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Everyone is grabbing Super Mario Galaxy, right? Right?
Two years ago, at The Last E3 Ever, I can recall wandering around the Nintendo booth’s bizarre inner temple, wondering if they had well and truly gone mad. I was going to cut them some slack, as I’d been wrong about the DS, and was prepared to invest what little optimism I possess into their surreal, prophetic dream.
I found a couple other items to enjoy, Excitetruck especially. But until I saw Galaxy, I didn’t really get it. And once I had it, it clung. It was like a secret I knew but could not tell, and the knowledge that you’ll finally be able to play it for yourselves is an immense relief. I never felt especially convinced of my ability to express the game, anyway.
One often sees the multiplayer mode of Super Mario Galaxy dismissed out of hand in reviews, but I know that for Gabe and Kara it’s almost a perfect fit. This second player can have as much or as little gameplay as they’d like: similar to Double Dash, breaking out the full suite of controls into a cooperative experience can expose some amusing synergistic gameplay. This other player can boost jumps, hold obstacles, grip enemies, and fire candy "bullets," but their best trick is to pick up distant Star Bits - Galaxy’s delicious, omnipresent collectible. Player One can focus on the tight platforming while Player Two manages the playspace.
Everyone online seems to have tracked down a copy of Mass Effect, which leads me to wonder if MS will actually hold to their November 19th embargo for reviews. Acclimating myself to Knights of the Old Republic was made easier by the wealth of brand totems available in every eyeful of game content. Up until now, BioWare’s best games have relied upon existing worlds to give them this heft. Honestly, I wondered if they were up to the task.
After about hour three, there was enough information present about the setting to buoy the game events, and I was enraptured. Before this, I mostly found myself frustrated by performance dips and pronounced texture pops - Gears of War fans will recognize this second one, and its source in the Unreal Engine, almost immediately. Now, with the girders of their context firmly set, I don’t even notice these occasional intrusion of these things. There is only a constantly unfurling space opera of profoundly humbling scope.
Once you’ve gotten your bearings, I suggest you try playing the game with the Film Grain and Motion Blur effects turned off. It’s strange, but I think I actually prefer it minus the condiments.