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25 home / october 2002 / reviews Turn Page BackwardBack to HomeTurn Page Forward

Super Mario Sunshine
Not quite as groundbreaking as the original, but just as fun.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Super Mario Sunshine
By Patrick King

For almost a year, there was something wrong with the GameCube. It wasn't the quality or quantity of games, for there were plenty of good titles to tide me over. It wasn't my financial status after purchasing the system and accessories, because they've been (and still are) very moderately priced. Rather, it was a severe lack of something all Nintendo systems have had near a launch day, something that even used to be packed in with a new system.

The GameCube needed a Mario game.

Fun as it may be, Super Smash Bros. didn't count. And another Mario Party, Mario Paint, or Mario is Missing wouldn't have cut it either, no matter how wonderful the games may have been. No, we needed a REAL Mario game, a platformer that broke new ground while retaining its lovable familiarity in the sort of whimsical paradoxical way that only Shigeru Miyamoto can pull off. For the most part, that gap has been filled.

Mario Sunshine actually has a plot, of sorts, complete with opening movie. While taking a break from saving the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario and his entourage decide to stop on the lovely tropical Isle Dolfino. Only a moment after their arrival, however, the Mushroom gang is confronted by a nasty painted mess covering the runway of their landing site. Grabbing a nearby water pump, named F.L.U.D.D., Mario quickly cleans up the violently dirty mess and all seems well...that is, until Mario is accused of traipsing about the Isle and spreading all sorts of similar graffiti everywhere. After a quick trial, Mario is sentenced to clean up the mess he apparently made with his newfound friend/water hose. Hoping to get to the bottom things (and because he's a nice guy, anyway), Mario accepts his fate and begins his search and cleanup job. Thus a new chapter in the Mario mythology begins...

When you think about it, that was very kind of the mustachioed plumber. Instead of listening to the rude inhabitants that gave Mario almost no chance at a fair trial, he could've just jumped on their heads, slaying them indiscriminately, or perhaps grabbed a fire flower and burnt their unjust arses to a cinder. But I digress.

The control is, as always, almost magical in design. The GameCube controller seems to have been made to essentially work with this game. The camera is still a royal pain, but once you get used to it, you'll find it's easy to make Mario move about exactly as you want him to. It's a very nice feeling, being able to think of something and instantly see it performed on the screen, and something Miyamoto does best. Using F.L.U.D.D., Mario can hover for brief periods, rocket up or horizontally at an incredible speed, and spray enemies or graffiti from his backpack, among other things. The water supply is finite, but there is almost always a source nearby for handy refills, so it isn't frequently an issue of annoyance. Controls are almost exactly the same as those of Mario 64's, with the addition of the F.L.U.D.D. moves and the removal of the butt-stomp. This simply means that the designers decided to adhere to the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" rule of thumb. Another notable addition is Mario's fruit-loving pal, Yoshi. His presence as a playable character was sorely missed in the last major Mario title, and so it's great to see him in his original capacity - that of Mario's ride.

Visually, this is exactly what a Mario game should look like. It's filled to the brim with bright colors, simple geometric shapes, and the trippy creature designs we've come to expect from Miyamoto. As with Monkey Ball 2, this isn't the most visually astounding game I've ever played, falling behind in the graphics department from other, older titles on the GameCube. However, if looks were how we judged games, then I'd never pick up the original Mario games again, nor would I be able to stomach such classics as Metal Gear Solid, NiGHTS, or Panzer Dragoon Saga. This game looks exactly like it should, and that's not a bad thing. Lens flare use is kept to a tasteful minimum, shiny objects look adequately reflective, water is extremely well-animated, and everything moves in an eye-pleasing manner. I have no qualms whatsoever with the look of Mario's new world.

Aurally, things are top-notch. Banjo-Kazooie-esque mumbling is used in place of speech most of the time, but it merely reinforces the idea that this is not our world, but a fantastic alternate reality populated by Yoshis. The game is presented in Dolby Pro Logic II, so those of you with a (increasingly inexpensive) surround sound receiver able to decode the DPLII signal will be able to get even more out of this title. Compression issues aside, once I began hearing games in surround sound, I couldn't go back to stereo. Heck, I gave up monaural sound way back when The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was released on the SNES, so it's about time something replaced my simple two speaker setup. The music is always appropriate and chirpy, something I never mind. If game music bothers you, then you probably won't like it... But then what are you doing playing games, anyway?

This is a long game, and despite its childish presentation, not a simple one by any means. There are many stages that you will simply die in repeatedly until you get the controls down. Some stages will kill you even if you HAVE the controls down. For the most part, the goal of the game is to collect various emblems (called "Shines") as you traverse around Isle Dolfino cleaning up your framer's messes. Thanks to the corruption of the shines, strange creatures are threatening to overrun the once peaceful resort. As in Mario 64, most stages have a number of Shines to collect as you complete a specific goal or task in each level. Each of the many stages is accessed from the port town your party first landed on, and there are various mini-games and hidden stages that hide a Shine or two, as well. All in all, this is something that has been done before, but it remains quite a bit of fun. It's somewhat surprising for Miyamoto to follow everyone's lead by creating another Mario 64 clone, considering his track record of brilliant, original titles.

This is easily the best 3D platformer clone of the classic N64 title, but it's a copy nonetheless. Again, this is not a bad thing, I just suppose I've come to expect every Shigeru Miyamoto game to be "The Greatest Game of All Time." But originality isn't the most important factor in creating a great game, and what Mario Sunshine lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in playability and plain old entertainment value. Once you enter Mario's world, you'll find it hard to leave. And since you can save the game frequently, you can play Mario Sunshine in brief spurts between meals, class, or other unimportant events of your life. I can always appreciate a game you don't have to devote a two-hour block of time to get to the next save point; not all of us can sit in a single room all day and play one game. Sure, it may be my goal in life, but I'm not quite there yet...

If you're a big fan of Mario, get this game. Also if you like platformers, then you can't go wrong here, since this was designed by the man who practically invented the genre, revolutionizing it every few years or so. While it's not the groundbreaking standard-setting title its predecessor was, Mario Sunshine is in every way an excellent game, and one no GameCube library would be complete without. Rather than shock us with technology, Miyamoto has chosen to instead build a game that attempts to instill a sense of wonder and peace. This game is a joy to play, and making people happy is one of the noblest goals a developer can have when putting a title together. The Second Coming of Mario it's not, but in the meantime, it's a heck of a lot of fun.

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