildest challenge feel almost second nature". Robinson similarly commended the gravity, saying that the different uses of the game's gravitational pulls allows the scale of to grow to "genuinely draw-dropping proportions". Robertson regarded the use of gravity as an "explosion of inventiveness". Reiner thought that the game reinvented the platform genre for the seventh generation of video game consoles, stating that Super Mario Galaxy was both nostalgic and new by breaking the laws of physics.
Shaw asserted that the new gameplay mechanics reinvigorated the Super Mario franchise, and summarised by saying it was the best title since Super Mario 64. Similarly, Hudak thought that the game was a reincarnation of Super Mario 64, whilst stating that the variety of gameplay had a "signature Miyamoto style". Navarro said that the level designs were "top flight in every regard" and also praised the game's introduction of suits, adding that they brought a "great dimension" to gameplay. Williams opined that the game's "shallow" two-player mode did not add anything to the overall experience. He did praise the various gameplay components and the use of both the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, stating that the setup was "pinpoint accurate". A reviewer from GamesRadar thought that the control scheme had a fluid response that improved over the controls of its predecessor, Super Mario Sunshine. Regarding the controls and world designs, Bedigan stated that both aspects are "close to perfection as a game can get". Casamassina found the gameplay mechanics, in particular varying physics, as "ridiculously entertaining". He also regarded the motion control as being well implemented, stating that the player would appreciate the change of pace that the levels offer. Halverson particularly commended the innovative controls, saying the Wii Remote and Nunchuck was "at its finest" and that it was difficult to imagine playing it in another fashion.
The soundtrack and audio were well received by critics. Scullion believed it to be the best out of any Super Mario game, declaring that each track matches the environments featured throughout the game. Parish considered the orchestrated music superior to the visuals, stating that the dynamic sounds were "quintessentially Mario" yet uncharacteristically sophisticated. Reiner stated that the orchestrated soundtrack was beautiful as well as nostalgic, with Robinson similarly citing it as "amazing". Navarro praised the modernised orchestrated soundtrack, stating that it was both excellent and "top-notch". Williams thought the game featured the best sound on the Wii, stating that original soundtrack would "go down in history" as Nintendo's best first-party effort. A reviewer from GamesRadar stated that Super Mario Galaxy featured the finest orchestral bombast ever heard in a game. Bedigan asserted that the soundtrack was "another step forward" in video game music, praising the music as moving and breathtaking. Casamassina judged the game's music "so exceptional" and "absolutely superb", summarising that it had the best music out of any Nintendo game to date. Hudak criticised the "traditional Mario-esque" lack of voice acting, despite admitting that if the game did feature voice acting it would "probably seem lame and wrong".
Super Mario Galaxy received Game of the Year 2007 awards from IGN, GameSpot, Nintendo Power, Kotaku, and Yahoo! Games. The game was also perceived as the highest ranking title in 2007 according to the review aggregator GameRankings. In February 2008, the game received the "Adventure Game of the Year" award from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences at the Interactive Achievement Awards. Super Mario Galaxy placed third in the Official Nintendo Magazine's "100 greatest Nintendo games of all time" list. In 2009, the game won the "Game of the Year" BAFTA at the 5th British Academy Games Awards, surpassing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, whilst in the same year, Super Mario Galaxy was named the number one Wii game by IGN. It was also named by Eurogamer and IGN as the "Game of the Generation". In 2015, the game placed 11th on USgamer's "15 Best Games Since 2000" list. Guinness World Records ranked Super Mario Galaxy 29th in their list of top 50 console games of all time based on initial impact and lasting legacy. The soundtrack also won the "Best Design in Audio" award from Edge.
In the 1,000th issue of Famitsu, Miyamoto expressed his interest in making a sequel to Super Mario Galaxy. The game was originally called "Super Mario Galaxy More" during development, and was initially going to feature variations of planets featured in Super Mario Galaxy. Over time, new elements and ideas were brought into the game, and it was decided that the game would be a full sequel.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 was announced during the Nintendo conference at E3 2009 held in Los Angeles. It was released on 23 May 2010 in North America, 27 May 2010 in Japan and on 11 June 2010 in Europe. The sequel has been met with as much critical acclaim as its predecessor, and has sold 6.36 million copies worldwide as of April 2011.
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|Awards and achievements|
|BAVGA Award for Best Game
Batman: Arkham Asylum