Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame Nomination: Super Mario Galaxy

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
Publisher: Nintendo
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.

All Opposed:

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.



, , ,



17 responses to “Diehard GameFAN Hall of Fame Nomination: Super Mario Galaxy”

  1. Justin Holmes Avatar
    Justin Holmes

    Are you serious? Shin Megami Tensei was a swing vote away from induction and this gets the Katamari Damacy treatment. This voting system is clearly broken.

    To actually look at the game, unlike Twilight Princess, which probably isn’t even in the top five of its own series, Super Mario Galaxy stands out well among its brethern of the best platformers and some of the most revered games ever made. To leave it out of some hall of fame because it just doesn’t meet the criteria or whatever is fine, but to devote a mere 20-50 words about how empty and uninspired one of the best games of a generation is will look even stupider in retrospect than it does now. Also, 10 people showing up to say “screw this game”? That’s more votes than most nominations get in total. Is the idea that no popular game should ever have any chance to get in?

    Maybe this doesn’t deserve the hallowed ground reserved for titles like Radiant Silvergun or Disgaea 2 or Mister Mosquito or whatever will get the next hall spot, but it certainly deserved a fairer critique. You guys want to require a minimum 75% approval for induction to maintain high standards and that’s fine, but the standards should start with quality voting. I hope everyone who said Super Mario Galaxy was excellent but inadmissable because it “does nothing new” holds every pretty, generic niche RPG and established series reboot to the exact same standard.

  2. Thomas R Avatar
    Thomas R

    Just as a lot of the staffers I find SMG to be nothing special, it’s a fun game to be sure but is a lot like Halo. It does most things right right but nothing new or particulary interesting. I preferred Super Mario Sunshine, at least they tried doing something different.

    And I’d be rather surprised to see them vote yes for any generic anything or the tenth game in any established series. “Quality voting” means they should vote for yes for games with a high score on Gamerankings?

  3. Justin Holmes Avatar
    Justin Holmes

    “Quality voting” would mean judging something on its own merits or faults. I’m not saying everyone needs to decide Super Mario Galaxy should get some award, I’m saying pointing at a game and saying “Mario’s in this, there’s nothing new” is incredibly lazy and cheapens the notion that someone’s trying to let in only the best of the best.

    Even though I think Alex Lucard, for example, is entirely wrong in his assessment of the game, I at least think his assessment is honest and is a good reason to reject the game. It’s the lazy “Super Mario 64 is better, and that’s probably never going to get in, so why should this?” argument that annoys me. Lets say Doom is inducted next week. By the argument that Super Mario Galaxy does nothing different from SM64, one could say no FPS — including your Halo example — is different from Doom, save from “gimmicks,” a fresh coat of paint and a set of different characters and set pieces.

    So, really, complaining about how this isn’t Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Bros. 3, or complaining about how the game has a shallow plot (!) is complaining about what this game isn’t. Games shouldn’t get into a hall of fame by virtue of what they’re not, but by virtue of what they are. Blaming this game for having a simple plot when that’s by design and frankly irrelevent to the end product, or blaming it for not being one of the excellent games from the past — that just doesn’t make sense. As far as the series history argument, you could argue no game at all should be in before Super Mario Bros. just as logically. That’s self-defeating.

  4. Thomas R Avatar
    Thomas R

    I get your point and I kinda agree with it too, but…

    There are plenty of newer games that has done something new with old ideas, Valkyria Chronicles for example. Resident Evil 4 took a stagnant franchise and updated it completely, God Hand is the best old school beat em up and manages to do something new with the genre. Deus Ex and Half Life would be good FPS examples, no? I really can’t say that SMG does this. The mini-planets were done in Ratchet and Clank 2 and the rest is Mario 64 with prettier graphics and a few new costumes. While the game is fun it’s nothing new and according to some staffers here neither is it anything special.

    Here’s just opinion but Nintendo is incredibly overrated. I don’t care about graphics, gore or kewl gimmicks so one would think Nintendo should fit me like a glove but usually their games are just mindnumbing and lack any sort of challenge or interesting mechanics. Their few great games are usually made by other developers like Metroid Prime and Pokemon. Zelda after II and Mario after 3 is just ugh. Then again, feel free to ignore the last paragraph as it’s just ranting.

  5. Christopher Bowen Avatar

    Justin, bear in mind that it’s still early days for the Hall of Fame; we’re still getting our standards. If we put this game back up in a year – when it will be actually nominated, and not an automatic nomination since we’re going through our GOTY list – it might have a different look. I don’t know if it will get 75% – I’m pretty sure Alex will vote “no” on any game with “Mario” in the name – but it could very likely get better than 2 for 12.

    My personal standards are that a game must not only be of high quality, but must set the precedent for games that try to ape it. Mario 64 was so copied that I’d argue it literally hurt the lifespan of the N64 in the long run (because everyone made a 3D platformer before actually learning how), and it still regarded as a revolutionary game. Yes, SMG built on that, but it didn’t really innovate anything, and didn’t change the industry with it. I would argue that Disgaea – our only Hall of Fame game to date – didn’t as well, which is why I voted against it.

  6. Justin Holmes Avatar
    Justin Holmes

    No man, that’s the thing. I have no problem with the rant or with picking the game apart. My whole problem is I didn’t see that.

    I think people hold Nintendo to a standard they don’t with other companies and that this game is really everything anyone could ask for. I probably would’ve voted on it, depending on criteria. I see you wouldn’t, and that’s fine, so long as there are specific reasons why the game doesn’t meet your criteria for induction — and your thought-out reasons point to it not being so.

    My problem is that I didn’t see a lot of complaints that a sequel needs to innovate, where specifically this game fell short, etc. I just read “another Mario game? No!” (with a tinge of that “lazy Nintendo” subtext you brought up.) What would be most fair to the game would be to judge it objectively for what it is. Not saying this game had to get in, or it had to get a better share of the vote, but a game good enough to win a GotY nod and an early nomination probably deserves a fairer shake than this somewhat backhanded dismissal.

    There’s also my other problem, that more staffers went out and said nay to Super Mario Galaxy than even vote for most Hall of Fame candidates, but I doubt any complaining I do about that will have any affect whatsoever.

  7. Justin Holmes Avatar
    Justin Holmes

    Mr. Bowen — it does come as some comfort that Super Mario Galaxy will get a regular look after this vote. However, that does mean Katamari Damacy will get an annual look as well…

  8. Justin Holmes Avatar
    Justin Holmes

    Err… re-read. Scratch that. Will be interested in another later look anyway.

  9. AFN Avatar

    Resident Evil 4… What I hate is that Ghosthunter did all those new revolutionary ideas first, and gets no credit for it at all. Same with Kill.Switch doing the same cover mechanic as Gears of War and it gets no love.

    1. Alex Lucard Avatar

      AFN – because sadly 99% of gamers only pay attention to whatever company has the biggest marketing budget. Even then, companies try to buy history like Capcom claiming to have invented the survival horror genre or Squaresoft trying to bury Ogre Tactics until S-E finally bought Quest and then suddenly Ogre Tactics gets a new fresh remake.

      Much like politics, it’s not reality that is important but who can spend the most money to cover reality up and take the credit.

  10. Christopher Bowen Avatar

    Justin – Not really. It’s POSSIBLE that Super Mario Galaxy could be re-nominated, but it’s not automatic. I don’t think Katamari Damacy is going to get another look, but we might look at SMG in a year. But once we’re done with our GOTYs – in two weeks – we then move onto nominations (which are showing more open voting; hell, I even voted yes on a few of them!)

    One thing that I need to clarify: we weren’t saying “bad, lazy Nintendo” to the game. We were saying that *this particular game* doesn’t match up with Hall of Fame standards. You’re implying that we didn’t like SMG because it was a derivative product. As a GAME, that’s what we want. But as a Hall of Fame nominee – the best of the best – it’s not. And I say this knowing that if we put every Mario game up for vote, I have confidence that at least three of them would get in, maybe four depending on how people feel about Super Mario World.

  11. Mark B. Avatar
    Mark B.

    Well, in fairness, Ghosthunter was not an especially good game. Even if Rob Paulsen was the lead character.

    Coming up with an idea is all well and good, but you have to make it work. Ghosthunter, Kill.Switch, and Parappa the Rapper didn’t, while RE4, Gears and DDR did. That’s life. Other people’s opinions are going to differ, certainly, but that’s just how things go. If Ghosthunter had been a winner, Sony could have made it into the next big thing, but for whatever reason it was not, and RE4 was. It happens.

    Also, I have nothing to say about the main debate going on, so that we’re clear.

  12. Thomas R Avatar
    Thomas R

    Justin – On your point about most staffers not even voting for a lot of games, I suppose this is obvious but they most likely haven’t played them.

    Also, if I were in the staff I don’t know if I’d vote for any of the games I mentioned except for Valkyria Chronicles. Few games are really that amazing, on top of my head I can think of Valkyrie Profile, MGS3, Project Zero 3, Metroid Prime and SMB3 though I know a lot of people would differ about some of these, if not all of them. This is supposed to be the cream of the crop after all, not just games that you happen to luv but games that are outstanding in all aspects that are relevant. I’d say most established companys manages to make one or maybe two and Nintendo/Konami/Capcom/Square/Valve etc are no different.

  13. Justin Holmes Avatar
    Justin Holmes

    Chris (I presume we’re on a first-name basis now) — So, is the idea more that it’s a video game hall of fame voted on by DieHard GameFan staffers, or it’s more of a best-of-the-best of the site’s history? Given that Disgaea was the first and thus only inductee, I presumed it was more of the latter, more of “this is what is significant to the staff and the readership, and of this particular corner of gaming.” Super Mario Bros. is one of the most significant games out there, but it predates this website, the Internet, the modern concept of hardcore gaming and even the dearly departed Gamefan magazine by many, many years. Or are the hall of fame voters just going to look under every rock for games they feel are significant? I’m interested in which way this project is headed after the GotY process.

    Thomas — I 100% agree that the reality is most staffers haven’t played most games and only the big-title bluechippers are going to get the bulk of them out. That’s sort of my problem. To borrow one of your examples, Metroid Prime, I’d guess everyone will vote on that, and given a set of high standards, it could get a lot of yes votes but have no chance at 75% just by volume. Meanwhile, any old title that three staffers absolutely love that only one other has played has a real chance of getting in under the voting system.

  14. Christopher Bowen Avatar

    Justin – After our GOTY winners are out of the way – they’re easily findable, so the next two will be Valkyria Chronicles and Batman: Arkham Asylum – we go through the process of naming games that staffers nominated. I’m not at liberty to discuss who’s going to be nominated yet, but there are a lot of big name games, both modern and retro (date range is from 1981 – 2005), and a couple of oddities. So to answer your question, it’s not just a Hall of Fame of the site’s history, which dates back to 2003. It’s a total industry HOF, meaning we could eventually nominate Pong if we wanted to.

  15. […] 9.Super Mario Galaxy (2007′s Platformer of the Year) […]

  16. […] 10.Super Mario Galaxy (2007′s Game of the Year) […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *