Review by general531

"Mario returns in another great adventure."

Most gamers know (or should know) that Mario is the savior of the once dead video game industry. Super Mario Brothers on the NES resurrected the industry from the great beyond and paved the way for the industry's growing future. He also starred in magnificent games that either innovated the series or the entire industry. Super Mario 64 paved the way for completely three-dimensional and free-roaming platformers. Since then, Mario has been absent from the sub-genre he established. Well, not any longer. Super Mario Sunshine is here and not only does it bring back the great platforming, it also puts an extra emphasis on it. Mario during some missions will have to jump from platforms that are very high from the ground. He will have to cling onto fencing over bottomless pits. Mario will even have to use his water pack to clean the teeth of a giant, underwater eel. Super Mario Sunshine's areas and missions greatly differ and so does the challenge.

The graphics are very colorful and very bright. Delfino Island (the overworld) is bustling with its citizens. The effects and animation have a cartoon-ish look and is smooth as silk. The camera can be controlled, so you should have little problems with orientation. The game isn't greatly detailed as far as textures are concerned, but I'll let that slide. The hit detection is 100% accurate. The bosses are large and have an intimidating look. Each area expresses its respective theme accurately. The backgrounds also have a lot of detail. In fact, you can see some of the areas from Delfino Island and the other areas as well. The day and night skies greatly affect the lighting of an area, especially in Pianta Village. Nintendo put their special Mario touch into SMS and it shows. Great job, Nintendo.

Intuitive and responsive. What else would you expect from a Mario game? Or any game either developed or published by Nintendo in general? Mario controls smoothly thanks to the great animation. His maneuvers are easy to execute, but you should remember which button does which function, especially when climbing under fencing. What many of you are wondering right now is that how Mario's water gun, FLUDD, controls? FLUDD is easy to use and will take little time mastering. FLUDD can shoot water, hover Mario from platform to platform, shoot you upward, and propel you at fast speeds. You can press the Y button to put you into a first-person-like mode so you can precisely aim you super soaker. Mario's jump stunts, such as the triple-jump, the side-somersault, and the wall-kick are easy to perform. The camera control is a nice feature to add, especially since you use an analog stick to rotate your camera. Precision of the controls are an essence in 3-D platformers and Nintendo pulled it off perfectly.

Game Design:
Nintendo put a lot of depth into Super Mario Sunshine and it shows. There are a total of 120 shine sprites, seven areas with approximately 10 sprites each, five mini-bosses, and numerous side-quests. Mario will need to use his jumping skills and his water pack to find them all. FLUDD itself has three attachments: a hovering device, a rocket, and a jet propeller. Mario will need to defeat bosses, collect red coins in a time limit, and win races to collect all sprites.

Super Mario Sunshine operates like Super Mario 64. Mario will need to collect shine sprites, which will restore the power of shine to Delfino. Mario's tasks to fin all of the sprites will vary. The missions will have you collecting red coins, beating mini-bosses, visiting secret areas, and even riding Yoshi. Some of the missions repeat themselves in different areas, but each area differs rather excessively, so strategies will be different for the same task. Mario will also collect secret sprites in the overworld or in other secret areas. Some of the areas are well hidden, easily overlooked, and can be difficult to access. Blue coins can be traded in for shines. Ten blue coins are required for a shine. You do not need to collect all of the shine sprites to beat the game. In fact, you must beat the game before you can collect all of the sprites. Collecting all of the sprites is a monumental task and is very difficult to pull off.

The areas in Super Mario Sunshine differ greatly. Bianco Hills is a pasture area with a village, a lake, and a windmill. Ricco Harbor is an oil-drilling area with high catwalks. Pinna Park is an amusement park with its own dangers. Gelato Beach is a beach with some really challenging tasks, especially the sand bird mission. Sirena Beach has a hotel with an underground casino. Noki Bay is a bay with towering cliffs. Pianta Village is a village hovering over nothingness. Corona Mountain, where Bowser and his son reside, is a volcanic area filled with liquid rock. Each area has its own perils. A mission in Bianco has the lake dirty, which will drain your energy. You need to cross this river to reach a secret area. The oil in Ricco Harbor decreases your energy. Pinna Park has high-rise platforms. Gelato Beach is pretty much safe, but the sand bird mission is tough. Sirena Beach has a mission that requires you to clean up electrical goop. Noki Bay's tight ropes have electrical spikes. Missions in Pianta Village will take you under the village, which I call No Man's Land. Each area has a secret area or two. Some are easy, others are challenging. especially the Pianta Village secret.

Mario will encounter mini-bosses. They will take a form of baddies you have seen before, but they are huge. Gooper Blooper, King Boo, and Petty Piranha are just a few of them. Some of them you will encounter more than once. Shadow Mario shows up in each area and you will have to spray him. You will encounter new baddies, such as a koopa troopa with an electric shell.

There is not a lot of stuff in the power-up department The coins you collect will recover your energy. It should also be noted that the water life bar and the regular health bar are separate. You can not recover your energy just by diving in water. However, you finally get to control Yoshi in 3-D. You get a yoshi by bringing a desired fruit to the egg. However, the Yoshis belong to a species named Watermus Intoleratemus. That means when the Yoshis that you are riding make contact with water, they disappear. FLUDD has several other attachments. The default attachment, its hovering ability, will assist Mario in crossing distant gaps. It is only used for a limited time, however. The rocket attachment can jet Mario high in the air to reach high platforms or to access certain areas. The propeller blasts Mario at high speeds to burst through doors.

Some of Mario's tasks require him to do a task in a certain amount of time. If he fails, he loses a life. This adds challenge. Speaking of which, the AI is not difficult, but it roll over and play dead. Enemies and bosses are smart and will recognize Mario and attack him. Nintendo did a great job on the game design and should be commended.

The soundtrack in Super Mario Sunshine is mixed. Each location has its own music and is fitting for the environment. You will recognize older Mario tunes as well. Even the bongo effect while riding Yoshi returns from Super Mario World. The effects are in tune with the action and doesn't over-emphasize what you are doing. The voicing is okay, but there is little in the way of spoken lines. It's mainly limited to screams, gasps, and grunts. The audio is great overall.

The game starts when Mario and Princess Peach take a vacation trip to Delfino Island. When they land, they find out that the land has been vandalized. Mario is blamed by the citizens of Delfino and is ordered to community service by cleaning up the island and restoring the shine. The culprit is a shadow form of Mario. Mario must clean the island and expose the real culprit to prove his innocence and leave the isle.

I must admit that I took a pass on this game because of its story. I didn't like the idea of Mario running around with an advanced super-soaker cleaning up goop. The idea, I thought, was a little ridiculous and a bad use of a video game icon. Nevertheless I played the game and I enjoyed it. The graphics are excellent and well-rendered, The animation is smooth. The controls are great. The use of the water pack is a breeze to master. The gameplay is deep and will keep you playing for weeks. The levels vary greatly and the missions are more challenging than Super Mario 64. Super Mario Sunshine is so good that I didn't mind the concept. In fact,I enjoyed it. This is a must-have for any Mario fan. Look past the story and concept and just play it. You will have fun.

Score: 9 out of 10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/09/07

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