Favourite Moments in Fiction #26 – Clearing The Perfect Run (Super Mario Galaxy 2)

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Super Mario Galaxy 2

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I have to really love a game to go out of my way to 100% it, especially if I have to overcome some notoriously difficult challenges in order to do so. Super Mario Galaxy 2 was one of those games, but while certainly tough at points, I never found myself tearing my hair out and screaming threw clenched teeth… until the very last challenge.

In case you don’t know, the last world you unlock, the Grandmaster Galaxy, offers a challenge called The Ultimate Test – one that, as the name suggests, requires you to have mastered nearly every skill you’ve honed throughout the game to beat it. It’s tricky but doable if you’ve made it this far. The one that comes after… not so much.

Suitably titled The Perfect Run, this challenge has you play through Grandmaster Galaxy again, except Mario only has one hit point and there are no checkpoints. Yes, you read that right – no checkpoints. It’s not like the level’s particularly short either, and the lack of checkpoints makes an already lengthy level feel like a freaking marathon.

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I don’t remember how many tries it took me; it may have taken up a whole afternoon. An afternoon of stress, screaming, and cursing. Suddenly, getting through that first area seemed impossible. The last section that was swarming with Hammer Bros. and Boomerang Bros. became even more nightmarish, and getting sniped by a stray hammer just as I was approaching the end felt like the worst thing in the world.

I feel like I would have normally just quit the game and moved on, but I persisted. I had come so far and been through so much just to reach this point. How could I be satisfied knowing there was only one Star I needed to truly complete Super Mario Galaxy 2?

I found myself attempting and pulling off risky jumps I never would have thought of trying. Every death, while frustrating, somehow only motivated me even more to try again. Those moments where I came inches from success, only to be denied it, told me that I could do it. I just needed to try again.

And then I did it. That moment I made the Launch Star appear and used it to reach the true end of the level is a moment words cannot suitably describe. I was elated, relieved, and proud, and the sight of that small, simple planet, with its calming music and Rosalina there to congratulate me, felt like enough of a reward.

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I think this is a testament to how good Super Mario Galaxy 2 was. This last challenge was actually satisfying to complete. I didn’t walk away bitterly. I didn’t feel like my whole experience with the game had been mired by this one lousy level. If anything, I was a little sad that it meant the game was over. And if given the opportunity, I don’t think I’d entirely mind attempting it again.

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