There's no denying that the Wii has experienced a dry period in terms of good games since 2008. Sure, we've seen some interesting first-party releases like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Wario Land: Shake It!!, Animal Crossing, Mario Kart Wii, Wii Sports Resort, and, of course, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but most third-party companies are apparently willing to crank out anything that will sell just because of the motion sensing capabilities of the Wii Remote, regardless of whether or not it's terrible...and regardless of whether or not it will ruin the Wii's reputation.
Thankfully, though, there is a reason not to trade in your Wii. In fact, it came out just a few weeks ago. Yes, I'm talking about Super Mario Galaxy 2, the sequel to the critical and commercial success from three years ago, Super Mario Galaxy. That's not the only reason, either. With both Metroid: Other M and the thus-far untitled next entry into the Zelda series promised to be released later in the year, 2010 is definitely going to be a good year for the Wii.
Before we get into where it really matters, let's talk visuals. Now, the Wii is definitely not the most powerful console on the market. In fact, it's not even that much more powerful than the GameCube. Still, that doesn't mean it can't turn out a pretty dang fine looking game when it wants to. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is one of those games. While not deviating much from the style of Super Mario Galaxy, it definitely is an improvement, and the original looked fantastic by Wii standards at the time. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is definitely one of the best-looking Wii games out there, if not THE best.
Now that I've said that, let's get into aspects of the game that really matter, starting with level design. Simply put, they went crazy with the level design. The basic set-up from the original is still there, most notably the planetary bodies' gravitational pulls allowing Mario to walk on the bottoms and sides of planets, and Mario still uses Launch Stars to travel from planet to planet with just a flick of the Wii Remote, but even still this game features some of the most cool and creative level designs that the series has seen yet—and that's saying a lot. One galaxy has Mario performing his spin attack from the original to make blue and red platforms flip over, and he can only walk on one color at a time. Another galaxy allows you to press a button to turn a planet made of boiling lava into an ice-skating rink. Still another has you using a drill to reach new areas by digging through the ground. Some galaxies allow Mario to do some classic-style 2-D platforming for nostalgia's sake, although these galaxies will still always throw in something new, too. Nintendo even loved us enough to recreate levels from Super Mario 64 and Sunshine for two galaxies! Of course, these are only a few of the many, many, many things that you will see in the infinitely varied levels. Seriously, almost every galaxy throws something new at you. That alone makes the game worth a purchase.
Another much-appreciated addition to the game is the ability to ride Yoshi. Remember how he was on the box art of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but wasn't used in-game enough to justify it? Nintendo didn't trick us this time! Yoshi appears plenty, and he's very useful and fun to play with. As always he can use that elastic tongue of his to gobble up enemies and crap out a star bit or two, but he can also use his tongue as a grappling hook to swing you across gaps and even spit indigestible objects at enemies and breakable objects! This is definitely the best 3-D Yoshi experience in the series thus far.
Another area where this game really excels is the power-ups. Most of the original game's line-up returns. Mario can still turn into a bee, a ghost, a spring, and throw fireballs from his hands just like old times, but they couldn't make a new game without throwing in some new power-ups, could they? They did just that, and the new power-ups are great. Probably the most interesting of these is the drill, which allows Mario to dig through dirt to reach new areas. My favorite, though, is probably the Rock Mushroom. If you get it, you can turn into a rolling boulder and plow into enemies as if they're bowling pins, which is a lot of fun. The other new power-up is the Cloud Flower, allowing Mario to create clouds to stand on as platforms. It's the least interesting of the new powers, but it's definitely put to good use. Yoshi also gets his own power-ups, called fruits, with temporary effects. These power-ups will allow him to sprint, float, or even glow to light up the way ahead.
As for the difficulty, it was promised that the game will be much harder than the original. I can safely say that this is not really the case. I didn't have much trouble with it for the most part. It definitely has its frustrating missions, but so did the original.
And thus, we come to the end of this review. I would give Super Mario Galaxy 2 a 5 out of 5. Its infinitely varied and creative level design built upon already awesome gameplay makes it a fantastic game, and one of the best Mario games yet. Heck, it may even be my favorite Mario game ever. If I had a complaint, it would probably be some very minor control problems that were also in the original, but should a little nitpick keep this game from a 5? Of course not!