Chris Bateman of Only a Game has an interesting look at Super Mario Galaxy from a game design perspective — especially in terms of trying to satisfy an increasingly diverse audience with a blockbuster title. Looking at several aspects of play (verbs and emotions of play, the camera, lives, and co-star mode), Bateman reaches some conclusions about the successes and failures of Super Mario Galaxy. The question is, can those problems really be remedied when you're coming in with so many competing interests?
It's biggest problem, the handicap it is largely unable to throw off, is that it is the latest in a long line of Mario games and must struggle to balance not only the varied play needs of the modern gaming audience against each another, it must do this against the backdrop of a franchise history unparalleled by any other game in existence. The weight of this history is too much to be overcome in some cases. Between these competing forces, it was always going to be difficult to innovate and amaze, and certainly this game could not hope to exceed the wonderment that Super Mario 64 could provide with its dynamic (and unrepeatable) transition from 2D to 3D.
It's a lengthy but interesting look at a popular title and worth (as almost all Only a Game essays are) spending some time with.
Super Mario Galaxy [Only a Game]