Review by Archmonk Iga
"How can you make a better Mario game than Mario 64? Why, give him a hose, of course!"
I've made a terrible mistake. I bought a Wii and bought Mario Galaxy and Mario Sunshine at the same time. I did the unthinkable... I played Galaxy before Sunshine. What the HELL was I thinking?!
Mario and his friends decide to go on a little vacation to the Isle Delfino to take a break from all the hardships of the Mushroom Kingdom. Unfortunately, the vacation goes all awry the moment they arrive. A Mario look-alike is drawing goop-graffiti all over the place, and the island's residents are blaming the real Mario! On top of that, there's no sunlight to brighten up the beautiful getaway spot. So Mario takes the blame and therefore must fix his mistakes that aren't actually his. To do this he is given the F.L.U.D.D., a talking water-pack thingamajig, to clean up all the graffiti spread throughout Isle Delfino. In addition, he must collect as many of the "Starshines" as he can to bring sunlight back to the once-tropical paradise.
For a Mario game, you gotta admit the story is pretty intense. Thankfully it works out fairly well. The story segments don't last too long, which is good, so everything is implemented nicely.
As expected from a Mario game, the graphics are colorful and fluid. The water animations are as good as it gets for the Gamecube, and there's a LOT of water. Mario, Peach and all the other characters are a mix between cel-shaded and 3-D polygonal, at least from what I see. That being said, they look great--they are beautifully animated and really stand out. The environments are also spectacular, with something colorful and bubbly to admire at every turn. Since the sunlight actually plays a role in the game, it's interesting to see Delfino get brighter and brighter as you progress.
For all its beauty, however, there's no denying the occasionally shoddy framerate and graphical slowdown. Additionally, Mario at times seems to get absorbed into the walls or other obstacles in the different locations he goes to. Nevertheless, the game is quite a sight to behold.
The music in Sunshine is fantastic. Even though you hear the tropical Delfino Plaza music every time you play, it never gets old. In addition, there are tons of other new tunes to enjoy throughout the entire game. Thankfully, there are also plenty of old familiar tunes that have been tweaked a little bit (for the better, that is).
The sound effects are also great. Since you'll be hearing the F.L.U.D.D. a lot, it's good that Nintendo didn't go overboard with its splashing sounds. Other than that, the sound effects are just what you'd expect them to sound like in a Mario game.
The voice acting, however, may not be to everyone's liking. Some of you may love hearing Peach, Bowser Jr., etc. fully voice acted during the cutscenes. Others, though, may think it laughably bad. I suppose I fall somewhere in between. While the voices all fit, I would've been perfectly happy with hearing short voice overs and reading text. Thankfully, Mario's voice returns full force. His "yippees" and other lovable shouts are back and will never let you down.
As you may have heard or seen, Sunshine plays quite a bit different from the other Super Mario games. Since Mario's got his new toy, the levels are all designed for you to use it quite often. The platforming aspects from 64 are definitely back, but the F.L.U.D.D. adds a whole new dimension to the gameplay.
But before we get to that, let's go over the basics. Mario jumps, spins, jumps, runs, jumps, and jumps a whole lot. There are different types of platforms--the bouncy highwires, the steep hills, and other things that affect the way you progress through each level. You won't get very far, however, without the F.L.U.D.D.
This little guy is the core of Sunshine. There are different ways to use it. It can be a hose, used to spray enemies, clean up the walls of graffiti, and dispose of all that goopy stuff that's spread throughout Delfino. It can also be used as a sort of hover-pack. The F.L.U.D.D. will shoot out water from under Mario to make him float much more easily from point A to point B. There are a couple add-ons that you can get every now and then too, such as the rocket-pack or a sort of water-skiing add-on, but those don't come into play that much.
It's a good idea when you think about it, isn't it? I think so too. But aren't there a lot of other platformers out there that do the same exact thing, just in different ways? Spyro, for example, can glide, similarly to the hover-F.L.U.D.D. The hose is simply a new way to attack enemies, just like any other platform star's signature moves he/she uses to get past the baddies.
Thankfully, the boss fights are pretty fun. Whether you're riding a rollercoaster while trying to squirt a gigantic mechanical Bowser or filling up a giant piranha plant like a water balloon, the boss fights are challenging and entertaining.
I hate to say it though... there are more disappointments to be found in Sunshine. As platforming fans, it's safe to say that collecting junk in every level is tedious, right? Right. Mario has always allowed you to collect stuff (coins, stars, etc.), but Sunshine forces it upon you. There are countless "8 Red Coin" levels throughout this game, where you must simply find all eight of the red coins in the levels. The thing is, IT'S NOT FUN AT ALL. Looking desperately around you to find that final coin, only to give up and turn the damn machine off, is a common occurrence in Sunshine. And seriously, there are so many of these levels that it's just ridiculous. In addition, there are all the pain-in-the-ass Blue Coins, which are required to be found if you want to perfectly master this game. And don't even get me started on the 100 Gold Coins...
Oh, and it doesn't end there. Camera angles, right? Well, for all the graphical beauty of Sunshine, there sure is a lot of clutter. And with all that clutter, a lot of it gets in my way when I'm trying to control Mario. You won't be able to count the amount of times you completely lose sight of Mario because some railing or wall decides it wants to take the spotlight. This, obviously, results in a lot of lost life and lives. How could Nintendo have been so lackluster in this department? I honestly find it unbelievable.
Not quite as bad as the questionable camera is the control. Mario is not Luigi, Nintendo. That being said, why the hell does he slide around so much more than necessary? I can't tell you how many times I've fallen to my death because I landed safely on a platform, only to watch Mario slide forward just enough to let that abyss take him into the darkness. Another sign that Nintendo may have gotten a little lazy.
Nevertheless, the level designs, other than the Red Coin levels, are extremely clever and fun. The vibrant environments seem to literally invite you into them, not intimidating you, but rather welcoming you to the game's latest challenge. Sure, there are control and camera flaws, but the levels themselves are what save this score from being complete crap. Mario's pretty ****ing sweet as usual, too. And you can ride Yoshi. So yeah.
I almost gave up on this game because of the collecting. You know what you get for finding all 120 Starshines? Without spoiling anything, you don't get much. So getting all 120 is not worth your time unless you're a perfectionist.
You see, I feel like Nintendo gave you all these ridiculous collecting missions to take away the responsibility of actually making clever levels. Appreciate the ones you've got, but they may not even be worth it if you've got to pass the Red Coin levels to get to them. What I'm saying is this: the game is only as long as it is because of all the tedious collecting. A pain in the ass. And once you're completely done, your desire to return to the levels just might not be there like it was in Mario 64. A bit of a shame, really.
LASTING APPEAL: 6/10
The F.L.U.D.D. is a unique idea that really changes the way we see and play as Mario. Does unique mean good, though? I'll let you decide that. It looks and sounds pretty, but a lot of the time it sure don't play pretty. If only Nintendo had touched Sunshine up just a little bit, then we'd be a lot happier. But they didn't. So we're not.
Thanks for reading =)
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 07/15/08
Game Release: Super Mario Sunshine (US, 08/25/02)
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