"This is what Mario games are all about"

INTRO

Gamecube launched with Luigi’s Mansion. Huge amounts of people were upset with the short-lived romp. But now, a light shines through the gloom. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… a plumber? That’s right, it’s Mario, and he’s back in his newest and greatest adventure, Super Mario Sunshine.

One of the big things to consider before even looking at this game is if you are a Mario-type gamer. Because this game is through and through a Mario platform. Game play-wise, it presents very few surprises. You still hop and bop your way through tricky puzzles, huge levels, and delightful boss battles. Everything you’d expect from Mr. Miyamoto… But wait. What is that on Mario’s back? Not a vacuum cleaner, for the love of God!

Actually, it is FLUDD aka Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device aka a water pistol. The FLUDD does it all. Soaks sludge-loving baddies. Allows you to hover in the air. Lets you fly on the surface of the water. Shoots you high, high into the air. You name it. FLUDD was, while a risky venture, an utter success. The game, which otherwise plays very similarly to Mario 64, is changed in ways you wouldn’t believe thanks to the talking Super Soaker. But thankfully, not so much as to ruin the traditional game play and excellent game expected from a Mario title. Now, here we go.

THE STORY – 9/10

The story starts off unlike almost every other Mario game before it. That’s right, Peach is not captured! Hey, maybe this might have a decent story after all!

Mario, Peach, Toadsworth, and a whole bunch of Toads are on a plane headed for Isle Delphino, a gorgeous tropical island shaped like a large dolphin. But when the plane tries to land, it suddenly skids to a halt. Why you ask? The runway is covered in an orange-yellow goo (which is strangely in the shape of Mario’s face). Mario, after inspecting the surrounding areas, meets FLUDD, the Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device. After the FLUDD acquaints Mario with itself (Yes, the little bugger talks. Very amusing indeed.) Mario is off to clean up that sludge.

But even that isn’t good enough! Mario, after doing all the dirty work, is arrested by the local inhabitants, called Piantas, and taken to a goofy court scene. There it becomes evident that Mario has been accused of glopping up the entire island. What the Piantas do not realize is that a shadowy and mysterious figure resembling Mario has been doing the damage. He is sentenced to clean up “his mess” and until he does, he may not leave the island! And so Mario’s quest to clear his name and clean the island begin.

As Mario progresses through his adventure he collects Shine Sprites, the Super Mario Sunshine equivalent of stars. It seems that when the island started getting covered in sludge, the Shine Sprites, which are the islands magical source of energy, scattered. Now the island is covered in a thick blanket of darkness. By collecting Shine Sprites, light will slowly return to the island and the energy will come along with it.

So it’s up to Mario to save Isle Delphino and clear his name! With FLUDD at his side, Mario is certainly up to the task. The question is… are you?

GAMEPLAY – 10/10

Two words: platform perfection.

Much like its brethren, Mario 64, the game revolves around collection of elusive tokens. This time it’s Shine Sprites instead of stars. Shine Sprites are received in a few ways:

1. Completing the a story in a stage (Each stage has eight stories and each story has at least one Shine)
2. Collecting blue coins (Get ten of these hard-to-find things and you can trade them for a Shine at a certain shop…)
3. Finding them in the Plaza area at Isle Delphino

And other ways, too. In other words: there is variety and a whole lot of it. As Shines are collected, new areas open up in pre-determined order. This gives the stages some order, but there is nothing stopping the gamer from going to stages out of order or skipping around. You have freedom to do as you please for the most part. The only exception is that certain areas require items or upgrades not found until later on. In other words, you will not defeat all eight stories in a level before progressing to the next. You will have to go back when you have earned more Shines, items, upgrades, etc. This keeps the game fresh and exciting as new challenges in new areas are always popping up as you play.

Large “M’s” painted in greenish color mark the entrances to stages. Nope, you aren’t jumping into paintings this time. Well… you are, sorta. But not like before. The portals will appear in plain sight only when you achieve certain tasks. Unlike in Mario 64 where you needed stars to open doors. When you approach the M, Mario will dematerialize into tiny little orbs and teleport through the M into the stage. Man, he never gets a break, does he?

Overall, the game play is much like Mario 64 but generally more challenging and more engaging. Well thought out and never dull. Super Mario Sunshine’s difficulty is the kind of difficult where you’ll go insane over some challenge but then want to succeed even more. Then, you’ll figure out what you were doing wrong and you’ll be on your way. Never does the game play become irritating or tiresome.

CONTROL and CAMERA – 9/10

There is no way you’ll collect all those Shines unless you can get the moves down! But how are the moves? Any good? Here’s my bit.

Sunshine introduces a heaping helping of new moves that will help you through your quest. Sliding head first, spin jumping and more are added to the near complete repertoire of Mario 64 (The Long Jump is gone). But more importantly, and the key to your success, is FLUDD.

FLUDD can do many neat things, as I have mentioned, but does any of that matter if you can’t control it? Not really. However, FLUDD’s controls are precise and reliable and even more important: simple and easy to pick up. Sunshine gives you plenty of opportunities to test your skills with the device before putting you in a soak or die situation.

Also, FLUDD can be used in many ways. Four ways, to be exact. The controls to each mode are a surprising mix of uniqueness and usefulness. None of the four methods of using the FLUDD seem to be a stretch or are not useful. You will find that to complete your adventure, you will have to master the gadget, which is no easy task. Yes, I did say it’s easy to learn. But to master is another thing. And that is when you know a game has excellent controls: easy to pick up, hard to master. Mario’s huge array of maneuvers certainly fits this description.

Now, the camera also plays an integral part of your quest. And let me tell you, I hated the camera in Mario 64. Despised it. Cursed it many, many times. This game, however, gives you control. And what could be better? It still moves a bit on its own but never enough to get in the way. For the most part, you move it where you want it. Mario 64’s camera would turn in terrible ways and your control was very limited. I’d often find myself wanting a certain angle and only getting that retched buzzing noise indicating the camera could be swiveled no more. Sunshine gives the camera 360 degrees of maneuverability at your fingertips. You can also zoom in and out at a whim.

Nintendo, thank you. I will never trust my camera to a cloud flying turtle ever again.

GRAPHICS – 10/10

Sweet mercy. Where do I start? When I first looked at screenshots of this game, I was utterly unimpressed. They looked ragged and shoddy, especially for this generation of system. But let me tell you, the screenshots you may find on the web or in magazines are horribly misleading. Sunshine has the best graphics on GCN yet. Bosses are stunningly rendered. Stages are amazing. The scenery, background, characters and all are jaw dropping. As you walk, footprints are left behind. When you stand in a puddle of water, your wavering reflection slows and dissolves with the evaporating water. Heat is displayed magnificently through subtle “heat waves” that distort things far away like in real life. But that’s not what earned this a ten. Oh no. It is the water effects that made this a ten.

The water in this game is, simply, the best in any game on any console I have ever played. It moves and splashes and trickles and sprays like real water. As Mario swims, you can see the smallest ripples of water expanding away from him in gentle curves. The waves crash on the shore of the beaches with stunning realism, even capturing the thin films of it returning to the seas after creeping slowly up shore. This game puts Wave Race: Blue Storm to shame.

SOUND – 9/10

The music played is classic Mario. Games nowadays that try to capture the bouncy tunes of a Mario game often fall flat on their face trying, ending up with annoying music that gets inside your head and leeches at your sanity. But thank God; Nintendo still knows a good beat when they hear it. The music always plays with the mood of the setting, which is key. This way, it doesn’t ever “get in the way” of the experience. Often, you will find yourself humming along with both re-mixed old school tunes, such as the classic Mario theme, and newer ones that match up to any Mario standard.

Sound effects are good as always, and what makes me happy is that they aren’t used over as much. Remember in Mario 64 hearing King Bob-Ombs voice when you gave Big Boo of Boo’s Mansion a smack? I, personally, was disappointed. This game does it better. Not perfect, but better. It lost a point for the bad voice acting, particularly Peach, who sounds like she just graduated from Kindergarten. Mario also has few vocals but the few he does have are good, especially upon losing a life. But I’ll let you hear it for yourself.

BUY OR RENT?

If you were a fan of Mario 64, buy it. Now. If you didn’t like Mario 64, definitely rent it. Super Mario Sunshine has enough in the way of new things to offer to make you a believer. If haven’t played either, give it a whirl. I can safely say you’ll enjoy it. I’m actually sure enough to say just buy it. I did. And I love it. It is worth the fifty bucks and then some.

OVERALL – 9/10

RECAP

Story – 9/10
Gameplay – 10/10
Control and Camera – 9/10
Graphics – 10/10
Sound – 9/10
Overall – 9/10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/29/02, Updated 08/29/02


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