As you may have heard, Super Mario Galaxy has passed The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as the highest-rated game ever according to GameRankings. While it certainly is strange that a game that has been out for over five years has had its score changed, it is no doubt an incredible achievement. However, does Super Mario Galaxy really deserve this title? Is it really the best game of all time? My answer: it’s not even close.
Super Mario Galaxy impressed both hardcore and casual gamers when it came out in 2007. Players were amazed by its tight platforming, pretty graphics, and catchy soundtrack. Many players are just as amazed by it now as they were when it first came out. As for me, I’m not one of those people. I am one of the few (cynical?) people who was not particularly impressed by Super Mario Galaxy. It’s certainly a good game, but it definitely isn’t the greatest game of all time. When deciding what game is “the greatest of all time,” I think there are a few factors we have to think about: how well the gameplay has aged (assuming it’s an older game), how impactful the story is, and how memorable the soundtrack (and voice work) is. Personally, I don’t think graphics should be included in the discussion. A game’s graphics are meant to enhance the gameplay, but truly great games are still great even if the game’s graphics haven’t aged well.
Super Mario Galaxy is only five years old, so it’s no surprise that its gameplay has not deteriorated at all. However, the gameplay lacks depth. Now, I am in no way saying that the gameplay is not good. I’m just saying that it lacks the depth that a game that has the highest rating of all time should have. A huge part of the game relies on very basic gameplay mechanics. Most of the bosses are simply bigger versions of an enemy that has already been seen. To defeat these bosses, the player usually has to jump on a certain spot on the boss three times in the same way that players have been doing to defeat Mario bosses since the 1980s. Again, I am in no way saying that the gameplay is bad, but I am saying that it is too simple. Most of the platforming in the game is fantastic, but the basic boss battles really bring the game down.
A great story can make a game more than just a game—it can make the game an experience. Super Mario Galaxy has virtually no story. It’s no secret that Mario platformers have never focused on the narrative whatsoever, but I personally believe that the highest rated game of all time should at least have a good story. The story is one of the most important aspects of a game, yet Super Mario Galaxy doesn’t even have one. While a game certainly doesn’t have to have a story to be fun or even great, a game needs some sort of story to give an extra layer of depth. Without this depth, I don’t see how a game could be considered “the greatest of all time.”
Few things can help a game as much as a great soundtrack. It can take good moments, such as a boss fight (*cough* assuming that it is not too basic) or a pivotal moment in the story (*cough* assuming it even has a story) and make them into great moments. Super Mario Galaxy’s music is certainly good enough to have this kind of impact on the overall game, but even it can’t fix the game’s shortcomings of simple boss battles and lack of a story. The music is great, but it doesn’t have the effect that it could have had if the game’s crucial moments were better. The music could have been a lot more meaningful and a lot more impactful if the rest of the game was at its impressive level.
Super Mario Galaxy is in no way a bad game. It’s easily one of the best games on the Wii. However, it does not deserve to be the highest-rated game of all time. There are many games that are more deserving than Super Mario Galaxy. Overall, Super Mario Galaxy is a solid game, but its overly-simple boss battles and its lack of a story keep it from being the greatest game of all time.