Review by wareagle2k
"A fun though slightly disappointing game."
Anyone who's ever played a Mario game should be able to guess the plot. Peach gets kidnapped, nothing ground breaking there but the Mario series has never really needed a plot anyway and Nintendo certainly didn't try very hard here. Overall the story is no better or worse than you would expect.
This is a very standard platform game. Though fun it does tend to get a tad repetitive. The problem is mostly due to Mario's limited set of moves and the rather rigid FLUDD system. The coolest new move Mario can accomplish now is the wall jump much like Young Link in Super Smash Brothers Melee however it's a lot easier to pull off with Mario. The draw back of the wall jump is that it renders many of Mario's other jump as unnecessary, for instance the triple jump is not needed through out the entire game. This game is also very easy, the only real difficultly comes in that the camera likes to move while you are wall jumping or hovering and controlling both the camera and Mario at the same time is difficult to say the least. In fact much of the difficulty in Sunshine stems from the camera. It is safe to say that 90% of times I have died has been due to my inability to control both the camera and Mario simultaneously. It definitely takes some getting used to and only when I had reached the point where I had collected over 100 shines did I become comfortable with this arrangement. If you're not used to taking total control of the camera then prepare yourself for some aggravation. While the camera is possibly the most flawed aspect of the game the next big issue would have to be the FLUDD system. FLUDD is basically a backpack with a tank of water which depending on your current nozzle will squirt water in different ways. The biggest problem I have with this is that the system is so limited. FLUDD adds absolutely no strategy to the game and makes me wonder why they bothered. Perhaps it was something that sounded good in theory but in practice didn't quite work out so well. Your tank does have a limited water supply but since water is everywhere you'll never have to worry about conservation. And while there are a few different nozzle settings, there aren't enough to add anything to the game. However there are a few levels where you do not have access to FLUDD, they are throw back levels in a way to previous Mario's and were in my opinion the best parts of the game. Another problem with the game is the repetitiveness. Almost every task simply requires you to shoot water at something, whether it's finding a blue coin or shine or even fighting a boss you're always just shooting water at something. Also the tasks in each level are all eerily similar, every level has red coin hunt, a gold coin hunt, a secret stage, and a chase Shadow Mario stage. There is simply not enough variety in the tasks you need to accomplish. Probably the most baffling issue of all though is the enemy designs. Where are the Mushroom Goombas? Hammer Brothers? Lakitu? Shy Guys? Even Koopa Troopas are a rare sight. Instead the game is littered with these globs of sludge that slowly move towards Mario. The enemy designs couldn't be more irrelevant and unfortunately the enemies are not exactly aggressive either which adds to the overall ease of the game. Aren't Mario games about stomping on Goombas and kicking shells around? Unfortunately you won't find any of that here.
Much like in Mario 64, the controls are pretty tight. Mario moves very fluidly and most of the time is a joy to control. One step backwards however is attempting the triple jump which was easily accomplished in Mario 64 but is now not quite so easy pull off, on the plus side it's never really needed in this game. Also swimming around isn't much fun either, Mario is a very slow swimmer and turning around under water can be a frustrating experience. Controlling FLUDD is a simple enough task though you can't really control the water direction and move Mario at the same time. The biggest problems you will encounter in the controls is as I stated previously is in regards to the camera. Left alone the camera will get stuck behind walls and becomes particularly troubling when you are trying to jump or hover to a small area. You need to learn to do these things while controlling the camera yourself or as I said there'll be much aggravation involved.
The graphics are definitely a high point though not the best seen on the GameCube. Everything is clear and sharp though nothing will awe you. If there is a problem it comes in the level designs and the character designs. The local inhabitants are very bland creatures and the levels don't really vary much in style. But it is a tropical island here. Still the levels pretty much all look the same.
The music is nothing special. Each level's theme is fairly short leading towards a lot of repetitiveness. You'll get bored of it quickly. The sound effects are fine, again nothing special but appropriate.
Very few games have replay value and games that last 20+ hours don't really need any. That being said I feel no need to go back and play any particular scenes again but I don't feel this is a significant draw back either as there's plenty to do as it is. With 120 shines and over 200 blue coins to collect you should be quite busy for a good 20-30 hours your first time through.
Mario Sunshine is a good game, fun at times, frustrating at others but I don't feel it's a great game. You will not be blown off your feet as you were the first time you played Mario 64. Some may say the two shouldn't be compared but I feel it's appropriate because Sunshine is nothing new. It is not a game that feels like it was 6 years in the waiting. In many regards Sunshine is a let down from Mario 64. There are fewer than half as many worlds as in Mario 64 and the worlds in Sunshine are not much bigger if they even are any bigger. Also some of the controls and the camera are a slight down grade from Mario 64. So if you were expecting a game bigger and better you will be left disappointed.
Final Score- 8/10
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/17/02, Updated 10/17/02
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