435 of 451 people found the following review helpful
My daughter was 5-years old when we first played the original Super Mario Galaxy. She would constantly corner me every day so that we could play it over and over, and after we beat it, over and over again. In fact, I have beaten the original game a total of 10 times with my daughter as my trusty side-kick at the player 2 spot, grabbing stars, freezing bad guys, or shooting the occasional bad guy or gold dot to get me a much needed coin.
So imagine our delight when we heard on Amazon.com last June that Super Mario Galaxy 2 was available for pre-order...without a confirmed date, of course, but ready for pre-order nonetheless.
Does Super Mario Galaxy 2 hold up? Does it still manage to capture the heart of a 7-year old girl and her father? The answer is a resounding YES.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 completely operates in its own right by being a stand-alone story. The only nod to the previous Galaxy comes in the form of Rosalina who will appear if you have significant difficulty with a level so that she can actually show you how to pass a level (at the cost of getting a bronze, NOT gold star). Back to the story (or the little of it that there is, a la most Mario games), Princess Peach has been kidnapped by a GIGANTIC Bowser (surprise!). Naturally, Mario is going to rescue her with the help of star power from master luma (star-like creatures with the capability to transform).
Who is there to help Mario this time? Well, this time Luigi is a playable character later on, as opposed to the original Galaxy which forced you to take the torturous path of collecting all 120 stars before unlocking him. Yoshi is on board as well, your trusty steed who can eat red-hot peppers to move quickly and cross water no less, or become a blimp full of hot air, or glow to reveal hidden paths.
The biggest change for us as a father-daughter team is that Player 2 has more to do now. Player 2 is actually an orange luma who follows Mario around. Now, Player 2 (in addition to freezing enemies and grabbing stars) can actually spin as well to knock enemies to the ground or grab coins from remote places by flying over to them quickly and then bringing them back to Mario. Also, making Player 2 an actual, tangible entity in the game (as opposed to a mysterious P2 star that has no discernible presence) makes it even more fun for my daughter who gets caught up in the action because the game itself is usually too hard for her as Player 1. She will actually say things like, "Daddy, you get the one on the right, I'll get the one on the left." It's extremely hard to pry her away from it when it's time for a story and bed.
Has the gameplay changed much? Well, no, the same mechanics are there. It's interesting that the game starts off as a 2D sidescrolling event that leads into somewhat a 3D perspective until it's a full-blown 3D adventure. It's a subtle, baby-step transition and, as an IGN reviewer put it, it pays off in getting those unfamiliar with the original to get into the action.
Despite having the same mechanics of jumping and spinning, Mario has some new powerups. Cloud Mario can create little tufts of clouds to hop up. Rock Mario has our hero turning into a solidified boulder to roll around (and even "bowl" to hilarious effect). Drill Mario allows our hero to drill through to inaccessible areas. And, of course, there's Yoshi who is able to eat his enemies and use a couple of funny power-ups of his own as previously mentioned. Bee Mario, Fire Mario, Spring Mario, etc., make their return.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is smooth, polished and shows the time-dedicated love and attention that was bestowed upon it during its 3-year absence. It takes the best parts of the original and makes them better while taking away what didn't work the first time. They have wisely included more for player 2 to do while acknowledging that Mario is still, front and center, the star of the show. The music is even more fully orchestrated than before. The attention to detail is phenomenal and showcases Nintendo's desire to never compromise by releasing a product too quickly without undergoing the rigorous quality control that this game clearly had.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a delight for children and even a delight for me as a 37-year old father. This is my "daughter and me" time, when we share a fun family night (Mommy likes to watch ;D), night-after-night and it is my modern-day Monopoly. Cheers to Nintendo for taking a winning formula, keeping it more than alive, and breathing fresh ideas into this franchise.
So what are you waiting for? Purchase the game...this is one of the flagship titles, and deservedly so.
115 of 125 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2010
Mario Galaxy 2 builds on the success of Galaxy 1; the premise, controls and basic concept are the same. Mario has to navigate through different worlds, each incorporating some gravity defying, mind bending challenges. Every planet is completely new, there are no repeats in the tasks to complete, and with over 240 stars to collect that is no small feat.
This game has several additions, most notably rock Mario, cloud Mario and Yoshi, and returns some of the original game's best (bee Mario and boo Mario). One difference from the original is that while in the original there was a narrative that ran through the game, that aspect is completely gone in this installment. Of course, there is a basic story which by now you know by heart, Princess Peach is kidnapped and needs to be rescued. After this is presented the game immerses you in its 3 dimensional nature.
This game is more challenging than the first. It gets you into serious platforming from early on, and while that is a welcome change in the early stages, some of the latter stages can be quite frustrating forcing you to spend quite a bit of time trying to get the one star needed to advance. There is a "play for me" option that you can use in some of these more frustrating challenges. The only difference is that you get a less lustrous bronze star as opposed to a gold one (letting everyone know that you couldn't complete that challenge on your own".
Another change is that there is more 2-dimensional gameplay, which is very well done and serves as a good change of pace from the almost schizophrenic, mind-bending 3 dimensional stages. Finally, with respect to gameplay, there is a more linear or straightforward map as opposed to the very open story-line that you could follow in the first game.
The two-player mode is more complete than in the first game, allowing the partner to attack enemies with a spin move.
Graphics and sound:
The graphics are fantastic, some of the best graphics available on the Wii. The orchestration is also very well done, adding to the action but not overbearing.
All in all, an excellent game that takes all the good things about Mario Galaxy 1 and improves on them. With over 240 stars to collect and no repeat in the action, one of the biggest bargains in games.
75 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2010
Super Mario Galaxy was an astounding achievement in video game design back in 2007, and to this day it remains an excellent and thoroughly enjoyable 3-D platformer. In fact, Galaxy was so good that when I heard that a direct sequel would be coming a mere 2 ½ years later, I had my doubts as to how the game would be a worthy successor without simply rehashing everything that made the first game so great. But while Galaxy 2 is great for almost all the same reasons as the first game was, it still stands out from its predecessor in many ways and stakes its claim as one of the greatest video games ever made.
Galaxy 2's plot is no more or less recycled and predictable as the story from the first game. It's not as though anyone can watch the opening cutscene and think, "Why is that giant turtle thing trying to kidnap the princess?!?" There are no surprises here, except perhaps the fact that this time around, Bowser is absolutely huge. But the beauty of it all is that it shows that Nintendo knows that they don't need an amazing story to make an amazing game. While it might have been nice to see something different, it's hard to ignore the fact that even if Galaxy 2 had a marvelous plot, the rest of the game's strengths would still overwhelmingly overshadow it.
Even in the midst of watching the same exact story kick off again, though, Galaxy 2 immediately states its intentions by starting off with a sidescrolling stage. Yes, Galaxy 2 is indeed a 3-D Mario game, but perhaps its greatest strength is in how it blends together the linearity and very format of many 2-D Mario titles with the open worlds of 3-D Mario games. Most of the galaxies are in full 3-D, but there is a surprising number of sidescrolling stages as well. These 2-D sections aren't just great because they resemble 2-D Mario, but what makes them stand out is how well all of Galaxy's elements translate to a 2-D format. It all works so well that it makes the 2-D areas simply fantastic.
Both the 2-D and 3-D levels alike feature phenomenal level design. The Galaxy team has produced over 50 galaxies for this game, almost all of which manage to bring something new to the table as far as design goes. There are a few new power-ups, including Rock Mario, which allows Mario to roll around at high speeds, and Cloud Mario, which gives Mario the ability to generate cloud platforms underneath himself in the air. These, coupled with most of the power-ups from the first game, offer plenty of creative design features that manage to twist the proven Galaxy formula of planet hopping and gravity-based puzzles in fresh, exciting ways.
But perhaps the most significant addition to Galaxy 2 is Yoshi. In past Mario games, Yoshi's playable appearances have always been in 2-D games, and his playtime is usually disappointingly brief. Galaxy 2, though, puts the creative opportunities that Yoshi presents to use in more ways than ever before. Yoshi can swing on floating flowers and eat enemies, and that's all good fun, but the best thing about Yoshi is that he can also get power-ups from special fruits. A red pepper will make him run at exhilarating speed, a shiny yellow fruit will make him glow and reveal invisible floors and platforms, and a yellow berry will make him float like a balloon. None of this may sound all that original but these power-ups aren't great merely because of the concept they present, but how they are put to use and how the level design forces players to get creative with how to utilize these abilities, and that is what makes Galaxy 2's level design shine.
As I mentioned earlier, Galaxy 2 hosts over 50 galaxies, which is loads more than its predecessor. There is a bit of a trade-off though, in that the galaxies have a maximum of three stars each. Most galaxies offer one main mission and two prankster comet challenges, which are unlocked by finding the comet medal in the galaxy. Those who favor the sprawling open worlds of previous 3-D Mario titles might not view this trade-off as a good thing as it makes the levels more linear, but in my opinion it is a positive change as it opened up a lot more opportunities for the game developers to make more levels and let their ingenuity shine. And this change also reflects the idea that Galaxy 2 is more in the format of a 2-D Mario game than the traditional style of the 3-D titles, and the linearity of the levels reflects the style of the 2-D games. It all works together to make a 3-D Mario title as much like a 2-D Mario game without making it entirely in 2-D; I think it's an clever and profitable touch to an excellent game.
Galaxy 2 has made significant improvements in longevity as well. In the first game, collecting all 120 stars allowed completionists to play through the game a second time as Luigi. Galaxy 2 throws this out the window, though, by making Luigi playable at random points in the game and permanently unlocked after Bowser is defeated for the last time. And once the 120th power star is collected, 120 green stars appear dispersed throughout the game's galaxies, doubling the number of stars in each galaxy and thereby doubling the number of stars in the game. These are not mission-based, though; finding the green stars is basically a massive scavenger hunt, as they are hidden within each level. The green star quest substantially extends the game's length and forces players to utilize every last inch of Mario or Luigi's jumping heights, and the best part is that players are often required to get creative with the level design and figure out how to outsmart it. It's quite challenging at times, but still very entertaining.
From a technical standpoint Galaxy 2 is still the Wii's finest. The animation is sharp and vibrant, transforming the TV screen into a constant visual treat. The frame rate is smooth as can be, and everything is simply a pleasure to look at. The graphics are essentially the same as in the first game, but there really wasn't much, if anything, that needed improvement to begin with. The game also shines with its sound, with great sound effects that are true to the theme and franchise, and even better yet, the soundtrack is simply phenomenal. It does an even better job than the first Galaxy score in bringing classic Mario tunes to life in new ways while also adding in plenty of new themes. It all sounds simply fantastic, mixing the old with the new just as the rest of the game so masterfully does.
So what's wrong with Galaxy 2? Is there a single flaw? I could definitely say that it's slightly disappointing that all three Bowser battles are essentially the same thing. I could also say that the final galaxy, the Grandmaster Galaxy, was too hard to be much fun and didn't feature any new creative twists. And yes, the story is the same old Bowser kidnaps Peach narrative we've watched over and over again. But to count those things against the game as major flaws would be extremely nitpicky. Yes, these ever so slight shortcomings are there, but they are so insignificant compared to the rest of the game's quality that it's hard to even consider them as detracting from the overall experience.
So no, Galaxy 2 isn't perfect. But since when has any game achieved perfection? God alone is perfect; nothing humans make can ever be truly perfect. But it's for games like Super Mario Galaxy 2 that "perfect" scores exist: games that are so excellent and so well crafted that they deserve top honors among their peers. And so that is why this game receives a 10 out of 10 from me. Not because it's perfect, but because it's as good as games get. So is Galaxy 2 perfect? No. Is it one of the greatest games ever to hit consoles? Why yes, I'm glad you asked. Now I highly recommend that you go pick up a copy and enjoy it for the excellent piece of entertainment it is.
+ Fantastic blend of the best of 2-D and 3-D Mario
+ Phenomenal level design still twists the Galaxy formula
+ Yoshi adds a surprising amount of fun to the game
+ 242 stars makes a massive and expansive game
+ Graphics are every bit as good as before
+ Even better soundtrack
- Those few slight shortcomings I mentioned
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I really can't understand why more people don't talk about the two player mode in this game. In the first Galaxy game, two player was a needless afterthought. In this game, it's a fun tactical enhancement.
The second player can provide several services to Mario:
* Collecting star bits (like the first Galaxy game)
* Stomping low-level enemies
* Freezing larger enemies, bowling balls, etc.
* Collecting coins, even hard to reach ones
* Generally helping Mario with the tougher challenges
This is great fun. Finally Dad can help the kids through tough levels!
We also like New Super Mario Bros. Wii for its full two-player mode. In that game, up to four people play equal, independent characters (Mario, Luigi, Toad...) But frankly, my daughter is a lot better at games than I am, and in Galaxy 2, I get to play her assistant. It's a great concept.
In general, this is a solid upgrade from the first Galaxy game. The rough edges have been evened out, making it less frustrating and more fun overall. There are lots of hidden Galaxies, and periodically a character will invite you to a challenge as well. Five stars for another winning Mario title.
44 of 56 people found the following review helpful
There is no doubt about it that Super Mario Galaxy remains as one of the most defiant games for the Nintendo Wii. Since it came out in 2007, it has re-shaped the way Nintendo has delivered its favorite pint-sized plumber. The game really delivered in a whole new dimensiion by showcasing Mario in Zero-G with more excitement and challenges than you could definitely imagine. Now with all that hype Super Mario Galaxy 2 has finally came out and fans all over want even more of their Mario mayhem in spades, but the question is that does the sequel lose any of the formula that made Super Mario Galaxy so superb. The answer is absolutely no, it just simply adds more challenge and more mayhem to it.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is definitely one of the must-own games of 2010 that really is worth the money that is spent on. The game takes on new challenges as Mario is again sent into space trying to rescue Peach from the clutches of Bowser, accept this time the challenges are more extreme as Mario faces new worlds from a intergalatic Giant World, to tougher foes than before like Peewee Pirhana and king-sized Bullet Bills, all the way to a even more challenging Giant-sized Bowser that is even larger and fiercer than before. But Mario isn't alone in this game to face them. He has Yoshi as well in this game, and the use of Yoshi here is well worth the effort as you control him and Mario in levels that are beautiful and bolder than before.
There are also new power-ups here too from the cloud suit, where as you jump you can make clouds become simple platforms to help you on your quest which can help you earn those extra stars, and the Rock suit that can make you Invincible as you can easily smash your way through foes and rocks to uncover hidden star bits. that'll help you earn lives as well as defeat harsher enemies. Yoshi as well has some tasty power-ups like the blimp fruit which makes hime float on air and help you get to certain platforms you couldn't do alone, the bulb fruit which helps you see certain levels that might dissapear when you're in the spooky levels of the ghouls and Boos and levels that might be spooky in the night, and the dash pepper which makes Yoshi move like a speed demon through to help you try to race your way around the extra Zero-G madness.
The graphics are absolutely amazing through the game, and picks up nicely where the original Super Mario Galaxy has left off. The control also is strong here, with the aid of Yoshi as well, as it is easy to manuver with him as he can easily swallow Bullet Bills and Pirhana plants that'll help you on your quest, and spit them out at other goombas and lakitus that won't take no for an answer. The music though does bring back at times classic melodies from past Super Mario Brothers titles like the first Super Mario Galaxy did, but remains as epic to appease the hard core Mario fan. Nevertheless, the fun here is absolutely well-worth the effort from each and every level with new challenges and mayhem that is sure to keep your Wii plugged in for days on end.
All in all, if you're a owner of the Nintendo Wii and you've loved the original Super Mario Galaxy, than I absolutely recommend Super Mario Galaxy 2 as a great addition to your Wii library. It really does the job where any Mario game really should, and is a real treat for the gamer in all of us. I really love this game from the moment I've seen it and laid eyes on the madness, and trust me you'll not even be dissapointed with it either. It is well-worth the wait and Super Mario Galaxy 2 delivers from start to finish on the fun.
Sound: A 1/2-
Fun & Enjoyment: A
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2010
I didn't think Nintendo would be able to top the first Super Mario Galaxy with this sequel, but I do believe they did (though, only slightly). There's so much creativity and inventiveness in Super Mario Galaxy 2, that it's hard not to fall in love with it. If you've played the first Galaxy, you'll be right at home with this one. Nintendo took everything great about the first one and made it better (except the story, but in a game like this, who cares?) The graphics, even though they're not HD, look wonderful, representing the best looking Wii game to date. The art design is top notch. It's all very colorful and fun to look at. The orchestrated music is also a joy to hear making it some of the best music Nintendo has produced for any of its games.
But what makes Galaxy 2 really shine is the level design and the sheer amount of variety. Galaxy 2 always throws new and clever challenges your way. The game has a whopping 242 stars to collect. The first 120 are standard yellow stars that you'll collect throughout the course of the regular game (though you'll only need about 70 to take on the last Bowser and finish the game). The remaining stars are green stars that are deceptively hidden in all the galaxies you've already completed to get all the yellow stars. The green stars add more of a sense of exploration to the game, and you'll probably be busy for days or even weeks trying to find them all (I still have more to collect also). Also, scattered throughout the game, you'll find numerous homages to other Mario games, particularly Mario 3, Mario World and Mario 64.
If you're an adult, and you're worried that Galaxy 2 seems too kiddie for you to enjoy, don't worry, this game is great for all ages. Super Mario Galaxy 2 has received much critical praise from gaming web sites and magazines, and it's currently the highest rated game on the Wii. I'm happy to say that the game deserves all its accolades and deserves to be added to your gaming library.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2010
Some people have compared Super Mario 64 to Super Mario Bros. Super Mario 64 basically defined 3D platforming, just like Super Mario Bros. defined 2D platforming.
Super Mario Sunshine is like Super Mario Bros. 2. It's a good game, but introduces a weird play mechanic and doesn't live up to its predecessor, just like Super Mario Bros. 2.
Super Mario Galaxy (the first one) is like Super Mario Bros. 3. Improved graphics, absolutely fantastic platforming, great bosses, expert level design, insanely cool power-ups, all that. But camera issues and Rosalina's story plagued an otherwise fantastic game, just like how the Angry Sun and the low difficulty kept Super Mario Bros. 3 from perfect.
Super Mario Galaxy 2, however, is like Super Mario World. It took the previous game, added Yoshi, gave it more levels, even cooler bosses, more power-ups, and mind-blowing graphics. Really, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is beautiful. Its graphics rival the Xbox 360's titles, and the gameplay is far better than anything on any platform. It manages to improve on the near-perfect Super Mario Galaxy with a less-confusing hub, Yoshi, and less of peoples' stories. Also, a mode that comes directly from New Super Mario Bros Wii where Rosalina guides you through a level. The one complaint I have about Super Mario Galaxy 2 is that 100 Star Bits, instead of 50, equal a 1-Up. Seriously, that's my only complaint about this masterful game. It's very challenging, and a Best Time feature allows you to race against the clock. I challenge even someone who saw Yoshi in Super Mario 64 to get the 252nd star, in Grandmaster Galaxy. This game is absolutely stunning in every respect, from the levels to the tight controls to the new power-ups. If you're a parent doing Christmas shopping and your kid doesn't have this game but has a Wii and is over 7 (it's way too hard for someone under 7) pick this up and watch how happy they are as they race through the Rightside Down Galaxy, spinning to grab the Power Star.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2010
The Mario games have always been appealing because they're simple to play, handle well, and it's obvious a lot of thought and innovation is placed in each. Typically Nintendo's held off on sequels to the major Mario games until there's some big change in the hardware to show off. Galaxy 2 started with the modern mindset of adding additional content to an already-released game, but the creative team ran with some of their new ideas until they realized that they practically had a whole new game on their hands.
Galaxy 2 builds off the basics of the original - the gravity schemes and spinning moves are all there - but the real innovation is level design. The game is full of challenging new puzzles, and new ways to collect the power stars. Some levels revolve around new powerups, like the boulder suit and the cloud suit (thankfully the frustrating spring suit from the first is nowhere to be found). One bonus is Yoshi the dinosaur, who like in past games can eat enemies, jump higher, and has some powerups of his own. This game also includes a lot more of the sidescrolling sections featured in the first game. With new features like checkpoints, the visibility of a goal in the distance, and unique environmental interaction (jumping and climbing giant vines, for instance) make them practically a game on their own.
Finally the music, in the footsteps of the original, is a really entertaining orchestrated score. There are sweeping tunes that give the worlds a sense of scale (Cloudy Court Galaxy), brassy ones that highlight deadly worlds (Melty Monster Galaxy), oddly haunting ones that raise the tension (Space Storm Galaxy), and more synthetic ones that highlight levels returning to Mario's platforming roots (Hightail Falls Galaxy).
Galaxy 2 is a great game all-around, showing that the basics of 2D 1980s games can not just survive, but thrive well into 2010.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2010
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a platform game - taking the Mario franchise to 3D levels.
Let me start with a disclaimer - I've never liked playing Super Mario Brothers before and never played past perhaps a few stages of the old SNES games. However, Galaxy 2 is set up in a way that teaches the uninitiated how to play - so there is a gradual learning curve.
That's what makes Galaxy 2 so attractive - there is no tutorial at the beginning telling you all the rules of the game. Instead the tricks and different modes are spread through different galaxies and worlds - each world teaching you something new to add to your arsenal of knowledge. [Recommendation? Play with a Player 2! A competent friend can really make the going easier with great support. (Unfortunately they must sit and watch you during the boss battles as there is nothing they can do.)]
The first galaxy introduces you to Yoshi, the next clouds, the next boulders, flips, spins, swimming, skating, flying, and so much more. As you progress through the game it starts to repeat ideas - but there is always an extra addition to it. And when there is a boss - rest assured because the way to defeat it is by using the skilled you picked up within the galaxy. (But to be noted - not all galaxies have bosses.) That is not to say everything is easy. Galaxy 2 includes a challenging aspect by including comets and prankster comets, green stars and others. To fully complete the game, you have to get all of them!
Of course, one mustn't forget that it is in 3D, so beware of going upside down, swimming in a sphere, and flying around cubical corners! These details make the game so much more difficult (depth perception!) but also more fun.
If I had a complaint, it would be the unforgiving camera angles. While it is hypothetically possible in the game to manually change your camera angle, most of the time (all the time it is necessary it seems!) the game will not let you change your angle.
Still it is all manageable, camera angles or no. And it is even easy to pick up for first time gamers! It's a game not to miss on the Wii.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2010
I have held off on writing this review until I knew that any review I wrote would be fair. After beating all 6 worlds, collecting 92 stars and over 40 comet coins, I'd say I have a pretty firm grip on the game. First of all, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is very, very fun to play. FUN takes precedent over any other comments, compliments or complaints I have in this review. Second, Super Mario Galaxy 2, contrary to popular opinion, is not harder than the first Super Mario Galaxy. If anything, it's easier.
In the first SMG, which was also a pretty casual game by Mario standards (especially after the relatively brutal Super Mario Sunshine), I ended up getting frustrated with a couple levels and I gave up on trying to collect every star. After 3 years, I'm still sitting at 73 stars in total in the first game (I've gotten 20 more in the 2nd SMG ... in a single week). There wasn't a level, or boss, in SMG2 that was difficult to the point of frustration. The levels are very short and even the toughest won't last most gamers longer than 15 minutes (usually not more than 7 or 8).
The most disappointing thing about the difficulty level is the ease of beating the bosses. Only 2 bosses in the game even killed Mario as I played. Not a single boss brought me to a game over. I beat the final boss without even getting hit. If only one thing changes for the next Mario, I hope it's the difficulty level of the bosses. Rosalina (IE - The "Cosmic Guide") offering more casual gamers a play-through affords Nintendo the chance to make bosses the like of which we haven't seen in at least half a decade. The kind of bosses that make you want to throw your controller through the TV set out of sheer aggravation.
Outside of the bosses being too easy, does Super Mario Galaxy equal the first? It's even better! It loses the originality that the original had (obviously), but the level design is even more stunning. As mentioned above, levels are much shorter than those found in the other 3-D Mario games. Because of this, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the first 3-D Mario to 100% successfully translate the pulse-pounding gameplay of the 2-D games of yesteryear into the 3-D visual style gamers crave today. The other 3-D Mario games were great -- but Galaxy 2 keeps the frantic energy level up from beginning to end in a way that I haven't seen since Super Mario World.
Other advantages to Super Mario Galaxy 2 over the original Super Mario Galaxy (or any other 3-D platformer out today) are the return of Yoshi, a map that's the easiest to navigate since Super Mario World, slightly improved graphics, the ability to trade off and play as Luigi every few levels on the first play-through and some great new power-ups. For a game that I incorrectly thought was going to be nothing more than an expansion pack, these improvements were a welcome surprise.
Despite the improvements, one downside from the first hangs around for the second. If you didn't like the controls in the original, they'll still annoy you in the sequel. I wish they'd allow you to play with your choice of motion-control, a GameCube or a classic controller like Smash Bros or Mario Kart. The precision of a gamepad is missed. I died from the spin control not registering at all or fast enough more often than I did from anything else in the game. These are cheap deaths that would be easily avoided with a gamepad.
Even with the motion-control (or in spite of it), Mario Galaxy 2 is an excellent game. In the 18 hours it took me to collect 92 stars, never once did I get bored. There's always something new and exciting to see. The power-ups are scattered throughout and just when you tire of one, another is offered. The level design really does boggle the mind. You have to play it to understand how epic it truly is.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the very essence of gaming. It, like all the best Mario games, is timeless. The game will be as fun 15 years from now as it is today. Super Mario Galaxy 2, just like Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World will be considered a classic when 2010's Call of Halo or Gears of Madden feels like an antique. And maybe in 15 years it will be available to play on a Virtual Console with a gamepad. Woo-hoo!