Review by Tidus9rules

"Super Mario's second attempt at a vacation goes all worng! Poor plumber!"

First off let me say that I’m a huge Mario fan. And as much as I couldn’t wait for it, when I finally got it, I hated Mario 64 when it came out. I didn't like the play control, (That horrible N64 controller!) the lack of levels, the fact that I had to keep going into the same stage to get stars, the &*^% camera (which is only slightly improved here) and the ambiguous level objectives. To me it raped Mario of all that he was before. I didn’t like the fact that we had to give up all the gorgeous graphic advancements video games had made in 2D for this Blocky looking game. (And why was he punching? Was this the result of the fighting game craze of the 90's?)But over time I grew to like the game. Mario always seems to be able to find a place in my heart.

Mario Sunshine takes the things I liked from Mario 64 and expands on them. Gone are the levels where you sit scratching your head for 3 hours going ‘what do you WANT from me?’ (Well there was that Yoshi’s fruit thing, but I’ll get to that later.) Gone is the inclusion of more then one, if not all the shines (Stars) in a stage at once. More emphasis has been put on achieving one set goal, going up one set path at a time. This makes the game feel more like a good cross between a 3D and 2D side scroller then the last one was. Mario Sunshine also has a lot of story to it. The characters around you talk about their environment during each stage. They give tips and history about what’s going on. This draws the player into the game a lot more then it sounds.

One of the things I really liked was the fact that I wasn’t dying every 5 seconds cause I was slipping into a hole due to bad play control. I got really sick of the floating island like levels in 64 fast. In that game, I craved for more levels that were not surrounded by a fatal drop. None of Sunshine's main levels suffer from this. (While the levels that pay homage to the original Mario Bros. do, balancing out the mix nicely.) These levels are no where near as frustrating as the ones found in Mario 64 because Mario no longer has butter on his feat. Mario no longer slides five feet when he stops, nor does he fall over when he touches a wall. Getting out of the water no longer takes ten mins either. Controls are fairly nice and tight. The only thing killing me was the camera.

The games music ranges from nothing special, to very catchy. I loved the fact that riding Yoshi adds more beats to the score, as it did in Super Mario World. Still most of the really good music is re-mixed versions of old tunes from the series. (Some even use the same instruments found in the Super Adventure Island score, but don't think this Sunshines score can compare to that games music!)

The game is not without it’s problems. For one thing there’s the fact that you can’t somehow adjust the options so you always start with a certain nozzle on. I don’t want to get into the amount of times I thought I had the hover nozzle on and didn’t and died. I also noticed that if you’re too quick and switch nozzles when the stage starts, before the picture of Flud appears, it will often switch back to the original mode.

Many stages suffer from the Camera having a mind of it’s own. The Pachinko machine is the worst example of this. So many times I fell needlessly because I couldn’t see where Mario was heading. If Nintendo was smart, they would have included a feature that allows you to at least change the angle while the game is paused. In the case of the Pachinko machine I think they should have left the camera fixed so you can see the entire play field at all times. Too often the camera will face you in a slant and not a straight line as well. This makes doing the nozzle-less levels a pain at times.

Then there’s Yoshi. I’ve always wonder if Nintendo was trying to make us hate the little guy slowly over time since Mario World? There, he was an almost indestructible stead for Mario and Luigi. Then they put him in a crayon land game where he turned into odd toy like shapes and baby sat a cry baby Mario. After that they put him in the beautiful, but short Yoshi’s Story. There the feel was extremely childish and ticked off many game players. (Luckily I was playing the game with kids, so I had my shield of an excuse, so to speak!) Not to leave out the fact that you could have become one of the video game insane if you got all 120 stars in Mario 64 in hopes of being able to ride Yoshi, only then to find out you were only able to race him. Still I manage to keep the faith and have for some reason always loved his games. (Guess I keep an open mind.)

Sunshine keeps up the tradition. I was so excited when I got the dino, then I found out he can’t go in water. (And in a game set in on an Island, this has to be the stupidest rule ever.) Not only that, but you have the pain of finding the right fruit to hatch him. Can’t they just have him incased in stone????? Yoshi is also featured in the games most annoying level; ‘Yoshi’s fruit Adventure’, the only level where I reached for a guide. There is no clue that you have to use the cheep cheeps to get across the ocean. For most players, hours will be spent kicking and getting that spiky fruit to hatch Yoshi as well. All this makes me feel like Yoshi’s inclusion in the game was more of an afterthought done at the last moment. A rarity in the design on any Mario game because things always feel and play like they've been well thought out and tested for some time.

The final problem is one of continually in the series. This is a major spoiler as well, but just what happened to the other Koopa Kids? We know they didn’t die in Mario World, cause they were in Yoshi’s Safari. So who’s this new kid? He looks just like baby Bowser. (Did they just rip this character modle out of the upcoming Mario Party 4, to save time and effort?) Nothing is given to the player to answer any questions the game itself asks. Which is a shame, cause I really want to see who’s making all these kids for the big guy and find out why Bower’s better half has never made an appearance. Don’t get me started on the voice acting. It only proves one thing, no matter how bad it is, as long as it’s a Mario game we’ll be playing till the cows come home anyway. They should have gotten the voice actors from the cartoon series. (Hey at least I can squirt the inhabitants and bang them around.)

All that aside Mario Sunshine is an excellent game with so much imagination, fun levels, odd enemies and neat tricks, you’ll be playing for years. The bosses are as good as any found in Yoshi’s Island. They’ll have you laughing and sweating as you duke it out. I found myself drawn into the game and never wanting to stop.

The worlds are huge and I have yet to see any pop up. You can see things from what seems like miles away. Items and goals are kept on a certain track, so you don’t feel you have to wander like you did in 64 too. Graphically sometimes the game characters look like something that kinda fell off of Dreamcast, other times, they look like the CG found in Antz, etc. The in game Mario looks better then the instruction booklet pictures at times!

Mario is the reason to buy a Gamecube, despite my minor gripes, it’s one of the best games Nintendo has produced in some time. Some have said it doesn’t add much to the genre, but it gives us exactly what the genre needs, another awesome adventure featuring the one of gamings most beloved characters. This game also proves that in the short time span of possibly a little over a year, this is what Nintendo can do. I wondered at first if they used ideas that were in place for Mario 64 2, which was rumored to be coming out for over a year after the release of the first game. There is of course, so much here that could never be done with the N64. Keep ‘em coming Nintendo, keep ‘em coming.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 09/03/02, Updated 09/09/02

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