But we finished it. There are no more levels for us to play. This isn't tragic or anything, especially with Super Mario Galaxy 2 coming out in May, but it's interesting to look at the huge trek we took to get there. There are a total of 121 stars to collect (in reality, it's more like 243, but the official tally is 121), and that 121st star is a bitch-and-a-half, let me tell you. Actually, collecting the 121st star is relatively easy: that level is--quite literally--a walk in the park, but unlocking that final level is a bit of a chore.
SMG is a standard 3D platformer in the vein of Super Mario 64. You have a number of levels, each with a number of objectives to complete, netting you a "star". Getting more stars unlocks new levels and once you reach a certain number you can take on Bowser and win the game. ForGalaxy, you have 6 "rooms" which each give you access to 5 (or so) galaxies. Some of these are one-offs, but most have approximately 3 normal objectives that each net you a star. Additionally, there are some one-off galaxies not connected to any room but are stand-alone challenges. There are also a few hidden objectives and comet levels, which take place in a regular world but add some kind of challenge--a race against the clock, a race against a "cosmic" Mario, beating a boss fight without taking any damage, beating a level in which enemies move at double their normal speed, etc. You have a great deal of freedom about what levels you play--you can skip whole galaxies if you have enough stars to open the next one. Once you hit 60, you can face Bowser and win the game...
Unless you're a completionist. Beating the game just unlocks another comet, which adds a few new levels. These are the infamous Purple Coin Challenge levels, which includes Luigi's Purple Coins, a.k.a. THE MOST BRUTALLY DIFFICULT STAGE I'VE EVER PLAYED IN ANY 3D PLATFORMER EVAR!!1! Tally up all of the challenges and hidden objectives and you have 120 stars. Once you get the last one (and that last one took a very, very, very long time), you get to fight Bowser again, and then watch the ending cinematic and credit sequence again. This then unlocks the final level...
No, that's not right. It unlocks Luigi. You get to start over with no stars and do the whole thing again, only this time as Luigi. Luigi, it's worth noting, is just like Mario only he jumps higher and is harder to control. He's not so good with the starting and stopping. Also, the "cosmic" version of Luigi is quite a bit faster than Cosmic Mario, making those challenge levels that much harder. After you collect all 120 stars and fight Bowser again (keeping in mind that you have to beat him once before you can unlock the Purple Coin levels on the Luigi side), and watch the ending cinematic and credit sequence for the fourth time, that finally unlocks the 121st level.
Okay, if it weren't still fun, I wouldn't have kept playing it. Life's too short to be a completionist for completion's sake. And Abby and I are pretty stoked about SMG2, which is supposed to be basically more of the same, only harder and less story-driven. So, if you don't hear much from us in late May, that's why.
Have a good weekend, all.