Beating "The Perfect Run" in Super Mario Galaxy 2, a decade later

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by: Hairball

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The Perfect Run in Super Mario Galaxy 2 is one of the hardest missions to ever appear in a Mario game. If you've read or watched videos of this game, chances are you've already heard of and seen this before. It was the forerunner to other difficult "final" stages such as Champion's Road in Super Mario 3D World, Special World 8 - Crown in Super Mario 3D Land, and the Darker Side of the Moon in Super Mario Odyssey.

Grandmaster Galaxy in Super Mario Galaxy 2

Earlier this year, I unlocked the Green Star Challenge by collecting the last few remaining Power Stars to get to 120. Once I did that, I revisited every galaxy and collected all 120 Green Stars as well - a fairly fun task. However, maybe only 5-10 of the Green Stars were truly difficult to collect.

Now with 240 Power Stars, I can finally reach the Grandmaster Galaxy in my Super Mario Galaxy 2 save file that has been idle for almost a decade. This game was originally released in May 2010, it's hard to believe it's been 10 years, time flies. Happy 10th birthday to Super Mario Galaxy 2! (Read more about SMG2 in our 10th anniversary review)

I've seen videos of the Grandmaster Galaxy, but I have never played it until now. However despite knowing what to expect, it was still exciting to get the hands-on experience. There are two Power Stars in this level, the first one is The Ultimate Test, which features six challenging platforming segments. There are also three checkpoint flags that you resume at if you die along the way.

In addition, there's also a Comet Medal which will unlock Power Star #242, The Perfect Run, it's basically a Daredevil Run where Mario has only one hit point. Not only that, there are no checkpoint flags. Yeah…it's gonna be a grind. Mario has his work cut out for him.

Why is The Perfect Run so hard? If you do each segment at a time, the Grandmaster Galaxy actually isn't completely insane. I feel the reasons are mainly psychological, having only one life hit point and no checkpoints makes you feel the need to be extra careful, and well being too cautious doesn't get you too far in a Mario game - you are going to fail along the way.

You really do have to be perfect and not get hit at all. Avoiding a hit in one section is easy, maybe 2 or 3. But having to chain together 6 consecutive challenging sections is what makes it very tough.

It makes you angry and frustrated because every time you fail you are thrown back to the beginning of the level. It's annoying, when you are so close to the prize and you missed out and you have to do it again. But try your best to persist, if you are a true Mario master you will find a way to pull it off!

Here are some tips on what I did to make it through The Perfect Run, and how you can also successfully beat it too!

Avoid distractions - this one is very important. Grandmaster Galaxy is very hard because you have to be very accurate as many of the platforming sections rely on precise timing. If your parents are yelling at you for dinner, or you got your girlfriend or boyfriend distracting you, it isn't exactly the best environment to play this challenge. Try to play somewhere quiet so you can focus. The Ultimate Test has checkpoint flags so at least it isn't as huge of a deal, but you really need to be focused and be in the zone for The Perfect Run.

Max out at 99 lives at Supermassive Galaxy in World 4. There is a part with three giant Koopas walking around a planet, successive stomps on their shell will start giving you 1-Ups just like in a typical 2D Mario game. Even The Ultimate Test is not a freeze, so having extra lives will let you play on longer from a checkpoint without getting a game over. It might be a good idea to do this for The Perfect Run as well because getting a game over wastes time when you can just be continuing on.

Use The Ultimate Test as a practice round - take advantage of the checkpoints for stress-free experimenting because in The Perfect Run, the only differences are in the first segment which has Choppahs replacing Goombas and additional Floating Mines.

Most likely, you will find the hardest parts to be section with the red-blue spin-activated panels with shooting lasers, and the final Hammer Bros. and Boomerang Bros. section. Practice, practice, practice.

Take your time to familiarize and master each individual segment, don't look at all six at once. Just in sports, they take it one game at a time, you need to take it one section at a time. Observe the enemy patterns, such as how the lasers shootout, experimenting with pull stars, how the Hammer Bros. and Boomerang Bros. behave. Don't rush if you don't have to.

Eventually you will have familiarity from muscle memory and increased confidence going through the area. However, do care to note that in The Perfect Run, the last 3 segments you will be Cloud Mario (since you can't take a hit to return to normal), so the jump timing and momentum will vary slightly compared to playing through as regular Mario.

Take a break like Lubba suggests - on Starship Mario, Lubba will regularly remind you to rest after playing a bit, maybe that can be a good idea if you've been at it too long. Recharge your batteries (and maybe the Wii remote's batteries) and come back to it refreshed, you just might do better.

Just go for it - when you are ready to go for The Perfect Run, and try to keep yourself as calm and relaxed as possible, at the end it's a video game, you don't need to get too intense about it.

Once I decided to try The Perfect Run for real, after over 60+ attempts, I successfully made it to the end and completed the impossible. It wasn't totally perfect as I had some near slip-ups, but it doesn't matter. I was really happy, it was awesome, and it felt amazing to finally accomplish this feat. Although it took me 10 years, I can now proudly call myself a Super Mario Galaxy 2 Grandmaster!

Beating The Perfect Run brings you to Rosalina
Beating The Perfect Run brings you to Rosalina! Wahoooooo!

This was the third "final" level I've beaten in recent Mario games. I was able to beat Special World 8 - Crown in Super Mario 3D Land and the Darker Side in Super Mario Odyssey. I found The Perfect Run to be harder than both of those. However, despite the high difficulty, I actually enjoyed The Perfect Run more, it felt more like a pure platforming challenge.

Darker Side was great, however I found it was just mainly long with an emphasis of using all the different captures. I didn't find Special World 8 - Crown to be that difficult, nor was it very memorable, however I know many gamers have struggled with it. To this day, I still haven't been able to beat Champion's Road in Super Mario 3D World, maybe that'll be the next challenge I try to take on later.

All 242 Stars in Super Mario Galaxy 2

Want to play the Grandmaster Galaxy without collecting all the green stars? Download my Super Mario Galaxy 2 241-star save file and load it on your Wii. You can play The Perfect Run immediately after loading this save file. This page has instructions on how to manage Wii game saves. Good luck and have fun!

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