Muchness Dump: Super Mario Galaxy et al

All your base belong to us.



Since the dawn of time (3D gaming) the platformer has been slightly out of reach. Where, in the early 90s jumping from floating ledge to floating platform was a common sight, with the dawn of the 3D arena platformers have had a little bit of a rough ride. There are a few glaring problems with doing the traditional platformer in 3D. How best to translate the "always go right" into "always go into the screen" and the Einsteinian "time travel is possible" type problem of the camera views.

The first game to manage to blend this seemingly impossible mix was the revolution it should have always been. Super Mario 64 is a landmark game. It is the mediums Gone With the Wind, the James Joyce novel, the Philips Compact Disc. It really is that big a deal.

And since then, nothing. Platformers were stale. No movement forward and some considerable steps backwards. Even Nintendo couldn't hack it - the sequel to Mario 64 came and went without so much as a skim on the waters of computer game-dom. Until Super Mario Galaxy.

This is why. It is truly 3D. The levels go X Y and Z, Mario jumps every direction, and most importantly, the camera has been sorted. It is pure computer gaming fun, and the first game in a long long time to make me smile with almost every play. The levels jump at me, and graphics are so solid and cartoon like I forget I am playing a game, and then something reminds me, like the ping of a coin, the "Yahoo" of a triple jump and the "Ya shitting little bastard..." when I hear "Oh Nooo" and the world famous "Doo Doo Doo do da dum" when loosing a life. (That is a long and grammatically confusing sentence).

If you have a Wii, you must play this - this is why Nintendo made the console. i really hope that Super Mario Galaxy 2 is made, just for more levels, but I have a sinking feeling it might not - the length of time Nintendo tend to make over these games means we might be waiting till Wii 2.

But all of this reminded me of why I love computer games. Why they have been such a part of my childhood, and why, now, it is okay to enjoy them. A few people, like my parents and girlfriend, will still find the time to complain that they are geeky, sad and childish - but then they forget I am all those things. I am a geek, and always will be, after being brought up parented by one. My father is a geek on Chris Rea, 87th Precinct, and football pre 1990s. This has rubbed onto my self and my sister in more ways than one.

I can actually remember the first time I ever saw Sonic the Hedgehog. I saw it at my Uncles, on a Mega Drive I, and I was afraid to play it for fear of killing Sonic. My dad bought a Mega Drive after that, but he had owned a ZX81 Spectrum before that, so he was no stranger to the gaming world.

Last week, I had a look through the Virtual Console library on the Wii - this is where a lot of older titles can be downloaded in their traditional form and the first game I downloaded was Sonic the Hedgehog 3, my favourite all time game, and it still makes me smile when I play it today. Will we say the same thing about Halo 3 in 2020? I don't think so. Super Mario Galaxy?

Yes.