After the disappointingly similar environments of Sunshine there's thankfully a much larger variety of worlds this time around too. Amazingly, despite the fact there are now only three "story" stars to collect per world, Galaxy's playgrounds aren't all pint-sized either (although there are one-off "platforming" worlds - which are rock hard and bloody brilliant).
We were delighted to find that the majority are as big - if not larger - than the locales of Mario 64, and unlike Sunshine many will make you smile like the time you first dived into the pirate cove in Mario 64.
It's a consistently surprising experience and we wouldn't dare spoil it for you, but Galaxy will take you places that will remind you why you play videogames.
One world we will speak about (because you've probably already seen it several times) is the bee Galaxy, where Mario finds one of the game's many transformations and becomes Bee Mario.
After Sunshine we thought Nintendo wouldn't ever be able to add new characters and environments to Mario without them feeling out of place, but Galaxy has thankfully proven us wrong. The buzzers and honeycomb world of the bee Galaxy are some of most charming we've seen in a long time, and we absolutely demand that the bees crop up in more Mario adventures.
It's a perfect example of how Nintendo doesn't need to re-write (all) the rules to make a fresh-feeling 3D platformer. As Bee Mario you can fly upwards for several seconds, step on flower platforms and climb honeycomb walls. Touch water however and you'll instantly transform into regular fat Mario - so you can imagine the fun when Nintendo's level designers come in and slap waterfalls and lakes all over the place.
But Galaxy's real success is in its ability to surprise, which it does consistently from start to finish. Just when you think Nintendo's out of ideas you're blasted off to another world that's even crazier and more creative than the last.
When Mario launches off at eruption-point from the surface of an orbiting Volcano, jetting into the stars with starbits dancing at his feet, we dare any fan of videogames not to crack a smile. And at a time when gamers are shelling out 400 quid for the "next-gen" experience, it's incredibly refreshing that the Wii can still offer some truly amazing gaming moments.
Nintendo said all along that it went for gameplay over graphics with Wii. But with Mario Galaxy it got both perfect. Not only is Galaxy a worthy successor to one of the best games ever made, but it's one of the most entertaining platform games we've ever played.
A worthy sequel to Mario 64 and one of the most charming, wonderful games we've played all year.
- A worthy successor to Mario 64
- Gorgeous, huge environments
- Consistently surprising
- Great use of the Wii Remote
- Amazing soundtrack