Super Mario Galaxy Wii

Mario’s continued dominance in the gaming world is a curious one. Yet the fat little plumber has earned, and maintained, our affection because over the past quarter century — yes, he is that old if you count his debut as "Jumpman” in the 1983 arcade classic Donkey Kong — he’s had an enviably consistent run. Well, so long as you mean Mario’s comparatively rare platformer titles, which popularised the side-scrolling genre on the original Nintendo console, pioneered 3D gaming with Super Mario 64 and has now re-invented the wheel for the Wii smash Super Mario Galaxy. After years of jumping from platform to platform we’re now going from planet to planet, galaxy to galaxy, and creator Shigeru Miyamoto uses the third dimension so well his game design practically breaks into the fourth. The familiar fundamentals are all there (coins, stars, magic mushrooms) and the story line is same as it ever was (evil Bowser kidnaps hapless Princess Peach, plumber gives chase). Meanwhile, the control scheme has a nice new motion-sensitive component — shake the Wiimote for spin attacks or point it to collect and shoot new star bits at the plentiful baddies. But what sets the game apart is the addition of gravitational fields, which allows 360 degrees of movement on the spherical planets (but watch out for black holes). This topsy-turvy, up is down perspective, allowing you to walk over and under edges rather than fall off them, plays as if MC Escher joined the development team. It revolutionises the platforming genre nearly as much as Mario 64. This expansive must-play game is a marvel of creatively clever puzzle design, wonderfully stylized graphics and a surreal sense of humour — watch for bumblebee Mario, space water slides, giant apple worms and surfable manta rays. It all combines to create the most fun you’ve likely ever had with physics unless you’re, I dunno, Stephen Hawkins or something. And even he’d type "whee!” (Nintendo)