If you discount the plethora of karting, party, tennis, golf and other titles that he has lent his name to over the years, true Mario platform games are few and far between – but when they arrive they are always something special.
The plumber’s latest outing, New Super Mario Bros Wii continues to fare well since its release last November, when it smashed Wii sales records in Nintendo’s home market of Japan. It’s also been a mainstay in the UK Chart-Track Top 20 since its release.
But for Mario’s next hit, the platform holder is returning to the character’s space-age adventure, the critically acclaimed Super Mario Galaxy.
Galaxy 2 is more than just a variation on an already popular theme. The original SMG was regarded as a masterpiece of platforming game design – even bagging the BAFTA for Best Game in 2008 – and the sequel is set to show that Nintendo still has plenty up its sleeves.
“Super Mario Galaxy 2 is being widely acclaimed as Mario’s greatest adventure yet – which is saying something, given the sheer quality of his previous outings – both on Wii and other Nintendo consoles,” says Nintendo marketing manager Robert Lowe.
“We fully expect this game to be one of the biggest hits of the year, anybody who even has a passing interest in video games needs to experience this title. It’s simply amazing.”
Gaming legend Shigeru Miyamoto has previously claimed that work on Galaxy 2 began when the team were deciding what to do with all of the creative ideas that didn’t quite make it into the jam-packed original.
As such, he has promised that more than 90 per cent of the gameplay features included in Galaxy 2 will be brand new – rather than recycled from the original Galaxy.
Most notably, Yoshi returns to the scene. Mario can ride the athletic dinosaur and use his new abilities to reach new areas. For example, Yoshi can inflate like a balloon and float up to higher platforms or initiate a dash attack that sees him run twice as quickly.
Mario himself also has some helpful new skills, courtesy of the two suits that debut in Galaxy 2. The Rock Mario power-up transforms the plumber into a rolling boulder that can smash through enemies and obstacles, while Cloud Mario can create floating platforms in the air to access new areas.
There is also a Cosmic Guide available, which is similar to the Super Guide found in New Super Mario Bros Wii. This enables less experienced players to either watch how each star can be collected, or allow an AI-controlled Mario to complete the task for them, improving Galaxy 2’s accessibility.
COUNTDOWN TO LAUNCH
As with the original, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a major release – not just for the Wii, but also for Nintendo. The company has enjoyed a number of evergreen hits in recent years, and is working hard to ensure that this title continues that success.
In addition to the extensive marketing Nintendo has planned (see ‘Galactic Campaign’), Nintendo is bundling a tutorial DVD with the game full of beginner’s tips for those who are new to the game.
Given the title’s universal appeal, Nintendo is also confident that Galaxy 2 could prove to be the biggest Mario release in its history.
The last Galaxy sold 700,000 units in the UK and was hailed as one of the greatest games ever, with a 97 Metacritic rating. This new title is already on course to match that critical acclaim, with a 10/10 from Edge and a 97 per cent score from Official Nintendo Magazine.
“We hope this will be one of the biggest Mario launches in the UK to date,” says Lowe. “Mario Kart Wii is the current record holder, and the buzz around Galaxy 2 is even bigger.
“It’s a very different type of game but we think the gaming public will be astounded how the EAD team have managed to improve on a virtually flawless predecessor. We also hope that those people who entered the Mario world with New Super Mario Bros Wii will make the next step onto Super Mario Galaxy 2 and find it as amazing as astounding and beautiful as we have.”
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is Nintendo’s biggest release of the year so far, and as such will benefit from a similarly astronomic marketing plan.
Nintendo marketing manager Robert Lowe said: “Galaxy 2 is the biggest launch of the year on Wii – and this is reflected in the campaign we’ve put behind it”.
– A 60-second trailer will be shown in cinemas nationwide during the run-up to the game’s release. These will run before some of this summer’s biggest family films.
– A pre-launch campaign will also take over all major gaming sites, with creative targeted at both long-time gamers and loyal Mario fans.
– A massive three-week TV campaign will kick off from Galaxy 2’s launch week, with advertisements running on key terrestrial and satellite channels.
– This will be accompanied by a separate ad campaign targeted specifically at children’s programming, raising awareness among young gamers as the summer holidays approach.
– A second burst of TV advertising will run throughout July to maintain awareness of Super Mario Galaxy 2’s release.
– A huge range of POS will be available to retailers, utilising the eye-catching artwork and familiar character to showcase some of Galaxy 2’s key features.