Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Mario Galaxy or how Nintendo Cheats
I finally got around to playing Mario Galaxy after the break. I wasn't allowed to buy it before xmas since it was on my list but then no one bought it for me...so I had to do the honorable thing and borrow it from someone who had already beaten it.
I'm 68 stars in and I'm not sure how much further I'm going to go. I feel like 70'ish is the sweet spot for the game. I feel like I've seen almost everything the game has to offer and after this I'll just be OCD and torturing myself to collect 100 purple coins within 2 minutes. Once I got 60 I went straight to the final boss which definitely could have been better. Instead of adding any new mechanics he's just more or less a homework test. You just do the same thing you did earlier in the game but multiple times in a row. Shrug.
My real problem with the game is I kind of feel like Nintendo cheated with this game. When you make a modern 3d action platformer game there are ALL these problems - camera, level design, level pacing, cohesion, blah blah. With Galaxies I feel like they said, 'ok - instead of trying to solve all these problems lets just remove as many as possible!'
Camera? Well - what are the problems with camera? Walls, collision, etc so lets just get rid of those problems by making the play space spherical! Anytime the world isn't spherical the camera breaks down SUPER fast. The bootleg go into first person mode to look around was a crutch that didn't even work 1/2 the time for me.
Level Design? I could make some comment about how the small worlds keep the fun focused but in all honesty this game has pretty damn good Level Design. Especially the 2d'ish worlds with the gravity going all crazy.
Level Pacing? I think they did kick this one out for sure. Usually going from point A to point B requires keeping the trip fun for the player. Sometimes it's just having level 1 dudes to kill along the way. Mario Galaxy totally gets rids of this problem by jumping from one plane to the next via a star. The problem I have with this is most of the time I really don't know where I'm going - I just jump in because there is no where else to go. In some instances it's really hard to go backwards also - in case I didn't have enough star bits for the first section and needed to collect more.
Cohesion? This one is a double edged sword. I really do like this game since you are doing something new all the time. At the same time - this game is kind of exhausting because you are doing something new! Galaxy feels very much like Mario and Wario Ware combined. Maybe this design choice was more telling of how popular the DS is and how to make this game feel like a portable game? shrug. While I was excited to get the next star it was only really my curiosity that made me push on. I felt like I could have stopped almost anywhere in the game and not have regretted it. Maybe thats part of the charm? Not sure.
The biggest problem I have with the game is the overall lack of exploration. In mario64 you could enter a world and maybe have immediate access to 4 of the 6 stars. In Galaxy I felt like I deviated from what they wanted me to do maybe once...maybe twice. I'm no longer exploring the level that they have given me - I'm just along for the ride. I hella forget how Sunshine handled this to be honest.
After that it really bums me out that Nintendo can't figure out how to do swimming in 3d. The swimming were by far the worst fucking levels. That and 'spring' mario. The flowers - ice and fire sucked being on a timer also. There was really no need for it.
There are a couple of other nitpicking things I didn't like about the game - how long it takes after you get a star to get back to the same level to get the next star. Along with why are there even lives? I played once for about 4 hours straight and had 40'ish lives saved up. Saved the game for dinner and when I started back up I only had what is it? 4 or 5? Whatever you start off with. Thanks....
That being said I think they did a really good job of taking complex shapes in 3d space and really simplifying it and while still making it fun. I think the game is a definite must play but I wouldn't give it 10 out of 10.