Review by !.ACA.!

Reviewed: 08/30/02 | Updated: 12/16/02

A … Nintendo finally delivers what it’s always been known for: stunning graphics and addictive gameplay.

Nintendo finally delivers what it’s always been known for: stunning graphics and addictive gameplay.

Few gaming icons are even half as recognized as Mario. And no gaming icon has produced more quality games over the years. So when a new Mario game comes out, it should come as no surprise that there is a good deal of hype surrounding that game.

With all the hype, it’s hard to live up to what people expect. If you are expecting the same shock the world received with Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, or Super Mario 64, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. Super Mario Sunshine isn’t groundbreaking or breathtaking, but it is a solid adventure game that no GameCube owner should be without.

Super Mario Sunshine begins with a plane trip to an exotic island, with fun, sun, and plenty of water. Upon landing, Mario, Peach, and the usual entourage of toads exit the plane and prepare for their vacation. Hey, Mario deserved it. How many times has he saved the Princess?

Things go wrong, right from the start. Mario is framed for crimes he didn’t commit, and he’s ordered to perform community service as penance. Who would frame Mario, anyway? It’s not like he has any enemies, right? Well on this particular adventure, Mario is framed by a clone who takes on a mercury-type shape shifting appearance, much like T-1000 from Terminator 2. This clone looks incredible, from a graphical standpoint, but he hardly looks like Mario. Mario doesn’t look like a giant reflective mirror, does he? How could anyone mix Mario up with a sparkling clone?

Apparently the legal system is not the only problem on this island, though, because the entire island is filled with your typical brain-dead adventure characters. The dialog is absolutely horrendous, but it’s not as bad as the voice acting. Super Mario Sunshine has some horrible voice acting, when you can actually hear it.

So let’s get into game’s first problem, the sound. You can never quite hear what the characters are saying, mainly because the music is exponentially louder. In the case of Super Mario Sunshine, though, that could be a good thing. The voice acting is terrible. Peach talks in a broken form of speech, Mario just makes his typical Italian “noises”, and the toads and other characters all make some kind of squeal or goofy laugh. It goes more than being lighthearted—it’s downright annoying.

The music isn’t on par with the other Mario games, or any other game for that matter. There are quite a few nice tracks, which include some fancy remixes, but other than that, the music is nothing to be desired. The sound effects are decent, but they are incredibly overused at times.

Away from your ears and onto your eyes, Super Mario Sunshine is quite a sight to see. It is easily the GameCube’s most impressive title visually, mostly because there is just so much going on without problems and glitches.

Each level is filled with interactive scenery, an incredible number of moving objects, and the best water effects ever seen on a video game. Graphically, it’s just amazing that the levels are so nice to look at, and so large. The textures could use some work, but the water (which is truly astounding) and other great effects clearly overshadow the small graphic problems. Super Mario Sunshine is visually stunning.

Throughout these huge levels, you’ll be controlling a new and improved Mario. Gone are the punches and kicks; they’ve been replaced by jetpacks and jetpack add-ons. With these new tools, you can hover around or shoot water at your enemies. Apparently Mario has some incredible strength, too, because he jumps and leaps higher than ever, despite carrying a backpack of water that would weigh any normal person down.

Mario’s goals include finding red coins, killing (and re-killing, as you’ll see) bosses, locating certain items, or trying his hand some old-school platforming action.

Wait, what’s that about old-school?

Throughout each level, Mario will “accidentally” have his new jetpack stolen by the same fiend who framed him in the first place. Without his new jetpack, you’ll be forced to complete an obstacle course using only the old-school Mario techniques, like walk kicks and triple jumps. A nice diversion, and a nice challenge, too.

Mario will work his way through a handful of unique worlds, scouring each world for hidden “shines”, exactly in the same manner as he did looking for stars in Super Mario 64.

Controlling Mario is essentially perfect. The camera might bug you in the beginning, but you’ll find it to be one of the best cameras in any video game, ever, once you get used to how it controls. The C-Stick will swing it around you, allowing you a nifty view of all the area around you, and the L Button centers the camera behind you.

Super Mario Sunshine is not your standard platform game. In addition to the new jetpack idea, Nintendo has thrown in a new underground travel innovation. They’ve also added a new graffiti system that fits nicely with the game. And finally, everyone’s favorite dinosaur makes his return to the world of Mario.

Yes, Yoshi’s back, but that’s not saying much. It’s fun to finally ride him around in 3D, but overall, he’s mostly useless. They’ve changed his powers, too, removing the ability to shoot eggs in exchange for the ability to turn enemies into solid platforms. Thankfully, Yoshi can still use his tongue, though. With that tongue you’ll be eating enemies and fruits. Different fruits can even change Yoshi’s color and powers.

The game is seen as “clean up the environment” from commercials and previews, and from the beginning, you might actually think that’s the case. An hour into the game, the entire “clean up that graffiti” act is practically gone, and you are back to good old Mario platforming fun. There are enough levels and challenges to leave even the average gamer coming back for more.

Super Mario Sunshine’s biggest achievement is its lack of gameplay flaws and its stunning graphics. Most adventure/platform games have glaring gameplay problems, but Super Mario Sunshine has none. Aside from some poor audio, there is nothing wrong with Mario Sunshine, and there is no reason that you shouldn’t own this game.

B … Presentation
The game’s dialog boxes could use major work. But Nintendo accurately conveys a feeling of a tropical vacation.

A + … Graphics
The levels are extensive, and water has never looked so good. A wonderful job.

C … Audio
The voice acting is terrible; few strong points in the music department. An average performance.

A + … Gameplay
Nintendo delivers again, and again.

B + … Value
For an adventure/platform game, Mario Sunshine packs quite a few quests.


Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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