Review by superstarluigi
"There's trouble in paradise..."
I've seen a lot of reviews of this game and I'm surprised to see that no one has given it the respect it deserves, so I'm going to clear things up.
Story: Poor Mario just can't get a break, the majority of his time is spent beating bad guys and saving the princess. Our plumbing protagonist has worn down the soles of his shoes stomping Goombas, had his moustache singed by Bowser's fire breath, and quite frankly, the guy's beat. Mario decides it's high time for a vacation, so he, princess peach, her adviser, Toadsworth, and a bunch of toads hop on a plane for a getaway at the lovely Isle Delfino. Our hero is ready to indulge himself in some fine tropical cuisine, maybe get a tan, and spend some quality time with Princess Peach. Mario and the gang's plans come to a screeching halt however, when they find the entire island polluted. The natives mistake Mario for the perpetrator, and sentence him to clean the place. However, pollution is not the only problem, the guardians of the island, the Shine Sprites have scattered because of the pollution, and it's sun-light's out for Isle Delfino unless Mario can retrieve them. Armed with a water pack named F.L.U.D.D., it's up to Mario to save the island, expose the perpetrator, and clear his good name.
Gameplay: Super Mario 64 veterans will find themselves in the very same stomping grounds as before. You're still running and jumping in the same types of sandbox-like environments you found yourself in in the early levels of 64, the only change from a cosmetic perspective is that Mario has a water pack on his back. Now notice I said "the early levels of 64" when I was referring to the sandbox-like exploration mechanics of this game. I said this because you only found yourself in this sprawling environments early on in the game, later on, the game threw in a lot more linear, on your toes, platforming action, which is to be expected in the later, presumably more difficult parts of games. Sunshine however, takes a slightly different approach. Nearly all of the levels give you that great feeling of exploring the environment like a toddler in a sandbox, while most of the familiar platforming elements exist in these obstacle course segments found within certain "episodes" in each world. These platforming segments are undeniably the toughest part of the game, and yes, they are mandatory, so if you're playing an episode in a level that has the word "secret" in the title, BEWARE! The other new gameplay mechanic is the aforementioned water pack, which you'll use to squirt sludge, hover across gaps, rocket into the air, and blaze past obstacles. This feature was not as bad as so many reviewers made it out to be, and I thought it added to the gameplay a lot.
Music/Sound: I thought the music was pretty good, it gave the game the tropical feel that it tried to achieve. The other issue that people gripe about is that this is the only Mario game so far to have voice acted cutscenes. I didn't mind it actually, I wouldn't call it five star voice acting, but it's a Mario game, it's not meant to be taken seriously.
Graphics: I don't think the graphics are as horrendous as most people claimed, this isn't call of duty, it's Mario,it's meant to have a cartoony look. That being said, I do think the graphics could've used a lot more polish, we saw graphically what the gamecube was capable of in it's launch titles, Luigi's Mansion and Super Smash Bros: Melee, and this game didn't meet the expectations that those games founded.
Bad: The graphics weren't that great, and while I did enjoy the gameplay, I found the dreaded obstacle courses I talked about to be down right ruthless. Difficulty is a good thing, but it needs to be balanced, if a game is too easy, it becomes predictably boring, and if a game is too hard it becomes too predictably annoying. Both of these factors can break a game and Sunshine was teetering towards the latter.
Good: Despite what I said about the obstacle courses, if you ca grin and bear them, the game is very fun.
Conclusion: I really liked this game, what were once painful ordeals for me back when I first played the obstacle courses as a kid and had to hand the controller to my dad to do them for me because I couldn't take the frustration, are now fun memories for him and I. However, I don't know how my dad thought the obstacle courses to be fun, but that's just me. I strongly suggest you pick this game up if you can find it anywhere, and I give it an 8 out of 10.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/25/11, Updated 03/22/12
Game Release: Super Mario Sunshine (US, 08/25/02)
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