Arts&Entertainment

sore thumbs

By Matthew Scott Hunter

 

‘Super Mario Galaxy 2’ (E)
New ‘Mario’ game is a power-up

*****
Nintendo
Wii

Not since “Super Mario Bros. 3” for the original Nintendo Entertainment System have we seen Nintendo’s leading man save the princess twice on the same console. Mario doesn’t do encores. That’s because an appearance by the legendary mustachioed plumber means an evolutionary leap in the platforming genre. Yet here we are, back in Mario’s latest variable-gravity galaxy, a mere three years after his last venture into outer space. Has Nintendo gotten lazy? Are they simply cashing in on their biggest star the way they have with “Mario Party,” “Mario Strikers,” “Mario Golf” and a dozen other titles that have little to do with the platforming Mario does best? Absolutely not. The 360-degree possibilities of “Mario Galaxy” were too astronomical to confine to one game, and Nintendo proves that to us in every level of “Mario Galaxy 2.”

 

I’ve praised several games lately for how well they emulate great books and movies, but “Super Mario Galaxy 2” is purely video game art. The story is an afterthought. You’re rescuing Princess Toadstool yet again (as you have eight times if you’ve played all of Mario’s platformers once). But Mario’s heroic incentives are hardly the point. The point is to put your hand/eye coordination to the test, guiding your overall-clad hero to those hard-won stars. There are new power-ups to master, like a suit that generates short-lived cloud platforms, and there’s plenty of fan service, like the ability to ride Yoshi. But this is a game that rewards skill — skill that only a video game could demand. Fans will argue for years about which “Mario” game is the best, but this entry will always be in contention because it’s easily as timeless as the rest.

 

‘Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands’ (T)
***
Ubisoft
Xbox 360, Wii

Just in time for Jerry Bruckheimer’s big, summer tent-pole “Prince of Persia” film, we have a “Prince of Persia” video game. That’s no surprise. The surprise is that this isn’t a movie tie-in, but an independent entry in the long-running series, taking place between “The Sands of Time” and “The Warrior Within.” As promising as that sounds, the game is somewhat disappointing. The prince’s repertoire of aerial acrobatics is still impressive, but the story is mediocre, as are the visuals (which is odd, since this runs on the “Assassin’s Creed” engine). Longtime fans might want to take a look, but newbies prepping for the movie would be better off playing

 

“Sands of Time.”

‘Trauma Team’ (T)
****
Atlus
Wii

Practicing medicine just got a whole lot easier with “Trauma Team” — the most user-friendly entry in the “Trauma Center” series. Patching together skulls and interrogating anime patients to find the right diagnosis has never been simpler, though the game still manages to offer a satisfying challenge when you’re forced to juggle multiple critical patients simultaneously. And you’ll feel proud, knowing most real doctors probably don’t have steady enough hands to perform delicate surgery on pulsating organs with a Wii remote pointer.

 

‘Earthworm Jim’ (E)
**1/2
Gameloft
Nintendo DSiWare

Digging for 16-bit relics, DSiWare appears to have dug up a worm. “Earthworm Jim” is much the way you remember him from the Super Nintendo era. Though billed as a remake, this is virtually indistinguishable from the original product. The graphics haven’t aged well (especially in their shrunken state), but the platforming is solid and the offbeat humor is still charmingly immature.


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