Why Mario Galaxy is A Lot Like Ocarina of Time

Super Mario Galaxy has recently become the highest-rated game of all time. And to that I say, it’s about time. I’m not here to bash Ocarina of Time, let’s get that straight. But, as I heard the news, I was surprised to see how happy it made me. Again, once more for clarity, before you 20-somethings get your panties in a bunch, I’m not saying that OoT is by any stretch a poor game. In fact, it definitely deserves to be on the list, but a new game dethroning an old favorite shouldn’t send such ripples of agony through the community (not to mention how silly it is to even have such a list…).

You want my honest opinion? Super Mario Galaxy is this generation’s Ocarina of Time. But, y’know, for Mario and tied to an almost universally disliked system. Heck, OoT isn’t even my favorite Zelda game. There’s my disclaimer.

Let’s take it from the top. Having wholly and totally beaten each one, I can say that Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel are the best platformers ever made. They are masterpieces of creativity, pacing, level design and production. There is no equal. The feeling of elation as you first shot through the star cannon into space as the orchestral soundtrack fluttered in is unsurpassed. No Hyrule Field can even match it. Sorry.

The immense push Galaxy exerted on the series is still being felt today. Mario is forever changed for the better (much like the way Skyward Sword revamped the 3D Zelda mold after OoT initially set it in stone). The presentation, difficulty curve and grandeur of the Super Mario series was refreshed and revitalized, still seen in the fantastic Super Mario 3D Land. We’re not talking about revamping a franchise, we’re talking about a gigantic tectonic shift in the most famous, most recognizable institution in gaming. Again, I can only think of one similar example… Ocarina of Time.

What about the actual game, though? Not the legacy, the game? Galaxy’s scope is unrivaled. The levels are varied in size, locale, dimension, physics, colors, enemies, difficulty and theme; a Master’s Course in game making. Game making on a superhuman, professional, Olympic level. Mario has never controlled better, the levels have never been more astounding and the feeling — that splendid, smile-inducing, saccharine sweetness wrapped in a devious challenge — has never been better. Super Mario Galaxy is the best-developed game I have ever played. Even in it’s time, OoT had hiccups. Galaxy is flawless.

Instead of presenting the player with the illusion of journey and adventure, Galaxy is traditional and its structure yet fantastic and futuristic in its design. If you want your nostalgia (the ruiner of all things new), you can have it. But maybe, just maybe, you might want to see what gaming’s been up to for the last decade or so. This is where Galaxy soars highest. It is the 3D Mario you know and love, but with a game-changing step up in every single regard. It is the perfect example of an ideal sequel: keeping your memories intact while presenting something worth scrutiny.

This is where I could start listing some of OoT’s shortcomings, but mud-throwing isn’t my style. [Editor’s Note: LOLWHAT?!] And what good would that do? Of course Ocarina of Time is one of the greatest games ever! We gave its decade-and-some-change remake an almost perfect score (totally justified in my mind after playing it, by the way). But, if we sit by and keep telling ourselves that a game made in the very advent of polygon gaming is “it”, the end-all-be-all, what are we saying about ourselves? What sort of precedent do we set? We have to move on, and I think we all agree.

That’s what Galaxy is. It is a symbol of moving on. We’re not throwing cowpies at OoT’s lengthy shadow, we’re not saying it doesn’t matter. But can we at least acknowledge that strides, leaps, and bounds have been made to further the medium? Mario went to space to reclaim the throne and prove that he’s still got some rocket-power fuel left in the tank. I think Link could at least leave Hyrule.

And, lastly, I’ll leave you with this: What right do we as a gaming community have to throw a tantrum? We made this happen. In fact, I am proud to be part of it. Ratings are simply an amalgam of a proportionately few opinions. You have every right to disagree and — please — voice your malcontent. Further, a list saying one game is the definitive Best Game Evarrr is beyond silly. Make your own decisions and don’t let a glorified Metacritic do it for you. Because, if you do, you’re going to have to realize that Super Mario Galaxy is the best game ever made whether you like it or not.

Written by: Nick Cane

Game writer, fervent lover of mac and cheese. Favorite games are ES4: Oblivion, Kirby's Adventure, Link's Awakening, Final Fantasy 8 and Mario Galaxy.