It may be easy to take one look at Super Mario Galaxy 2, see the same gravity-altering traps and spherical worlds from its predecessor, and dismiss this as a by-the-numbers sequel to the superb original. But by assuming you know what to expect from Mario’s latest adventure, you would be doing yourself and this game a great disservice. This is not only the new standard against which every 3D platformer must now be judged, but it also seamlessly integrates so many elements from Mario’s 2D roots that it stands toe-to-toe with even its genre-defining progenitors. Every aspect of this game is absolutely bursting with joy. The vibrant artistic design immediately welcomes you into this colorful world, and the catchy soundtrack deftly mixes classic tunes with new compositions to provide the perfect backdrop for your goomba-stomping, star-snatching fun. But it’s the expertly designed levels that will keep you coming back, even after you’ve seen everything this game has to offer, just to experience it one more time. This is an instant classic that belongs alongside the best games Nintendo has ever created.
Things are once again rotten in the Mushroom Kingdom. Bowser has taken Princess Peach prisoner for the umpteenth time, forcing Mario to momentarily put his plumbing gig on hold to rescue his fair lady. The best thing that can be said about the story is that it mostly stays in the background. A few lighthearted exchanges between Mario and his foes precede major battles, but there is only a brief break in the action before you get back to flinging fireballs and cracking shells. In fact, Galaxy 2 is much more streamlined than its predecessor. The elaborate hub world that has appeared in each of Mario’s previous 3D adventures has been scrapped and replaced by an easy-to-navigate map that lets you hop right into the next level. Galaxy 2 has less downtime than the original, ensuring you’re always engaged and entertained.