I quote the following review of Super Mario Galaxy by Thomas L. McDonald, from the May 2008 issue of Games magazine, because it explains why I prefer games like the Mario Kart series, the Bit Generations series, Theta, Electroplankton, and Ninja Town. The quotation below is a slightly different version I found online than what originally appeared in Games magazine.
All of this seems to come short of explaining just why this is one of the best Mario games ever, and certainly the finest title Nintendo has released in years. But the thing that keeps bringing us back is the simple “joy factor”. Games should make you happy, and everything about Mario Galaxy—all its little touches and characters, its wild imagination and casual cleverness—brings a smile to your face.
Watching my son kick around inside Super Mario Galaxy drove that joy factor home for me. He seemed to almost levitate with happiness at the pure, nonthreatening environment and unbounded imagination and invention on display. “Nonthreatening” may seem like an odd word for a game full of life-threatening traps, challenging puzzles, and plentiful foes. But consider, for a moment, our violence-saturated, porn-infused culture, where a game like Manhunt 2 lets you mutilate people and Grand Theft Auto is little more than a carjacking sim. A game where kids dispatch polka-dotted piranha plants by butt-bouncing them with a plumber dressed in blue overalls and a jaunty red cap becomes the very definition of “nonthreatening.”
With some games, kids simply zone out and grimly watch the screen as they twiddle their thumbs. With Mario Galaxy, they smile, they laugh, they wiggle the controller, they solve problems, they’re engaged. That doesn’t mean this is one just for the kids. Any adult who isn’t charmed by a game like this has a stone for a heart. There’s something here for any age.