Review by Ninten81
"One Gamer's Opinion"
Ah, yes! Another Mario game. In gaming history, there are few trademarks that can get as much mileage as the likes of everyone's favorite portly plumber - turned martial artist. (Where did he get those moves anyway? I mean, everyone always new he could jump, but these gymnastics aren't paralleled in the Olympics!) This is a fun game, period. There's lots to love and very few distracting factors that would detract from it. Though, even this game is not without it's faults. Super Mario Sunshine has had to fill a legacy and a demand that may well not be attainable, even by the royal flush in Nintendo's pocket that is Shigeru Miyamato (Mario Bros, Zelda, Metroid etc. creator for those who aren't familiar with the name) There is also the point that the hardware is still relatively new these days, not to mention how young it was when this title was released. Unfortunately, this one does seem to fail at setting a new president. Mario 64 is mostly to blame for this demand that 'Sunshine be revolutionary in almost everyway. Mario 64 did set the industry standard for what a 3D platformer should be and past titles in the Mario library have also had profound effects on the way developers at Nintendo implement their in game physics. In Super Mario Sunshine, you're going to see an expansion of the physics and graphical schemes set forth on the Nintendo 64, but ground breaking may be a little too much fanfare for this one. However, Mario's been around a while, done many great things for entertainment and consol software. This is still a very good game and worthy of old fans and new alike.
Super Mario Sunshine is a veritable feast for the eyes. The tropical setting of Mario's most recent adventure gave the designers an environment full of potential that was fully exploited. Vibrant colors using the range of the available palette are abundant. The cartoonish cast of supporting characters lend an amusing air to the already outlandish theme. The water effects are to die for, supporting reflections and slick animations complete with particle effects for every droplet. Color schemes used for shading and promoting depth have evidently been improved since Super Mario 64. Not to mention the polygons meant to give rounded features do so wonderfully. The only complaint I have is with the camera control which is near perfect, except for the episode in Pinna Park where you have to defeat the Koopa who has made the Ferris wheel spin out of control. A feature programmed into the engine of this game which was designed to keep the camera from hanging on solid objects, the porthole effect/shadowed see through effect executed itself improperly. Portholes appeared when there was no need for them and the shadow effect is somewhat useless considering that it only supports Mario and the question marks representing various objects. Without shadowing platforms, this effect only serves to take up space as you'll never be able to direct Mario accurately in this mode. But, barring the Pinna Park episode, a simple readjustment of the camera angle is all that is needed to rectify the problem. My compliments to the artists behind this one, truly beautiful stuff.
The control in this game is tight. Just about all of Mario's acrobatics are easily executed; further credit for this can be given to the intuitive controls as good use of button-response placement was implemented thoughtfully. Depth perception proved to be slightly disgruntling because at certain camera angles and distances, it's difficult to tell whether you are jumping onto a platform, or beside it thus falling into a pit to your death. But this too can be remedied in most cases with a simple camera adjustment. All of the moves were helpful at some point in the game. Yoshi wasn't entirely too useful, which was sad as I'm a big Yoshi fan, but the novelty, at least, was satisfying.
Level Design: 7/10
My reasons for a lower score here had more to do with the conceptual portion of the levels rather than the implementation of the obstacles and scenery themselves. Indeed, I thought the levels were aptly challenging without becoming exceedingly frustrating. The secret stages were tough, but I suspect they were supposed to be. The red coin and 100 coin challenges were cop-outs as far as I'm concerned. I'd had enough of that stuff by Mario 64. This brings us to the real problem. The level designs didn't offer much in the way of original content that didn't detract from ''the Mario factor''. The Mario factor is that special something that has always made the Mario games unique to themselves. (I.E. mushrooms, goombas, fire flowers, breakable bricks which did return in limited quantity for this game, though not practically implemented, para koopas) I understand that Nintendo and Shigeru Miyamato are presented with the difficult task of taking one of their oldest trade marks, keeping it's unique qualities while giving the gaming community something that is not just a rehash. Unfortunately a lot of this game feels like that is just what happened, and it was because those ''classic'' elements were not implemented creatively. Rather they felt thrown in just because. The original content was alright, but lacked that Mario factor appeal that us old school gamers know and love. Take, for instance, the lack of classic enemies. What, I ask you, is a Mario game without koopas? Well, there are mecha-koopas, but there is still the void left when Nintendo decided we've had enough of throwing those red and green shells around. Where are the goombas? The goomba stomp is why Mario's a good jumper to begin with. Without that original jumping prowess, it would be completely unbelievable to see these newer aerial flips he performs at will. There are newer enemies that seem to be duplicates of some classic foes, however they tend to appear more as cheap replacements for old tricks that aren't yet too old to be fun. The facts are that some formulas are timeless and don't need to be tinkered with to the extent that Mario sunshine was. Ever since Super Mario World on the SNES, I've wanted to break bricks and shoot some fireballs at Bowser. Ever since Mario 64, I've wanted to have that goomba stomp where you jump on 'em and it propels you higher into the air so that you can get to another and successively wipe out a goomba army with one jump. How about kicking a shell; no need to surf it, just launch it at the nearest Bowser minion to wipe that smirk off it's face. Ladies and gentlemen, can we get a hammer brother now and then? This has yet to happen.
Nothing much to say here. The music was cartoony but appropriate. The voices were silly but Mario games don't exactly rely on cinema quality voice acting to convey their stories which are limited intentionally. Sound effects were fun amalgamations of pops, boings, and ''wa-hoos!'' with some classic effects like the warp pipe noise. All of these were done well without any noticeable glitch or unwanted pops. There is a certain charm to the original Mario Brothers theme song in the ''secret'' levels. It has been redone with synthesized male and female ''voices'' singing in acapella fashion. Also, when you are engaged in chases with the main villain or in a sub section of Delfino, the music from world 1-2 of Super Mario Bros.,(You know, the blue brick levels that were underground which usually contained a sweet warp zone or two) plays in a remastered form. A little dose of retro fun for your ears was not an expense that was spared. Okay, so maybe there was a little to say here...
Super Mario Sunshine is hard. Not that there is extreme difficulty in completing level objectives as much as the shear quantity of what has to be done to complete the game with the 'ol 100%. Something to the effect of 120 Shines, a mess of blue coins, two red coin challenges per level...what's a plumber to do? This game is sure to keep even Mario experts searching and plugging away at that difficult landing or reaching that shine way up there in the clouds with no noticeable platforms to aid. The challenge also lends a hand to giving this game a good replay value. Considering the volume of things to do, it's unlikely that you're going to find yourself being bored with the game. What helps this a lot is the fact that there are changes to the levels as you progress through each episode involving some basic layout modifications and scenic enhancements. Most levels also include sub sections that will be activated when the right episode has been reached. Once they are activated you might find yourself in a roller coaster or inside a building that was previously inaccessible. Maybe not even there to begin with! All of these changes add to the challenge in terms of orientation, giving you new ground to explore, and, in some cases, mini objectives to complete before you are finished with the main task of that particular episode.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/04/03
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