Hands-On Super Mario Galaxy

Not expecting to see Super Mario Galaxy in my particular GameStop, I figured I'd just be waltzing in, taking a quick peek around, seeing that it wasn't there, and then heading right out the door.

Well, I'm quite happy to say that I was entirely wrong. After fighting with the beautiful TV set up for the Wii display, I was able to play Super Mario Galaxy for over an hour. Unfortunately for me, the Wii unit is placed in front of a huge window in my GameStop, so my cursor was flying about the screen; taming it was quite difficult. Thankfully, I was able to get a handle on it, and it didn't impede my play-time too much.

So here I am, standing before this Wii unit that, two weeks previous to this, was not even in the store. In my hands are a Wii Remote and Nunchuk, with both being relatively beat-up. I began a new file, turning the barren planet that once existed on the file select screen into Mario's head.

The intro, as seen just about everywhere awhile back, was quite beautiful. I played around during the points where Mario was able to run around, but eventually I became impatient, Wii Menued out, and went into the save file already present on the system.

Here is where the fun began. I headed into the first Galaxy and selected the already-completed "Egg Dino" Star. By the time I finished playing, I had played through the first two Stars of the first Galaxy, the first two Stars of the Honeybee Galaxy (although I probably ruined its name), and successfully completed the Loopdeloop Galaxy.

First off, it's necessary to say that just moving Mario around is fun; Super Mario Galaxy is one of few games where just playing around with the controls yields satisfaction. Mario hops around very responsively, the cursor is quite as a dime and is very satisfying to use, and the camera works splendidly.

Shaking the Wii Remote to make Mario spin is definitely the most satisfying action to perform in Super Mario Galaxy. Not only is it quick and easy to perform, but it also serves a variety of purposes, and using it is simply a joyous experience.

Each of the planets is definitely very different from the next. On many planets, one can notice a definite change in gravity. One planet I was on in particular initially looked easy and seemed to only have a few easy jumps to make. However, upon jumping around, I found that the gravity on this planet was tighter, so jumping around was definitely a bit harder than expected. The sheer amount of variety present in this game is astounding.

The variety does not end with the various planets one will be landing on, however; many of the activities and galaxies players will be visiting are entirely different from one another. As shown previously, some galaxies, such as the Loopdeloop Galaxy, require that players use the motion sensitive properties of the Wii Remote to complete unique challenges. The Loopdeloop Galaxy required me to tilt the Wii Remote as I rode a Manta Ray across a gigantic, beautiful, water track suspended in space. Needless to say, I was very impressed.

The difficulty level in this game is another interesting point of discussion. The boss of the "Egg Dino" Star, as shown in previous videos, is a seemingly prehistoric Piranha Plant. One simply has to spin into the ball of its tail in order to deal damage, but this is easier said than done. After being chased by this creature (which moves quite fast, I might add), I ended up having to pursue its tail. After the first two hits, reaching the plant's tail proved to be no easy task, and with only a three-point health gauge, I almost died. In other instances throughout the time I spent with the game, there were also harder-than-expected areas to progress through.

With that said, however, the difficulty is definitely very fine-tuned, and being damaged and/or killed is never the game's fault; you definitely place the blame squarely upon yourself when you fail, because the game is so well made that you know it was your fault. This says a lot about the quality of Super Mario Galaxy; every piece of it is so fine-tuned that it is continuously enjoyable whether you live or die.

Additionally, it should also be known that Super Mario Galaxy is the first game in years that I've played where I honestly felt that I could go back and complete objectives I already successfully completed just for fun. There is something so gratifying about simply being Mario and exploring each planet.

I don't think I need to talk about graphics. Quite simply, they're the best Wii has to offer so far, and there is plenty of variety and color in each area you visit. I wish I could comment more about the sound, but someone working in the store kept turning my TV's volume down until it was muted, for some reason that I don't understand. However, I do know that the times where sound comes out of the Wii Remote speaker (such as when Star Bits are collected or when Mario blasts off to another planet) are handled well. The game doesn't overdo it with the the Wii Remote speaker, and for this I am thankful.

To sum things up, Super Mario Galaxy looked, sounded (from what I could hear), and ultimately played like a dream. I can't even begin to explain how excited I am for it, and how difficult it is forcing myself not to return to GameStop so that I don't spoil any more of the experience for myself.

That's right: as much as Super Mario Galaxy is a game, it is also an experience. All Wii users owe it to themselves to pick up this gem of a game for themselves; it truly is the best game that Wii has to offer, and based on my time with it, it is definitely on its way to being one fo the best Mario games ever created.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl: WOW

October was pretty crazy with big updates at the DOJO!!, wasn't it? We got new characters, new arenas, a Stage Builder with online stage trading, the return of Target Test! (with its new name, Target Smash!), an online Home Run Contest, Sonic, Subspace Emissary Co-Op, the ability to save replays of Brawl matches and Target Smash! rounds and share them, and so much more.

And then of course, there was that delay to February 10, 2008.

Regardless, there looks to be a ridiculous amount of content within Brawl, and with the advent of the Stage Builder and that fact that all Smash users will receive a new stage every day from a giant selection of user-generated content, it's quite clear that Nintendo is pulling out all the stops.

We are definitely in for a treat when Smash Bros. launches next year. The end of this year continuing into 2008 is going to be a huge year for Wii users.

But we'll talk about that more in a little bit.

Oh, and as a little side note, can people please stop comparing Brawl to Halo 3, Guitar Hero 3, and everything else on the market (Disney's Magical Mirror Starring Mickey Mouse, anyone?)? It's like comparing apples to a pile of dead bugs! Geez!

Another Hiatus, Hmm?

Yet again, I disappeared for over a month. What else is new?

So here I am, and I'm going to try and get back into the swing of things...again.

It should also be mentioned that I recognize that the layout of this blog is horrifying, and rest assured, it will be redone quite soon.