My guest this week is Justin Ouellette, photographer and developer at CollegeHumor's sister site Vimeo.



TALKING POINT: Mario Galaxy was released less than a week ago, and
nearly everyone is already calling it a classic. Where does it fit into the
Mario pantheon?


Jeff: Besides abortion, no issue divides our nation quite like "which
is the best Mario?" It may be too soon to tell exactly where Galaxy falls,
but I'm thinking between above Mario 64 but below Mario World and Super
Mario Brothers
1 and 3.

Justin: Mario 64 seemed
great when it came out, but it's the only game in the series that has aged poorly.


Jeff: That's only because Nintendo made the ice world theme
The Macarena. Also, Mario 64 and Mario Sunshine focus on exploration.
It was great at the time when things like 3D and analog sticks were new, but Galaxy is
a return to old-school platforming. Every level has a clear beginning, end, and
obstacles in-between.


Justin: SMB 2 and Sunshine are the only two
Mario games that aren't directly referenced in Galaxy. There's even
a Luigi's Haunted Mansion level. I'll take this as a sign Nintendo agrees
they messed up.


Jeff: There's plenty of aural references to Mario's roots, like
the warp pipe noise and what feels like two dozen remixes of the underground "doo
doo doo doo doo doo" theme. The new compositions are great too. I want the orchestral
theme from Good Egg Galaxy to be played at my funeral, as my body is loaded into
a rocket ship and fired into the sky.





Justin:
What
other sound could a warp pipe make?


Jeff: You'd think that, but because question mark blocks in Galaxy yield
star bits and not coins, they (obviously) make a different noise when bopped.
It really threw me off at first. I felt like I hit the gas when I meant to hit
the breaks.



Justin: Perhaps to compensate for the change in noise, they
made the question mark blocks look like they were plucked straight out of 8-bit.
They look like antiques floating in a futuristic space world of intrigue.



Jeff: Galaxy has a little too much intrigue for my
taste. It's not that the story is bad, it's that it exists at all. It's no secret
that Mario games aren't about drama, so why I are there a half-hour of unskippable
cut scenes? Spoiler alert, the princess gets kidnapped.



Justin: The dialog is a trend that started in Sunshine,
and has only gotten worse.



Jeff: It took about a million years for Mario Galaxy to
get here, but you can see where the time went. Every level from the first to
the last has been meticulously assembled by awesome Japanese guys to be fun.
This is the first great game for the Wii that isn't gimmicky – not that I don't
like holding a remote in front of my nose and pretending I'm an elephant in WarioWare.



Justin: And that's not even one of the WarioWare minigames,
you just do that. Mario Galaxy shows that the most creative uses for
the Wii's krazy kontroller are the ones that you don't think consciously about,
they just work right in the context of the game.



Jeff:
I
have to say I'm impressed with Bowser. This is by far his most competent kidnapping
scheme yet. Why was he wasting a time in propeller-clown boat when he had a UFO?



Justin: Airships are reliable, not like these new computers.



Jeff: The technology in the Mushroom Kingdom outpaces even ours
on Earth. Twenty years ago, Bowser was plodding along on a fortress that Mario
could run and catch up to. Here we are two decades later and King Koopa is traveling
at the speed of light and eating his children.



Justin: When did he eat his children?



Jeff: You have to read between the lines.





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