Will Do
Thoughts on technology, the world, and life.

Super Mario Galaxy

I bought the Nintendo Wii game Super Mario Galaxy when it was released and I’ve almost finished it (ten stars left to get). It’s a superb game, with beautifully-executed graphics, sound, game play, and level design (IGN gave it 9.7/10). It’s the best game on Wii right now and I’d recommend it to anyone who liked other Mario games or wants to see the Wii controls done right. However, it does have a couple faults.


Perhaps the most notable thing about Galaxy is the gravity game play, in which Mario can run on and jump between objects of varying sizes, shapes, and themes floating in space. Each object has its own gravity tug like a planet, so “up” and “down” from Mario’s perspective change as he moves from object to object, or even from surface to surface on the same object. Unfortunately, the camera’s orientation (“up” and “down” from our perspective) doesn’t change to match Mario’s, preserving the orientation with which we started. As Mario’s orientation changes, it can be difficult to predict how the controls will change with his orientation. Moving Mario forward (up on the analog stick) may move Mario away from the camera when on one object, but toward the camera when on another object. Don’t even get me started on left and right. You grow a sense of what to expect after a while, but it never feels natural, and sometimes you guess wrong. The ideal controls would always be relative to the camera so that up, down, right, and left on the analog stick would always do what you’d expect.

Since some objects are very small, their surfaces are sharply curved. The camera doesn’t stay directly over Mario’s head, so sometimes you lose your depth perception and can’t tell where Mario will land if he jumps somewhere.

Level design

Many of the 120 stars in the game involve level remixes, where an extra element is thrown into a level to make it harder, like limiting Mario’s health, making enemies faster, time limits, races, coin collecting, etc. Some of them were fun and others weren’t. Some of the purple coin challenges (collect the one hundred purple coins throughout a level to get a star) were hard, frustrating, and tedious.

Some levels were just too hard. There’s no way you’d pass the first time or even the second. When you find yourself dying for the fifth or sixth time, you have to ask yourself what the point is. It’s just making you frustrated, and that’s not fun. Those levels needed more tweaking to balance out the difficulty.