Super Mario Sunshine Review

It has been six long years since the last original Mario game came out. It is refreshing, but to some disappointing, that Nintendo has duplicated much that was great about Mario 64 in Super Mario Sunshine. What is truly amazing is that it took Nintendo six years to bring out a successor to “the 3D platformer that started it all”. I was highly excited by this game even though I did not much care for Mario 64 because the leap from 2D to 3D was not the easiest thing for me. I was born without a left eye (I have a prosthesis) and have grown up only being able to see out of one eye. It took me a while to get used to 3D gaming, but I have gotten quite good at it in my opinion. The jump to 3D was most likely why I did not like Mario 64 as much as other people did. My wife pretty much swore off gaming when she saw Mario and Zelda in 3D. She just did not like the jump, however she has played a little Super Mario Sunshine here and there.

I must say that I am quite impressed by Super Mario Sunshine. The waterpack in and of itself makes this game better than Mario 64 in my opinion. I have no trouble jumping in 3D games now, but with the addition of the waterpack it makes jumping that much easier with the hover ability. The waterpack is easily the most innovative feature of this game. There are just places in the game you cannot get to by just doing the normal Mario jump. You have to learn to use your hover ability correctly to get to the next vertical plane in the game. The worlds in Super Mario Sunshine are not necessarily vast horizontally, but they are very vast vertically. You can see far and wide on the level, there is no fog or anything. In many ways this is a lot like Jak and Daxter for the Playstation 2. You have the ability to see the whole area you are in and you can see the other areas far off in the distance.

There is a bit of a learning curve associated with Super Mario Sunshine and all the moves contained within. After about an hour you should be able to pull off all of Mario’s moves or be pretty close to pulling them off whenever you want. It will take you far longer to learn how to control the camera. The camera is easily Super Mario Sunshine‘s weakest area. I want to come at this another way though. Shigeru Miyamoto and his team have created areas where you can see everywhere no matter where you are on the screen. In order for you to see everything you need to have a free floating camera that you can control. Miyamoto and his crew have given you the power to see everything much like they did in Super Mario 64. There are times that the camera is a hindrance while you are jumping. You may jump and the camera flips to an angle all its own that is not very advantageous for you. Lucky for us that most of the time there is no time limit and you are not necessarily in any hurry to finish the level. The camera can be zoomed in and pulled out by pushing up and down on the C-stick. You can also rotate the camera by pushing left and right on the same stick. Seems pretty easy, but it will take some time to learn how to control the camera. You also have the Y button that will zoom in over Mario’s shoulder. From here you can view wherever you want and it can also be used for precision water spraying when needed.

The graphics are not the best for the GameCube, but for how large the worlds are it is a wash. There are lots of colors in this game, more than any other Mario game I would say. This game certainly is not going to stand up to Resident Evil or Eternal Darkness in terms of graphics. Those games had less area to hold into memory at one time than Super Mario Sunshine does. The graphics have improved over Mario 64 though. The key to this game is its fun factor, that is the way it has always been with the Mario games. You may not get graphical benchmarks, but you sure are going to get a fun game to play. This game is just fun to play and that makes it better than the other games that have great graphics, but only a good amount of fun. I think a lot of people were too harsh on Super Mario Sunshine in reviews, calling it too much like Mario 64. They also said the graphics were not up to snuff and that the voices, FMVs and story were horrible. Since when has Mario been about graphics, voices, FMVs and story? I always thought it was about the fun factor, how about you?

This is the first time I have reviewed a game without totally completing it. I have 80+ shines in at least 15 hours and have beaten the game. Am I going to go for the 120 shines? I really do not know. I have other games I need to play and the upcoming Kingdom Hearts will take up a good chunk of time. This game can be extremely difficult, especially in the special stages with the retro Mario theme in the background. Those levels may make you throw your controller at the TV screen. Luckily there are 1-Ups that are easily accessible in these stages so you never really run out of lives unless you make a mistake early on.

After Super Mario Sunshine was done, Miyamoto split up the team into two teams. The plans are for a Mario game every two years. We will see if that holds true. I certainly hope we are not waiting six more years for the next Mario.

The graphics are not the greatest, but is that what you are expecting with Mario? I would expect that more with Zelda and Metroid Fusion over a Mario game. Up close the textures can look horrendous, but just think of how far you can see in a level. The colors used in this game are amazing and it is easily the brightest Mario game ever in terms of color. The sound and music are pretty good in this game. The best song is in the special stages where you get a remixed original Mario theme. The music is very much in the background, but pretty soon you will know the tunes like the back of your hand. The sounds are pretty good as well. The waterpack has unique sounds and as Mario runs you can hear different sounds depending on the type of terrain he is on. I do not necessarily expect great things from Mario games on the basis of sounds and music, but this was pretty good. Same as other Mario games…nice and tight.

This is a Mario game, what needs to be said? The game is fun, easy to pick up and difficult to put down. Even the frustrating levels will make you want to play them again and again just to beat them and go onto the next episode in the areas. The boss battles are interesting and you have to use different strategies with each one. Many bosses come back at later points in the game, but they are only slightly more difficult to beat.

This is Mario and gameplay is the game. To give it less than perfect would be a disservice.

As I said above, easy to pick up and difficult to put down. If you want to go for all 120 shines it will take you quite a long time to do so. Just getting enough shines to open up the final battle will take you at least 10 hours unless you are masterful at this game and know everywhere you need to go.

The replay value is up in the air. I could see that this game would not be as easy to pick up again and play than the Marios before Mario 64. You will spend a lot of time on Super Mario Sunshine just to beat it once. You may not want to go back and beat it again, especially with the frustrating special stages sitting there waiting for you.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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