Found the Braid Stars

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SPOILER ALERT! (WARNING!)

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I'm going to talk about some hidden things in the video game Braid.

Stop reading if you don't want to spoil the secrets.

See further down below to continue.

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So while hacking on Murky this past Labor day, I also wasted some time playing the really well done game Braid. I don't play many games any more, but this one caught my attention for being unusual. It's kind of a short game so I didn't expect to be playing it this holiday as I had already beaten it, but my friend Josh revealed to me that there are 8 really hidden secrets in the game.

These 8 secrets manifest themselves as collectable stars. They are so hidden, that the achievement system makes no reference to them and gives you no acknowledgement for finding them.

braid_stars
I was also warned that these stars are extremely difficult to collect. But I'm a glutton for punishment as I've played many (bad) video games over many years. I've personally found video games have gotten way easier in recent years, so I tend to brush off general warnings about things being too hard.

These were tougher than I expected, but I still managed to get them all in the same day. They are still not nearly as hard as many of the things I've put up with. I think the Braid full-game speed-run is more annoying, but for contrast, I semi-recently played Cave Story and the Hell speed-run (ultimate) ending frustrates me to no end. I never could break under 4 minutes let alone be awesome such as in this video.

The hardest part of the stars in Braid is knowing where to find them. I admit, I had to get hints from the Internet. This video in particular was my guide. It was a well done video in that the author split it up into 3 parts to give you a chance to solve the puzzles yourself without accidentally seeing the full solution before you give up. The first part just tells you the levels the secrets are in. The second part gives you a single hint. The third part is the walkthrough.  

In hindsight, about half of the star areas had already caught my attention. The cloud in 2-2 always looked suspicious to me and I spent some amount of time wondering why it was there. I had also noticed the cliff on the left side, but never realized the cloud moved. 4-5 and 6-5, I had always wondered if I could get my character to the end of the 3 plants at the top, but I never had the patience to try since I didn't expect anything to come of it. And the very last level, I noticed that the chandelier area was the only time the princess was not behind some barrier and could theoretically be intercepted by your character. I actually thought the programmer/designer took a big risk by doing that because if a clever person could intercept the princess, it could result in a game crash. I wondered a little if the the designer put some little invisible barrier to prevent this scenario and how hard it might be for me to exploit this, but I wasn't really that excited by the prospect of crashing the game. Little did I know that this was by design.

A long time ago, I was more enthusiastic about trying these types of things as I do remember some older games that would reward you with crazy things like this. But more recently, I find most games are too lazy and need to ship to bother adding this kind of detail so I had pretty much given up on trying this kind of stuff as I am so frequently disappointed.

But there are also star areas in Braid that I would never have guessed. Like the star in the house I would have never figured out. I got bit by the fact that I had put the puzzle together too. I used to play a lot of Sierra adventure games and the really old ones would do cruel things to you like that too where if you did something, you might miss something else and couldn't go back. Sierra got me in the habit of saving games frequently and accumulating stuff first while delaying accomplishing stuff until the last moment. But it has been so long that I've seen anything like a Sierra game so I tend to just look silly when I play games. So yes, I actually did defer putting my puzzle pieces together in due to my Sierra trauma. But since I've already beaten the Braid, my puzzle was already put together which was a problem. And Braid doesn't have multiple save game slots.

To make matters worse, I got the cloud star on 2-2 which requires you to wait around for like 2 hours. So I basically wasted 4 hours on this one star by having to start over. (This is when I did a lot of my Murky hacking.)

So after I got all the stars, I went back and compared my solutions to the video. All in all, my solutions were pretty much the same, though I'm happy to say that I did come with one variation on 6-6. Instead of using the falling ladder, I discovered you can use the same killer bunny that you use to reach the platform with the star to also jump up to the ledge with the time immunity. I found this actually a little easier than the ladder solution.

And on 2-2, I liked to jump on the cloud when it reaches the meatball/goomba next to the canon. The earlier you get on the cloud, the easier it is to just leave the computer running and not worry about missing the jump on point at the door.

I also discovered two things about the last level with the princess. First, when I first touched her, I went left instead of right to explore. This is a very Sierra-ish mentality thing again as once you get the star, I would not expect to be able to come back. I went too far and jumped off a cliff not thinking that my time reversal would stop working, which it did and I was forced to leave the level without collecting the star I earned. Fortunately, the game wasn't really evil and let me try again. But the second thing I learned was once you do collect the star, you can't do this again (without restarting the game) as the 2 important levers no longer have time immunity. So my Sierra instincts were right.

Finally, I discovered if you look up at the stars once you collect them, an outline of the constellation appears.

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Anyway, Braid is a wonderful game. I am pleasantly surprised to find secrets like these in the game. Though on reflection, those Sierra games really messed with my head.
Copyright © PlayControl Software, LLC / Eric Wing