Review by bowser194

Reviewed: 08/27/02 | Updated: 08/22/05

Seems to lose some of the magic from Super Mario 64, but still a great game.

Mario has had an enormous history. It started out with him simply saving the princess, but has now evolved into something completely different. Mario has been in parties, sports games, racing games, and more. One of these games was Super Mario 64, which is considered one of the greatest games of all time, meaning that Super Mario Sunshine, its sequel, would have to do everything and more if it wanted to be successful. This game does very well at attempting to match SM64. It is a game where the sun truly shines brightly, and it’s bound to entertain you for hours on end.

This is one of the areas where Super Mario Sunshine excels. The graphics are brilliant. The first thing that struck me was the water effects, which were extremely well done. It looks very realistic and I was taken by surprise when I saw this. Water that is shot at or hits surfaces looks as it should, and when Mario lands in a body of water, the small waves that shoot out around him are very well done. What will stand out the most, however, is the look of a body of water from a distance – the sun shining off of it and the water going smoothly up and down make it look perfect.

The character models are sharp and clear, making Mario, Peach, Toadsworth, and all the rest look very nice. One thing I noticed was how Mario would actually be covered in paint after landing in a pile of graffiti, or would be dripping with water after hopping out of the water, which was impressive to see that small details had been recognized. The stages are very well done, and the in-game videos that come up every now and then look just as good. This definitely deserves a 10/10.

Another great aspect of Super Mario Sunshine is the sound used in the game. The sound of water splashing or hitting a surface doesn’t sound much different than what you’d normally hear. When standing near a body of water, you can hear the sounds of the waves hitting the shore gently in the wind. Even when you’re swimming in water, the effects are very nice. Character speech only occurs every now and then, but is also well done, although after time, hearing Mario over and over may get repetitive.

The sound category really gets its 10 rating in the music played throughout the course of the game. The music adjusts to suit different areas of the game and fits perfectly. Every theme is great and you may even find yourself humming to the tune while playing the game. There are a couple of new themes, and also a few remixes, and many of them are catchy.

This game has been planned out in a way that will really surprise you while you play. The water pack that Mario carries around (FLUDD) is a major piece of this. You’ll find a lot of fun in shooting water around, cleaning the graffiti up, and so on. However, this does change the concept of the Mario games completely - it’s something that has never been seen before, and you may or may not be pleased with this. Regardless, this water tank is relatively easy to control, and you can perform different tasks with it, including a simple shot of water, hovering using two water pumps that fire down to the ground, allowing you to float through the air (for a limited time), or rocketing into the air with one big blow. There aren’t many limitations as to how you can use the tank, allowing you to be creative when attempting to get from Point A to Point B. The game is definitely challenging, too – I’ve spent a lot of time attempting to beat various stages without success, a small part being because of the camera (for a while, anyways). You will find yourself wanting to break or throw your controller at some points in the game that frustrate you to no end, but it’s all a part of the challenge, isn’t it? Another great touch to the game is Yoshi being brought in, and Mario can ride on his back again, and even have Yoshi eat fruit and spit out the juice at enemies.

Most of the stages are well planned out, but unfortunately, they seem to lose of the magic that was found in playing on the Super Mario 64 stages. This was expected, however. Not only that, but there are very few of them to be found, only about seven would be considered actual stages, although you could probably bump that number up to nine if you really wanted to. This disappointed me along with many other gamers. In these stages, there are eight tasks to complete, which will make things seem repetitive at times, so it’s best not to try and complete an entire stage at once, and instead spread yourself out. It would have been much better had there only been six tasks per stage and more stages.

Another problem that has come up is the poor camera controls. The camera is definitely not good – it will move into locations that make it impossible to see Mario, thus you won’t reach your destination without several attempts. This becomes even worse when high areas come into play, because the camera will zoom so far out that Mario becomes a little speck in the distance. Fortunately, you do get some control over the camera with the C-Stick, but when you’re spending too much time trying to see what you’re doing, you know there’s a problem.

My last complaint would probably be found in the search for Blue Coins. Throughout the various stages in the game, there are Blue Coins scattered everywhere. Your goal is to collect as many as you can, so that you can then exchange 10 of them for Shines. Not only is the task of finding them without any outside help frustrating beyond belief, but it also shows that there was a bit of laziness when this game was being developed. It isn’t fun to be running around in a hunt for coins that can be nearly impossible to find. If newer stages or different tasks had been added into the game, that would have been fine, but this Blue Coin hunt system is completely unnecessary and takes away from the fun of the game.

Despite all these disappointments, there’s still a very good gameplay to be found in Super Mario Sunshine.

The controls are great and easy to learn. You'll have them down pat in about 15 minutes. Maneuvering Mario is very simple. I've never lost a life because of not being able to control him (unless the problem is trying to move the camera into position, which I explained earlier). The button functions are also simple to remember, and you rarely have to press multiple buttons to do something, although when you do, you might have a bit of trouble with it. It's nowhere near as hard doing a wall jump as it was in Super Mario 64. The control is smooth and you can execute anything easily.

The story of the game is okay, but nothing too impressive. Mario goes on a flight to Delfino Island, and is set for a nice vacation. But when he arrives, he finds that a Mario impostor has drawn graffiti all over the island, and everybody blames him. Mario is arrested, and he must now clean up the entire island with FLUDD. He also goes out to clear his name and find out who the Mario impostor is. There are a few sub-quests along the way, such as where Peach gets kidnapped a couple of times, but for the most part you have your theme of the game right there. It’s original, but it could have been better.

Loading and saving is moderately quick. The game only takes up 7 blocks on your Memory Card, and when the game is saving data it only takes a few seconds. The game doesn't take long at all to load, either.

As with all games of this nature, once you’ve beaten it, there isn’t much to come back to for the next few months, where you might feel like picking up the game again and completing those few stages that you never did. Or you might beat the game and still want to continue to try and collect all the shines. Either way, there still is some gaming to be found once you’ve beaten Super Mario Sunshine.

Super Mario Sunshine overall is definitely a great game. Unfortunately, it seems to lose some of the magic that was found in playing Super Mario 64, and there are also some issues that might frustrate you (Blue coins, camera controls, lack of stages), but some of this was expected, so it doesn’t come as a complete disappointment. If you own a GameCube and you’re looking for something new to add to your collection, this is definitely a game that you should look into purchasing.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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