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Number 36

Super Mario Galaxy

Man, there is absolutely nothing like a Mario game. I mean that, too. Beyond the level design, the art, the music, even the gameplay, there is some kind of synthesis of these elements that makes it all feel... pure. Not pure in the virginal sense, but pure in the sense that you are having the most fun that it's possible to have, that everything you are doing is tickling some secret part of your brain.

Super Mario Galaxy is no different. In many ways it may be the height of its series.

Super Mario Galaxy plays essentially perfectly; it is the pinnacle of 3D platforming mechanics. The levels that it is set in are like an explosion of creativity, everything that I enjoy about the genre and then many things that I never knew could be so beautiful. The first time I jumped around a planetoid, slingshotted around it thanks to gravity, and stayed in orbit for as long as I wanted? I was amazed beyond reason. THis was like climbing trees in Super Mario 64 - pointless to many but somehow so immaculate, so perfect, that there was nothing to compare it to. Running over the platforms at the end of Space Junk Galaxy, which flew to you and away from you as you ran? I had never thought of anything like that before. I was enchanted in a way that games hadn't enchanted me since I was a child.

I could go on for pages about the art, the emotional appela, the level design, the excellent music - many people have, and appropriately so. I will instead finish with this:

When I play Super Mario Galaxy, I never stop smiling.