Super Mario Galaxy is a fantastic platformer with a stream of interesting ideas and creative level design. Combining the general movement of Super Mario 64 and the linear, structured missions of Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy redefined the Mario franchise. The ability to walk within the full 360 degrees of a planetoid is a revelation. Nothing is off limits. Mario can platform in any direction, resulting in platforming puzzles where the player has to plan their jumps and how Mario will be affected by the gravity. Every level is full of enough ideas that could be expanded into their own games, but none overstay their welcome. There’s always some place new to explore.
It wouldn’t be a 3D Mario game without expressive controls. Mario can perform all sorts of acrobatics with the press of a button and flick of a stick. A spin jump is added, which effectively gives Mario a mid-air jump. This spin attack also helps in hitting enemies on the ground, where it can be difficult for newer players to time and judge their jumps on a spherical plane. Futhermore the camera can get stuck behind walls and obscure the player’s view. Changing gravity and character orientation sometimes results in an awkward inversion of directional input. Thankfully these issues happen infrequently, and correct themselves rather quickly when they do.
Despite not being a particularly challenging game, Super Mario Galaxy stands as one of Nintendo’s best 3D platformers. The sequel would go on to expand and improve upon the foundations set here (similar to how Donkey Kong Country 2 greatly expanded upon the original), but the level design and variety make this game an experience worthy of any player revisiting, or visiting for the first time.
Screenshots were taken on the Super Mario 3D All-Stars version of the game on Nintendo Switch