The second course in Mario's very first 3D adventure is beloved by many fans, and for good reason. In fact it even showed up again in Super Mario Galaxy 2, which has shamefully not been included in Super Mario 3D All-Stars for Nintendo Switch (how dare you Nintendo).
But this course has its share of secrets and tricks. So to make sure you don't miss a single thing, here is a guide for how to get all the stars in Whomp's Fortress.
Looking for all the stars in Cool, Cool Mountain? We've got a guide here for you.
Whomp's Fortress - Chip Off Whomp's Block
This should give you a bit of deja vu coming off of Bob-omb Battlefield. Simply get to the top of the fortress. From the start, you can either take the upper left ramp or take the path to the side. The latter does have shifting pistons and vanishing platforms so take your risks where you like. Once you get past the staircase with the sleeping Piranha Plant is where things can get dicey. You can either hug the wall and scooch to the rotating bridge, or run across the breakaway passage and carefully crawl across the narrow plank to the same destination. Once there, simply wait for the bridge to rotate to you, get to the center, wait for it to rotate to the other side, then continue.
From here, you simply keep running around the perimeter, facing off against two Whomps on your way. Just get in front of them, run away as they try to body slam you, then perform a ground pound on their back to finish them off. Eventually, you'll come across a pair of ascending platforms. Get on one of those and ride it to the top of the level and the boss arena.
Big Whomp is just a larger version of the Whomps you faced to get up here, and beating him is the same. Wait for him to slam you, get on his back, and ground pound him three times. Congratulations, you got your first star for this course.
Whomp's Fortress - To The Top Of The Fortress
The second star on this stage is a repeat of the first with one small addition. Once you make it back to the boss arena, Big Whomp will be replaced by a giant tower. Jump on the platforms spiraling up the tower. Once you land on the last one, it will ascend to the top like an elevator. Your second star is waiting for you there.
Whomp's Fortress - Shoot Into The Wild Blue
Now this one is the trickiest in the entire course. Once you enter, head up to the pool of shallow water on the upper left side and run all the way to the end. There, you will spot a pink Bob-omb and a cannon.
After talking to the Bob-omb to activate the cannon, get inside and get ready to aim very carefully. Rotate the cannon to the left until you see the platform with a giant metal pole, then slowly scroll down. You'll see the star on a tiny platform underneath a small empty area with four pillars. Trust me, don't try to aim exactly at the star; that is the quickest way to lose lives on this stage.
Instead, aim the crosshairs in a way that you hit the back left pillar of the area above the star. If you need a visual aid, just look at the picture above. After firing, you should have conked yourself into the pillar and landed safely. From there, look to the center where a tiny pole is. Climb on, slide down to the spot below, and collect your star.
Whomp's Fortress - Red Coins on The Floating Isle
Do not be fooled by the level's title. Of the eight red coins you have to collect, only two of them are on a floating isle. The rest you collect on your way up.
Head back to the cannon area from before then run up the steep ramp you see on your right. With a good enough sprint and a well-timed jump and dive, you can grab the first red coin sitting near the top. From there, run back to the other side of the course and head towards the jutting stone pistons; the second red coin is above the second moving bit of rock.
Red coin number three is right above a Thwomp you'll see moving up some giant stairs towards the sleeping Piranha Plant, all you have to do is get to the step that's behind it, wait for the big blue brick to come down, jump on top and ride him to the coin.
Red coins four and five are practically next to one another, number four sitting next to the sleeping chomper, and number five sitting on the ledge you can sidle towards. Red coin number six is with a string of other coins near the rotating bridge. Just get to the center, wait for the bridge to rotate to the other side, get to the very end, then simply ride the bridge to collect the coins.
Once you've done all of that, now you can actually get to the titular floating islands. Follow the path back to the giant tower area but don't climb it. Instead, look for a tall brown plank that is standing upright. Punch once or twice, try to time it with the plank moving towards the arrow-shaped platform in the distance, and eventually it will fall over. Slowly make your way across and you'll see two spinning discs with red coins seven and eight waiting for you in the middle, jump to those and the star will appear.
Whomp's Fortress - Fall Onto The Caged Island
Cards on the table, this particular star gave me a massive headache back in the day, and even now it still takes some trial and error. Once you enter the course, climb the tree that is nearby, once you climb all the way up, an owl will fly out of it. After you land, the owl will tell you to grab it, and it can fly you anywhere in the area. Hold down the jump button after grabbing on and the owl will pull you straight into the air.
Once here, you have precious seconds before the owl gets tired and drops you. Guide yourself to the floating islands seen in the last level, and you should see a tiny cage–with nothing covering it naturally–floating in the sky with the star in it. You'll have to aim Mario over the cage then let go of the jump button, getting him to fall on to the star.
This is tricky for a number of reasons. Controlling the owl is frustrating, going from very fast to very slow within a few seconds, and there's no way to have the owl completely stop. The owl even says something along the lines of “watch your shadow” to get an idea of where you'll fall, but between the small draw distance and just how pinpoint your target is, you will mostly be eyeballing it.
My best advice is to get within two milimeters or so of the cage when looking straight down, let go, then guide Mario down with the control stick as you descend. It'll be touch and go, but this is doable. This might be the second most obtuse star to get in the entire game since this super strong owl doesn't pop up ever again and only appears once you're at this star.
Whomp's Fortress - Blast Away The Wall
And now for another one of the most obtuse stars in the entire game. Run back to where the cannon is from Shoot Into The Wild Blue and aim it at the corner of the walls near the ramp. Fire yourself at the corner of the right most wall and you will destroy that chunk of wall, revealing the power star. Make your way up to the rotating bridge and slide down the ramp to get it. How in the world you were supposed to figure that out before Google search is beyond me.
And there you have it. Once you've gotten all of these stars, don't forget to go through the course again on any level and collect 100 coins for the secret star, and you'll have all seven stars for Whomp's Fortress collected. Now do us all a favor and try not to look at birds or masonry for a while.