E3 - Super Mario Galaxy preview

Shigeru Miyamoto devoted his portion of Nintendo's E3 game developers roundtable to reminding people that the master isn't just focused on Wii Fit...and he's not losing his touch, either!

Miyamoto-san conducted a quick run through of Super Mario Galaxy, and the game, which Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aime called the "true successor to Mario 64," looks amzaing.

Super Mario Galaxy is being developed by the Tokyo-based Nintendo development team that crafted Donkey Kong Jungle Beat for the GameCube. According to Miyamoto work began as soon as Jungle Beat was put to bed, and now the team has grown to 50-people strong.

"Right now I'm heavily involved in the game design," he says. "Since someone else is actually directing development, in a sense I'm even more involved than ever, much more so than with Mario 64."

Galaxy looks huge. Mario's extraterrestrial adventure will traverse six areas of outer space through 40 galaxies. Like previous Mario games, you'll be hunting down stars encased in all manner of puzzles and mind-taxing challenges. In fact, 120 of the little shiny buggers will be out there.

Miyamoto's demo amounted to a tantalizing teaser given the limited time allotted for the developers event, but he was able to demonstrate a couple of key features.

Since the game takes place in space, its gravity system rules everything. Gravity or the lack of it, occurs at a variety of levels. The outer space setting makes it possible for Mario to navigate his world in unusual ways. He'll spend most of the game being propelled through space to reach small planetoids, asteroids, metallic landing pads, and other celestial bodies floating through space. This is platform gaming blasted into orbit.

In space, Mario can walk completely around any space body. In fact, for some of the game puzzles, Mario's operating upside down. And in low gravity areas, he can make leaps that propel him half way around a world.

Mario will tackle "gravity" puzzles, too. When he's planet-side, he'll sometimes navigate tunnel systems by either dropping down into them or "falling" up through them, depending on the relative pull of gravity.

In several puzzles demo'd, gravity stars were used to guide Mario as he floated in the zero-grav of space. When Mario sails within proximity of a gravity star, you point the Remote cursor at it to activate a sort of tractor beam that pulls him toward it. Depending on the relative position of the gravity stars, you can maneuver Mario around, under, and through obstacles.

Miyamoto also seemed particularly pleased in showing the two-player assist mode. At any time during the game a second player can pick up a Wii Remote and help you out by pointing out alternative routes through the game.

Super Mario Galaxy also finds Mario dressed for success. In the E3 playable demo, he explores a bee-world relatively sting-free by wearing a bee suit. Miyamoto says that among others Mario will don a Boo suit, too. But whatever way you dress him up, Mario is messing around: Super Mario Galaxy is ready to blast off!

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