As of the time I write this article, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a little over two weeks away from being released in North America. The game shows plenty of promise, with new power ups, the addition of Yoshi, Luigi as a playable character, and over 200 stars to collect. One feature that has gained mixed reaction, however, is the Cosmic Guide, which is part of the latest method for Nintendo to cater their games to more casual players. Some fans feel that Nintendo is dumbing down their games because of this feature. Well, I am here to tell you why I feel that the addition of the Cosmic Guide is a good thing for players, and why it is actually a good step for Nintendo to take.
The Cosmic Guide system originates from the Super Guide system that debuted in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. In that game, a block would appear after you die in any given stage a total of eight times. You would then have the option to hit the block and watch Luigi play through the level for you. You could take control of Luigi at any time, and while you would watch and see how to clear the level, you would not learn how to collect the Star Coins or locate the hidden exits. After the video was completed, you could then attempt the stage again yourself and try to master it. The Super Guide was a nice addition for younger players and others who struggled to get past the game’s hardest levels, but having it appear even once meant that you would not obtain any sparkling stars on your file.
In Super Mario Galaxy 2, the Cosmic Guide will have a similar function. If you die a certain number of times while trying to obtain a star (the number of required deaths is unknown at this time), a character known as the Cosmic Witch will appear and ask if you need her assistance. The witch somewhat resembles Rosalina, the mysterious girl from the first Super Mario Galaxy, so in a way, Nintendo has proved that they have certainly not forgotten about her. Whether or not Rosalina will actually have any kind of role to play in the sequel is not known as of yet. If the player chooses to have the witch lead him or her to the star, a video will play to show how the star should be obtained. The drawback is that using the Cosmic Guide to get the star will make it bronze instead of gold. To get the gold star, one must attempt the challenge without using the Cosmic Guide.
I can see why fans feel that Nintendo seems to be jumping the shark by making even their most challenging games easier with the addition of the guides. They can remember a time when games were harder, fewer hints were given, and the players were not taken by the hand and being led through the game without having to rely on a walk through much, if at all. However, I have always felt that Nintendo knows what they are doing, and their attempts to cater towards people who do not play games very often (and not just children, either) are noble and have surely made fans out of a lot of people. Not everyone is skilled at video games, and thus a feature like the Cosmic Guide can be seen as a good thing for Nintendo’s latest offerings.
The Cosmic Guide is great for Mario’s younger fans, as they may be new to platform games and they might otherwise struggle to get a star. It is good for people who may not have played a Mario game in a while and may need a refresher course as to how things work, though I am sure that Nintendo will not entirely assume that one has played the first Mario Galaxy and will do their best to get even newcomers into the swing of things rather quickly. For those people who hate the Cosmic Guide system, the good news is that you are not forced to use it at all. You can choose to decline the guide’s services and try to obtain the stars yourself. If you do not like the guide, then do not use it. It’s just that simple.
I do not see any reason at all why the Cosmic Guide might detract from the overall quality of what is sure to be another masterpiece in the Mario series. It is a useful addition, and it can help make Mario fans out of a lot of people if they do not already love the plumber. From what I understand, the guide system may be used in future Nintendo titles, as well. I heard that it was originally meant to make its debut in the next Legend of Zelda game for the Wii, and only time (and perhaps E3) will tell if a variation of the guide system will be present there. Again, players can choose to avoid the Cosmic Guide and simply play the game at their own pace. Besides, we still have walk throughs online if anyone really gets stuck. I applaud Nintendo for making it so that even more casual players can get in on the fun, and it will be interesting to see exactly how big of a classic Super Mario Galaxy 2 will be when it is released on May 23rd.