A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
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What's it about?
Poor Peach, Mario’s perpetual princess in distress, is kidnapped by the beastly, shell-backed Bowser yet again at the outset of SUPER MARIO GALAXY 2, a sequel to one of the Wii’s most popular games. As Mario sets out on his journey to save her he enlists the aid of a pudgy purple spaceship mechanic named Lubba, who sets him up with a giant Mario head of a spaceship that lets him travel the galaxy in search of his abducted royal. The only catch is that the ship is fueled by power stars, and Mario has to earn them one by one by visiting various galaxies, working his way through countless platforming challenges, and defeating quick and crafty bosses. Along the way, he’ll find and ride on his old friend Yoshi the dinosaur, discover useful items, and locate loads of power-ups. A second player can join in on the fun by using a second remote to collect starbits and coins and distract enemies.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Mario’s continued all-ages appeal. One generation after another has flocked to his games, and parents and grandparents continue to have as much fun with him as they did when they were younger. What is it about this franchise that has made it the most popular not just in our country, but around the world? What do you like about it?
Families can also discuss the role of male and female characters in the Mario games. Does it seem like the females are always in need of rescuing? Do you think this might have some impact on how the kids who play these games view men and women? Or is it all so fantastical that gender roles hold little meaning?
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