Nintendo this week released Super Mario Galaxy–the long-awaited debut of the world's cutest plumber on the Wii. The reviews, as expected, have been particularly stellar, and for good reason: the game combines a tried-and-true character, a wholly unique outer-space world (complete with gravity fluctuations) that feels more 3D than anything to come before it, a truly killer soundtrack and the unique control structure of the Wii, resulting in an overall gameplay experience that's among the most addictive Mario's had yet—and that's saying something.
The thing with Mario games, especially Galaxy, is this: sure, it's fairly easy for most gamers to tear through and complete the game—even finishing with all of the hidden bonus goals discovered is an attainable goal for even casual players. But what separates Mario from the rest is just how entertaining it is simply to exist in his world. Beating a level in a Mario game isn't just about getting to the end, it's about getting to the end with style—careening through tiny openings while flipping shells and deftly vaulting off stomped enemies, all at incredible speed and without leaving any coins behind. Or in Mario Galaxy's case, back flipping and long jumping through different gravitational fields, triple-axle-ing over frozen ponds on ice skates, surfing on the back of a manta ray...and so on. Galaxy takes the potential for players to gracefully freestyle through the game into the stratosphere.
Put simply, Mario Galaxy gives us couch dwellers a taste of what it must feel like to do parkour...in outer space. I would not be surprised if David Belle, parkour's grand-père, was a Mario player in his early days; the little acrobatic Italian was truly the first traceur (tracciante?), vaulting and plunging through the Mushroom Kingdom at top speed long before Belle began dancing his way around Paris in the late 1980s. But it's clear the two have a lot in common—both live for the freedom to innovatively propel themselves through interesting environments, and both do it to save the oft-imperiled woman they love from the clutches of a sinister dino/lizard/turtle. Right?
Take a look here at David in action:
Amazing. But can he do this:
For more videos of Mario's Parkour moves from Super Mario Galaxy, click the jump below. —John Mahoney
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.