Review by KI Simpson

"You cannot comprehend how great this game is without playing it."

Wow. Unbelievable. Incredible. O_O. No word/emoticon can express the magic in Mario Sunshine. No, it doesn't hit you the second you pick up the controller like Mario 64 did, being the first game that really felt 3D. But this game has magic that's even more important. This magic is hard to describe (hence the word magic) but the closest I can come to summing it up is some kind of element in the gameplay that makes you want to play. I know, you're currently researching how to nominate this review for a Pulitzer due to that incredible description, but that's really what it is. Keep in mind throughout the rest of this review that that magic, addictive quality is in this game at every turn. I'm about to go into more conventional, tangible description of the game, but remember that there is always a magic you won't know until you've played for about half an hour.

You know who Mario is, right? If not, please leave GameFAQs. Just for completion, I'll mention that Mario is Nintendo's over 20 year old mascot who stars in platform games, in addition to many side games (Mario Kart, Mario Party, Mario RPG). The last ''true'' Mario game (a platformer) was released with N64 in 1996, Super Mario 64. Six years later, its GCN sequel has finally arrived. As you can probably guess from the first paragraph, I think it was worth the wait.

After saving Princess Peach of the Mushroom Kingdom dozens of times, Mario, Peach, and some of her subjects (Mushroom creatures called Toads) decide to go to Delphinic Island (Trivia bit: Delphinic Island is shaped like a Dolphin, undoubtedly a reference to GCN's development name, Dolphin) to let their guard down, err, relax. Upon arriving there, they find a mysterious gooey substance everywhere, polluting the island. Mario finds FLUDD (a water shooting vacuum like device) who tells Mario to use him to clean up the island. Mario cleans up a pile of goo, but is then arrested. It seems that someone resembling Mario has been polluting the island. The pollution has caused the nation's power source, Shine Sprites (the solution to the world's energy problems) to scatter, no longer powering the island. Mario is sentenced to clean up the island, and things progress from there.

Graphics: 9/10
Colorful and bright. Many people have bashed the graphics, but I don't see what they're talking about. The tropical settings are well detailed, and the water effects are amazing (water actually reflects what's above it, instead of the usual eternal blue found in video games). The character models are detailed, and the goo stands out, giving you the feeling that it really is unnatural to the world.

Sound: 10/10
Long time Mario fans will weep with nostalgia. Tropical remixes of all your favorite Mario tunes. Even if you don't remember the music, you'll love it. The sound effects are as good as can be, and there's voice, of mediocre quality.

Gameplay: 10/10
Imagine Mario 64. For the few out there who didn't play it, Mario 64 had you roaming around a castle, finding entrances to levels and collecting stars. Mario Sunshine follows this formula (only now you're finding shines) but adds unique features all its own. The main new feature is the FLUDD, a water pack you wear for most of the game. You can use it to shoot water and hover, and more if you find upgrades. This makes puzzle solving and battling much more interesting. The clean up theme is really of secondary nature, sludge is really just an obstacle to make the levels more challenging. Speaking of challenge, this game presents quite a formidable one. Even early in the game, you have to work for your shines. But the fast paced, clear objectives of each level (no aimless wandering here!) keep you interested. You never leave the game feeling ''I'm stuck, I don't know where to go'' and delaying playing it again because of that. You leave the game excited about completing the mission you're on, looking forward to playing again. Getting all 120 shines will require determination, but even coin gathering manages to seem fast paced and enjoyable. Another thing old-school Mario fans will be excited about is the return of 2D Mario gameplay mechanics. Most importantly, YOSHI! The lovable dinosaur is back in fully ridable form. Other nostalgic obstacles (chain link fences you can switch sides on) will make Mario fans feel right at home, even far away from Mushroom Kingdom.

Graphics: 9/10
Sound: 10/10
Gameplay: 10/10
Overall (not an average): 10/10

Everything you've played on GCN so far is a warm up. This game is why you own a GCN (or should immediately buy one if you don't). Just get this game. Even if my review doesn't make it sound like it's perfect for you, once you give it a chance you'll be hooked. I have to go play more of this amazing game now, I hope you will play it to.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/27/02, Updated 08/27/02

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