I recently picked up Mario Galaxy and I must say, playing the game was the most enjoyable experience. The music was excellent, the emotional experience drew me in. But of course after I finished the game the excitement wears off and the game becomes just another game in my mind, but it did me justice, the experience was the best. When I play such amazing games I can’t help but ask myself why the experience was so exciting, why it drew me in, why was the game so successful and why do so many people love games like this? I really wish I knew the answer to all these questions so I myself could successfully implement such techniques in my own games, however I’m left with simply analysing what I see and making the best conclusions I can.
The number one thing that annoys me in games is losing. Failure is never a nice feeling and attempting a puzzle/mechanic of the game and continually failing creates frustration and boredom. On the other hand games that are too easy and don’t feel like a challenge, those games I quickly lose interest in. Galaxy was somewhere in the middle of too hard and too easy. As I played through the game I found the game enjoyably challenging, not so difficult I got frustrated but not so easy that I couldn’t enjoy it. There was constantly new content everywhere. It perfectly integrated elements from real life, previous games, great innovative ideas all into one. No level was the same. It seems the levels were designed in such a way to give you something so uniquely new from planet to planet and that kept me playing for more. The moment I got sick of a galaxy it wasn’t long until I could play something new. The most innovative puzzle mechanics were never abused. For example look at the flip switch galaxy, fun mechanic, but I can easily imagine a larger more challenging level based solely on that mechanic however the developers didn’t do that. Flip switches were used later on but they weren’t the central focus of the puzzle. Instead the challenging levels later on in the game still involve innovation and new features whilst combining them with mechanics you’ve already been introduced to. Same with the trial galaxies, manta ray, bubble blowing and ball rolling, the player is given just enough to keep them wanting more. When I play a game and it leaves me wanting more then I believe that game is a success. If you play a game and get so sick of and frustrated with the experience you’re left thinking that you never want to play through that game again, that’s bad. I think it’s easy in any game design to grab hold of the most fun/best features and overuse them, for example repeating the pattern too much or using the pattern in more and more difficult ways. I guess Galaxy achieves the hardest thing to achieve, balance.
Not to mention the perfect polish the game comes with, outstanding level design, perfect implementation of shaders, flawless movement and camera mechanic, a huge amount of immersive and interactive quality (the number of things you can interact with and the way you interact with them is just outstanding). The control mechanic is really easy to get used to and to think of the many ways you can interact with the world just by spinning and jumping. I think it’s near impossible to match a game like this. The amount of time, effort and resources which have gone into each little thing you see in this game would be overwhelming. And the entire effort gone into the game is enjoyed by the millions that play it, and I think the sheer amount of time and resources which have gone into this game is what makes it the best.
Super Luigi Galaxy!