Super Mario Sunshine Review
August 26, 2002
-Jovan St. Lawrence
Super Mario Sunshine. A very well received but controversial title during the peak of the Gamecube era. What many were hoping to be the spiritual and more improved successor to the perfection that was Super Mario 64, ended up really dividing the main Mario-loving audiences. Now that 10 years have past, we look back today and the majority mostly say that it was an under-appreciated masterpiece. I suppose I could say that I’m one of those people. Although, I did have several issues with the overall game but we’ll get to that in a little while.
Super Mario Sunshine takes place on the tropical resort of Isle Delfino, which is shaped like a dolphin (probably because that was the Gamecube’s original title before it was the Gamecube) and consists of 10 primary locations. The Piantas and the Nokis are the two different races that inhabit Isle Delfino and all the levels have either all Piantas, all Nokis, or both. Delfino Plaza is the game’s main hub and largest city on Isle Delfino. So Mario is taking a vacation from saving Peach for the past 15 years at the time of this game’s release to Isle Delfino. However, when they get there, they find that the entire airstrip is covered in sludge and graffiti. As a result of this pollution, sun-shaped objects simply known as “Shine Sprites”, the island’s source of main power, have all disappeared. The culprit who is seen spreading the graffiti is disguised as Mario, who is named “Shadow Mario”. Mario finds FLUDD, a powerful water cannon, that is toted like a backpack, and that sounds like a robotic 5-year old boy with a head cold. After we clean up the airstrip, Mario is arrested, falsely accused of vandalizing the island, put on trial without the opportunity to present a defense, and ordered to clean up the graffiti and recover the Shine Sprites. Fast forward a little bit, Shadow Mario reveals himself to be Bowser Jr., the son of Bowser, and kidnaps Peach, so on top of cleaning up an entire island, you also have to rescue Peach… again. WORST VACATION EVER.
Mario Sunshine’s level structure is basically consistent in the sense that you as the player are spending quite a bit of time trying to get from point A to B across these large open levels. What separates this game from Mario 64, and maybe even the Mario Galaxy games, is that in Sunshine, you can get from A to B in multiple ways. The levels are surprisingly non-linear to a certain extent which in my opinion, is not a bad thing at all. Using Mario’s ninja skills in combination with your robot backpack really makes for exciting traveling in these beautiful looking levels. Although Mario Sunshine takes platforming to a whole new level with the use of FLUDD, I do prefer the straight forward approach that the non-backpack levels bring. They’re short but sweet little chunks of great level design that give us those sweet Super Mario 64 memories.
Mario Sunshine is definitely not the most polished Gamecube game however. Mario can be very finicky to control more times than he should be, especially when you’re racing across water with the stupid squids. He can sometimes move a bit too fast for his own good, almost like I’m playing a 2D Sonic game. Mario’s unexpected, and at times uncontrollable movements can make you underestimate jumps or slide down platforms. The camera can be unforgiving at times as well, more so during boss battles, the time when you don’t want a camera to hate you. Then there is the blue coins. I hate the blue coin collecting in this game more than life itself. If you find 10 of these blue devils, you get a Shine Sprite. However, you soon realize that in order to get 100% in the game itself, you have to acquire every blue coin in the game. That means, you have to get every blue coin in all 10 levels and every mission in the 10 levels. Indeed, getting everything in Mario Sunshine would make you a god among mere mortals and I commend anyone who has.
For the most part, this really is an amazing game, originality really sprouts forth throughout and it is quite difficult as well to complete. This game also really left quite a legacy. Mario Sunshine marked the first appearance for characters such as Bowser Jr. and Toadsworth whom we later see in various Mario games such as Mario Party & Mario Kart. It is also the first 3D Mario platformer to include Mario ride Yoshi and have it change colors. This feature reappeared in Super Mario Galaxy 2. Super Mario Sunshine has brilliant visuals, excellent and appropriate music, clever puzzle solving, and funny cinematic cutscenes. It is worth the play time of any fan of the Mario franchise.
- Brilliant level design
- Great visuals
- Unforgettable soundtrack
- Non-linear platforming raises the overall experience
- Interactive hub world
- Unforgiving controls
- Bad camera view
- Repetitive boss battles
Super Mario Sunshine was a very polarizing game. Were you a fan or were you one of the people against it?