Super Mario Galaxy came out in 2007 for the Nintendo Wii. This 3D platformer brought Mario into space with new gravity-defying physics and an adventure spanning the universe! When Nintendo released the title on Nintendo Switch, it received a full upscale into HD in the form of Super Mario 3D All-Stars. Featuring updated control schemes, Super Mario Galaxy could now be played with the visual quality it long deserved.
I remember playing Super Mario Galaxy and absolutely adoring the title when it first came out. However, my love for later titles, like Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Super Mario 3D World, overshadowed it over the years. Despite that, Super Mario 3D All-Stars gave me the perfect excuse to boot up an old favorite. To see how much I would love the game over 13 years later, I could experience the original Galaxy over again and remind myself why I loved it so much.
Super Mario Galaxy features the ever-familiar story of Mario rescuing Princess Peach from her kidnapper, Bowser. The twist this time is that Bowser steals Peach’s Castle and sends them both up high into outer space. Mario, stranded in space, discovers a star child known as a Luma. Befriending the new companion, he also meets Princess Rosalina, a mysterious girl who aids Mario.
In Rosalina’s Observatory, she explains to Mario how Bowser stole her Power Stars and that he wants to rule the universe. She wishes to aid Mario and take him to rescue Peach while questing him to recover the Stars in the process.
What I love about the story in Galaxy comes from several facets. One, Bowser in his undaunting and unyielding quest to marry the love of his life, continues to exceed his goals. Instead of just taking over the Mushroom Kingdom, he sets his sights on conquering the universe. Galaxy was one of the catalysts that made me become a huge fan of the villain.
The other is from Rosalina’s Storybook. This piece of written lore features Rosalina’s tragic backstory. It’s unusual to see such a concept in a Mario game. The pretty art accompanies the writing which will surely tug at your heartstrings. You can also unlock the chapters by collecting Stars throughout the game.
I feel Super Mario Galaxy boasts some of the most impressive visuals and music in gaming history. Unfortunately, Super Mario Galaxy was limited to the 480p output of the Nintendo Wii and 480i without component cables. Despite that, it boasted some of the most beautiful backgrounds and animations in any game Nintendo has made to this date.
Thanks to the HD upscaling of the Super Mario 3D All-Stars release, however, Galaxy’s visual quality can be fully appreciated. I say without hesitation that even among the titles of the PS3 and 360 it’s still a fantastic piece of art. All the backgrounds are colored beautiful and set upon a galactic stage. You can’t help but notice these gorgeous starry backgrounds in Space Junk Galaxy, the sky of Beach Bowl Galaxy, or the mesmerizing solar scenery of Melty Molten Galaxy.
Super Mario Galaxy also takes the soundtrack to a full orchestral stage. While Koji Kondo composed the Observatory theme, much of the composing duties went to Mahito Yokota and the Mario Galaxy Orchestra. Each theme fits its area and setting perfectly and I cannot stress enough when I say it still holds one of the single greatest soundtracks in gaming history. I’m personally fond of Peaceful Stars, Battlerock Galaxy, Ghostly Galaxy, and Bowser’s Galaxy Reactor.
Galaxy continues the 3D platforming gameplay started in Super Mario 64. However, compared to 64 and Sunshine, Galaxy controls like a masterpiece. Mario feels smoother than ever when jumping and running and lacks any sort of stiff movement.
One new element to the game comes from the Spin Jump. This new control allows Mario to double-jump which can bring him to greater heights as well as save him from an ill-timed jump. This attack also his enemies in the vicinity.
The camera also feels much smoother than ever before. Doing away with the terrible camera of Sunshine, Galaxy’s camera fits Mario at the right angle in each sequence. Similar to 64, you can also rotate it horizontally to get a better view as well as enter first-person mode.
Each stage also feels wonderfully polished. Unlike Sunshine, there are no cruel, slow-paced, and repetitive missions. You won’t be punished for landing on a slope wrong either. And unlike 64, you don’t have to worry about the cruelty of less-desired stages like Tick Tock Clock. Galaxy feels wonderfully easy to play in every single world. It also offers challenge stages, known as Prankster Comets, which will limit your health or give you a time limit. Even the most challenging stages only punish you for making mistakes and not the game screwing you over.
The only mild caveat here is the stages that feature motion controls. Stages that involve moving the rolling ball or surfing on the manta ray require you to tilt your controller to move them around. However, these stages are more forgiving than they sound and generally only take a couple of tries to get the hang of.
If you’re playing the Wii version, you will have to point at the screen when collecting Star Bits. However, if you have Super Mario 3D All-Stars, you’re given several control options. You can either play with Joycons or Pro Controller and never have to worry about pointing at the sensor. You can tap the R button to reset the pointer to a neutral position making it easier than before. The Switch’s handheld mode also lets you touch the screen to collect Star Bits or use the Pull Stars.
My only real gripe with Galaxy is so trivial it could practically be ignored. Once you clear the game with 120 Stars, you can unlock Luigi as a playable character. You clear the game with him with 120 stars to get the minimal reward of the Grand Finale, which is just celebrating your play and awarding you two more stars for a total of 242 stars. As Mario, beating the game with 120 Stars completes the package as Luigi’s mode is scarcely different. However, it nags the completionist in me to put in another 20–30 hours just to seal the deal.
Super Mario Galaxy is an absolute masterpiece that should be missed by no fan of the series. It’s great for Mario newcomers and has aged tremendously well. I daresay it’s a Top 3 Mario game and easily one of Nintendo’s greatest titles.
The controls for moving through spherical planets work wonders. Incredibly rarely do I ever feel like I’m not moving in the right direction while the gravity changes the orientation. Despite that, this happens seldom and does not impact my enjoyment of the game.
If you’re looking for the ideal gaming experience, for any challenge level, get Super Mario Galaxy. I specifically recommend getting Super Mario 3D All-Stars for Switch so you can experience the title in HD with superior control options. It’s the best game on the collection and one you will certainly adore from start to finish.
Product Release: Super Mario Galaxy (US, 11/12/07)