I don’t think it’s an over-exaggeration to say that “Super Mario Galaxy” is one the greatest games ever made.
It will certainly always hold a special place in my heart, and I had a chance recently to revisit these amazingly nostalgic galaxies. How would I rank them all?
By the way, I’m not going to let the terribly frustrating purple coin levels ruin my evaluation of each galaxy – if an amazing galaxy has an awful purple coin star, I’ll just say the overall galaxy is amazing.
Also, you can check out some of my other rankings below:
42 – Snow Cap Galaxy
Why does Nintendo have a thing for catching bunnies? Why the hell are there 3 of them to catch? And why the hell is the time limit so strict?!?
These are the questions running through my mind whenever I play this level. It’s the only bad galaxy in the entire game, and easily the worst Mario level I’ve ever played.
To make matters worse, this is the last Hungry Luma level – who in their right mind would choose to spend 1600 well-earned starbits on this abomination?
41 – Grand Finale Galaxy
This is it, the grand finale. After collecting 120 stars (including the dreaded purple coin shenanigans), then doing it AGAIN as Luigi, you finally get the chance to play the last galaxy.
I admire the charm, but this really isn’t worth the hassle. Other Mario games do a much better job of having an insanely challenging last level, whereas this is the easiest waste of time in the entire franchise. Not bad, but disappointing.
40 – Hurry-Scurry Galaxy
As “filler” galaxies go, this has to be the most forgettable.
There’s even a hidden star in “Sea Slide Galaxy” that is just a better version of this one.
39 / 38 – Rolling Green / Rolling Gizmo Galaxy
I, like many others, am not a huge fan of the motion control levels. I think I like the “rolling” gimmick the least, as it seems ever harder to control than the surfing levels.
If I had to choose between the two rolling levels, I’d pick “Rolling Gizmo” purely since it’s a slightly more challenging, longer level.
37 – Sling Pod Galaxy
Very much a throwaway galaxy that dedicates the mediocre sling pod mechanic to an entire level.
36 – Bigmouth Galaxy
On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with this galaxy. However, the main area has the potential for a huge skip – by just wall-jumping between the two bodies of water, you can skip the majority of the level.
Having a cheeky skip shouldn’t lose points as a good galaxy, but the fact the skip is so easy is what lets this one down.
35 – Drip Drop Galaxy
Another supposedly harmless filler galaxy, but I’m not a fan of the underwater levels in general.
Hunting down all of the eels can be kind of satisfying I guess, but it just isn’t for me. Oh well, at least it’s a quick galaxy.
34 – Flipswitch Galaxy
I was toying with whether to put this as “OK” or “Good”, but I think as one of the first galaxies you come across it does a good job providing a fun, throwaway experience.
33 – Bubble Blast Galaxy
I quite like the bubble mechanic, but this level goes a little overboard at times.
This is a good level, but the fact you have to complete 5 fairly challenging sections with no checkpoints makes this a more stressful experience than it needed to be.
32 – Bubble Breeze Galaxy
Just a very decent level that fully utilises the bubble mechanic (it was quite a limited mechanic to begin with, but they use it well here).
31 – Honeyclimb Galaxy
More challenging than I remembered it being, but I’m not a huge fan of the Bee Mario powerup. Still, the spike in difficulty at the end is what makes this one fun.
30 – Gateway Galaxy
You go to the Gateway Galaxy twice – once at the very start of the game, and once as a purple coin level.
I really like the first level of the game, as it teaches the player how to control Mario in this new environment. I don’t, however, like the purple coin section (I know I said I’d ignore these sections, but this particular purple coin challenge isn’t a comet, but an actual level in between the Engine Room and the Garden).
29 / 28 – Loopdeeloop / Loopdeeswoop Galaxy
Another one of them darn tootin motion control levels, except I actually kinda like these ones? I dunno, something about them feels a lot more exciting then the rolling ones.
Same as with the other motion control levels, I think I prefer “Loopdeeswoop” as it’s slightly longer and more challenging.
27 – Bonefin Galaxy
Quite a neat idea for a boss fight, but – like I said previously – I don’t really like underwater levels, and trying to manoeuvre around this body of water is a nightmare at times.
26 – Boo’s Boneyard Galaxy
A short and sweet level where you have to use the ghost powerup to race against a boo. Not the craziest level ever, but a decent bit of fun.
25 – Sand Spiral Galaxy
A cool idea for a level that I wish they did more often – you get a choice between two powerups to complete the first section, and either one has their advantages and drawbacks.
The last part of running around the rings is a bit odd, and you can quite easily skip most of it by just long-jumping to the middle. Still, a great idea for a stage.
24 – Buoy Base Galaxy
Loads of people put this one in their top 10, but I’ve only ever considered it to be good.
The soundtrack is awesome, and the green star level was pretty cool, but I don’t find the climbing of the tower to be that engaging.
23 – Matter Splatter Galaxy
An awesome little taster level, but instead of a little nibble I would have loved a proper bite.
If this had been a bigger 3-Star galaxy, this could have been way up there. As it is, it’s a great level (and yes, even the Spring Mario section isn’t too bad).
22 – Bowser Jr.’s Robot Reactor
The first Grand Star bossfight in the game, and it’s a very good one – albeit a very short one.
There’s the tiniest of levels beforehand, and then the mind-blowing reveal of Megaleg will never not be cool to first time players – it certainly blew my mind when I was a wee boy. I wish the fight was longer, but it’s still a great level.
21 – Beach Bowl Galaxy
A delightful beach level that isn’t too difficult, and instead just tries to be as silly and enjoyable as possible.
The last star’s final section was so good they even copied it almost exactly for “Stone Cyclone Galaxy” in Galaxy 2.
20 – Bowser Jr.’s Airship Armada
There’s actually a decent amount of platforming to do before the boss fight this time, and the boss itself is a neat showdown with Bowser Jr.’s ship.
The Bowser Jr. levels are clearly not as exciting as the Bowser levels, but I still think they’re pretty great.
19 – Battlerock Galaxy
A truly great galaxy, and I’m quite baffled myself that it didn’t chart higher in my rankings.
I suppose the first couple of levels, especially the first one where you have to wait on a moving platform for a while, aren’t as exciting as fighting the Topman tribe for Star 3.
18 – Dusty Dune Galaxy
I really like the vibe of this one, and traversing the sandy landscapes are a heck of a lot of fun.
17 – Sweet Sweet Galaxy
The first Hungry Luma bonus star in the Observatory, and surprisingly this is the best one by far.
I really like the candy / sweet aesthetic, and on top of that that platforming is fun and challenging in the best way possible.
16 – Dreadnought Galaxy
A better version of Battlerock Galaxy in every way.
Almost everything is better this time around, from the moving platform section to the Topman fight. It always baffles me when people rank Battlerock highly and forget about this one – this is just an evolved version that trumps the original.
15 – Sea Slide Galaxy
Speaking of “evolved levels”, Sea Slide is a much better variant of Beach Bowl.
It still has all of the wackiness and charm of the original, but the world is much larger and the stars are a lot more fun to collect – especially the Silver Star level, which takes you on a fantastic journey across the entire galaxy.
14 – Bowser Jr.’s Lava Reactor
The last Bowser Jr. fight is his best one, and King Kaliente makes his triumphant return.
Much like “Sea Slide” and “Dreadnought”, this is a much better, tougher version of the King Kaliente fight from earlier in the game.
13 – Honeyhive Galaxy
I reckon a lot of people would put Honeyhive way up there in their rankings, but after replaying it I was mildly disappointed.
The nostalgia was still there, and the levels are still mostly fun, but it just felt like it was lacking the finesse of some of the other galaxies. Still, one of the most iconic first(ish) levels in gaming.
12 – Deep Dark Galaxy
A surprisingly great galaxy, and each level provides something new.
There’s a great boss fight, a fun underwater adventure, and even a weird melon section (if ya know, ya know).
11 – Gold Leaf Galaxy
A better version of Honeyhive, even if it is just a re-texture.
The levels seem more thought out and meticulously crafted to me, and I know I said I wasn’t going to mention it, but the purple coin comet might be my favourite out of the bunch.
10 – Bowser’s Star Reactor
The first Bowser boss fight is a classic.
The music is a lot more bombastic, dramatic, and all-out orgasmic than it ever needed to be, but it makes the fight itself a highly memorable one. A short level, but an amazing one.
9 – Space Junk Galaxy
I reckon the music in “Space Junk Galaxy” might just be the second best score in the entire game.
You are immediately taken aback by the emptiness of space, and this serenity is contrasted by some fantastic boss fights.
8 – Ghostly Galaxy
This one went way up in my rankings after I replayed it.
Every single level here is fantastic, with each ghostly escapade providing something different. I especially love the creepy music and the Bouldergeist fight, even if the daredevil run is much harder than it needs to be.
7 – Good Egg Galaxy
The first proper level in the game, and the nostalgia alone was enough to rank this highly. The music is phenomenal, and every single little planet you visit has been etched into my mind, and by extension into videogame history.
Once again, the musical score is fantastic. On top of that you get the most iconic boss fight in the entire game – Dino Piranha. Easily one of my favourite galaxies in the franchise.
6 – Melty Molten Galaxy
Everyone loves a good lava level, and “Melty Molten Galaxy” is the shining example of how to do one right.
There are some really awesome levels in this one, such as climbing the tower as it crumbles into lava, or the amazing sequel Dino Piranha 2: This Time, It’s Flammable.
5 – Toy Time Galaxy
As unique levels go, this might be the most out-there premise for a galaxy they could have come up with. Luckily, the zany premise is what makes this one stand out.
There are some really awesome ideas on display here, such as the huge Mecha-Bowser or the cool 2D Mario Silver Star level (but not the purple coin Luigi version, that was too hard). Sure, the Spring Mario sections are hard to control, but I actually quite like how different they are to anything that had come before.
4 – Bowser’s Dark Matter Plant
This gravity-bending level has everything I want from a Bowser showdown – a fantastic pre-fight warm up, and a show-stopping confrontation.
All of the mechanics, like the dimensional holes in the floor and the 4-way gravity platforming, come together to make an extremely enjoyable level, and it caps off my favourite dome “The Bedroom” quite nicely.
3 – Freezeflame Galaxy
I’m a sucker for the “ice and fire collide” premise, and you’re not going to get many better examples of this in gaming.
The ice level is excellent, the fire level is an awesome change of pace, and the final fire / ice combination is exactly what I hoped it would be. Definitely one of my favourite gaming levels of all time.
2 – Bowser’s Galaxy Reactor
The final Bowser confrontation did not disappoint, as both the fight itself and the level beforehand are shining examples of game design.
The pre-fight transitions between all the different environments we had come across in the game was an inspired move, and having the Bowser fight take place over 3 distinct sections escalated the action expertly. Game designers take note – this is how you create a satisfying conclusion to your game.
1 – Gusty Garden Galaxy
As a music lover, you could argue this was a biased choice. The soundtrack to “Gusty Garden Galaxy” might just be my favourite piece of videogame music ever, and I can’t help but get a fuzzy feeling in my gut whenever I load up any of the levels and let the tune blare out.
It’s not like the levels are slacking either – Major Burrows is an excellent fight, the flowers-in-the-wind mechanic is a lot of fun, and the gravity-bending section at the end of the last star was fantastic. All of these factors combined, I reckon this is the greatest Mario level of all time, and in a franchise known for its ground-breaking levels that it quite an achievement.
Aaaand that’s my ranking. This took a while to make, but I had a helluva time doing it – so much so that I may even give Super Mario Galaxy 2 the same treatment. Until then, check out some of my latest blog posts below:
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