Name: Super Mario Sunshine review Category: Platform Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo Players: 1
Super Mario Sunshine 11/6/2002
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Super Mario Sunshine, the next official Mario game in the series has come upon us, but are we ready for it? Well read on, my friends!
First and foremost I must comment on the title. Just having the words “sunshine” in the title will probably instantly turn off a lot of gamers out there with their lame attitudes towards any game that doesn’t have cursing, violence, or sex in it. Well at least in the States it seems that way sometimes. You can bet your gold coins that there is NONE of that in this game; it’s a Mario game for cryin’ out loud! In fact, this is SO MUCH a Mario game that it’s literally oozing of pure Mario game goodness.
For those that do not know, the game focuses around Mario, Peach, and Toadsworth (her loyal Toadish butler) on a vacation to Isle Delfino. The dolphin-shaped island has been vandalized by someone who looks just like Mario(except he’s got red glowing eyes and he looks like he’s made out of water). It also seems that Shadow Mario has scattered “Shines” (read: Stars), the island’s source of power, everywhere. Anyway, you are framed for the vandalization of the island and are forced to clean up the mess and get all the Shines back using FLUDD, a water pack that fits on your back. Together you form a symbiotic relationship much like the one achieved in Banjo Kazooie. FLUDD helps Mario take that next step further and lets him do things a normal plumber couldn’t.
Gone are the fist punches of Mario 64, and are now replaced with water squirts. You may not think this is much of an improvement, but FLUDD has high water pressure. Have you ever seen people take graffiti off of brick walls with a power-washer? You can kill someone with one of those things! Anyway, FLUDD basically does everything for you: he is your main attack, your speed booster, your rocket pack and hover ability, your shield from harmful sludge, and most importantly, he makes these ultra cool puddles of water that reflects Mario in real-time. It’s just something that must be seen yourself. You can run and squirt at the same time by holding the R trigger in halfway, or you can stand there and aim your water in any direction by pressing R all the way down. The innovation truly shines (sorry, bad pun) when you use these two options to their full potential. The other Mario gameplay standards are all there as well: hops, bops, wall jumps, belly slides, side somersaults, triple-jumps, a spin jump, the butt stomp, and all are perfectly achieved with pin point accuracy. This game probably has the most accurate gameplay of any platform game out there. And that’s a very good thing because at times this game is really freakin’ hard! You can no longer do a backflip, crawl around on the ground, or do that breakdance kick thing, but that doesn’t really matter because you will never have the need to do these moves. Oh and you can finally ride Yoshi around in all the stages. And since you can’t use FLUDD while riding Yoshi, Yoshi has the ability to spit, *ahem* BARF fruit juice at unsuspecting victims! There is also one downer about Yoshi: HE CAN’T SWIM! What’s wrong with that you ask? Well maybe due to the fact that there’s water EVERYWHERE!! And once Yoshi hits the water, he dissolves away and you have to go find his egg again. Yoshi has his uses every now and then, but making him not be able to swim takes away most of the fun of riding him around. Even though the designers made Yoshi non-swimmable on purpose because it adds to the challenge of getting some of the Shines, I really wish they could have let him swim around. Ah, c’est la vie…
The game plays out very much like Mario 64, where you go to different parts of the island from a main hub area. The game has less areas than Mario 64 did, but they are ultimately larger than M64’s, so it doesn’t matter. Each world has 8 different episodes, one per shine, and then 3 extra shines, one for a red coin classic challenge, one for a secret hidden shine, and one for getting 100 coins, making 11 Shines to collect per area. This is where the game falls short. I understand that although Mario 64’s way of doing things is all good when the day is done, but I truly feel that they could have gotten past this idea. The system has been used time and time again, Mario 64 being the first and everyone copying off of them, but going to a stage to collect something and have a goal is just overdone nowadays.
Yeah I understand that the game needs you to do SOMETHING, but the Shines idea is just a bit on the overused side. Also, ALL the areas have 3 episodes that you always have to do to achieve 3 of the shines: chase and squirt water at Shadow Mario until he falls down, play a Mario “classic” platforming stage, and collect 8 red coins throughout the area (you have to do this twice, one in the level and one in the classic stage). So what does that leave us with folks? FIVE, count ‘em, five original quests per area. I will tell you I am so SICK of collecting red coins. This idea is so lame beyond belief. Also, chasing around Shadow Mario and hosing him down 15 times gets super annoying. The only one that I never got tired of was the classic platforming stages, where they are truly a test of your gaming skill in the platforming genre. Of course, me being the master of platform games I breezed through these stages in no time. You, however, will be pulling out your hair, slamming the controller on the ground, and shouting out every single known expletive until your little sister starts to cry. Some of the quests to get the Shines in the game could have been thought through a tad better, and the levels could have had a bit more variety to them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re wonderful and beautiful and really fun to run around in, I just wish there could have been more variety than what is given. Though the island theme is prevalent throughout, I guess it’s tough to stray away too far and still keep that as an overall theme. Maybe I just had my expectations up too high. We have been waiting since 1996, so don’t I have a right to complain?
Another complaint is the camera. I won’t go on about this like many people have, but in short, I will say that it should have undergone some major tweaking. You WILL fight with the camera at times. There is one Shine in Pinna Park that you will piss you off so badly. It’s almost as if that certain part of the game was never even tested! Nintendo tried 4 things to “fix” the camera: two are controller-driven; the C-stick moves it anywhere you want, and the L button to instantly brings the camera behind Mario. The other two are graphical techniques, one is that Mario’s silhouette will appear if he is blocked by an inanimate object or wall, and the other is that a large spotlight-like circle will appear around Mario as the rest of the screen is “blued-out.” This makes me wonder if the developers really thought these techniques would fix their problems, or if they were just too lazy to fix them themselves.
Last but certainly not least are the graphics and sound departments. The game is typical Mario rainbowy colorful goodness, and the game really does shine; it’s really bright! In fact, after 30 shines you have the option to get some sunglasses that dims your game for you. The water effects in the game are unrivaled in my book. There isn’t another game on the market that has water effects this good. Go swim in the ocean for a minute and you’ll see what I mean. The Gamecube sure can do some amazing things when it comes to liquids in motion. Everyone seems to be complaining about the character models, but I don’t have any problems with them. Mario as well as Yoshi both look absolutely wonderful and round and smooth and all the characters you talk to and enemies are rounded off and just a pleasure to look at. So if you hear it from anywhere else that the characters don’t look “polished” enough, they’re full of shit. The stages in the game are a sight to see. They remind me of when I went to Treasure Trove Cove for the first time in Banjo Kazooie… you could see for miles and it was just screaming, “Come run around here!” This game is no different. If you see something in the distance, you can go run to it and pick it up. No draw-in, no pop up, and wonderfully immense stages. Noki Bay is my favorite, and once you go there you’ll see why. There are some uncrisp textures at times, but it’s nothing to bitch about. Most of the game is about what you should expect for a first-gen title, and especially a Mario game. The music is average, nothing to go crazy over, but just like all Mario tunes, there are a few that are very catchy and you will be humming them for days. Also, the a cappella version of the classic Mario theme is something that should be heard by all gamers, period. The sound effects are very crisp also and there are tons of them. Everything interacts with everything else and when two things touch it plays a sound, just like it should!
Well that’s about it. I’ve said just about all I could say about this awesome game. There are a few disappointing things about it such as the lack of quest variety, and that the last boss is really easy, but it is overall completely worth the purchase. I will be playing this game for a very long time, just like I still go back and play Mario 64 every now and then. Oh yeah one more thing, if you own a Gamecube, buy this game right now.
GameDiscovery.com : GameCube : Super Mario Sunshine Review : Platform