Digital Download Thursdays

Every Thursday Nintendo adds new content to its eShop services on 3DS and Wii U. All of the heavy hitters have released in front of the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean there’s not an amazing game this week. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of playing Super Mario Galaxy, it is now available as a digital download for your Wii U. It does require a Wii Remote and Nunchuk to play, but assuming you’ve got the right controllers, you’re in for a real treat. It’s one of my favorite games of all time. I was going to link to the review I wrote back in 2007 for Gaming Age, but I believe it was lost to a server crash. Luckily I had a copy of my hard drive, so I’ll post it below if you’re interested.

Normally I fill up these articles with screens and video, but I just got home from my day job and we’re celebrating Christmas Eve in a few minutes, so this will have to suffice for this week. Here’s the official press release from Nintendo. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content:

  • Virtual Console on Wii U
    • Super Mario Galaxy – Become Mario as he traverses gravity-bending galaxies, traveling in and out of gravitational fields by blasting from planet to planet. Control Mario with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controllers, power up to reach inaccessible areas and collect Star Bits to either stun enemies or feed Lumas in this Wii classic – now available from the Virtual Console service on the Wii U console!
  • Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS
    • Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition – DLC Update – Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition includes two gigantic puzzle RPGs, which both use a unique drag-and-match style of game play. And now your Mushroom Kingdom experience expands even further with a downloadable update for the Super Mario Bros. Edition. This free update brings new Mario and Luigi Leaders, new Transformations and new Allies. You’ll also find updated Score Attack challenges that include online world rankings, new Free Challenges that let you pick your own team and game-play replays.

Nintendo eShop sales:

Activities:

  • Fan Faves – The fans have spoken! The Miiverse community voted on their picks for best Nintendo 3DS and Wii U games of the year. Did your favorites make the list? Go to the 2015 Nintendo Fan Faves website to find out!
  • National StreetPass Holiday – Share the joy of the season with other Nintendo fans by trading StreetPass tags during National StreetPass Weekend. Stop by any of the more than 29,000 Nintendo Zone hotspots across North America with your Nintendo 3DS system from Dec. 24 through Jan. 4 – you could get up to six StreetPass tags from across North America. In the YO-KAI WATCH game, visit the old Wayfarer Manor to meet wandering Yo-kai and receive gifts from them or even battle and befriend them. Collect puzzle pieces for the new Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam panel, or pick up enemy tokens for StreetSmash in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. You can also find a character named Claude with a special decorating request for you in the Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer game.
    Find a hotspot near you here: http://www.nintendo.com/3ds/nintendozone.

Theme Shop on Nintendo 3DS:

  • New themes this week include:

    • Mario’s Winter Wonderland

    • Pokémon: Peeking Friends

    • Pokémon: Poké Crests & Kokeshi Dolls

Super Mario Galaxy Review

“Wow”. There, I said it. And you will too after playing Super Mario Galaxy, the spiritual successor to Super Mario 64. See that score to the right of the review? Add a plus sign to it. Our review guidelines don’t allow for games to receive an “A+”, but if the option did exist Super Mario Galaxy would be one of the very few to qualify.

My favorite game of all time is Super Mario Bros. 3 for the original Nintendo. It launched way back in March of 1990. The years of anticipation, the glimpse of the game in the movie “The Wizard”, and my early sneak-peak playing the game before launch on a Play Choice 10 arcade machine paid off once the game released and exceeded my wildest dreams. It seemed like each world was more creative than the last, littered with unique power-ups, secrets hidden at every turn, and lots and lots of levels to explore. In many ways it’s the perfect action-platform game. So, imagine my glee when all of the same ingredients that made Super Mario Bros. 3 my favorite game of all time came together once again to create what I now consider to be the best 3D Mario game ever, Super Mario Galaxy.

Galaxy takes place primarily in space. I’m going to skip the story details since you’ve probably already read them, and if not I really don’t want to spoil the intro. Let’s just say that Peach gets herself in trouble once again and Mario must come to the rescue. Mario will be flying from one planetoid to another in search of Power Stars. In total Mario will visit over 40 different galaxies, many of which contain multiple stars to collect. Each galaxy is different from the other, not only in level design, but also in play mechanics. Gravity plays a major role this time around and some of the smaller asteroids, moons, and planets have very little gravity, allowing Mario to leap further than ever before. Most of the levels are based on spherical objects, meaning Mario can literally run around the playfield. This creates some stunning environments to explore since you never know what lurks just over the horizon or where the next secret area lies in wait. Other worlds feature black holes that threaten to suck Mario into oblivion as well as gravity changing zones that wreak havoc by turning the level upside down, and sometimes even on its side. The sheer amount of variety you’ll find throughout the entire game is absolutely astonishing. With each new level comes new discoveries and you never know what to expect next.

Mario is a joy to control. The game uses the Nunchuk joystick to move him around. He’s equipped with all of his familiar moves, like the butt-stomp, the triple jump, the wall jump, the long jump, and his trademark back flip. The A button on the remote is the jump, the B button under the remote allows players to fire bits of stardust at enemies to stun them. A star reticule is moved around the screen simply by pointing the remote where you want to aim. Shaking the remote allows Mario to perform a new spin attack to take out enemies and also to launch him between planets. This same move can also be done by shaking the Nunchuk, and honestly it’s my preferred method since that way my reticule is always on the screen where I want it if I need to fire some shards at enemies. The Remote’s speaker is used to great extent with sound effects chiming in at just the right moments. The controls are spot-on perfect, making the game fun to play. The camera system is automatic this time around, making the game infinitely more enjoyable than Super Mario Sunshine. As I mentioned above, the levels are extremely varied and because of that new play mechanics are constantly being introduced. The game does a great job of giving clues on what needs to be done with the controller, but no matter what they are always intuitive. From riding on the back of sea creatures in a watery race to balancing on top of a ball to ice skating on a frozen planet, Mario does it all in this epic adventure and the Remote performs flawlessly.

I don’t know what secrets Nintendo has been keeping, but Super Mario Galaxy is the first game to really show off the Wii’s graphical capabilities. Not only does the game consistently run at a solid 60 frames per second, but the graphics are extremely detailed, not to mention stunning. The characters all look fantastic and animate perfectly. The environments are decked out with special effects galore. From fur shading to heat distortion to reflective lighting, it all adds up to one pretty game. I can’t count how many times I simply stopped playing to look at the backgrounds and see what was going on far off in the distance. More often than not I’d stop to look in first person mode what was above and below me not to just marvel at the graphics, but also to locate secret areas and items. This game really shows off what the Wii can do when developers put time, money, and talent into their games.

For what seems like forever Nintendo has been reluctant to use orchestrated music in its games. Super Mario Galaxy may seem like an unlikely candidate to get the aural upgrade, but once you hear the incredible music you’ll be thankful the developers went the extra mile. With over 26 orchestrated pieces, the music in Galaxy is the best ever in any Mario game. Not only does it sound epic, it is epic. The tracks are wonderfully composed and match the levels perfectly. Throw in a few remixes from Super Mario Bros. 3 and Mario 64 and fans will be soaking up the music in no time. I hope Nintendo decides to release the soundtrack. I’ll be first in line. The sound effects often take a backseat in games, but not so in Mario Galaxy. Clever use of the Remote’s speaker creates an almost 3D surround sound for the star shards that you collect and shoot. For example, when you fire a shard, you’ll hear the sound effect loud and clear from the Remote and then it fades out and you hear it out of your speakers on your TV, creating the illusion that you indeed fired the shot from your hand and into the TV. The reverse is true as you collect the shards. In addition, all of the usual Mario quips and evil Bowser laughs are present to top off an already impressive sounding game.

Mr. Miyamoto has been trying to create a 3D Mario game that allowed for 2 players ever since Mario 64. It’s been a significant challenge for him, and the team behind Mario Galaxy finally managed to incorporate a second player. In this Co-Star Mode, Player 2 can pick up a Remote and stun enemies or fire star shards to help out Player 1. This allows for novice gamers to help out and is a nice distraction, but not quite the same as a true 2-player Co-op mode. Still, it beats simply sitting and watching someone else play and is entertaining for both skilled and novice gamers.

Super Mario Galaxy is an out of this world experience that is spectacularly amazing in every imaginable aspect. It creates a constant sense of wonder that manages to permanently transplant a grin on my face while playing. Even when I died I was smiling. No game has ever done that to me before and it’s truly a testament to how perfectly fine-tuned it is. This the real deal. Super Mario Galaxy is the best game on the Wii and honestly the best game I’ve played on any system in the past few years, and believe me, I’ve played most of the ones out there. Mario fan or not, you owe it to yourself to play Super Mario Galaxy. You won’t be disappointed.

Original review appeared on Gaming Age back in 2007 – it received a grade of A.

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