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Previews

E3: Super Mario Galaxy

Preview: New levels of Nintendo heaven

Mario Kart Wii was an awesome revelation, Metroid still looks awesome and we're sure Wii Fit will be huge, but when Nintendo opened the floodgates to its playable games at this year's E3 we had our minds set on one game - Super Mario Galaxy.

Every time Nintendo shows more of this game it looks even more incredible, and this year's E3 showing was no different. In fact, we got more than we'd bargained for, with not only new levels shown but all-new powers and gameplay mechanics too.

Everything in Galaxy looks awesome, but the most exciting of all the revelations this week is the introduction (or should we say re-introduction) of power-enhancing suits. Paying homage to the classic days of Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario is able to wear suits that give him new powers never seen before in a Mario game.

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We've had a good poke around the Honey Bee World - a lush green place with grassy areas, picturesque streams of water and, of course, giant bees, all set on a huge mass of land equal to those in Super Mario 64 (so it's not all small rocks in a black sky).

You must have seen the trailer by now (if not you're FIRED); how awesome is Bee Mario? Not only does he don a look that rivals Frog suit and Tanuki suit Mario's in the ultra-cool stakes, but he gets a bunch of new powers.

As normal Mario, you have to find and collect a giant gold coin to make a yellow and brown striped mushroom appear elsewhere. Grab that and you transform into Bee Mario.

As Bee Mario you can fly, although only momentarily, and not too far either. Mario's little bee wings can only haul Mario's heft for a few seconds and a few feet through the air before the Fly meter, which appears near Mario when he takes off, depletes and Mario falls victim to gravity.

The Bee suit also allows Mario to cling onto and clamber up honeycomb walls, and alight on hovering flower platforms that would otherwise cave under normal Mario's weight. Water is the suit's big weakness though - touch it and you lose it.

This makes for some awesome platforming, with one section consisting of a series of hovering flowers surrounded by water-spurting pipes.

The ultimate aim of the Bee World is to reach the giant queen bee (who sports the most amazing fur shading ever, by the way). She has an itch, which turns out to be being caused by star shards. You climb around her grabbing the shards to complete the shooting star which pings you through the air to one of the 120 power stars to be found in the game.

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The other suit revealed is in a darker level made up of a series of floating wooden ships - like the ones out of Super Mario Bros. 3. It's the Boo suit, turns you into one of the round white ghosts and allows you float around and through walls.

The Star Dust galaxy is just like the level Nintendo showed a year ago. Unlike the Honey Bee galaxy, it's made up of smaller floating spheres and structures, littered with different enemies and obstacles. It has that bit where you pull Mario through space by pointing the Wii Remote at blue crystals in the air that levitate Mario towards them. It's good fun.

Levels aside though, plenty of new play mechanics have been introduced. The so-called two-player functionality is one of the biggest - a second player can grab a Wii Remote and, using their own (yellow) pointer on the screen, can offer the main player some help by grabbing enemies, collecting items and generally manipulate the world.

It's not really a proper two-player mode, but we suppose it'll be cool when you need to help your little brother or rubbish girlfriend through a section of the game.

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