Review by Flaming Fyre
"Mario for the Gamecube, Lives up to the Hype"
Super Mario 64 defined the 3D platforming genre back in the days of the N64, now six years have passed and Nintendo has finally pushed out the next Mario game. With six years of waiting and buckets of hype, Super Mario Sunshine has an effect to Super Mario 64 as Super Mario Bros 3 had to the original Mario Bros, it doesn't add much new, but it perfects what was originally unpolished.
Graphics - 9/10
Wow, one cannot tell the true beauty of Sunshine through mere screen shots and low-res movies, this game is downright gorgeous. Models are generally high poly count, and levels are large and well detailed. Special effects are also apparent with the water and how it realistically reflects images and responds to movement. As a whole, Sunshine really pulls through with graphics. However, some low-res textures occasionally hurt the otherwise wonderful graphics. My guess is that Nintendo threw in the heat shimmering effect to cloud ugly textures at a distance, but at close range sometimes Sunshine is just plain ugly. Also, some slowdown is apparent at very (I mean VERY) few times. Despite this, Sunshine runs smoothly and is absolutely breathtaking.
Sound/Music - 9/10
Super Mario Sunshine has a soundtrack that can really make veteran gamers nostalgic. These remixed versions of old Mario favourites are generally the best pieces of music in Sunshine. Other songs are nice, but far from memorable. Sound effects are also done quite well, with Mario's footsteps completely audible and changing depending on what kind of surface our pudgy hero is walking on. Birds chirp, water splashes, bloopers... uhh.. bloop, and pretty much sound is quite good. However, the voice acting for Sunshine is rather subpar and badly done. Mario doesn't even talk and Peach sounds way to young and whiny.
Story - 6/10
Ouch. The story behind Sunshine is simple, predictable, and very Mario-esque, but ultimately unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Ok, so some silly sod goes around and defaces the place, and people think it is non-other than our hero Mario. So Mario goes out to clear up his name, and the usual things happen. I'm not going to spoil it, but most people can really guess what will happen. If anything drives this game ahead it is the shear will to collect more shines, because it is fun. The story is gutter material.
Controls - 9/10
Responsive, simple, and well thought-out, much like in the 64 version before it Mario controls like a dream. Even in areas requiring extreme jumping precision (Reminiscent of Pilotwings 64) controls never hinder the player from achieving what he/she wants (Although skill might). However, not all is perfect, Sunshine actually loses what its N64 predecessor had; a near trouble-free camera. In the case of Sunshine, the camera can sometimes be an annoyance and, in cases requiring precise camera control, a downright pain that could lead to potential controller abuse. Also, I personally wished Mario could still do his back flip, an ability lost in Sunshine.
Gameplay - 10/10
The real meat of any Mario game, Sunshine delivers where it really needs to. Most of Sunshine's gameplay will have gamers thinking of Mario 64, but is that really bad? Don't fix it if its not broken. In this case stars are replaced with shine sprites. The castle level which connected all levels in Mario 64 is replaced with a much more interactive town level. Sunshine takes a lot from previous Mario games and integrates a lot into Sunshine. Remember those twirly fence gates in Super Mario World? They're back! Sunshine is built in a way that things may be challenging, and sometimes frustrating, but they do tend to be rewarding (Unlike Donkey Kong 64). Sunshine, as great a game as it is, has yet another downfall, and that lies in repetitive, frustrating, uninvited, and uninspiring obstacle course levels. These levels will drive even the most skilled gamers into rage and anger after 5-10 attempts. Also worth noting are the boss fights, which stick true to the 3-hit kills and pattern/puzzle style. I found that as a bad thing, its just too old and doesn't test player skill enough, Sunshine could have benefited from a boss that required plain skill/reflex to beat. On the note of difficulty, this game starts easy, but quickly becomes hard for the average gamer. Nintendo obviously expected the player to have at least gotten somewhere in Mario 64 before attempting Sunshine. As a whole, Sunshine succeeds as a fun game, and it is just fun fun fun. I do not believe it is uncommon for someone to pick up this game and get 25% of the shines within a day. This game is very fun and addictive, and that alone warrants a perfect gameplay score.
Replayability - 9/10
Would someone actually play the game over after beating it 100%? Heck no! Would someone try to get all shines in the game even after beating the last boss? Yes! It isn't easy to describe, but Sunshine has a Nintendo touch which drives the player back to play more, and more, and more. So until a file is perfected (Or very, very near) it would be unlikely for a player to stop playing Sunshine, it is just plain addictive. However, once beaten, Sunshine would probably be shelved, but that would be after quite a few long days of straight-forward playing.
Rent/Buy - Buy
This game will take a long time to complete, and unless you are willing to shell out a ton of money renting Sunshine over, and over, do yourself a favour and buy the game. After all, what is a Nintendo console system without a Mario game?
Overall (Not an average) - 10/10
Wonderful, not revolutionary, but evolutionary. Super Mario Sunshine further advances the 3D platforming genre, just as Ocarina of Time did years ago. Sunshine stands as the newly appointed flagship title for the Gamecube, replacing Super Smash Bros Melee, and it does rightly so. It goes to say that some people will be disappointed by Sunshine. The game can be difficult, so console newbies need not apply. Also Sunshine is frustrating, so those who are prone to destroy controllers in fury should also be warned. The biggest letdown will be the fact that Sunshine is NOT revolutionary, like Mario 64 before it. Still though, people bought Ocarina of Time, despite it being an evolutionary title. Its just that when people hear Mario they expect a huge evolution. Don't. Expect fun, fun that maybe you've seen before, but fun nevertheless.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 08/28/02, Updated 08/28/02
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