The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet


Fire Craig Harris

He writes for IGN, and he’s terrible. Yeah, no surprise. But here’s an epically boneheaded Super Mario Galaxy 2 wishlist that’s coming out a bit late in the game.

The game definitely has an uphill climb after the praise that the company received for the original design.

Does it really? I kind of think it has it easy — just don’t fuck up, and it’s a guaranteed instant classic, yeah? Is there anybody in the world who would be sad if Mario Galaxy 2 were nothing more than like a mission pack for the original Mario Galaxy?

If the trailers are anything to go by, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is using the original game and its engine as a foundation for a new experience on the same console, a development strategy that’s not unheard of but certainly new to the Super Mario franchise.

What? What the fuck are you even talking about? Super Mario Bros. 2 — the Japanese version released in North America as "the Lost Levels" — was just the original Super Mario Bros. with different maps. It had exactly the same high-level design and exactly the same "engine" (such as it was back in 1986). So I guess you mean "certainly new to the Super Mario franchise if you started playing on the N64, like all of us here at IGN did."

Because the original Super Mario Galaxy is being used as a basis for Super Mario Galaxy 2, it puts Nintendo in a dangerous position. Yes, the original game is absolutely brilliant (and there’s certainly nothing wrong with getting more of what made the original so darn awesome), but if very little’s changed, it’ll be difficult for Super Mario Galaxy 2 to get footing in the creative department – critics may dock it for not trying anything new.

Wait, what? Am I the only one who’s reading this as "that would rule, but critics would bitch for nonsense reasons?" Because that appears to be what this says.

I’ll certainly keep going on the record saying that, lately, Nintendo’s been playing it safe, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 is certainly running the risk of continuing that trend.

You heard it here first, fans: Nintendo is running the risk of continuing not to run risks. It’s good to know that IGN is running the risk of continuing its trend of absolutely awful game journalism.

After all, the team’s previous work, Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, put it on the map as a development group that had both the creative edge as well as the technical knowhow to push the system hardware.

… What? What does that have to do with anything? How about instead of that, we talk about the team’s subsequent release: Super Mario Galaxy. I have a feeling it might have more in common with the team’s upcoming game: Super Mario Galaxy 2.

And I have no doubt during the development of the first game that plenty of ideas got left on the cutting room floor that are ready for a revival in the sequel.

And I have no doubt that most of the things that were cut were cut for a reason, and I hope Nintendo’s found better things to put in Mario Galaxy 2 than the detritus that wasn’t good enough for the original. But, then, you’re probably one of those insufferable queers who whined about not being able to play the "Goldeneye beta," aren’t you.

Now, the game’s been in development for a good while and knowing Nintendo, even if it’s not slated for release until later in 2010, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is probably at this point very close to being complete.

Yeah, development was finalised a month ago. You remember that? I know about that, and it’s not even my job to know these things. Unlike some people.

Still, that’s not going to stop us from hoping that Nintendo’s not afraid to take suggestions this late in the game.

The fact that the game is finished and development is finalised and the discs are being printed as we speak does not deter IGN from hoping that Nintendo is still making changes. So. Is IGN: a) hopelessly optimistic, or b) insufferably stupid? I know which one I’m choosing.

First of all, Super Mario Galaxy is the game we see as the absolute pinnacle of the Wii’s graphic capabilities, with an engine that runs at 60 frames per second and features texture mapping and lighting effects that still haven’t been surpassed two years after its release.

Yes, Super Mario Galaxy is the best-looking video game of all time. But, just for reference, it runs at 30 frames per second, like most other 480p NTSC sources (some run at 24). The 60 FPS jive is a sure sign of somebody who has his head rammed so far up 3DMark he can’t see the light of day. As is the drooling over texture mapping effects. What? What does that even mean?

Some of the most creative challenges in Super Mario Galaxy were those forced camera levels that mimicked the classic Super Mario Bros. formula.

So some of the more creative challenges were the ones that were more like the stuff that was done in other Super Mario Bros. games? And you’d like them to do more of that exact same stuff? I’m not saying I disagree, exactly; I’m just wondering if you’re the same dude who wrote this: "but if very little’s changed, it’ll be difficult for Super Mario Galaxy 2 to get footing in the creative department – critics may dock it for not trying anything new."

Some of the most fun we’ve had in Super Mario Galaxy were in the early levels where we could just screw around and try different things. We found ourselves losing hours just seeing if we could send Mario into orbit around a small planetoid simply by running as fast as we could and timing the jump just right. [Emphasis his — ed.]

Hours? Seriously? Wow. Okay.

Super Mario Galaxy has all the makings of an open world (er, open universe) environment, and we’d love a bigger and better area just to putz around without worry of losing lives in our fun. Maybe it can be a better overworld than what was in the original Super Mario Galaxy.

Now, this is a tricky area, because I need to make sure I say what I have to say without implying that I don’t want a better hub level than the original Mario Galaxy, because I sure do. The Comet Observatory was a pain in the ass to get around. So let’s just stick with this: dear Nintendo, whatever you do, do not make Mario Galaxy 2 a goddamn open-world game. The main reason Mario Galaxy was better than Mario 64 and Mario Sunshine was because it wasn’t so goddamn open-world-y.

The ability to change Mario into a new form for added special powers has been a staple for the series since Super Mario Bros. 3

I was kind of kidding before, but now I have to ask for reals: has this guy ever played a Mario game? Does he really, honestly not know that Mario changed into new forms for added powers, like, way back in the original Super Mario Bros.? Because, hey genius, he sure did.

Super Mario Galaxy introduced the Bee suit and the ability to change Mario into a Boo-like ghost, but to further remove the game from being a "Super Mario Galaxy Plus" experience, maybe these suits should be replaced with something different. We’ll leave the creative thought process to you to figure out the best animals to turn Mario into, but we’ll just throw this one out there: Sugar Glider. Just sayin’.

As near as I can tell, the only thing a "sugar glider" is is this flying-squirrel-like thing. Didn’t you claim to have played Super Mario Bros. 3? Don’t you remember how Mario turned into a gliding marsupial in that game? And that’s really the bestest, most original thing you could come up with?

Getting to Bowser needs to be an event.

Check. Last level needs to be fun.

It’s great that you get to fight the King Koopa several times over the course of the adventure, but the final epic battle? It was sort of a letdown. The lead up to the match-up was certainly awesome: Bowser’s castle is in space with gravity effects and it was a challenge getting to that last platform so you can put the big guy away.

So the last level in Super Mario Galaxy was… fun. So that’s yet another check mark next to "make the game original by repeating what you did before."

Don’t let them [The New Super Mario Bros. Wii team] beat you at your own game…give Super Mario Galaxy 2 the epic ending it deserves.

I think Super Mario Galaxy leads all video games ever in terms of "epicness of ending." Remember when Bowser falls into a star and then the star expodes and becomes a black hole? And how Mario and Peach and the castle and everything almost gets sucked into it? And then the Lumas save the day be remaking the whole universe? And then Mario learns all the secrets of creation? How much more epic are you looking for?

Oh, uh, spoiler.

The idea of giving an observer some involvement in Super Mario Galaxy was a fun little addition – the ability to have a buddy snag star bits while you focus on the platforming was a good design decision.

I agree. That was good design. So yet again you’re telling them to do something original by repeating what they did before? Oh. No, you’re… not doing that. You’re about to say something much more stupid, aren’t you.

But that player has a whole Wii remote at his or her command, and all it was good for was aiming at the screen and firing collected gems at enemies (and at Mario). If you’re going to continue the two-player cooperative trend, let’s figure out a way to get Player Two more involved in the action than just passenger given basic busywork.

Dear Nintendo: Do not add a two-player simultaneous mode to Mario Galaxy 2. That will be completely terrible. Ignore this idiot.

Hearing those Mario pieces done up by a multi-piece classical orchestra in Super Mario Galaxy was absolutely magical, but that thrill kind of got diminished when some levels went back to lower-quality MIDI music.

I call zombie bullshit here. This is yet another version of the "texture mapping effects" comment, where the dude is just picking out buzzwords and claiming MOAR SI BETTAR. Orchestral scoring is not right for every level, jackass. Nintendo knows that. Square Enix did not seem to know that when they released Dragon Quest VIII, which had a fully orchestral soundtrack that was often wildly inappropriate and distracting. I’m listening to the Mario Galaxy soundtrack right now, just to be sure, and, yeah, the MIDI tracks are excellent. What the fuck is the point of recording an orchestral arrangement of a given song if all you need is, like, four voices? And three of them are basically synth pad effects and not actual instruments anyhow? Style is more important than triangle fill rate, and it’s more important than like quantity of violins. When will you people figure this out?

Not that the non-orchestral score for Galaxy was bad, but the contrast between the real trumpets and the “bee-booop-bop” ’80s Casio keyboard-like General MIDI samples was pretty extreme and a bit jarring in the experience.

Here’s a clip from the desert world of Super Mario Galaxy, which uses a synthesised soundtrack. It’s not the highest-quality possible clip, but it gets the point across. So, when this dickhead refers to that music as "bee-booop-bop ’80s Casio keyboard-like," is he just a dickhead, or is he a tin-eared epeen-crazed dickhead? You make the call!

You commissioned out the strings, brass and percussion players and you have composers and mixers that have the skills to write and edit pieces that loop seamlessly, so let’s pour some more money and effort into having a score for the ears that matches just how stunning the visuals look.

They did that, jackass. What you’re telling them to do is make a score that’s very unsubtle and lacking in variety. Like in Dragon Quest VIII.

It’s not really a necessity to give Mario a storyline — Princess Peach is kidnapped, Mario needs to rescue her, Bowser’s defeated, the end

I take it back. I take this whole article back. Craig, dawg! You doing anything this weekend? We should get together and hang, since we have a lot in common — we’re apparently the only two people in the entire world other than Shigeru Miyamoto who’ve noticed that Mario games don’t need weighty angst-driven anime storylines.

Super Mario Galaxy’s focus on narrative was a refreshing shift for Mario and was something we didn’t skip when it was unfolding on our screens.

Wait, what? Now I take back taking it back. What fucking focus on narrative? Craig. Dickshit. Did you play Super Mario Galaxy? Because I did. And I can tell you this: the game is about jumping. It is not about narrative. I’m serious here. When, exactly, did the narrative unfold? In the two text bubbles you got everytime you collected a Grand Star? Or do you mean the goddamn storybook scenes? Because, yeah, I skipped those when they were unfolding on my screen.

Now, the unlockable storybook is a different story. That, we wish we could skip if we entered the library…

Okay, you’re not talking about the storybook. Fuck exactly the heck narrative does Super Mario Galaxy have, then? Can anybody please answer this question? I’m completely serious.

And at the very least, give us a game that Wii owners can truly be proud of.

I agree wholeheartedly with Craig here. And the best way to do this, Nintendo, is by ignoring every other piece of advice he gives you. Which is all academic, since the game’s already finished.

And Nintendo? Reveal the release date already!

Why? So you can still not buy it yet? Seriously, Junior Jones, relax.

December 21st, 2009 Posted by | Games | 4 comments


  1. So while I’m spending time advancing through levels, he’s spending time trying to orbit the planetoid. Whatever floats the dude’s airship, I guess.

    Comment by Nyperold | 22 December 2009

  2. I mean, I won’t lie; I tooled around with stuff like that, too. But… hours? Yikes. I tried, like, a few times.

    Comment by Darien | 22 December 2009

  3. Oh! By the way, there’s something funky up with this entry. On the main page, it starts with “Hours? Seriously? Wow. Okay.” Then it goes from there to the end, where you’ve got this hyphens-and-greater-than-sign arrow, and then it goes back to the beginning of the entry and runs through to the end. But then I go to look at comments and maybe tell you about it, and everything from the arrow on up is not there. I’m not sure what’s going on there.

    Comment by Nyperold | 24 December 2009

  4. Is it still happening? I can’t reproduce the issue; everything looks normal to me. Possibly just some transient WordPress weirdness.

    Comment by Darien | 25 December 2009

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