Hi Sovan. This post has spoilers for Super Mario Galaxy 2. I remember back in the day where I spoiled the whole “you play as Luigi” thing for you in the original Super Mario Galaxy, and while I still blame the wacky lapse in release dates between my awesome country and your backwards froot loop crazy one, I still felt really bad and I don’t want something like that to happen again.
THIS POST HAS SPOILERS FOR THAT NEW MARIO GAME WHERE HE IS IN OUTER SPACE. IF YOU ARE SOVAN JEDI, YOU SHOULD NOT READ IT.
And if you’re anyone else who hasn’t played that new Mario thing and you’re the kind of sissy that gets all butthurt over spoilers, you shouldn’t read it either.
That said: the green stars in Super Mario Galaxy 2 suck.
A bit of history here. Once upon a time there was a game called Super Mario 64. The goal of this game was to find stars. Each level in the game had seven stars to find, generally attached to some goal. Usually you’d go into a level and you’d have to fight a boss for one of the stars. Then you had to find eight red coins. Then you had to find a hundred yellow coins. Sometimes you had to race a dude, sometimes you had to go down a big slide, sometimes you had to find five secret nooks and crannies.
The best kind of stars, though, were the ones hidden in plain sight. Or, you know, just outside of plain sight. You had to really get your hands into the world and start taking it apart. You had to stand in odd places and look in odd directions, or navigate in unconventional ways. These were my favorite stars to find; the ones where the goals were not precisely clear, outside of “there is a star somewhere and you have to find it”.
Fast forward to 2010, and Super Mario Galaxy 2. This game has twice as many stars as Mario 64; 240 instead of 120. The first half of these stars are very goal-oriented. Typically you have to accomplish some task, then go back to the level and accomplish that same task again, but harder. After you find all 120 of these, the game hides 120 green stars throughout the levels and the hunt begins again. Except these green ones are more similar to the hidden stars of Mario 64.
However, whereas the stars in Mario 64 were great fun to search for and actually my favorite part of the game, the green stars in Mario Galaxy 2 are a pain in the ass and have made me quit playing.
The difference is in the clues. In 64 each star had a title, something like “Wall Kicks Will Work” or “A-MAZE-ing Emergency Exit!”. You had some idea, going in, where to begin your search. A little nudge, if you will. In early stages these were pretty blatant; later on they were more abstract. There was a difficulty curve to them. The early levels taught you how to find hidden stars; the later levels forced you to use the skills you’d learned. But the clues were always helpful.
Galaxy 2 doesn’t have clues for its green stars. They are titled “Green Star 1” and “Green Star 2”. All you know for sure is that somewhere in this big wide world is a green star, and that you have to find it.
The game tries to help you out here. Green stars emit a subtle light that can actually be seen for quite a distance. So even if the star is behind some object or piece of geometry you can still sometimes locate it by looking for the telltale shine. They also make a very loud twinkling noise, so if you listen for that you can narrow your search considerably.
But these things aren’t clues. This isn’t, “what does this riddle mean?” This is “move slowly through the world until you hear the twinkling sound, then stop dead and search absolutely everywhere”. There’s nothing to puzzle out, you just bang away at the world until you find the star. Or you play the level over and over and hope you stumble across it. There’s nothing to figure out, see.
And besides, in Galaxy 2 pretty much every piece of scenery can twinkle in some way. I often find myself stopping for a long time thinking, “Am I hearing a green star? Or did some star bits just land nearby?” Over and over, every level, all level, for 120 stars.
That’s how much a small thing can affect a game. How long would it have taken to give each green star a small clue, in order to turn them into treasure hunts rather than boring slogs? I bet the green star twinkle sound effect takes up more disc space than the required 120 lines of text would. The only way to describe it is laziness, which is baffling, because “lazy” is not a trait I tend to associate with Mario games. And yet, here we are.