Review by Reloaded
"The game that defines fun"
Mario has always been hailed as one of the best franchises, and Super Mario Sunshine fits right in. If not the best Mario game, Mario Sunshine is certainly one of the best adventure games of all-time. The running and jumping gameplay from past Mario's, mixed with a water pack that adds new levels of fun and innovation, becomes the best Mario game to date, and certainly the most fun game I've played in a long time.
The graphics aren't prefect, but they're good enough. The textures are average, but everything else is what you'd expect from a next generation Mario game. The water effects are amazing, especially in the hub(Dolphin Town) and in some later levels such as Mare Bay. The levels themselves are huge and full with detail. The reflections from the water are done just right. And the animations are perfect too. I just wish there was more variety in the levels. Yes it supposed to take place on a tropical island, and Nintendo did a great job of pulling this off without making the game feel repetitive, however, you can't ignore the fact that there just isn't the same variety and it is a bit disappointing.
The sound is great because it helps the game keep it's Mario feel. From the classic ''blink'' noise you here when Nintendo's logo pops up on the start up screen(Mario World-style), to the classic tunes being remixed and Yoshi's drum-beat that plays while you ride him. While the music isn't nearly as good as Mario 64's, it still is good enough that it doesn't damper the overall Mario experience. There's also voice acting in this game very few cut scenes. It's the usual dialogue from past Mario games, and the voice acting is virtually the same. It has a ''friendly'' sound, but it fits the Mario setting perfectly.
Yea, you usually don't play platform games for the story, but since Mario Sunshine has one that is a little different from past Mario games, I thought I'd talk about it. Overall, it's what you'd expect from a Mario game. It's very simple, but there are a few twists in the story that are kind of cool. Mario goes on vacation after the events of Mario 64. When he gets to the island, Mario finds out he has been framed by someone that looks like him. Who is this imposter? Why is he framing Mario? All is to be answered in the game. Overall, it's a good story for this type of game, but I got a little disappointed at the end (I won't spoil anything).
This is where the game really shines(pun intended). The best part about Mario games is that they are fun. Even though the majority of each game is just running from point A to point B, the games still retain a certain fun factor that's hard to explain. Like previous Mario games, Mario Sunshine does get difficult, especially towards the end(and in this game it gets harder towards the beginning), but as hard as the game may become, you rarely get frustrated. This type of game doesn't come around too often. I lost 20 lives in one of the void levels (classic Mario type levels where your water pack is taken away from you) and didn't at all get frustrated. Sure, I kept regaining lives, there was a 1-up mushroom at the start of the level, but that's why the game remains fun. It lets you try to complete early levels over and over so when you get to later levels, the game isn't as hard, or at least you can figure things out better. This kind of balance of difficulty is rare in todays games, and it's a great part of the game. The controls for the game are simple as well. A is used to jump, B is used to slide while running, the C stick is used to control the camera, the X button switches between the water gun and whichever secondary function you have selected for the water pack(there are three secondary functions - hover pack, rocket jump pack, and speed boost pack), Y is used to look around, R is to used to spray water or to use your hover pack/rocket jump/speed boost(which ever one is equipped using X), and L is used to center the camera behind Mario. There are also many button combinations, such as the butt stomp (L+A), or the back flip(hold R +A), etc. Yoshi controls very similar to Mario expect B is used for Yoshi's tongue. Using his tongue, you can eat enemies, fruits to re-supply juice, and many other functions. To spray juice, which is more effective than Mario's water, press the R button. The camera is also greatly improved from Mario 64, and is one of the best cameras I've seen used in a 3-d platform game. After 70+ hours of gameplay, I've only died once or twice because of the camera. Controlling the camera using the C-Stick is much more natural and better than controlling the camera in Mario 64 using the Nintendo 64 controller's C-Buttons. You'll find yourself moving the camera as much as you move Mario, even though most of the time you won't need to. It just becomes second nature after a few hours, and this is a huge plus compared to other games camera controls that I usually find my self wrestling with. And as you might have noticed, Mario has new device on his back, a device that is crucial to Mario Sunshine's gameplay, and a device that will be copied in most all platform games to come in the future. Mario's water pack expands on the gameplay, adding an entire new level of exploration. Using different power-ups, you can reach parts of levels later on with the rocket jump that you just couldn't have done before when all you had was a hover pack. Or you can get into houses and towers by speed boosting through doors that were otherwise un-accessible. Nintendo has really improved on bringing regular power ups used in 2-d side scrolling platform games into 3-d without having to sacrifice exploration. This shows in the massive size of each level, especially later levels such as Monte Village or Mare Bay. While yes, there are only seven levels in Mario Sunshine, they are much bigger than the ones seen in Mario 64 and other 3-D platform games, and getting shines is much harder and more fun then getting stars. Also, the shine goals are nowhere near as repetitive as Mario 64's, and there is one or two extra levels(what people refer to as ''void levels'') within each area. Overall, the game is much bigger than Mario 64, and will last a long time.
There are 120 shines to get in Mario Sunshine. That might not seem like a lot considering there were the same number of stars in Mario 64, however, a lot of the shines are much harder to get than the starts in Mario 64. Some shines are even harder to get than levels exits in Mario World. You can easily get the first 70-80 shines pretty easily (I have 87), but after that, it gets much harder. In order to get the last 40-50 shines, you are going to have to get 240 blue coins. These blue coins can be just as hard to get as shines themselves, and there are twice as many to collect. Getting them can be as simple as defeating a common enemy such as a Pokey, or as hard as wall jumping to a top of a level and then dropping off ledges into small holes in the wall while trying to beat out the clock. Half the difficulty in finding blue coins is actually finding them. Still, trying to get some are easy, while some are hard and can only be acquired on certain stories (each level has eight stories). And once you beat the game and collect all 120 shines, you'll most likely want to do it all over again, because that's what Mario games are all about. Trying to see how fast you can do everything a second time through, doing things in a certain order the next time through, etc. Mario is all about fun. And this game is full of it.
While Mario Sunshine might not be as revolutionary as Mario 64, or as violent as Grand Theft Auto, or as story driven as Final Fantasy, or as graphically jaw-dropping as Resident Evil, there is one thing that makes Mario Sunshine stand above the rest, it's simply amazingly fun, and isn't that what games are all about?
Gameplay and Replay are most important to a Mario game, and the gameplay in Super Mario Sunshine is near perfect(no game is completely perfect, not even the best game of all-time), and the replay factor is huge. I honestly haven't had this much fun playing a game since Super Mario World back on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1992. This game should be owned by anyone that has a Game cube or plays video games period.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/29/02, Updated 07/29/02
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