I just beat Super Mario Galaxy™ and I have to say the sequel is far superior to it. Maybe it has to do with the order I played. I guess if I had played the first one before the second, I'd have enjoyed it more.
The majority of people here says the first one felt bigger because the whole observatory thing and blah blah blah. Well, the spaceship is kind of nice, yes, but I don't think it makes the first one better in the slightest. I also felt there were way too many galaxies with water. And I hate those. Also, some stars were just so easy to get, whereas in the second game I actually spent a good time trying to get some stars. Super Mario Galaxy™ 2 also has Yoshi™.
Eventually bumping into a game over and having to go back to the title screen is also a big turnoff. It's like inviting the player to take the disc out of the console and stop playing. I didn't like having to press "Try again" everytime I died during a comet level. One thing that I liked was the red star. I felt so powerful with it and I wanted to use it in every single level. I also liked the different-coloured power stars were rarer, like the green ones and the red one. I think both games would have been better with some different colours, but that's just a minor thing. Also, the first game should have had Yoshi.
Nothing to say about the soundtracks. Both are amazing and extremely iconic. One major complaint of mine is that I didn't want to beat the whole game again with Luigi to open the last galaxy. That's overkill. At least SMG2 made it fresh by scattering the stars around the galaxies. Did I mention Yoshi? Seriously, what's the problem with Nintendo™ and Yoshi? We could ride Yoshi in every level in Super Mario World, but they just make it super difficult in every game lately by allowing you to slay on Yoshi's back in just one level per world (New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Super Mario Galaxy 2). I'd like more Yoshi, please.
One thing I liked more about the first game was the connection I had with Rosalina. It was nice to have her so close to me, while in the second game she's just a distant character and a boring add-on when you grab all 242 stars.
My opinion is not exactly popular, but I felt severely underwhelmed by SMG. Maybe I should have played them by order so I could have finished both being blown away. It's a great series nonetheless and they are the most iconic games of all time. Lumas are the cutest thing ever created by man.