So, Super Mario Galaxy is here. You've bought it, of course. What do you mean, you haven't? Can't find a Wii in any shops? What sort of excuse is that? Why do you think God invented burglary? Get out there, get a Wii, get Super Mario Galaxy and get back here.
Got it? Good. Now, fear not - Eurogamer isn't turning into a cheats and tips site but, as with Bioshock, we'd be damn fools to ignore the fact that a lot of you are going to be playing the same game, and a lot of you might be looking to your benevolent Euromasters for guidance not just on what games to buy, but also how to get the most out of them.
Which brings us to this, Part One of our guide to all those elusive Power Stars and Grand Stars in Mario's gravity-warping space adventure. This won't be a step-by-step walkthrough - we'd like to think if you're smart enough to be reading this, you'll be smart enough to know how to jump over obstacles. Instead, this will be your overview of where the stars are, both obvious and hidden, and the best ways to get them. The Prankster Comet stars won't be covered, since they're earned by replaying certain levels when those cheeky comets are nearby, but if you're determined to find all 120 stars in the game you're advised to jump back into those levels when you see a comet nearby. Being comets, they'll soon move on and you'll have missed your chance. They can be realigned by bribing the right Luma, but it's much cheaper and quicker to simply tackle these challenges as they appear.
And with that, let's rescue that Princess. Again.
Grand Star #1
To earn your first Grand Star, and unlock the first proper galaxy, you need to head inside the final planet in this introductory stage using the obligatory pipe. Avoid the exposed electrical wires in the rotating struts and walk over the blue buttons to turn them yellow. Simple, eh? Once they're all done, the star is yours and you can enter the first observatory. Now let's get to work finding those power stars...
Good Egg Galaxy
A nice easy one to start with. Dino Piranha has your first power star, and he's easily beaten by spinning into his tail, which sends it whipsnapping back towards him. The first time you do it, his shell will crack and he'll hatch. The second time - ooh - it makes him mad. Hit him with his own tail one last time and he'll keel over, leaving you with a star. And we're off!
A Snack of Cosmic Proportions
Make your way to the planet shaped like a weird glass capsule. Find the crystal blocking the entrance, smash it and drop inside. Pay attention to the arrows in here - they show which way the gravity goes. Be careful not to get pushed into a different gravity zone by the moving sections. Once you reach the launch star, head off to the star-shaped planet and collect the five star pieces. You'll need to check both sides. Once the power star appears, attach yourself to one of the blue pull stars opposite to swing you across the gap in the middle and pick it up.
King Kaliente's Battle Fleet
You'll learn two important skills here - deflecting projectiles back at your enemies, and dodging Bullet Bills. It's the first one that proves most useful for this boss though. King Kaliente is a big old octopus who, for reasons best known to himself, alternates between firing coconuts and fireballs at you. Simply bounce his coconuts back at him, while dodging the trios of fireballs. If you've mastered the timing, you can ricochet the same coconut into him three times for a swift victory. Another star for you.
Bee Mario Takes Flight
Follow the bees' advice and make for the palace. Use the Bee Mario power-up (surely the best thing ever) to fly to the high platform that leads to her honey-making majesty. When you reach the Queen Bee, just fly over and crawl around her body collecting the star pieces that are itching her. Don't be shy. Really get in there. Landing in the water will make you lose the Bee Mario power, but its easily regained. Once you've found all five star pieces, and solved the Queen Bee's itchy problem, you'll get the star from Toad.
Trouble on the Tower
Mandibugs can only be defeated by stomping them (jump, then crouch in mid-air) so get in some practice as you make your way around the tower. There's a health mushroom at the bottom, which will increase your hits from three to six, so grab that if you feel the need and then take down the twin Mandibug boss at the top. It's not hard - stomp once to kill the smaller one, then again to kill his big friend.
Big Bad Bugaboom
More stomping required for this one. Spin up the flowers with a Wiimote wiggle to gain the necessary height, then glide into position and stomp as he passes underneath you. Do this three times and the star is yours. If you're struggling, there's an extra life on the branch sticking out from the edge of the arena, while climbing on the honeycombs on the tree will earn you some health reviving coins.
This one is simple, but fun. Talk to the giant penguin and tell him you're a surfer. Now just complete the ray surfing course and climb the podium to get the star.
Painting The Planet Yellow
The theory here is the same as your first Grand Star. Turn all the panels yellow by walking on them, but be aware that if you retrace your steps you'll turn them blue again. From the start, head over the edge, and use the moving platforms to avoid going back on yourself. Just watch out for the sharp edges! Jump over the pulses from the turret, and once the final panels on the other side are turned everything will freeze. The turret transforms into a trampoline so you can reach the star.
Bowser Jr's Robot Reactor
Grand Star #2
Lure the Bullet Bills into smashing the cages by standing in front of them and somersaulting (duck, then jump) at the last minute. Once Megaleg puts in an appearance, climb up one of his legs, dodging bullets and leaping over the moving cogs, until you reach the top. Lure another Bullet Bill to destroy the cage surrounding the Grand Star, and a fence will pop up. Now lure a bullet into destroying a section of the fence and then quickly guide another through the gap. The bullets are horribly prone to crashing into each other, the destroyed fence sections reappear after a short while, and if you die you have to start over from the very beginning. More than a little trial and error involved for this one, unfortunately. Grrr. Once you've lured two bullets into place, you can pick up the second Grand Star and open up the Fountain dome.
BONUS: Sweet Sweet Galaxy
Feed 400 star bits to the Luma next to the Terrace observatory to gain access to this bonus stage.
Don't you hate cookie cutter level design? Well, you'd certainly be forgiven for hating this one. It can be an absolute nightmare. Make your way around the moving platforms, avoiding the holes, and resist the temptation to jump unless absolutely necessary. It's actually easier to stay on the ground through this level, and nimbly run around the gaps, since it's all too easy to land in a hole with a badly timed leap. If you can, grab some more star bits and the extra life as you go. Climb the cake at the end and there's your star.
Space Junk Galaxy
Pull Star Path
Use the blue pull stars to make your way through the floating debris, using a little flick of the Wiimote to drop onto large objects. When you reach the structure with the insects, climb to the top and free the Toads from the crystals. Stand underneath the Starshroom and jump up to speak with Toad. Walk to the top of their ship and use the launch star there to move on. Now follow the walkway as it appears to find and rescue five Luma. Just walk slowly, and the blocks will appear as you approach. Once all five Luma are found, the power star appears back at the start of the walkway.
Kamella's Airship Attack
Just keep using launch stars to move from ship to ship. You'll learn another pair of useful tricks along the way - the high jump (jump then spin) and how to throw shells (shake that Wiimote). When you reach the ship that starts with a tall seasaw at the top of a mast, keep your eyes peeled for the blue pull star on the chimney opposite - you can drop down there for a massive star bit boost. As for Kamella, she's got two attacks - fireballs and green shells. Dodge the fireballs, and wait for the green shells to stop spinning before you try to pick them up (you won't lose health if they hit you, but they will knock you on your arse). Grab the green shells, and lob 'em back at her. After two hits she'll summon two normal Magi Koopas, so deal with those and then hit Kamella one more time to earn your star. There are coins on the front of the ship and in the question block, if you run low on health.
Tarantox's Tangled Web
As you've probably realised by now, many of the techniques you learn on the way through a level prove vital when tackling the boss. So it is with Tarantox. To reach him/her/it you must catapult Mario using the gooey sling pods sticking out of the ground. Walk into one, pull it back and aim with the Wiimote, then let fly. Ooh, that's fun. Once you reach Tarantox's web, spring Mario into the white mass in the middle to reveal your creepy foe. Then it's simply a case of flinging Mario into the creature's arse (nice) to knock it over, then twanging him into the three red nodules underneath. Tarantox will spew green bile as it shuffles around after you, but this is easily avoided or stopped by hitting the nozzles it comes out of. Knock Tarantox over two times and he'll tumble into space, leaving a star in the middle of the web. Twang yourself over there and get it. Job done.
BONUS: Yoshi's Surprise Appearance
On the way to Tarantox's Tangled Web, just before you drop inside the glass planet, you'll find a hungry Luma. Feed it 50 star bits and it'll transform into a wooden planet shaped like Yoshi's head. Use the new launch star to fly there, and then defeat all the Goombas that have made their home there. The best approach is to tackle them one at a time - keep moving, avoid groups, and take down lone enemies before they spot you. Be sure to kick them after you spin or hit them with star bits - they'll keep coming back otherwise. Once they're all gone, the hidden star is yours.
It's all about the over-under on this one. Leap from silver disc to silver disc, until you reach the one with the blue screw. Spin on top of this to set it in motion, and then get ready to dodge the barrage. As well as avoiding the cannonballs, keep your eyes on the obstacles that are headed your way. You can duck under the girders, but the electrical fields can only be evaded by running to the underside of the disc. Once you reach the end, it's time to use our old pals, Bullet Bills, to smash open those domes and snaffle the goodies within.
Breaking Into The Battlerock
Welcome back to an old foe - the Bob-omb. You'll be using them a lot in this level to blow open cages, so get used to picking them up and then navigating past obstacles in order to throw them where they're needed. After the multi-coloured orb planet, you'll have to navigate a minefield using pull stars, which isn't too tricky provided you go slowly enough not to build up too much momentum. There's a Super Mario mushroom on the coloured orbs, which should keep you invincible just long enough to plough through, should you struggle. Once you reach the Battlerock, just jump down the pipe and then stun and throw Bob-ombs to open up the cannon hole. Drop in, aim yourself at the floating crystal in the middle and fire away to free a Luma and get another launch star. Then its simply a question of carrying a Bob-omb from one end of the rocket to the other - it's easier to jump over the electrical barriers rather than finding the gaps - and blow open the last cannon. Aim yourself at the power star, wait for a clear shot and away you go.
Topmaniac and the Topman Tribe
The trickiest parts of this level are bouncing the spinning tops into the lasers and navigating another gravity-flipping 2D section filled with rotating platforms and lava. Once you reach Topmaniac, in a showdown that will be familiar to anyone seduced by the Beyblade craze, you simply have to jump on the centre - avoiding the spikes - and then spin it into the lasers. Do this - you guessed it - three times, and the star is yours. If you're struggling, there's a Luma right next to the boss battle arena who will sell you an extra life or a health power-up for 30 star bits. You can shoot the yellow targets on the floor for a quick coin top-up during the fight as well.
BONUS: Battlerock's Garbage Dump
When you reach the multi-coloured planet made up of orbs, during Breaking Into Battlerock, you'll find another hungry Luma. Feed it 30 star bits and it'll TRANSFOOOORM into a launch star to the garbage dump. Throw Bob-ombs to destroy all the trash piles within 30 seconds to get the hidden star. It's not as easy as it looks, since the Bob-ombs have long fuses you'll only have enough time to throw five or six before time runs out. Aim for gaps close to as many piles as possible to speed things up, and make sure you get the ones furthest away right at the start.
Rolling Green Galaxy
Rolling In The Clouds
Mario does Monkey Ball, and it's all fairly self-explanatory. Hold the Wiimote vertically and gently tilt it in the direction you want to travel. Slow and steady is the way to go and, if you don't want to risk grabbing the question coins for additional star bits, this shouldn't tax you. Climb the flagpole at the end to snatch that star.
The tiles shrink as you step on them, and that black hole looks awfully hungry. Thankfully, they don't shrink too fast so you've got just enough time to deal with that Goomba and, if you're nimble enough, take a short detour to grab that extra life at the end of the first path. Collecting all the musical notes on the geometric planet shape is tougher, but if you follow the line and keep moving it's not as hard as it looks. The black hole then turns into the power star, so just drop straight down to pick it up.
Bowser's Star Reactor
Grand Star #3
The Fiery Furnace
Reaching Bowser is pretty straightforward - just keep following the path, paying close attention to the gravity during the 2D section. When you first see Bowser he'll start gobbing fireballs at you, destroying the walkway, so move fast. After a bit of typical supervillain banter, you're both transported to a glass planet with a handy core of piping hot magma. Bowser loves to stomp, so the trick is to get him to slap his crusty old feet onto the circular glass windows. This will set his tail on fire, and he'll start running around and around the globe. You can't catch him, so simply see which way he goes, then run the opposite way to head him off. Spin into him to knock him over, then spin him again to damage him. Do this the magical three times, and he'll vanish in a puff of BWAH-HA-HA. The third Grand Star pops out of the globe, so snag it to head back to the observatory.
BONUS: Sling Pod Galaxy
Feed 400 star bits to the Luma next to the Fountain observatory to gain access to this bonus stage.
A Very Sticky Situation
Timing is the key to this one. Twang Mario through the obstacle course using the sling pods and occasional pull star. There are extra lives and star bits galore for those who dare to take a more dangerous route but, even if you play it safe, it can be tricky lining up the shots from one pod to the next. Take advantage of the fact that Mario can still pick up coins while being stretched on the sling pods, and don't forget you can hold him on the pull stars while you sweep the screen for star bits. As well as another power star, this level can easily earn you over 100 star bits so it's worth taking it slow and grabbing everything you can.
NEXT: Mario tackles the Kitchen and the Bedroom. So very kinky.