SUPER MARIO BALL
Apparently I have to say whether this is my own work or not: well, it is. Good for me.
Super Mario Ball is a fun little game from lovely Nintendo. Finishing the game is rather easy, collecting all 35 stars rather less so. Here, then, is my guide to finding every last celestial object in the rather small franchised pinball galaxy.
STAR 1: HAUNTED MANSION
Four boos who fade in and out of existence like...ghosts. You can only hit them when they look solid but have a nasty habit of going all see through - aim for them while they're still invisible and you should get them eventually. Exorcise all four for a star.
STAR 2: MINIGAME 1
Go to Toadstool's shop and spend a blue coin on the chomp with a star on it. Welcome to the most annoying bit of the whole game. You have and Mario and two Yoshi eggs and need to push each chomp to the back of the screen where it will explode - trouble is that they rush back to the front of the screen if you stop hitting them for a couple of seconds. The secret is to (a) keep all three of your balls alive, and (b) if you get a chomp up the top of the screen then don't get distracted and let him off the hook - keep aiming for him until he's dead. Manage to finish this and you'll get a star.
STAR 3: MINIGAME 2
Go to Toadstool's shop and spend 2 blue coins on the grinning bullet (Bill, apparently) for a shot at this minigame. You need to hit 30 of the bullets being fired across the screen in 30 seconds to win. The trick is to keep Mario and both the Yoshi eggs in the game for as long as possible: it's all too frantic to do much serious aiming, so play the averages and watch the balls not the targets. Keep the eggs in play and this is easy; be reduced to just Mario early on and you'll struggle. Star for sharpshooting your way to success.
STAR 4: MINIGAME 3
Go to Toadstool's shop and spend 3 blue coins on the bomb to attempt this minigame. Kill ten bombs in 30 seconds to win your star. Release the bombs by hitting the blue switch with Mario or the Yoshi eggs, and kill the bombs by hitting them twice. The secret is to keep hitting that switch: the sheer number of bad guys will keep your eggs and Mario rebounding almost without you lifting a flipper. Keep alert to the odd unlucky bounce and a star is your reward for defusing the situation.
STAR KEY: TABLE 3 (inside the haunted mansion, through the 10 star door)
Go through the ten star door and you'll momentarily pop back outside as you loop around the rollercoaster on your way to the boss fight. Big Boo awaits. Like any normal ghost he can only be hit while he he's solid but he'll evaporate if he sees your ball powering towards him. Solution: hit him from behind. Aim for the the top left and right corners of the screen and you should gracefully plummet back into Boo's unsuspecting solid form. If you get caught in his glare then your ball will whizz about randomly for a bit and this can lead to you dropping out in the ensuing panic: normal physics will be resumed shortly so either remain calm or use a pipe. Hit Boo three times to get the star key.
STAR 5: RED COINS
Use the cannon to go to the castle level once Boo is defeated and hit his statue to unlock the red coin challenge: then go back to the boss room and hit the red switch to start the challenge. There are 8 red coins to get within the time limit: two in this room, four in the haunted house, and two out in the funfair. It's easiest to collect the the four haunted house coins last because the star appears in the room you finish the challenge in and is awkwardly placed on the funfair level: you also run the risk of accidentally going into the shop or haunted house, at which point the star will disappear. Grab the star and the funfair level is done and dusted.
STAR 1: TABLE 1
Easy! Kill all the enemies - yes, all three of them - and the star appears. Such hardship. The left hand star door is now unlocked leading to...
STAR 2: TABLE 2 (through the 1 star door)
Hit the beehive to release three bees. They'll hurt you if you hit them with their stingers out but when flying normally they're fair game. Hit and destroy all three before they return to their hive and you'll release a star. Then head into the windmill for...
STAR KEY: WINDMILL
Oh God, a giant venus fly trap, gnetically modified to eat balls. The horror! This plant is actually none too scary: he lunges out to eat you but in a predicatable way, turning his head from left to right then back again. Petey Piranha's weakspot is his body, the bulge in the centre of the room. As he starts to turn from the centre to the left, you can safely hit the weakspot from the right; and when he turns from the centre to the right, you can safely hit the weakspot from the left. Blindside him three times and a key appears.
STAR 3: TABLE 3 (through the 2 star door)
Koopas are invincible! No, actually, they're not. Hit them once and they fall on their backs; hit them while they're down and they're destroyed. Get rid of all three and win a star.
STAR 4: RED COINS
You'll have to go the castle level via the canon, then hit the statue of Petey Piranha to unlock it with your star key. Now go back to the idyllic windmill level, get into the windmill and bash into the red switch. Eight red coins appear throughout the level and you have 95 seconds to collect them all. Two in the windmill itself; two in table outside; two on the first table; and two through the 2-star door. Potentially frustrating but collect 'em all for a star.
STAR 5: TABLE 4 (table 2, through the 5 star door)
You need to kill the four koopas in here to get the star. Trouble is that they're protected by a field of mushroom pins that bounce you around like a bean in a tin. This level is pretty frustrating and, in the absence of a tilt feature, pretty random. You can either persevere, use a pipe to prolong the agony, or spend 30 coins on a lightning bolt from the shop on table 2 and blast the blighters from the sky. Congrats, you big cheater, here's your star!
STAR 6: TABLE 5 (table 1, inside the beehives)
Buy a pink mushroom and shrink yourself down so that you can enter the tiny door to the beehives. Inside you'll find four angry bees, who you need to dispatch. Understandably angry at your intrusion, the bees fly stings-out most of the time, when you can't harm them. Occasionally they revert back to horizontal flying when they can be swatted with ease. Catch em all for a star. There's a yoshi egg in the bonus block if you need some extra help.
STAR 1: TABLE 1
The traditional kill-all-the-enemies-to-get-a-star routine makes a comeback. The cacti need each of their blobs to be hit before they die but you'll be rewarded handsomely for your efforts.
STAR 2: TABLE 2 (through the 1 star door)
A reprise of the last task really: kill all the cacti for your star. The cacti have 4 sections each and so require 4 hits to dispatch. Star please.
STAR 3: TABLE 3 OUTSIDE THE PYRAMID (through the 2 star door)
4 vultures circle menacingly overhead. To bash them out of the skies you need to use the pyramid as a ramp. You can do this either with the puny stump pyramid (easier) or you can raise the pyramid fully out of the sands by hitting the sphinxes at the top of the screen four or five times (this gives you more ramp to aim for but you also have a door that you can accidentally go through, erasing all your ornithocidal activities thus far). Kill all 4 feathered fiends and collect 1-billionth of a galaxy.
STAR 4: TABLE 4 (inside the pyramid)
Having used the sphinxes to raise the pyramid you might as well go inside and explore. Hit the raised brick in the centre of the room - lo and behold, it's a switch and snakes appear when you press it. Gulp. Danger has its rewards however. You need to bash each snake before it disappears down the grate in the floor, otherwise you'll need to start over. Get 8 snakes, and a star will slither into your grasp.
STAR 5: TABLE 5 (inside the pyramid, down the right hand hole)
Inside the pyramid, hit the right hand switch and a hole will appear in the floor. Drop through it and again hit the right hand switch on the new table. Four little freaks in hockey masks will appear ('shy guys' apparently) and begin a beguiling dance. You need to kill all four before the dance ends and they are once again hidden behind the pillar. Dish out your lethal verdict on their strictly dumb dancing (that one's for you, gran) and you'll get a grade 2 tango star.
STAR 6: TABLE 6 (inside the pyramid, down the right hand hole)
Back on the first table inside the pyramid, hit the left hand switch this time and drop through the hole in the floor. Now hit the right hand switch and four shy guys will poke their cute little noses out from behind the pillars. They'll take turns to make a dash for the next pillar - once they're hidden you can't hit them (even though they MUST be behinds the pillar - where is the REALISM?) but out in the open they are vulnerable little critters. Snipe them all and win a star-shaped medal.
STAR 7: TABLE 7 (inside the pyramid, down the grate)
You need to buy a mini-mushroom from one of Toad's shops on the pyramid's lower levels, then return to the first room in the pyramind, use the mushroom, and drop down the grating in your new tiny form. You end up in a round room and are bombarded by snakes. This is more of a stamina test than anything: kill about 20-25 snakes, the downpour will stop and a star will appear rainbow-like in the centre of the room.
STAR KEY: TABLE 8 (inside the pyramid, down 2 levels)
Go down the right hand hole, then use the left hand switch and go down the new hole. Prepare to fight the appalingly named Tutankoopa. Release his rage by hitting the middle switch. He'll throw lightning bolts at you that will shrink you to mini-mario size; you can resize yourself by hitting the towers to the left and right; hit them again and you'll swell to super-mario size and become invincible. Then you can hit Tutankoopa and damage him - but only when he's standing with his arms up in the air summoning his lightning bolts. This boss fight is a bit of a pain if you ask me. The best way to do it is to buy a yoshi egg from the shop (you can even double it using the bonus for defeating the shy guys a second time around) and bash that around at the same time as Mario - strategy comes a lowly second to random flipping in this fight. Win the fight though and you can just say 'played for and got' as you guiltily pick up the star.
STAR 8: TABLE 9 (through the 4 star door)
Lakitu is floating maniacally around on a cloud on this level, bombarding you with spiny turtle things. Like most turtles these have to be flipped onto their backs before being despatched; you need to kill-em-all to get a star but this is complicated by Lakitu constantly throwing more of them into the fray. You need either ninja flipper skills, a bit of strategic thinking (aiming for groups of them at a time; dropping down on them from the top so that rebounds catch others), or an item: eggs, stars or lightning strikes are particularly helpful; mini-mushrooms are not.
STAR 9: TABLE 8 - RED COINS
Having defeated Tutankoopa you can visit the castle courtyard again and use the star key in his statue. Travel back to his former haunt and you'll find a red switch that releases another 8 red coins, all within the pyramid itself. There are two in the switch room: collect these, then fall through the flippers to get back to the first pyramid room, where you'll find another two. There are then two in each of the rooms underneath, down the left and right holes. Collecting all eight just takes a bit of luck and practice: manage it and you'll collect the final star on this world.
STAR 1: TABLE 1
Simply defeat four of the skaters who appear one at a time and collect a poorly earned star.
STAR 2: IGLOO (through the igloo door on table 1)
Buy a pink mushroom from Toad's shop, shrink yourself and hit the igloo door to reach this star. Once inside you'll need to repeatedly hit the mole: each time you do he'll move clockwise round the igloo; wait too long between hits and he'll sneak back anti-clockwise; force him to complete a whole circuit and he'll die, leaving you a star behind. Work up a rhythm by looping Mario all the way round the perimeter of the igloo each time you hit the mole: once you're past the halfway stage this is pretty easy. Don't be tepted to use the invincibility star in here as it'll kill the mole but not give you a star. Boo!
STAR 3: TABLE 2 (through the 1 star door)
Four penguins are scooting innocently about the ice: you need to obliterate them to collect a star. Hit a penguin once and it'll slide around on its back; hit it again before it rights itself and you'll kill yourself a penguin. Repeat four times for a star. (This star is infinintely easier if you do it BEFORE star 3, when you'll have the added worry of falling down a hole.)
STAR 4: TABLE 3 (down the hole on table 2, outside the pirate ship)
The first problem is getting to this table: you need to push the big ice block over the crack in the ice. Its weight should make it fall straight through the ice, opening up an inviting hole for you to follow it underwater. Once here, kill all the fish (1-hit wonders the lot of them) and reel in the star.
STAR 5: TABLE 4 (through the 3 star door on table 2)
There are four snowmen here chucking snowballs in your direction. They can't be killed but they can be stunned with a single hit. Stun all four at the same time and you'll get a star. This is pretty easy with any kind of power up but will take a bit of patience otherwise. Persevere for your star.
STAR 7: TABLE 5 (through the 5 star door on table 2)
There are four little skater dudes here, skating away. Hit one and he'll get replaced by another, but of a different colour. All four need to be the same colour to release the star. The key is patience and keeping the little critters spaced out while you indicate what not to wear. Coordinate their collective wardrobe and collect a star.
STAR KEY: PIRATE SHIP
Hit all three chests on table 3 and the ship will fall over and the entrance will be revealed. Go inside and you'll meet a giant puffafish boss. Eek. You can't hurt him on your own but at the top the top left and right corners of the table are targets that release bombs when hit. Use these bombs as extra balls and aim for the puffafish: hit him and he'll inflate; hit him again, with Mario or a bomb, and he'll take damage; three times, and he's a goner. Hurrah! The secret is to be patient and not to let Mario fall past your flippers in the bombing excitement. Hold onto your fuse and collect a star.
STAR 6: RED COINS (in the pirate ship)
Go to the castle courtyard and unlock the puffafish statue, then return to the pirate ship and hit the red switch. Eight red coins appear: two in the pirate ship, two outside the pirate ship, two on table 1, one on table 2 and one through the 3-star door onto table 4. Collect them all for the last star on ice world.
STAR 1: OUTER COURTYARD
Return to this level after all four keys have placed in the statues and three fly guys will start hovering around being annoying. You can only hit them when they're on the ground. Remove all of their pilot licenses to win a star.
STAR 2: INNER cOURTYARD (throught the portcullis)
Same deal as before but now you have five fly guys to deal with. Quite annoying this one, as there are many possible distractions: three doors, toad's shop and the cannon. Grrr. A lightning bolt might be handy if your ninja skills aren't comparable to mine.
STAR 3: TABLE 3 (through the 17 star door)
There are two metallic koopas here that can't be hurt just by hitting them with your ball - they have to be crushed against the walls as well. Kill both and you'll win a star.
STAR 4: TABLE 4 (through the 19 star door)
There are 6 goombas prancing around in here: dispose of them and - ohmygosh! - Petey Piranha will appear again. This is just a reprise of the first boss fight and the same tactics can used to defeat him: do so and a star will leap down to dance upon his uprooted corpse. And you get a million points! Woo!
STAR 5: TABLE 5 (through the 25 star door)
You need to kill the four ghosts followed by the Big Boo boss. This is a replica of the funfair boss fight but in a different room. Hmmm, is there a pattern here? Exorcise him and collect the star.
STAR 6: TABLE 6 (through the 21 star door)
There are three metal koopas here and your kill method is the same as before: hit them against walls to destroy them. Get all three and you'll win a star.
STAR 7: TABLE 7 (down the hole on table 6)
This one is a reprise of the giant pufferfish boss level, and it seemed much harder second time around to me. The key is to hit the two henchmen with bombs first and then aim for the boss himself, otherwise it gets too crowded. The henchmen regenerate each time you hit the boss but get him three times and you'll net a star and another million points.
STAR 8: TABLE 8 (through the 23 star door on table 6)
Now you'll reprise the Tutankoopa boss level. He seems a bit quicker this time around. Quick wits are in order - and an invincibility star can help with that shrinking feeling if things start to go wrong. Avoid the curse and collect a star.
BOWSER (through the 15 star door)
The final battle, and quite an annoying one at that. You need to hit the wheels on the side of the the room to lift up the weights; do this repeatedly and the weight(s) will reach the top and stop falling down. The switch in the centre of the room will now be activated and when you hit it Bowser will fal down (momentarily disabling your flippers, so be careful). Hit the big, ugly turtle now and he'll be damaged; do it three times and you've the beaten the first stage of this boss fight. I found Yoshi eggs were very helpful on this level, as well as looping Mario round the edge of the wall beacuase this had the dual benefit of hitting the wheels to lift the weights and keeping the ball with enough speed that even with the flippers disabled it wouldn't drop straight out of the level. After beating Bowser you'll discover that he is, in fact, something of a sore loser and unwilling to admit defeat. He'll curl up into a giant ball. The clue here is 'ball', as in Mario BALL or pinBALL: yes, now you must use Bowser as a ball and bash holes in the wall where the the wheels used to be. You need to keep Mario alive (I found this easiest by cupping him inside a permanently flipped flipper, occassionally setting him loose if Bowser got stuck) while doing this but it's pretty easy: three hits and then one more to eject Bowser from the building and win the game! Now settle back and enjoy the credits, and if you collected all 35 stars a special (ie, rubbish and disappointing) animation to reward you for your hard work (er, thanks, you shouldn't have...no, really, you shouldn't have).
Hurrah! You're a pinball wiz!