Review by andymancan1

"It's-a 'nother Mario game! Wahoo!"

PROS: Amazing presentation; intuitive control; innovative gameplay for the franchise, yet still manages classic feel; good AI; fun; somewhat new story

CONS: A couple missions are frustratingly difficult; why did Peach get captured again?

Its-a ‘nother Mario game! Wahoo!

I can't do an Italian accent, but I can control an Italian plumber vacationing on Isle Delfino. You see, Mario, Peach, and several Toads took Peach's private jet to the Pacific-inspired Isle Delfino for a vacation, hence the name of this game being Super Mario Sunshine. Of course, knowing that trouble follows them, someone got wind of their trip plans and sabotaged the vacation. A dark spirit known as Shadow Mario has been using a “magic brush” to paint graffiti and cause pollution all over the island during the several weeks before their arrival, and has not been caught. In the process of vandalizing public property, he scared these god-like bodies called “shines” all over the island. When Mario arrived on the island, the local po-po thought that he was the dark spirit, and arrested him. They proceeded to try him for high crimes, found him guilty, and sentenced him to death. OK, I lied. They sentenced him to clean up the entire island and find the shines for something that he did not do. Quite frustrated because they didn't lock Mario in the clink, Shadow Mario soon kidnaps Princess Peach and Mario must perform his janitor duties while trying to save his girlfriend and the shines. This story is new in some ways, but it always seems that Peach isn't able to whack foes with her parasol or something. She's as defenseless as that fly that just landed on the wall. WHACK! It's dead. I just wish that they'd change it up more than once… Super Princess Peach wasn't enough to wet my appetite. Maybe they could do a Mario-Luigi-Peach-Yoshi team adventure next? Wait, no, they're doing another platformer where Mario saves the princess again, only with control using the Wiimote.

Speaking of control, this game controls wonderfully well. In order to help him clean up the island, Mario befriends a robotic water-shooter named FLUDD. She was developed at E. Gadd Laboratories, which the same nutcase scientist from Luigi's Mansion heads, and has kind of a mouth herself. You can equip different nozzles to her to have different abilities. The default nozzle simply aims and shoots water at foes. The alternate nozzle allows you to fly, sort of. Water power lets you traverse long gaps. There are also two other nozzles which you can occasionally pick up and use. Finding them is easy- they always put them where you need them. These are the Rocket Nozzle and the Dash Nozzle. They both do what their name implies. The Rocket Nozzle builds up power and launches you high into the sky. It's very necessary to make use of this at specific points in the game. What's a real powerful attack is to rocket up and Ground-Pound while in midair. The Dash nozzle allows you to run at high speed, but control is obviously difficult, at first. It's not as bad as it could've been, and the nozzle is actually handy at times. You can even run on water with it. They're not tacked on for their coolness. The rest of Mario's moves are easily executed. Wall-jumping is hard to master early on, but it's smooth enough to get the hang of after a few attempts. The rest of the jumping moves (done by pressing A and moving the control stick), combined with FLUDD's abilities, are all simplistic and intuitive. The core of any platformer is done essentially well here- you can execute almost any necessary maneuver when you need to. You main attacks are FLUDD's water turret and the ground pound. Both will present few problems involving control. When you press Y, you can switch to a first-person view which you can shoot water with R. The Ground Pound is done by pressing R in midair- the higher you are, the more force you get as you approach the ground. Grabbing and chucking foes (and items) is made easy with the B button. The only issue that may be of notice is the limited water tank, which can easily be refilled by pressing R while swimming in any water source in the game. The game makes it easy by putting sprinklers where necessary, so you shouldn't have many issues with it. If you did, it would take a lot away from the core of the game. Make sure you keep an eye on that lower right-hand corner, especially during battles. Plan strategy around necessary refills and you'll come out victorious, no matter how hard your opponent may be.

The missions here are mostly excellent. There are several that are so much fun that you'll want to play them again. The boss battles are especially well-done. You'll face off with a gigantic robot and shoot aqua-powered missiles (using FLUDD's water turret) at it while riding a theme park roller coaster. You'll have a massive battle with paper stingrays trying to invade a hotel. You'll face off with a gigantic man-eating plant known as Petey Piranha. You'll fight toxic-coated plant demons. You'll also have to bring down Shadow Mario himself (itself?) several times. Each world has a battle with Shadow Mario, and all you have to do is catch up to the speedy devil and squirt him with enough water to make him surrender a shine to you. It's a bit repetitive, but each of the worlds is so different that it's a different experience every time. You'll visit a hillside town, a shipyard, a tourist-trap beach, and a volcano in addition to the theme park and hotel. All of these are done appropriate- the hotel even has a casino. Each area has several intuitive platform features exclusive to it. You'll have to climb towers, roll watermelons, and the like to find shines. In addition, there are several “secrets” scattered throughout the game. These are hidden in caves, and usually involve jumping on rotating platforms and running in different directions. Each is unique and fun. Some of them involve collecting red coins, as some of the main world objectives do. The red coins can be difficult to find.

Notice I said that the missions are mostly excellent. There are a few stinkers here. A few of them are so difficult that it's easier to get through an episode of Digimon. There are only a few, and most of them aren't required to beat the game. Others are confusing (the opening video to each mission sometimes doesn't provided enough to go on), a couple are boring, and others are a bit short. But overall, there aren't too many stinkers, and several missions are worth playing again.

Sunshine doesn't have the “powerups” like the previous games. Mario has a health bar like in Mario 64. There are no mushrooms to make him Godzilla-sized or flowers to make him spit fireballs. Yoshis are rare, but they do appear in this game. Mario when riding on Yoshi isn't easy to control, and he's not waterproof. It's good to have his presence, and even though it's limited, it's enough to make the Mario fans happy. It adds some challenge and, of course, adds the presence of one of the most loveable Nintendo characters, which is a huge plus.

One new thing here is that there is some dialogue. Yes, you heard that right. FLUDD can talk. Peach says a few things. Even the bad guys talk. Does Mario? Not much more than the usual celebrations for getting a shine, “WAHOO!”s while doing acrobatics, or taunting baddies. Most of the island people, who look very strange, however, can only be understood through on-screen text. Most conversations go this way, but the ones in cutscenes are very well-done and entertaining. Fans of the Mario franchise will understand them slightly better than non-fans, but they're still easy to comprehend. That, and the voice acting is pretty good, as are the sound effects. You can hear yourself jumping off a wall, kicking things (they even sound different on different textures), running, and the like. Also, the music is wonderful. Classic Mario tunes are integrated with island-style music, and it fits perfectly with the game. The secret areas usually have remixed classic tunes, and those are entertaining to listen to. Overall, the sound isn't a letdown here.

The graphics are also really good. Nintendo didn't miss any details, and there are only a couple of virtually unnoticeable glitches present here. The expanse to explore is huge- with seven worlds with eight shines each (plus the climactic volcano). The graphics are obviously an achievement that Nintendo can brag about. I give them an A-plus.

The forecast for Super Mario Sunshine is mostly sunny with no chance of rain. Nintendo did a great job developing everything her, but they could've changed the story up a bit more… Peach always seems to get herself in a bad situation. The difficult levels will present a bit of a problem at times, but they are beatable, and not enough to take this game down. This game is fun, involving, and likely the best platformer for Nintendo's purple lunchbox. If you have one of those, you likely already have this game or have beaten it to death already. If you didn't for some reason, go out and buy it today- it's that good, especially for only $20. It's not exactly perfect, but it still deserves to be on your shelf. I give Super Mario Sunshine 9 water splotches out of 10.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/26/06

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