One's a candy-colored platformer, the other's a gritty shooter, but 'Super Mario Galaxy' and 'Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare' have one thing in common: they're both among the best games you'll play this year
SUPER MARIO GALAXY
(Nintendo; Wii; Everyone)
The latest 3D Mario adventure doesn’t look much better than Super Mario Sunshine, which came out eons ago on the obsolete Gamecube. There: that’s the first and last bad thing we’re going to say about Super Mario Galaxy. (Okay, at times, it also has the tendency to make you feel dizzy and give you wrist cramps, but these are positives because they’re symptoms of Galaxy‘s innovative, Wii-enhanced game design.) Mario, you see, has to save Princess Peach — we gotta say: her constant need for rescue doesn’t say much for female empowerment — and this time around, he has to fly from planet to planet and, later, from galaxy to galaxy in order to collect enough Power Stars to force a final showdown with Bowser, who’s never met a damsel (or mustached plumber) he didn’t want to distress.
Galaxy smoothly integrates the Wii’s motion-controlled controller in ways that legitimately compliment the gameplay (instead of interfering with it, like so many other Wii titles). Mario can now do away with enemies by waving the Wii remote, which makes him spin around and stun them. You can also use the remote as a pointer to collect stardust flotsam and shoot it at Bowser’s minions (another player can do the same by picking up a second Wii remote — not exactly co-op play, but better than nothing). Many Mario games have had a flea-circus sensibility, chock full of moving parts and obstacles, Galaxy expands on that tradition by introducing vertigo-inducing levels that can leave you hilariously disoriented. While circumnavigating a globe, for example, your viewpoint might flip rightside up when Mario crosses the equator — or it might not, causing you to move about ”upside down.” And a wacky candy-themed world, features a series of moving platforms that alternatively rotate clockwise, counter-clockwise, left, and right — all at different speeds. Puzzles like these are tons of fun to navigate and despite its Wii-nnovations, Galaxy still feels like a classic Mario game, which is to say it is charming, brilliantly-conceived, and utterly capable of making you feel like a kid all over again. A