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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Transcript Edit

To say Nintendo overuse their intellectual property is like saying a parasitic wasp overuses the caterpillar it lays its eggs in, and which its babies will eat away from the inside in a startling allegory for human relationships. Throughout history, Nintendo producing Mario platformers has been as inevitable as genital disease producing strange and worrying fluids, but at least they made an effort to mix up the formula each time. Mario 3 introduced the world map, Mario World introduced a slightly suspect relationship with a shoe-wearing dinosaur, Mario Sunshine introduced copiously weeing on people; so what does Mario Galaxy 2 do that no other Mario game has done before? Well, just one thing: stagnate! (Oh, wait a second, I forgot about New Super Mario Bros. Wii. In that case: fuck all!)

This is normally the point where I recap the plot, but this time, why don't you all sing along! There are three entities: Mario, Princess Peach, and Bowser (the ego, the superego, and the id). One of these entities kidnaps another and the third has to go in pursuit of them. See if you can figure out which is which. This game made me realize that the plot of many Mario games can be enlivened somewhat by assuming that "cake" is the Mushroom Kingdom word for "sex". The Princess invites Mario over for some... cake, but Bowser kidnaps her so she can make some... cake for him instead. (Only now he's five hundred feet tall and emperor of the universe, so she'd better make sure her... cake is spread quite wide.) Needless to say, this is the same plot is Mario Galaxy 1 with zero acknowledgment of continuity. No little mushroom person at any point says: "Didn't this exact same thing happen not however long ago? Say, did anyone remember to press charges on Bowser last time he pulled this; put in him prison or something? What exactly was stopping him turning around and pulling the same shit the moment Mario and the Princess were distracted with each other's cakes? See, people, this is why we need to introduce a constitutional monarchy, wark wark!"

Okay, so Bowser kidnapping the Princess is sort of traditional, like hanging, drawing, and quartering. And when Mario Galaxy 1 did it, I figured, "Well, fair enough. They're introducing the concept to all the new audience of casual gamer shitheads that the Wii's suckered in - each of which I'm prepared to personally seal away in some kind of medieval oubliette, but whatever, we play the cards we're dealt." But Mario Galaxy 2 doesn't have that excuse. It seems reasonable to me that the chief audience for Galaxy 2 is people who played Galaxy 1, but the game seems to assume that you didn't, or at least it sincerely hopes you didn't. Mario himself seems confused on the Wii menus: "Shooper Mario Galackseeee!", he shrieks, omitting the incremental digit. Exactly how stupid does Nintendo think people are? To find an answer to that question, I feel I should point out that as well as a manual, the gamebox also contains a separate piece of paper reiterating the controls with large, colourful visual aids, and a DVD in which the controls are cooed a third time by a woman with the same patient, motherly voice she'd use to potty-train a brain-damaged two-year-old, and a big, glossy photograph of the Wii console itself, as if to say, "put it in this!"

Moving on from Nintendo's "no drooling Mongoloid left behind" policy, Mario Galaxy 1's hub world has been replaced by a spaceship in the shape of Mario's head - the spacegoing equivalent of personalized number plates. (And you just know from looking at him, Mario's the kind of arsehole who overtakes on the hard shoulder.) Anyway, Starship Narcissus is where Mario keeps the characters he meets on his travels as some sick collection of living trophies, and there are some extra lives and pick-ups that respawn each time you return - so if, like me, you're completely psychotic, then after every level you have to run around collecting them all again so everything can be neat und tidy. From the crown of Mario's giant, spacefaring ego, you can then access the map screen. What is it with Wii games and map screens lately? It's like every Wii developer struggling to squeeze respectable gaming experiences into the Wii processor limitations woke up one morning saying, "Hey, we can just do that thing the NES did that's one step up from picking from a drop-down menu, and not have to do as much work!" God help us if anyone shows them a text adventure.

I shouldn't even have to talk about the core gameplay. I'd consider it a insult to you and me. My review of Mario Galaxy 1 hasn't gone anywhere. Why not pause this video, pour yourself a glass of wine, and go and enjoy that. I'll just wait here slapping myself in the face until you return.

[The screen goes black and we hear four slaps, followed by a sigh, followed by four more slaps.]

Finished? Right! Well, Mario Galaxy 2 is more of that. More jumping around on things and more wanker's cramp from all the Wiimote shaking. They did add Yoshi now, though, so the major bold new addition to the formula is an idea from 1990. And there are new power-ups based on becoming a cloud and a rock - both ideas I assume were acquired by looking out of a window during a dull brainstorming meeting. This is something we used to call an "expansion pack" and which Nintendo apparently calls "ka-ching". Several bosses and encounters are copied wholesale in the noble cause of knocking off work early, but the individual level designs are different (although get stunlocked down one bottomless pit, been stunlocked down them all). And when I say "different," I mean "different to Mario Galaxy 1", for there is one level that is a boldfacedly copied open-quotes "tribute" to a level from Mario 64, which indicates two things: A) Mario 64 definitely hasn't aged well, and B) that dull brainstorming meeting must have run out of snacks at some point.

I guess the fan base will get the franchise it deserves, but is this really all you want? Yes, there are games I like, games I love. Do I want to play a new installment of the same thing every few years? No! The fastest way to spoil your pleasures is to make them routine. Variety is the spice of life and status quo is the starch. The star that shines brightest is all the more glorious for its brevity - or, to bring this metaphor down to a broader cultural level, The Simpsons has been running for twenty-one seasons and hasn't been good since the fifth. I would rather see things evolve - before any defenders of motion-controllers get in touch, evolve in ways that aren't stupid! You know what, Mario fans, you want to stay tucked up in your little comfort zone playing the same game, ordering the same pizza every night 'til you're on first-name terms with all the delivery boys? That doesn't bother me. I'll even admit that Galaxy 2 is fun, but you have to do something for me in return: I want you to go out this weekend and do something you've never done before. Go skydiving. Get drunk at a football match and glass someone. Meet a nice member of the opposite sex and invite them out for some... cake.

CreditsEdit

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw: He'd like to come and meet us but he thinks he'd blow our minds

Fair Use Notice: Maybe Mario can breathe in space because he's some kind of homunculus

FullyRamblomatic.com: Ground control to Mario: Your circuit's dead - oh no

ScreenshotsEdit

Super Mario Galaxy 2 1

"Say, did anyone remember to press charges on Bowser last time he pulled this?"

Super Mario Galaxy 2 2

God help us if anyone shows them a text adventure

Super Mario Galaxy 2 3

The individual level designs are different

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe

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