Every week, we will present a new game to be nominated for the Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame. These nominations will occur every Monday and Friday, respectively. Our standards are just like the Baseball Hall of Fame: every game will be voted on by members of the staff, and any game that gets 75% of the vote – with a minimum of four votes – will be accepted – or thrown – into their respective Hall.
Game: Super Mario Galaxy
Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Release Date: 11/12/2007
System Released On: Nintendo Wii
Genre: 3D Platformer
Who Nominated The Game: Super Mario Galaxy was the Diehard GameFAN Game of the Year for 2007.
Why Was It Nominated: Mario has seen an evolution through the years. He started as a nearly forgotten character in Donkey Kong, originally called Jumpman, and despite being the hero, wasn’t even in the title of the game. He then became the bad guy in Donkey Kong Jr. before getting his own game – Mario Bros. – right in time for the Videogame Crash of 1983. His Super Mario Bros. helped bring the industry out of the crash, made Nintendo a global household name, and revolutionized platformers forever. Many sequels followed, until Super Mario 64 came out, at which point he revolutionized 3D platformers. This was followed by what many considered a mediocre Super Mario Sunshine, until the Nintendo Wii came out. Mario – who by this point had mainly been doing games about tennis, golf, and beating up other Nintendo characters – then starred in Super Mario Galaxy.
Once again, Mario revolutionized his respective genre.
The camera issues that plagued earlier 3D titles – including the titular Super Mario 64 – were gone, and with that, and some new control schemes via the Wiimote – came innovative gameplay that used the game’s “Mario In Space” theme to full effect. Our staff was universal in its praise of the game. Said Guy Desmerais:
After a few months spent with no real flagship title, the Wii is finally becoming the home of many first-rate games. The fact that Super Mario Galaxy managed to stand above games like those mentioned previously says a lot about it. Owing a lot to its predecessors but innovative in its own right, it provides gamers with a lethal blend of fun, excitement and nostalgia. 2007 was a great year for Wii owners, and Super Mario Galaxy was simply the crown jewel in a rich library of releases.
Matt Yeager discussed the effect the game had on a dying genre:
Mario Galaxy takes a genre that was on life support and one more bland Crash Bandicoot game away from flatlining and proves there’s still life left in it. There probably is no higher praise I can think of for the game than saying that it took a stagnant genre and made it fresh again and pushing the limits of what the genre can accomplish.
Bryan Berg – who has since had two children that he will surely raise into good gamers – had this to say about the game’s universal appeal:
Super Mario Galaxy is the video game equivalent of a Disney movie – cute and innocent enough for children to play, but deep and multi-layered enough for adults to enjoy as well. Playing the game really is like one of those classic Disney films in that there’s something for everybody. While kids are content to see their favorite characters in another new adventure, adults can marvel at the wonderful graphics and really appreciate the nuances of the game. Not even the most jaded, bitter gamer could get through a Galaxy session without smiling – it just effortlessly exudes that Mario charisma we all grew up with.
Finally, Yeager summed it up:
Put it all together and it’s a supremely well designed game that anyone can play and enjoy. Which essentially is what Nintendo is trying to accomplish with the Wii, and why I believe it is the Game of the Year for 2007. I can’t think of another game release in the last year that not only is a system seller, but also represents what should be expected of the console from now on.
This is all pretty effusive praise. But is Super Mario Galaxy, the perfect evolution of a genre that was invented ten years prior, good – and notable – enough for our highest honour?
All in Favour:
Mohamed Al-Saadoon: Some say SMG really added nothing to Mario’s 3D mechanics established in the seminal Super Mario 64.
That may be true but what Galaxy did is take the basic (and excellent) platformer mechanics from Mario 64 and ran with the idea.
Setting the game in space really allowed the designers to come up with as much crazy worlds as they wanted with no relation to another unlike Super Mario Sunshine’s tropical theme and to a lesser extent Super Mario 64’s 4 main themes (regular Mario world, Ice world, fire world, water world).
What tips this into YAY catergory for me is that I can finally listen to all my favorite mario music (plus new themes!) fully orchestrated.
Bryan Berg: I consider myself to be a retrogamer. When I think about video games, it usually involves a Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis. And when I think about modern games, I usually think that nothing will ever capture those old days when gaming was FUN. Super Mario Galaxy was the one game that took me back to my childhood. It wasn’t about completing an 80-hour RPG or a 100-game sports season. It just made me enjoy playing video games again.
It also helps that the game itself is legitimately good. I’ve always hated 3D games because the camera angle never seems to do anything but get in the way. That was not the case with Super Mario Galaxy. It was the first time I could appreciate 3D in a game without wishing it was in 2D. The levels are challenging, but enjoyable, and the game appeals to so many different types of people and ages. In many ways, Super Mario Galaxy is the ideal Mario game – cutting edge, yet old-school at the same time. It’s the kind of game an entire family could play together and each person could enjoy in their own way. In today’s together-yet-isolated world, that’s as much a reason for praise as any.
Christopher Bowen: Much like with Twilight Princess, this is a good game and was a worthy Game of the Year. However, the only real difference between this and Mario 64 – an eleven year old game by the time this came out – is technology, and the addition of a gimmick. Really, that’s all this is: Mario 64 2.0. It should be harder for a game made in the past decade to make the Hall of Fame than it is for an earlier game, considering the precedent that has already been set, and Mario Galaxy doesn’t really do anything innovative.
Just being good isn’t good enough to make the Hall of Fame.
Michael O’Reilly: Super Mario Galaxy does nothing new. The best parts of the game were based off older games in the series.
Alex Lucard: Honestly, this was simply just a mediocre platformer to me. It did nothing truly original save use the Wiimote. The best part of the game was cribbed from earlier and better Mario titles and I found myself bored with the game from beginning to end.
Again, when a nominee isn’t even in the top five or in this case, top ten games of its franchise, it’s bad form to allow it entry to the Hall of Fame. I would actually feel a bit sad at this making it but SMB1, 3, or the like not. Time will show that Super Mario Galaxy is neither remarkable nor interesting as a whole and that this game succeeded simply because it had a fat itallian plumber in it.
Bebito Jackson: Well, here’s the thing. It’s a good game. Heck, it’s a REALLY good game. But there are so many other deserving entries in the Mario series we haven’t considered yet, that I can’t in good conscience put this through. I’m not even talking about the 2D entries. Once Super Mario 64 has been nominated at the very least, I can better evaluate Galaxy. Until then….
Aileen Coe: Super Mario Galaxy is a fun game, and some of the levels and powerups introduced are kind of crazy. However, it borrows from previous Mario games, maing it essentially a pastiche of those games. As with Twilight Princess, while a Mario game should be in the Hall of Fame, there’s other games in the series that would be better candidates.
Chuck Platt: When it comes to 3-D Mario games, Nintendo got it right the first time. Mario 64 stands tall and proud as an accomplishment in translating a 2-D franchise to 3-D. Super Mario Galaxy does not. I found Galaxy to be initially mesmerizing, but the more I played the less I loved it. Too much gimmick, too little charm.
Sean Madson: As much as I enjoyed this game, it’s still the same Mario game we’ve been playing ever since Super Mario 64. The setting and a few of the mechanics have changed, but the core gameplay is the same. Sure, it has some awesome level design. and it’s a very polished game all around. But there’s no way this game should get in before Super Mario 64. Or any of the 2D Mario games for that matter.
A.J. Hess: SMG was a great game, a colorful, fun jump for the franchise on the Wii, but I don’t feel it is Hall of Fame worthy. As the umpteenth new Super Mario game, I felt that if you took away the Outer Space setting, it didn’t do anything that the previous umpteen Super Mario games did. Bosses were still beaten by either reflecting attacks back or stomping them, enemies were still beaten by jumping upon, and the game was still a quest for stars, coins, and power-ups. I just didn’t feel there was anything new and noteworthy beyond the setting. Super Mario Galaxy added Outer Space to the existing formula, and called it a day.
James Hatton: Was Galaxy a fun game? Sure! It had all the elements of a game that can be played a couple of times over. It had bright graphics, fun music, and I would even go as far as to say engaging characters. Those characters were still Mario, Luigi, Princess, Toad, and Bowser though. Forevermore those characters are synonymous with Nintendo game systems and good or bad, they will make an appearance on every one of their systems.
Why this game doesn’t deserve the Hall of Fame is this: Before opening the package, I knew the storyline. Before turning on the Wii, I knew that I would be trying to recapture Princess Peach and there would be some element of star collecting, power-ups, and platform jumping. There were new ways to do these things, but the cookie cutter elements of every standard Mario game existed. Perhaps if this game wasn’t a Mario game, I’d see it as something different. The sheer lack of creativity in the storyline, characters, and growth of plot make me feel this is just another interesting Mario game, but not a Hall of Famer.
Guy Desmarais: This game is a classic in terms of fun and gameplay, but I don’t feel like it is original enough. It builds a lot on the concept of planetoids that it introduced to the Mario universe, but at the same time, it feels like the developers wanted to get back to what made Mario work in 3D in the first place by borrowing some elements from a game which I do consider as HOF worthy, Super Mario 64. It is immensely fun, but I don’t think it will be looked at as fondly in the future as other games in the series are.
Result: 2 In Favour, 10 Opposed, 16.6% Approval = REJECTED
Conclusion: Ouch. A game that everyone save one person thought was a great game, one of the best of this generation, was almost shut out in a polling of 11 staffers. The standards for the Hall of Fame, however, really are that high; not only must a game be *that good*, it must be revolutionary and change the landscape as well. Super Mario Galaxy was not a game-changer. It sold a lot of systems, and was good enough to spawn an equally quality sequel, but it had too many set pieces from previous games to impress us.
Next Week: The company who made our 2008 Game of the Year is much maligned around here, but their game is magical, almost despite them. We’ll chronicle a game that took the industry by storm… and by surprise.