Review by eggy182
"Decent game, but lack of variety prevents it from standing out"
Super Mario Sunshine is the latest in a long line of platform games starring Nintendo’s main mascot, Mario. The series was started in 1985 with Super Mario Bros. for the NES. Through the years Mario has used many devices to fly through the air. In Super Mario Bros. 3 he had a raccoon tail, in Super Mario World he had a cape, and in Super Mario 64 he used a hat. Super Mario Sunshine introduces us to FLUDD, a water cannon backpack that Mario can use to hover for short periods of time, as well as to squirt his enemies and clean up the slop he finds on Isle Delfino.
Super Mario Sunshine is an adventure game. I wouldn’t exactly call it a platformer, since there’s actually very little platform jumping involved. The majority of the game has Mario exploring vast levels, cleaning up graffiti, defeating bosses, and collecting coins and Shine Sprites.
The game’s overworld is Delfino Plaza. This is the main city on Isle Delfino, and it’s where you’ll end up after you die or beat a level. From Delfino Plaza, you can warp to any of the 8 main levels, or you can search the city for blue coins or Shine Sprites.
This game is mostly about exploration. Some of the 8 levels are very big (Bianco Hills, Noki Bay), and some aren’t so big (Sirena Beach, Pianta Village). But they all hold their own special secrets.
Each level has 8 stages, and beating each stage will net you a Shine Sprite. There’s a total of 120 of Shine Sprites in the game. Some stages require you to beat a boss, and some make you find a hidden item. But the best stages are the “special” stages. These involve warping off to an obstacle course, and you must complete the course without the help of FLUDD to grab the Shine Sprite waiting at the end. The obstacle courses are the best part of the game. They require creativity and skill, but are neither too easy nor too hard.
Hidden in each level are a number of blue coins. These blue coins may be traded in at the Raccoon Shop in Delfino Plaza for Shine Sprites. If you want to get all 120 Shines, you’ll need to find all 240 blue coins. Some of the coins are easily found, and others require you to search much harder. Finding each blue coin can become tedious, so you may want the help of a game guide.
The main element that differentiates Sunshine from Super Mario 64 is FLUDD. FLUDD is a backpack water pack that Mario carries around with him at all times. It is instrumental in completing most of your tasks on Isle Delfino. There are different nozzles you can pick up which change FLUDD’s uses. The squirt nozzle is standard, and enables you to squirt water while running or lets you aim while standing still. The hover nozzle enables Mario to float in the air for a short time, and is useful if you’re about to miss a critical jump. The rocket nozzle propels Mario hundreds of feet up in the air, and the turbo nozzle enables Mario to run extremely fast. Each nozzle has its different uses, but most of the time you’ll use the squirt and hover nozzles. If FLUDD ever runs out of water, you can stand in any body of water (which are numerous and easy to find) and hold the squirt button to refill.
My main gripe with Super Mario Sunshine is the lack of variety in the levels. Each level (except for the final one) has the exact same tropical theme. Although they each differ in content (Bianco Hills is a wide open area with lots of trees, Ricco Harbor is mostly water with cages and scaffolding to climb on, Pinna Park is an amusement park, Sirena Beach includes a 3 story hotel, and Noki Bay is a large cliff overlooking the ocean), they all contain the same basic elements: water, bright colors, and palm trees. It becomes boring seeing the same environment throughout the entire game.
The story is very basic. Use FLUDD to clean up graffiti and sludge, defeat Shadow Mario, and defeat Bowser. There’s one certain line (no spoilers) that could have led to a more interesting story, but it isn’t dwelled upon.
The graphics in Super Mario Sunshine, for the most part, are fairly average. The draw distance is very far, average poly counts, but textures aren’t too detailed. The best part of the graphical package is the water. It looks phenomenal. The GameCube’s ability to apply 8 textures to an object simultaneously is used to full effect, and it looks great. Sunshine also supports progressive scan mode, just like all other 1st and 2nd party GameCube games.
The sound is nothing special. Voice acting isn’t very good at all, and Mario himself never says anything besides a few grunts or the occasional “hoo hoo!”. The sound effects aren’t ear catching, but they do the job. The music is comprised of tropical beats and remixes of traditional Mario songs. Super Mario Sunshine supports Dolby Pro Logic II for those of you with setups that support it.
The game takes anywhere between five and 20 hours to complete, without grabbing most of the secrets. To gain access to the final boss, you need to beat the first 7 stages in each level.
It’ll take you much longer to find every single secret. There’s secret Shines, Shines for grabbing 100 coins, and 20-30 blue coins per level. There’s also blue coins and Shine Sprites hidden in Delfino Plaza. It could take up to 50 hours to find everything the game has to offer.
There’s a decent amount of replayability. The game never really ends. Once you’ve defeated Bowser, you can keep playing to collect whatever you may have missed. Even once you’ve gotten all 120 Shines, you can still keep playing the game, as some of the stages are fun to play through multiple times.
The game would make a good purchase for anybody who likes adventure games, especially platformers or collecting. For everybody else, it’s at least good enough to warrant a rental.
Final Score: 6 out of 10.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 12/22/02, Updated 12/22/02
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