The co-op mode might have been a last minute addition in Super Mario Galaxy, but it’s a good one. Your buddy doesn’t get to control Mario or even another character on the screen. In Super Mario Galaxy the second player is reduced to a glowing star icon that helps Mario collect the star chips on the screen. The helpful second player scans the screen, points the remote to collect stray star chips and launches them at koopas by pressing the B button. It’s almost like a stripped down light gun game starring Mario.
Once you get in sync with the other player the two player mode works out well. The faceless partner bombards enemies with stars and it makes Super Mario Galaxy slightly easier. The co-op mode may leave a lot to be desired, but it sure beats sitting on the couch waiting for your turn like in Super Mario Brothers.
You might be tempted to read on, but take note there are some spoilers past the break. With that knowledge in mind let’s move on to some of the boss battles in Super Mario Galaxy!
Before the first boss battle Mario runs into Bowser Jr. who is sitting on one of his dad’s airships. He tells Mario he has a Grand Star, a special star that opens a new portion of the map, and he uses it to power a giant robot. The boss is nearly as big as the planet Mario is standing on and in Shadow of the Colossus style you start to climb it. Arrows conveniently show you the route you need to take, which involves dodging bullet bills. They don’t fly in a straight line anymore; they lock on to Mario and chase him down. The Grand Star is on top of the monstrous octopus robot, but it is trapped in a metallic cage. Good thing there are a bunch of bullet bill cannons nearby!
The trick in this battle is to stand in an area where a bullet bill can lock-on to Mario. Then you guide the bullet bill to crash into the Grand Star by standing next to it and jumping out of the way in time. Once the cage breaks open a second cage appears and another larger cage spins around the star. This time you have to get a bullet bill to crash into one of the panels of the outer cage. Then you have to guide a second bullet bill to hit the star in the center.
At the end of the second area a rearranged version of the Bowser theme from Super Mario 64 plays. You just know you’re going to meet Bowser here. Beforehand you need to run up a spiraling metal plank and jump over spinning pillars of fire. Near the end of the level there is a neat moment where one fire pillar is spinning horizontally and five are spinning vertically. The sight is a little overwhelming compared to the days of two or three fire pillars, but a simple timed jump solves the problem. Bowser appears above a green and white checkered staircase at the end of the level, but he isn’t calmly waiting for Mario. He starts shooting fiery meteorites at Mario, which damage the floating staircase. If you stick around to long the staircase will collapse and Mario will fall into oblivion. You’ve got to run! After the first set of stairs you have a choice. A life-up mushroom is encapsulated in a crystal. You could shatter the crystal with a spin attack and reap the reward of double the amount of life (three hits to six) for the rest of the stage or you can dash past it. I grabbed the mushroom then vaulted with the long jump to make up for lost time.
Mario briefly meets Bowser at the top of the tower, but they are both whisked away to a tiny planet with a magma core. When they land Bowser leaps in the sky and slams the ground with a furious stomp. The energy from his landing causes a blue shockwave to pass through the entire planet. You have to dodge the shockwave by jumping over it. I tried running behind Bowser to grab his tail in typical Super Mario 64 fashion, but that didn’t work. Using the spin attack didn’t work either.
To beat Bowser you have to take advantage of what is underneath the planet, the magma! The mini-planet has its magma stream contained by blue lids. If you stand on one of these Bowser will target Mario and attempt to stomp him. Move Mario away just in time and Bowser will land in lava instead. Bowser loses his composure with his tail on fire and starts running around the planet. If he sees Mario he turns in the other direction, but you have just enough time to slam him with a spin attack and kick him. Now Bowser is angry. He starts shooting more flaming meteors and his ground pound has two shockwaves instead of one. The pattern is the same though with the added twist of Bowser spinning around the planet on his shell after the first spin attack. Like in traditional Mario style, repeating the attack three times knocks Bowser out for the count and the second Grand Star is yours.
More to come…