This is just covering one section this time, but it covers multiple parts at the same time
Stuff You Thought Was Good Was Just Made Obsolete
This kinda continues off from my section about streamlining the game’s progression, but this focuses on parts of the game that involves playing it. It certainly surprised me how good they ended up being, even when I already thought it was good enough in the first Mario Galaxy. Turns out Miyamoto just proved us wrong.
The first order of business is the Prankster Comets. If you recall from the first game, Prankster Comets were randomized events that would change the behavior of a Galaxy, allowing you to take one of 5 challenges, based on which galaxy it was. There were Speed Run, Cosmic Race, Daredevil, Double Speed, and Purple Coin challenges. And each challenge followed their rules to the letter. Speed Run had you complete the level in the allotted time, Cosmic Race made you race a doppelganger to the star, and so on. They added some new challenges and twists to levels you already went through, and you were more likely to fail than you would have with the normal levels.
Galaxy 2 does something with those comets that I never thought of doing by tweaking even further to suit that particular galaxy. Double Speed galaxy is just as underused as it was in the first game, though the levels that DOES use it really make it work, even if it doesn’t feel changed enough from the first game. Although gone are Cosmic races, the comet stars are all variations of Purple Coin, Speed Run, Daredevil, the new Cosmic Clone game mechanic used in regular levels, or just a combo of any of the above. Add this with tweaked level design (something Galaxy 1 didn’t do a whole lot, if at all), and the Comet challenges feel like their own levels now than just a basic mechanic added to the mix. And they’re even more devilish than in the first game.
Another good thing that has been improved (in fact, in the first game, it was almost ignored) are that coins have value again. Super Mario Galaxy 1 introduced and put an emphasis on Star Bits. In fact, TOO much of an emphasis on star bits. Coins were only there if you somehow lost a chunk of your health, otherwise, you were collecting a butt load of star bits, and were always ready to feed a hungry luma back at the hub or during a level. Now, the game encourages you to get as many of those coins as you can, because you’ll need them during the levels.
The first instance of this comes from finding a secret spot in the Hightail Falls galaxy (the first use of the chili pepper on Yoshi) You find an old penguin who talks to you about the value of coins. And what do you see later in the level? A Hungry Luma. The difference? He requires you to feed him COINS. Doing this unlocks a path to a secret star, putting you one step closer to completing the galaxy. And you’ll come across more of them.
Also, coins have good value on the Starship Mario. As you progress through the game, you’ll unlock two luma shops which can be found inside a room accessible via warp pipe. The first one lets you do a single dice roll for star bits or 1-ups for 30 star bits. But the second one lets you do 5 rolls for the same prizes but for a hundred coins. Some of those 1-ups can be helpful, and since all the coins you get in a level go into your overall total, much like star bits, it’s a good thing to get as much as you can. In fact, those coins came in handy for me when I need to stock up on 1-ups so I could make it through the very final challenge of the game (more on that later). Looking back on the first game, I have no idea why I did not notice coins being neglected, I just got them whenever, didn’t think about it, as my focus was on going through the levels and collecting star bits. Coins are back in full force!
Lastly, while this one isn’t available soon enough, it’s much better than what it was in the last game. Luigi is accessible much earlier in the game. Once he joins your crew, he’ll be waiting for you at the start of some levels and will give you the option to switch with him. To be honest, I’ve been rather surprised at the fact some people did not notice the difference between Mario and Luigi from a gameplay perspective. It isn’t really that different from how it was in Galaxy 1, so all I had to worry about was using his control style properly during the new levels. The differences between the brothers is that Luigi can jump higher, but has less traction when running, so it takes a little bit to start going and a little bit to stop moving. They seem minor when looking at them, but I personally see the differences adding an extra challenge. Yeah, “slippery controls” sounds like a poor excuse for added difficulty, but when those attributes have been part of Luigi’s character from the start, you can’t really blame it for poor control. Still no major advantages or disadvantages, just minor things as well as who you prefer to play as.
Anyway, that’s not all he’s there for. When you beat the final boss for the first time (minimum stars required is 70), you unlock the Luigi Door on the Starship Mario, which lets you switch between the two brothers in game, versus doing it before loading up the game file. Now you can play or replay levels as either Mario or Luigi. When replaying levels as Luigi though, you can unlock a staff ghost of sorts for that particular star. To be honest, I haven’t really gone through those, nor do I plan to, but from what I gather, it works much like what a staff ghost would in a racing game. It’s a recording of one’s time on that level, and I’ve heard it isn’t just straight going through the level to the end. Some of it leads to little nooks in the level, like 1-ups or comet medals or something. Again, I don’t know, but if anyone has done it, I’d like to hear more impressions on that.