Levels are friends: Mario Galaxy 2 vs Prince The Forgotten Sands
Levels are in themselves character, when we’re dropped into a Mario level we know that the level is asking something of us, we already recognize the perils and rewards of jumping platform to platform, but both Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands and Galaxy 2 break down the difference between level and player, we’re in essence being asked to create the level. Galaxy2′s cloud Mario becomes an unnecessary nuisance because it provides us with the safety of a double jump and temporary platform when we crave the cruelty of lava traps, falling bricks, and other hazards. Part of what makes Mario Mario is the simple brutality of the conversation between level and player. The Forgotten Sand’s 4 pointer enabled abilities are perhaps more well implemented because we begin to feel the freedom of creation, but in an environment that still requires us to converse with the walls and jumps and rotating blades. The Moon God’s stage for instance requires consistent manipulation of the environment with the wii abilities, but still challenges us to see the level in the right way to place the right holds, flip the right switches, create the right platforms, and of course those bubble double jumps are still pretty intense. Additionally the bubble jump combo’d with the hand hold provides us with safety, but an environment in which we’re still likely to fall. In other words the two together begin to operate like the time rewind feature in the other games.
What makes Mario Galaxy 2 such an aberration is the consciousness of the design, the designers have begun to take hold on gravity and revisit it in new ways, but the means of getting through the game still requires prior experience with the game, the levels suggest hey you remember that part from the first game when we did this, well now it’s harder and the boss is a little tricker. More of the same doesn’t work with Mario. Also the inability to neurotically tongue the environment with Yoshi annoys me as does the inclusion of the fly to this galaxy feature in the world map. It would have been better if you landed on a stage and simply clicked direct from the map to fly to that galaxy instead of the intrusion of another screen. The saves are also annoying. What’s really missing from the game though is the sense of visiting an old familiar friend, these levels seem self-conscious as if Mario took on the implementation of his creation by statics and demographics and not the fun of play. The game simply feels tacked on to the Mario universe, a gomba in Yoshi’s skin pretending to be a plumber.
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