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Most gamers probably have a hard time judging the overall difficulty of a Mario game nowadays. The problem stems from how experienced most gamers are with these types of platformers. I can vouch from watching my sister play through this game that it isn't the easiest game ever made. She is brand new to platformers and struggled greatly as the game progressed onwards.
Seriously, if you want a hard wake up call when it comes to challenging content -- try the challenge modes. Without hyperbole I can say this mode ranks up with the likes of Super Meatboy in difficulty. Getting a gold rating on all of them will take some practice and commitment.
As for the game not rewarding the player personally for clearing the challenge modes... I only have this to say; what the hell is wrong with gamers this generation. If the game doesn't explicitly reward you for content than its not worth doing? Whatever happened to beating it because it's there. I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I got the gold on all those challenges... I didn't need the game to pat me on the back and reward me with some useless achievement.
Yes, Super Mario Galaxy's 2 Star World is SO ORIGINAL my sides hurt.
Dat Mario Galaxy rehash level Dat Sunshine rehash level Dat another Galaxy rehash level Dat Galaxy boss rush.
And, please, purple coins aren't original. It's the first thing anyone'd do if they didn't have an idea how to make a mission. "Hmm, put things that you have to collect all over the place".
NSMB's Star Worlds were just more ordinary looking levels from previous worlds. While SMG2 Star World had unique levels like flip out, rolling coaster and perfect run galaxy, it's other chunk of levels were tributes to past Mario games with slight differences (like the new "slow down time button" in the old stone cyclone galaxy). There's not to much change but hey it's something at least.
My New Mario Kart Wii U Roster http://i1241.photobucket.com/albums/gg519/SVSMX/mk8.png