The Joy, The Love, The Frustration, The Anger, The Tears, The Springs: Super Mario Galaxy 2

"I slipped on some star shit!"

Mario, you and I are on shaky terms these days, and do you know why? We used to be the best of friends. I would press A and you would jump exactly where I needed you to go in a quick and orderly fashion. I feel like we’ve grown apart because the communication just hasn’t been there recently. I would tell you to jump forward, but you would kind of, jump and float a little in the general direction but not quite how I meant. If I wanted to do a power jump, I have to face you the opposite direction of where I wanted you to go, because, Mario, you go backwards for some reason. This is something I got used to. It was not a big deal. What was a big deal was that new mushroom you ate that one time. It turned you into a Spring Mario. This is where we no longer could be friends. You broke me then.

I do like Super Mario Galaxy 2. I really do. It’s fun, and the levels are clever and interesting. But it’s like a beautiful field of flowers that are soft and fun to run through barefoot, when suddenly, a swarm of bees relentlessly attacks your face, and you try to swipe them off with your hands, but your hands keep missing and swinging past your shoulders because you never know how far away your hands are from your face. Except that it’s embarrassing to get so angry at the bees because they are all bright and colorful, have large shiny eyes, and are smiling and screaming “I’m a-so a-sorry!”, then blinking quickly, giggling as they fly away.

Oh god! Giant Mario is destroying planets!

The business leading up the total breakdown of sanity started with one of the “special” worlds, or rather one of the Prankster Comets. A Prankster Comet takes a  normal galaxy and turns into some sort of time trial, or kill-all-the-enemies world. That’s fine and swell, but underlying is the most devious of inner-workings. When you don’t finish in time, whether or not you actually lost all of your health, it’s one life down the drain. I’ll accept that. It’s not good, but I can understand where the concept if coming from, even if running out of time should not “kill” you, as it does. The worst of the Prankster Comets is when you have to murder and collect the coin of every living thing that you find. This would have been a total joy if the enemy had not always been that fucking thing that shits a rock out of its damned mouth at the most perfect angle. The rock hits Mario and he decides to go flying twenty feet in the other direction, most notably over a cliff, or off the fucking planet. You’re always timed, giving you exactly as many seconds as possible to actually win, and it always comes down to the last second every time, and to accumulate the most points quickly you have to string bouncing from one enemy to another. Good luck with that; Mario doesn’t give a fuck which direction, or how far you want to go.

Those levels are shitty, but tolerable. And I’ll be honest, only one level; only one obstacle conjured the rage and fire of a thousands suns. It starts with some evil contraption called the Spring Mushroom. Fuck the Spring Mushroom. Fuck everything about it. It’s not clever. It’s not fun. It’s not game changing or innovative in the least. It is simply, a piece of shit. With the Spring Mushroom, you constantly bounce around. No, not up and down. Fucking around. All over the damned place. Back and forth, and side to side. Into lava. Into enemies. Into obstacles. The directional stick becomes near obsolete because it does not care. Then it gets even worse: to jump higher, you press A at some point when the spring compresses. Sounds easy, right? It’s bullshit. So here is the level in question done right:

The designers put a 1up mushroom right above the checkpoint because they know that people will die over and over and over on this shit. It looks easy. It seems easy, but in practice, it’s not (I suck at Mario). I constantly press A. The spring won’t work. I hit the chomp. -1 health. The chomp pushes me into lava. -1 health. I have to go back and try again. Same shit, again and again.

Was it me? Was I having a bad day? Do I suck at this stuff? I was playing the entire game just fine up until that point, then all of the sudden, I couldn’t hit the A button at the exact right time? Did I lose all of my motor skills for that 30 minutes it took me to get through that? What happened? I’m going to look past all of the reasons that are my own fault and say that the Spring Mushroom is awful design. The randomness of direction that it decides to take is absurd. The precision for the spring is unclear. The description says, “Push A at the right time to jump higher!” Great! Does that mean press it right before to anticipate the spring? Do I press it at the compression of the spring? There was no consistency to whether or not it would work. I bounced on the main area practicing the big jump, over and over, nailing it every time. Then when I decided to go down the platform, it suddenly decided that my thumb on A was not good enough for it. The chomps had their way with me. I cried.

Mario, please stay away from the Spring Mushrooms...

In conclusion, I suck at Super Mario Galaxy 2. The jumping is fine when the camera allows you to see depth, or how far away from something you are. Countless times I’ve missed platforms or enemies because I miscalculated their distance. It’s probably just me. Video game journalists absolutely love this game, and I can see why. But I went so crazy playing this game sometimes, it ruined the rest of the beauty. I found a disgusting hair in my delicious soup and I threw up everywhere because of it.

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