"Mario is back, and he's looking better than ever"

Mario: he is a true classic among the gaming world, he has come to symbolize everything this industry is and few can compare to his accomplishments. Since his early days as a no-name character trying to rescue his girlfriend from an evil ape, Mario has had leaps and bounds through his evolution to what he is today. With the success of the original Super Mario Bros. For the NES, (currently the best selling game in history) he cemented his role in guiding Nintendo to fame and success. He has appeared in scores of titles over his 20-year history, with Super Mario World & Super Mario 64 being the two other huge multi-million dollar successes that proved why he is ''the man''. His success has also created the Mario universe, incorporating other characters such as Luigi, Wario, Yoshi and Donkey Kong...all of which has their own games and provide supporting roles in Mario's endeavours. With the launch of the GameCube, Nintendo pulled an odd move by not releasing a Mario title for launch and instead providing a Luigi game, (good news for Luigi, who has always been in Mario's shadow throughout his history). While Luigi's Mansion got mixed reviews, Nintendo kept promising that Mario would get his own title for the GameCube and that it would come soon. Less than a year after the launch of the GameCube, it arrives: the result is Super Mario Sunshine, an oddly named title that tries to put a new spin on Mario's 3D adventures.

While flying to Delfino Island with Peach for a summer vacation, (and considering he spent almost 20-years saving Peach over-and-over again: he needs the rest) when their plane crashes on the runway. The source of the crash was a giant blob of ''dirt'' that is blocking the runway. Mario spots a water-backpack named FLUDD that he uses to wash away the giant blob of dirt and save Peach. But Delphino police quickly arrests him, apparently there is an impostor roaming around Delfino who looks like Mario and is spreading graffiti and dirt all over Delphino. Mario is tried, prosecuting and sentenced to clean up all the dirt and find the Shine spirits; the Shines provide light to Delphino and repeal the dirt. Mario finds himself also trying to track down his impostor and stop him. Oh yes, and to rescue Peach again from said impostor, (does Mario ever get a break from this? I mean, the man's on vacation here).

Graphics 9.5/10

You really need to see the water in Super Mario Sunshine; it is unlike anything I have ever seen before. It's not a solid blue, but realistic clear water that reflects sunlight and has rolling tides that really exceed anything I've seen before. The environments also are mind-blowing as they provide a realistic island backdrop that really does impact the exploration experience of Mario. The only real hindrance is the slight blurriness I noticed during some stages, (yes, I'm aware it's probably nitpicking) but then of course it could be an effect the game is processing to give the illusion of heat as the sun reflects off the ground. The character models and environments are also very well done, bright and colourful with detail paid to little things like walls and rooftops. Excellent job down by the team from Nintendo, I see they really put some effort into the whole ''tropical Mario'' theme.

Sound 9/10

Tropical themes are abounding on Delphino Island, all of which sound distinctly ''Mario-like''. Island beats that resemble the Mario themes are well accepted as is really does impact the backdrop and fits the tropical theme very well. The sound effects are what have become known of Mario, he yells while jumping and grunts when hit...all of which are very Mario-like. One sound effect I didn't like was that little ''news update'' chime that plays when you are on Delphino, it just gets repetitive after a while and the news bits aren't of any importance, (mostly the game itself points out what the news bits say a few moments later). The voice acting, what little of it is in the game, is decent for a game like this as the only instance of it is during the introduction movie. Overall, the sounds of Super Mario Sunshine are fun to listen to and really do bring out the tropical atmosphere Nintendo was trying to produce.

Control 8.5/10

One big feature I noticed about Mario is that is concentrates more on jumping than Super Mario 64 did. You'll have to master side jumps, wall jumps and others to find those Shines and to complete objectives. Overall, this is quite fun and easy to do and makes the effort part of Super Mario Sunshine just that much more enjoyable. Now, I'm sure you saw this coming but I must bring the camera into this review due to it being the most important thing in any platformer. While it is adjustable via the C-Stick, it does get a bit aggravating when you're up in the air on a catwalk and are trying to navigate it and cannot get the camera in a decent position. Then there are these wind-like enemies that spin up and try to knock you off, these are especially annoying because the camera can never focus on them and you must rely on audio clues to avoid them. Thankfully, the FLUDD backpack becomes a lifesaver in these situations by allowing you to glide using it to make those difficult jumps. Now, you don't have it in those special stages you go to when getting a specific Shine, but I found it easier in those stages to jump than in the levels themselves. Being a platformer, control is important and Mario manages to control easily enough.

Gameplay 9/10

There appears to be a divided opinion upon Super Mario Sunshine: there are those that love the fact that Sunshine is one solid platformer and then there are those that are unhappy that this isn't the second coming of Super Mario 64. I happen to be part of the former, I appreciate what is a very enjoyable Mario game that provided much replay, but to assume a Super Mario 64 I find a little excessive. So what if SMS is a little bit lower on the ''classic'' scale than Super Mario 64 was? Does that really make it that much worse of a game? With that out of the way I can assure you that this title does not disappoint with its gameplay.

One thing that does carry over from Super Mario 64 is the collection aspect of a platformer. Instead of collecting Stars in this game, you must collect Shines to restore sunshine to Delfino Island. One thing that should be noticed above all else is Mario's backpack, while cleaning up graffiti remains distanced behind the Shine collecting game it does come into play VERY often. The levels of which the Shine collecting takes place are very interactive and you'll have to jump or complete interesting objectives to reach that faraway Shine. In order to collect some Shines, however, you must be transported to a separate level that contains platforms and obstacles that you must navigate via jumps, this is similar to some of Super Mario 64's missions: the key part being that you don't have your FLUDD for these so that really ups the challenge a notch. The Blue Coin missions I felt could been done without, or better yet Nintendo could have made an option where you could keep track of the Blue Coins you already collected since it's easy to lose track. That's really the only problem I had with the gameplay, aside from minor camera problems Super Mario Sunshine is a true golden title that really does represent the amazing abilities of the GameCube.

One thing that I would have liked in Super Mario Sunshine is more levels; there are only 7 levels in Super Mario Sunshine while Super Mario 64 had over twice that. The levels though are well designed, creative and fit the island theme however. There's the sunny village, the harbour, the beach and all of which are really colourful and beautiful. Simply put: Super Mario Sunshine is hands down one of the greatest titles currently available for the Nintendo GameCube.

Final Score: 9.0/10
Rounded Score: 9.0/10

Bottom Line

While it may not be the truly revolutionary Mario title that has been longed for, Super Mario Sunshine still provides a very enjoyable platforming experience that puts others to shame. I highly recommend this to anyone with a GameCube, this is the title that will make one proud to own one and will provide weeks of gameplay and enjoyment. It's great to see Mario again in full 3D platforming glory, regardless of what the expectations were. I'm not going to lie to anyone, I wish to see a new revolutionary Mario game as much as the next guy: but as long as Nintendo just pumps out quality titles like this then I'm happy either way. If the next Mario title is as good as this one: I simply cannot contain my excitement.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/13/03


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