Kotaku’s Bashcraft loves (most of) Mario Galaxy

According to a 2004 census, there are approximately 127 million people living in Japan. We can logically assume roughly half of them own a Wii.

In addition to hogging the global Wii supply, they also get Super Mario Galaxy eleven excruciating days before it reaches North American shores, more than two weeks before Europe and – ah, poor Australia – almost a full month before our friends down under.

Obviously, the Japanese are a very privileged people. Forget that they also have one of the strongest economies in the world, beautiful uninhabited forests and an effective system of universal healthcare.

Galaxy is reason enough to relocate to Tokyo.

The ridiculously-anticipated game was released in Japan today, and Brian Ashcraft of Kotaku has posted some brief hands-on impressions of the final Japanese retail copy of Super Mario Galaxy. But surprisingly, all is not perfect in Mario’s latest outing; at least, not in outset of the adventure.

“Yes, the Wiimote controls are still tight, the graphics are still great and, yes, it’s still a helluva good time. Well, once you begin the adventure part. Everything leading up to that is a bit of a drag.”

Ashcraft has some interesting qualms with the introductory elements of the game; they are needlessly long, too dialogue-reliant and overly simplistic. Perhaps Ashcraft is merely scraping the very bottom of the Complaints Barrel to find something negative to say about Galaxy; after all, both Twilight Princess and Corruption are also very slow-moving in their opening minutes before their incomparably immersive plot and gameplay finally begin to unravel.

But given the recent influx of “casual gamers” into the Nintendo community, Ashcraft may be on to something. From Nintendo’s perspective, a slow-moving tutorial session in Galaxy might be an efficient means of ensuring that the Wii Sports crowd is as comfortable with controlling the game as the Mario faithful. For Miyamoto, it may have made sense to design the introductory minutes by essentially holding the player’s hand, though experienced Mario fans will want to pull away and get to the classic platforming action.

As has seemingly everyone who has played the game, however, Ashcraft’s initial gripes cannot mask his overall giddy praise.

“The first ten minutes were unnecessary, dull and not fun. But once you clear that, damn is this game fantastic.”

In other news, Super Mario Galaxy grants players three wishes, clothes and feeds the homeless and, if completed without warp-pipe assistance, resurrects Robert Goulet for an impromptu a cappella of the Mario Brothers theme.

Maybe not. But at this point, would any of that come as a surprise? Given the absurd levels of praise Super Mario Galaxy is earning from practically every hands-on and preview to this point, those are about the only three good things the game doesn’t do.