-Return to the Chucklehuck Woods-
After a brief bit of pondering, we finally settle on going after the piece lost in the Chucklehuck Woods next. We figure we’ve already been through there once before. So we know the area, we know the enemies, and it should be easy to explore to our heart’s content. Plus there’s really only one spot in the Chucklehuck Woods that we weren’t able to explore the first time through. Just a quick warp over into the woods, and we simply need to explore the small area in the Southwest corner of the map. So this piece should be easy to get.
Sure enough, this section of the woods is blocked by a Giant Koopa. Now that we have the new hand techniques, it only takes a few seconds to knock him over and move on past him. However, our progress is stopped once again by a snail blocking another path just up ahead. So far, we haven’t learned any techniques to remove snails. None that I can think of anyway. There is another path we can take from this area though, so hopefully we’ll find something down that way that will convince this snail to move. Otherwise we might have to come back later.
Curiously, the other path leads to Winkle Colosseum, whatever that is. The previous snail did mention that the area past him was Winkle’s Area. One of the snails here in the Reception Area also mentions that if we win the challenge, Winkles will acknowledge us.
We don’t know what this challenge is, but it seems like we’ll have to do it to get the next piece of the Beanstar. So I guess you can sign us up! We pay our 500 coin entrance fee, and off we go to the unknown dangers of Winkle Colosseum.
Turns out Winkle Colosseum houses yet another mini-game for us to try. This one is called Chuckola Bounce, and the basic objective is to try to beat as many Chuckoroks as we can within the time limit. Not sure what a Chuckorok is, but they shouldn’t be too hard for our heroes to fight off.
Of course, nothing is quite that simple, and we of course listen to the full explanation of what we’re expected to do. First off, our heroes are positioned in the center of the colosseum and are holding a blue “Chuckola Board” between themselves. Around them, Chuckoroks will appear and shoot Chuckola Rocks at our heroes. Our task is to bounce these rocks off the Chuckola Board and send them in the direction of a Chuckorok to destroy it.
In addition to the Chuckola Rocks, the Chuckoroks will also occasionally spit out Barrier Mushrooms. Collecting one of these will surround our heroes in a protective barrier, as the name suggests. This will prevent them from taking any damage if they are hit by a Chuckola Rock, and will also send the rock flying back at the Chuckoroks as if we had bounced it back intentionally.
Up until now, I had assumed we would be stationary in the center and simply rotate. However, the last little bit of the tutorial quickly slides in the fact that that is not the case. We apparently are free to move around the board however we want. That alone makes this sound like it’s going to be significantly harder. Only way to find out is to try it for ourselves. So let’s get to it!
The score to beat is apparently only 20, but to our surprise, we are being shot at from multiple directions as soon as the timer starts. They’re also aiming directly at the brothers instead of towards the center like they did in the tutorial. I see now why we need to move around freely. However, the fact that we’re completely surrounded means that nearly every Chuckola Rock we manage to bounce back will end up hitting one of them. Add to that the fact that 20 is a very low target score, and we manage to clear it with plenty of time to spare.
When time finally ran out, we had managed to rack up a respectable 30 points. More than enough to become the new champions. As a reward, we are given the Winkle Card. With this, Winkles will acknowledge our power as the champions of the Colosseum.
We return to the first snail we saw and show him our newly acquired Winkle Card. Seeing this, he moves aside for us and grants us entrance to the last unexplored area of the map. Without a doubt, this is where the piece of the Beanstar must have fallen. Quite to our surprise, however, we run into our old friend Popple here as well. Somehow he got past the guard snail and is already trying to collect up the piece of the Beanstar for himself!
Before we can take any actions, Popple manages to dislodge the Beanstar Piece from the statue and tries to run off with it. Unfortunately for him, there’s really nowhere to run to now that our heroes have arrived to block the exit. Now trapped, our heroes simply back Popple into the corner and try to take the piece away from him.
But like a cornered tiger, Popple refuses to give up without a fight. We’ve already defeated him a couple times now, and without Bowser Rookie to back him up, I don’t really see him as too much of a threat on his own. It’s annoying when he steals our items, but that’s about as harmful as he gets.
At first, the battle seemed to be going the same as before, just like we expected it would. However, Popple quickly took advantage of our lax attitude and managed to steal Mario’s Hammer right out of his hands.
I’ve been using the hammer attacks as my go to attack pretty much since we got them. Without it, we have to attack some other way. Popple still isn’t a huge threat though, so we try experimenting with some of those Bros. Attacks we have so far mostly ignored. They’re kind of fun looking, like the Fire Bros. attack where Luigi hits fireballs at the enemy like they’re baseballs. But they did such pathetic damage that it only reinforced my assertion that I don’t really need to pay them any attention.
As the battle goes on, Popple starts to get a little unstable. He sneaks off away from the battle for a brief moment only to come back with his sack of goodies. From here he starts throwing everything he has at our heroes. Sometimes it’s coins, sometimes it’s pink Bob-ombs, and still other times he throws poison mushrooms. Obviously we try to collect the coins when we can, while avoiding the other not so pleasant things. Individually, none of these cause much damage. However, his attack goes on for some time, and the cumulative damage can become quite high if we get hit too many times.
Once we fell into the loop of this battle, it wasn’t all that hard. Unfortunately, between our heroes’ rather low damage output and Popple’s ability to steal mushrooms to heal himself, the battle just seemed to drag on and on. That’s when we stumbled upon what will likely be our most important discovery of this whole play through. Luigi’s “Thunder Bros.” Bros. Attack inflicts defense down, AND status effects appear to work on bosses! HOW WAS THERE NO TUTORIAL TELLING US THAT! THERE HAVE BEEN TUTORIALS FOR EVERYTHING SO FAR!!! There’s not even a note next to the attack informing us that it has a status effect. Also, this is the first game I have played where Bosses can actually be inflicted with status effects, arguably the only time they would actually be useful. This changes everything about the boss battles in this game!
Now that we’re doing some REAL damage to him, the battle doesn’t last much longer. Seriously, how was there nothing to indicate that was an option. It’s really not an “option”, it’s practically mandatory for these battles. The difference in damage output is complete night and day. At the start of the battle Mario was only doing about 12 damage per attack while Luigi was doing a pathetic 3. But after inflicting Popple with defense down, those outputs skyrocketed to the high 40’s and 50’s with Mario even landing an AMAZING lucky hit for 93 damage! That’s a 400% multiplier to our damage output! In most games you might get maybe 150%. Enough to see a difference, but meh, take it or leave it. You can win without it. BUT 400%?! You NEED that. Especially in this game where the Bosses have SOOO much health.
We know about it now, that’s the important part. In any event, Popple is defeated and we have our second Beanstar Piece. We’re half way there now with only 2 more pieces to go. Let’s hope they are as easy to collect as this one was.
Even in defeat, Popple refuses to give up. With what strength he has left, he manages to tunnel his way to safety. You have to admire his determination, and I have a feeling we’ll see him at least once more before the game is over. But he does have the right idea, there’s nothing more to do here in Chucklehuck Woods, and it’s time we leave as well.