Unlike the past few 3D Mario games, Miyamoto has decided to abandon the "hub world" idea in SMG2 for a simple map like in Super Mario World.
Ever since Mario went 3D, the way that the player pick which level to go to next was a fully rendered hub world that had entrances to each "level" and which expanded based on your progression in the game. In Super Mario 64, the hub was Peach's castle and Mario could jump into paintings or unlock doors to find more levels. Super Mario Sunshine used Delfino Plaza and Super Mario Galaxy featured the Comet Observatory spaceship and its access to the 42 galaxies in the game. But with the direct sequel to Galaxy, Miyamoto has gone back to a more linear 2D map like earlier games.
"You can think of it in terms of something similar to Super Mario World or New Super Mario Bros. Wii, where you will have a rather convenient map to navigate," Miyamoto said. He continued:
We want players to focus on the joy of the action instead of getting to each game course. We wanted to make it as accessible as possible and as easy as possible for the players.
Also because we're going to incorporate a number of different stars and conquering all the stars is going to be one of the most challenging missions for the player, we want them to understand as easy as possible where they should go next and which places they should go back to in order to get access to the remaining stars.
Part of me applauds this move as it was often hard to know where to go next in the 3D Mario games. But I worry if just going back to the 2D map is a step backward. Couldn't Miyamoto have come up with an interesting new way to keep the game a little more linear instead of using older designs?