Welcome to my first attempt at offering tips and tricks to a popular video game. For me, I’ve always felt as if I was a fairly good game player, but I was never sure if that translated to teaching. We’ll find out today as I offer Tips From a Grandmaster for one of the best games of the year: Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Nintendo Wii.
Before we begin, know that I’ll be giving away a handful of spoilers about the game. Namely, all of them. I’m going to tell you every little secret you may encounter and I’m going to do it very quickly and unforgivingly. I will tell you what you get for collecting 120 stars, what you get for doing what comes after that, and your ultimate reward. Hopefully I’ll also be telling you how best to play, but that’s all speculation on my part.
This is your final spoiler warning.
Okay, now that it’s just us devoted Mario Galaxy 2 players, let me jump right into saying that I’ve now successfully 100% completed Super Mario Galaxy 2. Overall it may just be my favorite Mario 3D platformer now due to how spot on everything about it has been. But there are still some unfortunate downsides that I will address, specifically limitations you’re going to have to find ways around in order to proceed at the Grandmaster level. We ready to begin? First, the basics.
Collecting all 120 Power Stars isn’t too difficult in the long run. I’d say that the more difficult levels tend to be ones where motion controls are required, such as gliding or using the giant rolling ball (I LOATH those levels). Get those out of the way first so as to alleviate stress later on. Two trains of thought dictate that when coming to a particularly difficult star you either A. Take a break from that star and go onto something different, or B. Struggle through it until you succeed. I’m very much of the second option, but that doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes the best course of action is simply shutting the game off and allowing yourself to unwind for a bit.
Once you’ve collected all 120 stars and beaten Bowser yet again, you’ll learn of the Green Stars. These will double the number of stars in the game. Take stock of your skills at this point and above all take a break. It can be soul crushing to see Trickster Comets hit every single level again, right after you’ve just “finished” the game in your mind.
The basics of Green Stars are fairly simple. Green Stars in a level are proportional to the number of Power Stars in the level, meaning either two or three. Green Stars do not have a special condition to appear. Rather, they’re floating out in the open, waiting to be grabbed. They will not be inside boxes, chests, balloons, or enemies.
Most important to know for Green Stars is their distinctive sound. They make a sort of shimmery glowy noise when you are near them. This will be your big indicator as to their location or if you’re close to them. Sometiemes it works best to take it slow in a level and pay close attention to everything you see or hear. Many Green Stars will be painfully simple to grab. The very first Green Star in the first galaxy is pretty much right above your head, more or less, requiring a backflip at most to collect. Others will be downright nasty to grab.
My general rule for Green Stars comes down to going in order of your least-favorite galaxies first and working backward to something simpler. This will reduce your stress, as I mentioned earlier, and allow you to motor through some galaxies faster. I started collecting Green Stars from the S World first and worked my way back through all galaxies with gliding or ball rolling, then through boss levels, then all galaxies with two stars, then World 6 and so on. I ended with the Puzzle Plank Galaxy, my favorite for one reason or another. If you prefer to start simple and work your way towards more difficult galaxies, start in World 1 and move upwards that way. Nothing says you have to go in order though, so use that to your advantage.
Okay, now that you know how you’re going to be proceeding with the Green Star Challenge, you’ll need to know some techniques the first 120 stars didn’t teach you. Here they are:
Get Comfortable With Luigi: You can switch between using Mario and Luigi at any time on the starship once you beat Bowser the first time. They play slightly different with the main change being jumping height. Luigi can noticeably jump higher and further than Mario. However, Luigi has less traction and takes a bit of extra time to stop, making precise movements tricky. Once you get the hang of Luigi, you’ll prefer him to Mario due to the game-breaking jumps you’ll be capable of. A vast number of Green Stars are placed in locations that seem only Luigi will have the jumping ability to hit, so you need to know how to use him and get really chummy because he’ll be your go-to guy for the second batch of 120 stars.
Learn How to Sacrifice Yoshi: Up until the Green Stars, I had never been in a situation where I needed to jump off Yoshi in order to get a little extra oomph to my jumps. Knowing the proper time to dismount from Yoshi to gain a little extra air is vital to collecting Green Stars since most galaxies with Yoshi in them place the Green Stars floating over an empty void reachable only with some well-timed flutter jumps and a hasty dismount/spin. Yoshi is your friend but you can’t get every star without dropping a few Yoshis to their untimely demise. Get used to this fact and learn how to dismount, a skill as simple as performing the backflip while on Yoshi.
Savor the Cloud Suit: It seems like a fairly simple rule of thumb that whenever a Cloud Suit is available in a level, you’ll be expected to utilize it to its fullest to get at least one Green Star in said level. Many times you’ll be asked to reach a Green Star only reachable with the Cloud Suit, meaning you have to know how to make really far leaps and create a cloud at the correct distance. Whenever you find a Cloud Flower and gain the Cloud Suit, don’t waste your clouds all willy-nilly. It is very likely you’ll be required to use all of those clouds at some point in the level. The Melty Molten Galaxy is a prime example of this. If you don’t save at least one or two clouds for late in the level, you won’t be able to get to one of the Green Stars. Be comfortable with the extra floatiness of the Cloud Suit and know when to spin and when not to spin.
Master the Triple Jump: You won’t have to use the Triple Jump until the Green Stars, but then it comes up a number of times. Green Stars will routinely be seen hovering just out of reach above your head. A backflip/spin won’t give you enough air, or even a summersault flip/spin. This is where the mastery of the Triple Jump is critical. The game won’t ask you to do a Triple Jump in any place that doesn’t allow for the running start, but it still demands careful timing. Practice in places where you aren’t likely to die from screwing this up. Once you have the rhythm down you should have less of a problem getting some of the more difficult Green Stars like the first Green Star in the Stone Cyclone Galaxy.
Line Up Your Shots: The Triple Jump is useful for gaining air, but the Long Jump/Spin combo will gain you the most distance, especially with Luigi. Problem is, some Green Stars are located outside your line of sight. You’ll frequently encounter instances where you can’t turn the camera to see straight, either, meaning you’ll have to manually look around to see where the Green Star is shimmering. Once you know where it is in relative distance and height, look for some markings on the ground to help indicate where to jump from. You’ll frequently find straight lines leading you right to the star, allowing you to have a better idea how to aim.
Accept Failure: Some of the Green Stars are unfair, simple as that. I’d wager at least half of them are floating over an empty void, meaning that if you miss your shot you’re looking at one less life in your stash (or ‘stache). It is really easy to blame the camera in most places. Do that. It’s easier to accept that the camera is faulty rather than you as the player. Learn to accept when Green Stars are placed in a vague place in what appears to be an optical illusion and realize that you’ll need to just try again and again until you line the shot up perfectly. I can’t tell you how many times I was so dead sure I landed on the star from a crazy jump but fell right past it. Try again and you’ll get it eventually. It’s a pain, but learn to deal and you’ll be fine.
Come To Terms With What You’re Trying to Accomplish: Here’s where the End Game spoiler comes in: You aren’t getting anything from finding all 242 stars in the game. After collecting the 120 Green Stars, you’ll unlock the final galaxy, the Grandmaster Galaxy. This is a tough galaxy, and rightfully so. Once you collect the 241st star, the 49th Comet Medal, and accrue 9,999 Star bits with the Bank Toad, the final star will appear. It is a Daredevil Run of the Grandmaster Galaxy, meaning you have one hit point, no saves, and almost no chance to beat this one. I must have died fifty times just trying to collect this one single star. And what did I get for my trouble? You get three things, beyond the satisfaction of completing the game.
First, Roselina joins your starship. She will now sit on the starship and offer her thanks for having nothing left to do in the game. You don’t get to play as her or anyone else. She just sits there and says “Thanks” every time you speak with her. Secondly, you get a message on your Wii message board that shows a picture of your 242 stars lined up, saying basically, “Thanks for playing the game!” from the development team. Lastly, you unlock the death counter for your profile, letting you know how many times you died while playing the game. This isn’t a reward; this is an insult. “You won! Congrats! Yeah, but by the way, here’s how many times you died. Try harder next time.” Unacceptable. Worst completion reward to any game I’ve played in recent memory.
But that’s the thing to remember: You aren’t pushing yourself to find every star because you’ll get anything. You need to understand that the whole point of you collecting everything in the game is so that you can say, “Yes, I did everything in this game.” Nothing more, nothing less. Once you understand this, the game is yours to make or break.
And that’s pretty much all I can say about Super Mario Galaxy 2. Any further Grandmaster questions can be directed to the comments where I will get back to you as soon as possible with an answer. Good luck and Godspeed young Mario star travelers.