I am the proud creator / owner of a Super Mario Galaxy save-file in which the full complement of 241 stars have been collected. And when I say proud, I mean bring it up in conversations at cocktail parties and show strangers my photos of it because I’m so proud.
Now, as to why I am so proud, that’s a little trickier. I mean, sure, you could say it’s the innovative design of the game or the revolutionary way the Wii controller lets the player interact with an incredible physics engine. Or you could say that it’s the artwork, which retains the charm and lovableness that has been inherent in the Mario games from the start. Or maybe it’s just the cute story.
Whatever. The real reason is, one, I’m a completist, and two, it was an achievable goal.
Starting with the latter, I started playing the game during a short period where I felt like nothing else was getting done in my life. All projects were at standstills, my job was becoming routine, and there was no vacation on the horizon. Enter SMG. From the get-go, figuring out the puzzles and learning how to get the stars was a lot of fun. I won’t deny that. But it was also something I could do. Something I could achieve, no matter how small and pointless an accomplishment it was. So I did it.
And once I did it, I really, really wanted to play some more. Rather, I really wanted to recapture that same feeling. Not so much of beating the game, as was the goal when my friends and I went to arcades, way back when. But more of completing something. Of finishing completely and being able to check something off the list.
So, a friend loaned me his copy of Super Mario Sunshine, the predecessor game that had been made for the Nintendo GameCube (and one I continue to hope will be revamped for the Wii). I started it and quickly got close to the maximum number of “Shines” but, over a year later, I have been unable to finish. And it’s driving me nuts.
Not in the same way that Mario Kart Wii is, because at least in that one I can show continual and steady progress. (I’m down to just a half dozen unlockables and most of those have to do with the ghost races and getting star level ranks on some courses.)
Because I really want to finish the game. I want to be able to add that save-file to my SD card, right next to Mario Galaxy and Pikmin and Lego Star Wars and the other (few, very few) games I’ve been able to play to completion. Because I’m a completist. I have to finish. Leaving a game unfinished feels like having an itch you just can’t quite reach. Something nagging at the back of my mind, something I should be doing, something I should be achieving.
My wife is the same way with jigsaw puzzles. She doesn’t start them because she will not stop unless she finishes. Or passes out.
But anyway. Last night I restarted Super Mario Sunshine from the very beginning. There are some glitches or something and where there should be purple coins to get, there is nothing. So I’m starting over and I’m looking forward to completing this game. Right after I finish all the other projects on my plate.