SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE (GameCube, 2002)
by Nintendo EAD
Super Mario Sunshine is the follow-up to the hit Nintendo 64 game, Super Mario 64. Needless to say, this
GameCube game had a lot to live up for, as Mario's first foray into the 3D realm was critically acclaimed and
broke new ground on several levels.
In Super Mario Sunshine, we see Mario and Peach going to take a vacation on Delfino Island, and before you
know it Peach gets kidnapped, this time by Baby Bowser, in his first introduction into the Mario mythos. Mario's
left on the island to rescue Peach, but before he can triple jump his way to her rescue, he has to deal with the
consequences of a Doppleganger Mario, running around and polluting the island, as well as stealing Shine
Sprites (this game's version of the stars from SM64). The story is pretty standard fare, and doesn't really ever
rise to anything interesting. The cutscenes are polished nicely, but you clearly don't go to a Mario game for the
story. Mario games are about gameplay, which is the game's biggest shortcoming.
You're introduced to a jetpack/water-nozzle/hose/whatever-the-game-calls-for machine, entitled FLUDD
(sidenote: FLUDD is apparently supposed to be a relatable character...the ending cinematic was the first time I
was aware I was supposed to care for it). The game does pretty well with the new mechanic, as the jetpack
comes in handy quite often, and the nozzle part is used quite frequently in several of the missions. Speaking
of missions, if you're expecting the variety of missions that SM64 had, you'll be sorely disappointed. Half of the
game's missions are composed of collecting red coins, chasing the evil Mario down while hosing him, and
often times cleaning the various locales. That's right, cleaning pollutants. It's an interesting gimmick the first time
you do it, but you'll have to wash, rinse, and repeat for each of the locations. And that right there is the
biggest problem of the game. It's very repetitive, as a lot of the missions don't really go out of their way to
stand out or be memorable. Even the different worlds themselves are pretty repetitive, as they are all a play on
beaches and tropical locales. (By the way, I get that that's the point, but it's boring and one expects more from
a Mario game) And most of the levels are so lacking in personality that they are completely forgettable.
Thinking back the only missions that made a lasting memory were the secret level missions and the boss
battles. Well, I should say the only positive ones that stick out. There's also the negative missions that will last
with me forever, such as cleaning an entire level (the Hotel level) in the span of 3 minutes, which is frustrating
and challenging to say the least. Then there's the penultimate level where you have to navigate a boat through
lava using the propulsion of your hose, which is needlessly difficult and tedious.
More frustration comes into play when you account for some missions requiring deadly precision jumps and
movements, when Mario is in fact controlled extremely loosely. It's the very definition of a bull in a china shop,
and it's mind-numbingly infuriating. There will be several lives lost due to over or under jumps, as well as some
wonky physics and even glitching. At one point in the game I glitched through the floor while running over it,
and fell to my death. There's also a huge problem with some of the mission structures, as you lose lives if you
don't accomplish a mission within a certain amount of time at points, as well as if you lose a race. Thinking
back to SM64, if you lost a race, you could just go elsewhere in the level and accomplish something else. The
mission structure is so linear in this game that it feels almost like a step backwards.
The camera in any 3D game is never perfect, and there are going to be problems, but I feel like I've had more of
an issue with the camera in Sunshine than any other 3D game in recent memory.
I could keep going on and on with my complaints, because ultimately, I didn't really have fun with this game.
There were moments of brilliance here and there, but overall it's extremely repetitive, boring, and forgettable.
What Super Mario Sunshine boils down to is equivalent to a step backwards for the franchise. I'm glad the
Mario team got back on track with Galaxy, as that game is brilliant and a step forward. Sunshine is ultimately a
blemish in the GameCube's library, and should be avoided. I think the only reason it got such favorable reviews
was because people didn't separate the thrill of playing a Mario game, with playing a completely uninvolving,
sub-par GameCube game. I guarantee you if the Mario brand wasn't applied to this game (kind of like a reverse
Doki Doki Panic situation), the reviews would have been significantly lowered, and you would've found copies
of Sunshine in the bargain bin relatively shortly after release. I simply can't recommend this title, as there are
two better Mario games out there, Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy. Go pick those up. Avoid this one.
RATING | SKIP IT
UmarifficCKzzle's Review Rating Scale
BETTER THAN SEX | This game is a shining star amongst the genre. It is the best of the best and is
representative of what other titles should aspire to.
FULL PRICE | This game is among the best of the genre, but due to some flaws it doesn't quite reach gaming
nirvana. You should still pick it up without haste.
BARGAIN BIN | This game is better than average, but with some serious flaws that could prevent replayability
or minimalize the amount of fun to be had. Definitely worth a look, and should be picked up at a discounted
RENTAL | This game is entirely decent, average, and mediocre. There are equal things good and bad with the
game. Worth a rental.
SKIP IT | This is a game that has more flaws than positive features. It's not recommended, even for a rental,
and is an example of what the industry should steer away from.
F#@! YOU! | This game is the lowest of the lows, and is so vulgar in it's shoddiness that gamers should be