10 Years of Super Mario Galaxy!
Hello everyone, how are you? 10 years Has it been that long? 10 years ago, we saw the release of the best and most important game of the 7th generation of video game consoles and one of my all time favorite games, Super Mario Galaxy!
I remember it well like it was yesterday. I remember back in 2007 I heard about a new game called Super Mario Galaxy. It was on a free booklet Gamestop was giving away for free and it had various Nintendo products. I still have it somewhere. I would of loved to have it on hand with me. Among them was their new console called the Nintendo Wii. It had all sorts of info on it and the games it’ll have. One particular game caught my eye and it was Mario’s latest adventure titled “Super Mario Galaxy”. I was quite puzzled to be honest. I thought to myself “Mario in space?” I wasn’t on board just yet since I only had screenshots to go by. But I was interested either way because it was a Mario game so no doubt I was gonna check it out.
Later on, it was around the summer and I was checking On-Demand on our tv and saw that they had trailers from games shown on E3. You see back then, I relied on game magazines like Nintendo Power for E3 coverage and newly announced games. Sometimes they would include a dvd with trailers, which was my only other way to check out the games in action since at the time I had no access to a computer at home. Anyway, I saw that On-Demand had a trailer for Super Mario Galaxy and decided to watch it.
The trailer that changed everything
I was completely blown away at the game in action. It looked amazing and it looked really fun. I was really excited. There was just one problem, I didn’t have a Nintendo Wii. I was definitely hitting myself on the wall right there because I would of had one. You see in 2006 my dad said that he saw the new console from Nintendo at the store and he told me if I wanted one for Christmas. I said no because that year I only wanted Twilight Princess for the Gamecube. Here’s a funny thing that happened, my Gamecube died on me shortly after completing Twilight Princess making it the last game I ever played on it and my very last Gamecube game.
So what I did was told my parents if I could get a Nintendo Wii. Here’s the thing, at the time my parents only allowed me to own one console, so I had to choose wisely. And it had to be backwards compatible with the games from the previous console which made things more difficult. I told them that the Wii not only played new games, but it also played all the Gamecube games I had. Which, actually surprised me too when I found out. They really liked that it did but it’ll have to be an xmas gift. I said sure. So for the rest of the year I had to use my trusty N64 as my console to play games on. I only wish the games would stop erasing my saves. Looking at you DK64. I also had my DS on me too so it wasn’t that bad.
What I did was pre-order Super Mario Galaxy though. I went to Target to pre-order the game because they would give out a collectible coin when you pick up the game on release date. They also gave me a really cool 3D Giftcard with Super Mario Galaxy on it. Yes I still have it. I bet you’re wondering, “why did you pre-order a game for a console that you don’t own?” Well the pre-order incentives would be one thing. That and when I got a Wii, I wanted to have a game on me ready to play. At the time it was rare when I pre-ordered a game. When I did, it was because it included a bonus like some physical knick-knack I didn’t need or if it included a bonus game. I really felt like I had to pre-order this one. Fun fact: this was the very first Mario game I’ve ever pre-ordered. But wasn’t the last.
November 1st came and I went to Target that night to pick up my game. I got my game and my coin. The person at the register was gonna throw away my Mario giftcard so I said if I could have it. They gave it to me since it no longer had any money on it. All I could do was stare at the game since I didn’t have a console to play it on. It sucked but knew it would be worth the wait.
Christmas eventually came and I was so excited. I hooked up the Wii quickly to the tv and booted up the system and set it up. Afterwards I quickly inserted the game and was greeted by Mario shouting the name of the game very enthusiastically. I was then greeted by the title screen and the music sounded like something grand, like something really epic.
I started playing and the game started out like how a Mario game would. Mario gets an invitation from Princess Peach to come over to the castle. But not for cake. This time it’s an invitation to the Star Festival, an event that happens every 100 years. Just as Mario approaches the castle, Bowser arrives to crash the party and he proceeds to do what he does best and that’s to kidnap Peach. This time, not only does he kidnap the Princess, he also takes the whole damn castle with him as well. Bowser takes the castle into space and Mario is hanging on, but he is suddenly blasted off by one of Bowser’s goons and Mario is sent plummeting down.
Luckily, Mario survives, otherwise the game would of ended right there. Mario then wakes up on a small planet and he meets up with a mysterious woman named Rosalina and she tells Mario where he is and what is going on. What Mario needs to do is go find a Grand Star that Bowser’s minions have. But not without some help. Rosalina introduces Mario to Luma, who will help Mario travel through space. From here on out you finally get to play and feel how the game is. You get to move around and tell how the physics are different from other Mario games. You finally reach and collect the Grand Star and you make your way back to a new area called the Comet Observatory, which is basically this ship that serves as the game’s hub world. Rosalina says that Bowser has stolen the Grand Stars, which power the Comet Observatory and they’ll need them to power it up to give chase to Bowser. From here is where the game truly begins.
I definitely felt this Mario game was more different than any Mario game I’ve played before. The game was definitely operating on a grand scale which made sense since instead of exploring familiar territory like the Mushroom Kingdom, you’re out there exploring the unknown across the galaxy. That and this time there is more at stake here.
On the Comet Observatory you can do various things, like talk with Lumas, talk with Rosalina, check your overall Power Star Total, or go inside Domes. Domes are areas that you use to travel to other Galaxies. You can also do various other things too.
What I really love about it is since Mario is exploring uncharted territory here, with the galaxies (aka the levels), the developers really went all out with them. The galaxies are what the levels are called and each level has the word “Galaxy” at the end. For example, the very first one you visit is called Good Egg Galaxy. Each galaxy has planets, which are segments of the levels. Here is what’s neat, the planets aren’t spheres, some of them are but a lot of them come in different shapes and sizes. Some might be cylinders, others might be cube shaped and so forth. And since you’re in space, they have gravity so you can go all over them. Not all of them are like this this. But thanks to the creativity of the developers going all out here, it made for some really crazy, but really well done level design and platforming.
The graphics look really nice for something that was running on the Wii. At the time I didn’t know the Wii was underpowered compared to the competition. But the game looked amazing to me. It could in fact stand up to whatever was on the other systems. It looked so vibrants and colorful. They did a good job right there and still looks great.
They also really took advantage of the physics. Since you are in space, planets have their own gravitational pull. So if you’re platforming and think you’re about to fall, you don’t. Instead you go on the other side of the planet. You can go all around it. You can’t do this on every planet, but on the ones you can is really cool. This really blew my mind back then as I’ve never seen anything like that in a game at that point.
The game also incorperated motion controls. One of the things I liked is that they implimented them well into the game. Like you control Mario’s movements using the analog stick on the Nunchuk controller and you make him jump using the A button o the Wiimote. You shake the Wiimote to make Mario do a spin, which is Mario’s new move. You can spin on the ground or use a spin jump in the air. Sometimes you would have to point the Wiimote’s pointer on the screen depending on the thing you were doing.
A lot of the times I didn’t even know the motion controls were there because they had become second nature. So as soon as I saw something that needed them, I used them because I knew that’s what I had to do. They don’t really get in the way of the game nor take away from the experience. But they do come in to play depending on what puzzle or challenge you are in. Sometimes you have to hold the Wiimote upwards and balance it carefully as you are balancing yourself on a ball or a manta. The game also has 2 player co-op too. You can have another player with a Wiimote serve as the pointer to collect things. It’s simple but a fun way to allow another player to join.
Mario can also power-up here too. You’ll see something as familiar as Fire Mario, but he also has some really cool new power-ups as well. He can transform into Bee Mario which enables flight or hovering for a short period of time and there’s Ice Mario which allows him to walk or skate above water. There’s also many others too and they are definitely more versatile as they come into play depending on the situation or challenge. You can also unlock Luigi too and he plays differently than Mario. He can jump higher but has less traction. It can either make the game easier or harder.
The Galaxies come in various themes. They can range from what you expect in a traditional Mario game, like your traditional wooded areas, to volcanoes, beach like areas and so on To stuff that you would expect to see in space like space stations, traditinal planets, or a galaxy filled with space debris. Or some levels you wouldn’t expect in space like a haunted mansion to a big toy room. You really have to appreciate the creativity here. Sometimes you might come across a Hungry Luma, and as you would expect, you have to feed it Star Bits, which is like food to the Lumas. after you feed them, they can transform into either a new planet, or if you are at the Comet Observatory, they open up a path to a new galaxy.
One of the things I love the most about Super Mario Galaxy is that you never do the same thing twice in a galaxy. Each galaxy has its own set of Power Stars to collect and the challenge that accompanies it to obtain it. You rarely see the same area in a Galaxy twice. Each path to a Power Star has its own branching path. This makes the game more linear as you are just trying to make your way to the end and reach a Power Star, but you might be thinking that there isn’t enough exploration. There is enough exploration as there is platforming. In many 3D platformers you might have to backtrack to an area you were previously and that might get tiresome, but not here. Not only that, as I said before, Hungry Lumas open up new paths to hidden Power Stars. So the game rewards you for exploring and taking a different path than what you intended.
Sometimes a Plankster Comet passes by a galaxy you’ve already been to and basically what it does is that it messes around with it. Sometimes enemies might be faster, you might have to race a shadow version of yourself, or sometimes you have to defeat a boss with only one HP to your lifebar. The type of challenge depends on the color of the Prankster Comet. It really keeps things fresh.
The music in this game is fantastic. The music is fully orchestrated and it sounds amazing. I have never played a game with a fully orchestrated soundtrack before and hearing it for the first time was so incredible. The music in each galaxy definitely sets the mood right. Sometimes it’s upbeat, sometimes it sounds sad, some might incorperate some sci-fi elements in it. The composers did an amazing job as each song definitely made you feel what they wanted you to feel as you heard it while travelling through your journey. Literally music to your ears.
The story itself is what you expect. Bowser has kidnapped the princess and Mario has to go save her. Standard Mario stuff that we are all familiar with. However as you continue unlocking new domes, you’ll unlock the Library. You really think you’ll find anything interesting but as you enter it, you see the Lumas gathered around Rosalina as she’s reading them a story from a book. She tells the tragic story of a young girl who lost her family and how she met the Lumas, but in reality, that story is about her. As you clear all the galaxies in a dome, you unlock more chapters to the story. It’s a very sad and tragic story and it definitely made me cry. I never expected a Mario game to make me cry. Especially the ending.
Final thoughts: This game is fantastic. I absolutely loved it. The levels are brimming with creativity and fantastic platforming. you never get tired of going through them. The music is really matches the theme of each galaxy well. Controls feel just right and the motion controls are never intrusive. And the story, if you dig deep enough, is probably one of the best stories in a main Mario game that’ll hit you with feels.
To me, this game changed everything. It changed everything about games and gaming in general for me. You see when I was a kid, I thought of games as a fun way to pass time. From there I played games with much deeper and complex stories and different mechanics and loved games more than just a way to pass the time. But as I played and finished Super Mario Galaxy, I thought of games as something much much more. Games can be a way to make you feel emotions that you never thought you would. They can take you on a fun and emotional journey and make you feel all these range of emotions. They can make you happy, angry, sad, they can make you cry at times, and make you just feel good at the end. Not to say a game has never made me emotional before, but this was on another level.
That you are actually making a difference in a video game world, like saving a princess, meeting up with a goddess, going on a trip of a lifetime through space, stopping the fire breathing turtle that you have beaten countless times before, and saving the universe. Only to deal with a bittersweet victory at the end. All of this, you can feel all of this, all this outcome you can control, just with the taps and presses of a few buttons of a controller and whatever you’re playing.
If you’re a gamer, you’ve obviously played countless games before. But during all those games you’ve played, you will encounter a game that will change everything for you. It’ll change your life. To me, Super Mario Galaxy is that game. It changed my perspective on games and changed my life. I never thought I could feel all of this in a Mario game. It had such an impact on me. Years ago, I never thought I would live to see the 5th anniversary of this game, let alone it’s 10th anniversary. But here I am celebrating it and glad that I am.
I’ve replayed this game countless times from begining to end and haven’t grown tired of it. I played through it again this year to gather my thoughts and it has still held up remarkably well. It still looks and plays fantastic even though it’s a 10 year old game on old hardware. I love both Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 equally. SMG2 is the surprise sequel I never knew I wanted that came at a dark time in my life while SMG is the game that had the most impact on me. But SMG2 is another story, for another time.
So those are my thoughts on Super Mario Galaxy, 10 years later. So as you can see, the game really means a lot to me and it’s a game I cherish close to my heart and have great memories of. I hope you enjoyed this post since I’ve been working on it for such a long time. I put everything I had into it. It’s not my longest post ever, but I felt that I wrote everything that I needed to say. I’m also planning on cross-posting it somewhere else as well since I want to share it and hopefully even more people will read it. At least I hope.
Have you ever played Super Mario Galaxy? What are your thoughts on it? Thanks for reading and Happy 10th Anniversary Super Mario Galaxy!