Blooming Planet

The most beautiful planet in the galaxy.

In the middle of the Supermassive Galaxy in Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the Blooming Garden Planet. It’s a single, solitary sphere of dirt with a simple gimmick: flowers bloom at my feet as I walk across its mottled, earthen surface. 

There is something so joyous about this utterly uncomplicated mechanic. Watching the small planet slowly fill up with greenery as I bound across it is like the botanical equivalent of ASMR. It’s deeply relaxing in its unashamed cheerfulness.

And then, it’s gone, never to be used again for the rest of the game. It’s a quick, breezy, delight that a designer deep within the bowels of Nintendo thought up and then managed to squeeze into a game already bursting with big ideas. 

Much has been said about so-called ‘Nintendo Magic’, but few have been able to confidently identify exactly what it is. Is it polish? Is it replayability? Is it cross-generational appeal? Is it nothing more than cheap nostalgia?

I don’t think it’s any of those things. To me, ‘Nintendo Magic’ is exactly what I find in the Blooming Garden Planet. It’s a design philosophy prepared to use limited time and resources to build such a small and seemingly trivial moment. It’s a willingness to let a simple mechanic speak for itself, and then quickly move on to something else. Above all, it’s a commitment to creating games that are fundamentally about joy.

By Kell Burkitt

Kell Burkitt is an independent writer and recovering philosophy graduate. You can find his other writing on his blog:

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