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Game Reviews & Afterthoughts

Super Mario Sunshine Review
The controversial sequel to Mario 64 doesn't 'shine' quite so much.

 

Game Information
Name Super Mario Sunshine
Console GameCube
Developer Nintendo
Publisher Nintendo
Genre Platformer
Release Date August 26, 2002
# of Players 1
Peripherals Mem Card

Well the reason I say this game is the controversial sequel to Super Mario 64 is because it really isn't the sequel to Mario 64. Sure it's the latest Mario game, but Miyamoto has stated in recent interviews and at E3 that the real and true sequel to Super Mario 64 is a game that has never been shown, titled Super Mario 128. What exactly Mario 128 is can be speculated on for quite a long time. Nintendo was well under way on developement for Super Mario 64-2 when it decided to give up and drop the title due to lacking N64 interest. During this time however a GameCube Mario game was also well in developement and that was Super Mario Sunshine. So naturally Mario Sunshine continued to stay in developement and no one knows what ever happened to Mario 64-2. It is logical to think that Mario 64-2 was simply revamped with a new engine, retuned and more content added to make this Mario 128 that is supposed to be unveiled "soon" according to Nintendo. Anyways, who knows the real story, but one thing we do know is that Super Mario Sunshine really ended being somewhat of a letdown when you think about the reputation Mario games carry. Read on to find out why.

If one thing truly does look like a sequel to Super Mario 64 it's unfortunately the graphics. They simply look like an enhanced, cleaner and brighter N64 game that pushes more polygons and slightly more detail. We also see some beautiful water effects that really out do the rest of the games visuals. When you see the water it really stands out as it's such a step above the bland visual style of Super Mario Sunshine. In an artistic sense the game is really happy go lucky like all Mario games always have been, but perhaps it's time to sacrifice a little of the simplicity and add some impressive visuals? Mainly it's the paint that hurts the game the most. The whole game revolves around this paint/dirt stuff which looks simply horrible. There is absolutely no reason why they couldn't have payed special attention in designing something that is viewed throughout the entirety of the game.

On a technical standpoint Super Mario Sunshine is decent. It definitely does not push GameCube to any limits, but it's not a slouch either. You will see virtually no draw in distance and even in the biggest levels in the game (which I made add are massive) you will be able to see as far as the eye would truly let you. It seems this is achived by a smart and interesting addition of this "heat in the distance" effect as is experienced in real life. Here it actually emulates real life visuals in that sense, and allows Nintendo to give gamers massive view distances all the while calling it a "feature" in the game. Pretty smart, and no one really caught onto it in the end. Beyond that tidbid of info, the framerate is pretty much rock solid and the sharpness of the world in general is still nice. One could only had hoped for better textures, in both quality and effects. Mario Sunshine truly doesn't strive to look impressive though, but rather stylistic, and it achieves this, so you can't really put it down at all for what it does.

Audio Sample
Track 1:
Track 2:

Along with the Mario tradition comes the catchy music, usually composed by Koji Kondo. I don't know how much part he had in this game, however I do remember hearing he at least did the main theme of Mario Sunshine. The games music really isn't up to par with other Mario games. The lack of catchy tunes is rather obvious, as is the uninspiring music during most of the game. There are special platforming stages with an interesting vocal remix of the original Super Mario Bros. theme which is extremely cool, nostalgic and satisfying. On the sound side, you can expect to have the same cute and quality Mario game sounds as well, but also toss in some terrible voice acting for Princess Peach and some of the characters in the game. Charles Martinet (voice of Mario) still hasn't lost his touch, thank goodness for that.

Learning Curve
Game Difficulty:
Medium
Game Length:
25 Hours

The gameplay of Super Mario Sunshine is very interesting. This is the first Mario game ever where we aren't just using Mario, but we are using Mario who's using something else. In fact, this is less of a Mario game and more of a watergun game. The entire game (minus a few special platform only stages) is based on the use of this watergun attached to Mario's back called FLUD. FLUD actually talks to you, gains new attachments throughout the game and is used in almost every jump to gain either height or distance. It also has replaced Mario's jump on the head, punch and kick attacks as the main attack in the game, a watergun attack. Sounds kind of lame talking about it right now, but it is rather interesting, at least for awhile. With the design of this new gimmick on Mario, Nintendo has allowed itself to make some really unique and impressive levels and the level design in Super Mario Sunshine is probably the games strongest point.

The game is interesting because it can be incredibly long, or just average in length. There truly is a lot of meat to this game if you choose to do all the optional shine's and get the full 120 of them. In fact, if you had to get say 80 shines instead of 60 in order to simply pass the game, the games difficulty rating to the left would easily go up to Hard. This is to say that some of the shines are rather difficult, but you can simply choose to opt out of completing them and move onto another stage. This game design idea is really smart for kids and leaves the game open for older, more skilled gamers to try some incredibly hard challenges if they are up for it. Good luck finding all those blue coins!

 

One thing to say about presentation of this game and that is "unexpectedly weak." The FMV's are completely unimpressive, the voice acting is pretty much terrible throughout the game besides Mario's voice (take note of Princess Peach annoying squeaky voice) and the game just doesn't feel like a complete package in the end. The polish is there, 100% as you would expect for a Mario game, but there just isn't enough quality so all that polish went to waste in the end. All this is not to say that Super Mario Sunshine is a bad game, because it's still great, but it's just not what you would expect a Mario game to be. Right now the game sells as a Players Choice title for quite cheap, so theres no reason not to own it if you don't already. A recommended play-through, if anything, because it's still a classic.

 

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John Palamarchuk ©2006
http://www.palamarchuk.com