Back in 2007 I realized that Nintendo was quietly remaking the spirit of the original 2D Super Mario adventures in glorious 3D, and that since the original Super Mario Galaxy connected spiritually to Super Mario Bros. 3, I couldn't wait to see what happened when Nintendo decided to parallel Super Mario World. Well, guess what? Super Mario Galaxy 2 is that Super Mario World parallel. Read my full review of the game over at Kombo to find out why (there's some exclusive video to see, too).
Like the upgrade from SMB3 to World, moving between Galaxies allowed Nintendo's creative development team to refine elements that were a little rough around the edges and introduce new material that complements the original title. Mario's suite of power-ups from the previous Galaxy are back for another appearance, although some of the excessively frustrating items such as the Spring Shroom are used sparingly. Luigi is no longer just a non-playable guest star during Mario's quest, as now the brothers can switch off in several levels to put the man in green into the spotlight. The most significant revision has to be the omission of a Comet Observatory-like hub world. An old fashioned map screen takes its place, and while exploring the hub environment is missed, relying on a map screen to move from place to place allows Mario to get back into the action so much quicker than before. This actually speeds up the pace of the game. For those who still want to wander around a friendly overworld-type setting, there's always Starship Mario, the spaceship shaped into the form of Mario's head (one of the characters refers to it as a "faceship"). While the starship doesn't lead anywhere unto itself, it gradually becomes populated by characters and items that Mario discovers around the universe as he pursues Bowser (and the abducted Princess Peach, naturally) through space. The Mailtoad is back to deliver letters, and this time around he's joined by a Banktoad that stores Star Bits in an account shared by all three of Galaxy 2's save files. Bits kept in the account even earn a little interest over time. The comets from Galaxy are back, although now their various forms (daredevil, speedy, etc.) are melded into a single Prankster Comet that brings different alterations to stages. The difficulty of these challenges has been toned down from Galaxyand are now merely difficult instead of maddeningly frustrating (this means a remarkable absence of Bouldergeist daredevil runs).
If this pattern holds, next up should be the 3D take on Yoshi's Island. One can almost see the beginnings of that here in Galaxy 2, come to think of it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to listen to the theme from the Throwback Galaxy some more.