Review by Duo MaxweII

"Very nice, but maybe it should've been named Super Mario Rushed-shine."

Finally, Nintendo had released another Mario game, after a long wait. On average, is it as good as other pieces of Mario gamery? That's all up to opinion. While not the best, leaving the impression of being a rushed game, it will still please and I would consider picking up this game if you're any kind of Mario fan.

Story: Well, what's the deal with the story? In short, don't be expecting an immersive tale of tragedy, hope, despair, and love. However, although the story won't make you break out into emotional fits, a story need not be deep for any type of platforming game. Basically, an evil Mario look-alike has polluted the Isle with graffiti, and the powers that be have ordered Mario, mistaking him for the true offender, to clean up the place with his newly acquired water cannon, FLUDD. Although the story is exceedingly simple, it fits the criteria for any Mario game. Even with its severely uncomplicated nature, it does have a couple of nice plot twists thrown in the mess somewhere, which you can't help but smile to. Watch out, though; there are some disappointments concerning the story, also, most notably near the end. Don't try expecting too much plot-wise out of this game, because you won't get enough dynamic story to satisfy you. As long as you come prepared for a simple Mario-style plot, I think you won't be too let down. Even so, many of the inconsistencies near the conclusion will almost certainly give a rushed feel to this game. So, while it isn't exactly moving, I'll rate this section while thinking of its story as one of a platforming game; which, as you probably know, aren't meant to be very complex. 7/10

Graphics: Some people consider this category to be the most important in a game. However, I don't. Even so, the graphics here will stand out with their own brilliant style. They aren't very amazing, yet they are quite pleasing to the eye. First of all, the water textures are astounding. While most of the graphics aren't very high resolution, the water, whether calm, wild, moving or still will dazzle you every step of the way. Simply incredible, it looks better than 98% of the games on the market. And since, of course, water plays a very major role in this game, you'll be glad that what you see a lot of looks so nice. What is really impressive about it are the reflections, which mimic the surrounding environment to perfection. Of course, it distorts, changes, etc. if you start to splash around in it, which is very nice. So; the water looks great, but how about the rest of the graphics? While none can touch the beauty of the water, they are also pleasing most of the time. Without causing much slowdown, they form clear, terrific 3D images of towns, buildings, rolling hills, amusement parks, beaches, bays, and everything in between.

The graphics have their own style to them, as do all Mario games. The creates for a nice effect, but not without a price. Here, you can see the first hints of how badly this game was probably rushed for its completion date. Now, while all of this is part of the game's style, I feel they could've spent more time and put more effort into this to make it look even better. I'm talking about the incredibly low res textures that you'll encounter periodically throughout the course of the game. Most textures of this latest Mario installment do not look like this, but all too often you'll come across a wall with a very simple texture pattern that's usually a bit blurry or possesses a very 2D feel about it. Not only are they not pleasing to see, but some of them can be downright ugly. It almost seems as if the producers were trying to take too many graphical shortcuts for these textures just to pump this game out into the market in time. Apart from the textures, there are one or two other small graphical qualms that subtract from the look of the game. However, these other quirks are definitely rectified by another feature of this look: Draw Distance.

Yes, the draw distance, like the water, is so amazing, that it'll wrap you up into this tropical world. You can literally see a coin from all the way across a stage, as well as all of it's surroundings; it's that good. This feature makes up for the the problems of this category indefinitely. So, with their own style, and a couple of easily looked past problems, the graphics deserve a lot of merit, and suit the tropical nature of this game rather nicely. Just be sure to watch out for that fickle camera, which can sometimes be a slight pain. Graphics receive a 9/10.

Gameplay: I consider the gameplay aspect of any game to be the most important of all categories, as do many. The game ''shines'' in most areas here, but falls short in a couple. The most important thing is the fun-factor, and that's where you'll be pleasantly surprised. To put it briefly, this game is FUN to play. You'll be joyful while playing through most areas of this game. The levels are great to go through, and the bosses are a joy to fight. What's even better are the secret levels, which provide more fun, take more skill, and give more thrills than you can shake a mushroom at; they are, simply, awesome to play, and provide a good sense of accomplishment after you finish some of the tougher ones. Yet, alas, the fun has drawbacks, too. Some of the shines, most notably the blue coin ones, are just so frustratingly tedious to obtain that the fun, while you're attempting them, drops very quickly. Fortunately, you usually don't need those particular ones to complete the game(although sometimes you do). Even with the occasional tedious, more-frustrating-than-fun shines, you'll have a blast while playing through the depths.

Another important aspect of gameplay is the control. This is, hands down, the best area of the entire game. Control is tight, responsive, and amazingly fun to use. Mario has many moves at his disposal, and all of them can be pulled of at a moment's notice. You'll be surprised at how quick and easily you learn and down-pack the controls, and how simple they are to use in any situation. That just about wraps it up for gameplay(I hope I didn't forget much). Anyway, this game is a joy almost all the time. Couple that with the fast, intuitive control, which is some of the most responsive around, and you have a formula for fun. Unfortunately, the sometimes frustrating shines to get keep the gameplay score from being a 10. So, they get 9/10

Audio: This category was quite a let-down for me. The music almost always fits the situation easily, and it sincerely compliments the tropical island theme of the game. However, there is one huge factor that ruined it for me: no rememberable tracks, save for maybe one or two. The music for your main connecting hub of the game, Delfino Plaza, is probably the only good track in the game, except maybe the boss battle theme. The others, while fitting, are quite mediocre. They won't excite, fill you with happiness, or even put you in the mood. You'll probably hardly notice the music at all in most places. And you'll remember......almost none of it except the Delfino Plaza tune, and maybe not even that. Wait; there's more. The bongo-beat tunes while your riding your multicolored pal, Yoshi not only overpower the normal music of the level, but become very annoying, very quickly. They sound cool at first, but soon you'll avoid riding Yoshi altogether except when the situation calls for it, just because of its sheer unpleasantness. This fact drags the score down even further.

How could the sound get even worse? Throw in the less than impressive sound effects(which aren't bad, either, by the way), plus the horrid voice acting, and you've got an all but satisfying audio experience which isn't impressive enough to get above a 6. So.....6/10

Replay Value: Now that we've got this far, how's the replay value. Actually, it's neither good nor bad. Especially if you complete it fully, you won't want to play this game again right away. However, you'll almost certainly want to play through it again at a later date, as you'll be aching for that tropical getaway Mario adventure again. Even though you'll probably go back to this game(although not right away)at least a couple more times in the future, don't expect nearly as much replay as many other Mario games, such as 64 and World. As such, it doesn't get a very high score. 7/10

Rent or Buy:? If you're a fan of Mario games, or platformers, then this game is a definite addition for your collection. If you're skeptical or aren't a biggie on these types of games, or Mario in general, then you might want to give it a rent first. However, I feel it is certainly worth the 50 dollars you'll pay for it. So, I'd recommend buying it and skipping the whole hassle of rental at all. All in all, you've got an above-average platforming game with a different than usual Mario feel to it. Unfortunately, it has some obvious problems with occasional low res graphics, mediocre replay value and below average sound which makes it seem very rushed and, overall, somewhat unpolished.

Final Score(not an average): 7/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 10/20/02, Updated 10/20/02

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