A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The game offers a light and whimsical good-versus-evil story that offers little in the way of morals or lessons. However, play focuses on proble- solving and encourages players to work with a friend in local cooperative mode.
Positive Role Models
Mario is the archetypal video game good guy. His goal, as usual, is to rescue Princess Peach from the clutches of the always grumpy and power-hungry monster Bowser; and he teams up with and helps plenty of other characters along the way. Mario fights plenty of cartoon-like, non-human enemies, but they're all trying to do him harm so it's mostly in self defense. Plus, his brand of jump-on-a-bad-guy-to-flatten-him action is about as innocuous as video game violence gets.
Ease of Play
The controls are fairly simple and you're provided good in-game instructions on how to use them. Televisions scattered throughout the game show tips on how to perform certain moves. If players are having a really hard time, a cosmic guide may appear to show them how to get to that level's star. It can be very challenging in some areas, but should players grow frustrated they usually have the option of going off and exploring other levels. Plus the Co-Star mode let's parents help younger children, or in the case of experienced kid players, vice versa.
Violence & Scariness
As in other Mario games, our hero can jump on cartoony characters (goombas, chain chomps, and other enemies) to flatten them or use a whirlwind-like spin attack to hit them, stun them, and then make them disappear. Players can also have Mario turn into a rock to roll into and knock away characters in his path, shoot koopa troopa shells and fireballs at enemies, and use a handheld drill to tunnel through the ground and come up on the other side of small planets with the pointy drill end poking into foes. It's all extremely cartoonish, and none of Mario's enemies are human.
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Products & Purchases
This game is the latest in Nintendo's juggernaut Mario series, the most popular game franchise in the world.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a nearly all-ages platformer with only mild cartoon violence. Mario is the quintessential video game protagonist, an unquestionably good soul journeying to save his princess from an evil monster named Bowser. He fights enemies, but only those of the cartoonish, non-human variety and using whimsical attacks, such as ground pounds, spins, and special abilities that let him turn into a rolling boulder or use a dinosaur's tongue to grab and swallow up foes. Several situations force players to put on their thinking caps to solve tricky platforming problems and figure out how to beat clever bosses. If you let your kids play the original, there's no reason not to let them play this one, too. It's worth adding, though, that Mario is possibly the most commercial video game property in existence, and once a child begins on this plumber's path, there's really no turning back.
Is It Any Good?
Recent Mario platformers have tended to take the form of original games rather than direct sequels, but Nintendo game brain Shigeru Miyamoto believed the original Super Mario Galaxy only scratched the surface of the sort of platforming possible in a space-themed world. Apparently he was right, because while the second game feels very much like its predecessor in terms of graphics and controls, very little of what players do is the same.
Mario has loads of fresh powers, such as tumbling around like a boulder as Rock Mario and flying through walls as Boo Mario. Plus, the platforming challenges are at least as clever and compelling as those found in the original. For example, shoving Jenga-style blocks around a wood-themed galaxy is great fun, as is using a giant drill to tunnel through and inside of planets. Meanwhile, the addition of Yoshi creates a slew of new possibilities, whether it's eating a bulb berry to light a path through an invisible haunted house or using his talented tongue to grab and swallow enemies. Put simply, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the medium of games at its very best. Child or parent, this is one not to be missed.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.