From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
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Meteors are small spherical rocky projectiles that have entered the atmosphere and are burning up due to the resulting friction. Meteors are featured prominently in Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2, where they periodically crash into some planets in various galaxies. If hit by one, Mario (or Luigi) will take damage. In Super Mario Galaxy, meteors prominently appear in Bowser Jr.'s Lava Reactor, where they fall from the sky during the final part of the battle with King Kaliente, and the Melty Molten Galaxy in the mission Through the Meteor Storm, where they rain down during the entire mission. In some cases, bosses like Bowser and Prince Pikante can launch meteors from their mouths. Strangely, the meteors will not spawn if the player is looking directly at their spawn point.
Similar objects known as Bowser's Flames appear in New Super Mario Bros. U; they replace the volcanic debris of previous titles and have the same function, but they shower down more constantly rather than at designated intervals. They appear in the Peach's Castle levels Meteor Moat and Firefall Cliffs. In the former level, they tend to trail behind the player and catch up if they remain in the same spot for too long, and in the latter level, their movement is fixed due to the autoscrolling element. In New Super Luigi U, they appear in the replacement levels Magma Moat and Firefall Rising. In addition, Bowser's fireballs take on the same appearance and can also rain directly downwards. Bowser also shoots down flames in Super Mario Maker and its remake in the New Super Mario Bros. U theme in similar patterns when he is riding a Lakitu's Cloud.
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