Super Mario Sunshine is a 3D platfomer for the Nintendo Gamecube, it was directed by Yoshiaki Koizumi and Kenta Usui with producer credits for both Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka
Mario, Princess Peach and Toadsworth are all flying to the luxurious Island of Isle Delfino for some summer fun, relaxation and a well needed vacation after Mario’s past adventures.
Unfortunately a Mario impostor has covered the entire island in toxic slime and due to this Mario is mistaken for the criminal resulting in him being thrown into prison. Luckily he had previously picked up one of Professor E-Gadd’s inventions FLUDD, FLUDD is a water propelling device which has multiples functions and is able to remove the slime, Mario is eventually released and told that he must clean the entire Island before he can leave, this gives him plenty of opportunities to figure out who framed him and explore the entirety of Isle Delfino.
In the game you will travel to different areas of the Island which each hold a number of Shine Sprites (This games stars).
In order to receive these Shine Sprites you will have to complete various tasks ranging from basics such as collecting red coins and more complex tasks such as fighting ghosts, riding yoshi’s and even riding roller coasters !!
My favourite Shines in the game are from the second world you can access, there are two missions here where you can ride on squids to go fast across the water, this is really fun and not too difficult to control once you get the hang of things.
Another game play style worth mentioning here is when the game takes the FLUDD away, this goes back to basic Mario game play and its very challenging because you are now used to using FLUDD for practically everything, I can see some gamer’s being very frustrated with these sections because they are both difficult and visually differing to the rest of the game but personally for myself these are some of the highlights of Mario Sunshine.
Speaking of the worlds they are each so differently designed that I want to briefly discuss my thoughts on them.
The Hub World has its own Shine Sprites which you can collect as you unlock new peripherals for your FLUDD, the main layout is actually really good and minus two Sprites which are a pain to collect it had little flaws, the only issue I have is the awful plachinko mini game and the red coin mission which is requires you to navigate a Yoshi to an island using boats which you have no control over.
The first world you enter is Bianco Hills a really summery area that is powered by windmills and ruled by ferocious pirana plants. I really like this area its genuinely really well designed and a great place to get used to using Mario’s jumping mechanics and it also teaches the player the basics of FLUDD.
Next up is Ricco Harbor a water based level which requires players to quickly adapt to using FLUDD in order to explore the stage,I like this level but I do feel its really unfair at times especially so early on in the game, I love riding the squids but I hate the wind that knocks you off of the towers which are already challenging to balance on.
Gelato Beach is one of my least favourite areas of the game, it can be very creative when it comes to using water to control the sand and I also enjoy the general atmosphere of the level, the stage was not very well designed for the Shine Sprites it holds, examples of awful design would be the much hated sand bird stage and rolling the water melon, while the sand bird is a stage hidden within the Beach it is still extremely frustrating and does not work well with the games genuinely slippery control and the water melon mission is just ridiculously difficult as one hit and it get destroyed and the level is crawling with unfair enemy placements.
Pinna Park is easily the best part of the game, its a theme park which is really fun to explore and is one of the best areas to climb up really high to get some good views and appreciation for the game design. I love this part and I have no complaints.
Sienna Beach is an odd name considering that you hardly spend anytime in the beach part of the level and mostly explore an old hotel, the hotel is a pretty cool area its a little boring considering that most of it is locked from the player but what we do get is great, I really love finding the secret rooms and the Casino is a memorable part due to that really crazy fight with King Boo.
An area I always forget about before each play through of Sunshine is Noki Bay, this is another water based area and I don’t know why I never remember this because its one of my favourite places to visit. It is a really challenging level because when you first enter the entire water area is poisoned and will kill Mario fairly quickly, the level is very small but has some great details such as the use of seashells as decoration and buildings, there are a lot of well hidden secrets to find and the stage is designed in a way that makes it really fun to explore with little frustration, I love the colours used, there is a lot of dark blues and purples and other darker colours that each blend really well together and build great immersion.
Pinata Village is the final area before you head to the Volcano to fight Bowser, I hate this level because it is really boring, there is nothing special about it and while I think its interesting that it was developed with players being able to explore both the village and its underside the entire layout is just basic and nothing really stands out, I would argue that even the Shine Sprites here are not great, the only one I enjoy is when you have to drag the giant chain chomp into the hot springs but apart from that nothing else is memorable for me.
While exploring all of the Island you will primarily be using FLUDD who has four functions, shooting water, hovering, blasting water to move Mario at rapid speeds and the rocket allowing Mario to propel himself into the sky, these are all really easy to use but you will be mainly using the hover which is the most useful as it can come in handy to allow you to make tricky jumps.
Yoshi’s can be ridden in the game but they are hardly ever needed a very unusual choice was for them to spit out juice from their mouths, this juice can be used to remove a specific type of slime that can not be destroyed otherwise.
At this point we have covered most of the game but the last thing I want to touch on is the blue coins, these are hidden all over the game and the primary function is to sell them for more Shine Sprites, people do complain that these make up a large chunk of the Sprites in the game and is just lazy I think its done in a way that works well enough but I would be lying if I didn’t slightly agree with the statement.
The game may be a little flawed but you have to admit that the soundtrack is fantastic, its very simple I wont deny that, it even repeats music but with a different style and instruments but its done in such a clever and discreet way that it just works, the music fits perfectly and helps you get immersed in the really silly world of Isle Delfino.
So I know I have complained a fair bit here but I do feel this game is far from perfect, It’s buggy and the controls are not as great as they usually are and for the most part it feels unfinished but there must be something great about this game because I have replayed it every Summer since 2002. I think what this game does well is that it genuinely feels like a vacation, its so silly and charming that its hard not to put a smile on your face and I think for a lot people its nostalgic, it definitely is for me I got this game when it came out and I’ ve grown up with it since I was seven years old, back then I would have told you that this is one of the best Mario games ever made but now that I’m older and I review video games for a living I can see that its far from being a masterpiece for reasons I have stated previously. It’s a game that I would say is half amazing and half mediocre its a little bit of a mess but is also really fun, Mario Sunshine is probably the most difficult game in the series to rate because its hard to look past how much fun it is but then as reviewers we must look into It’s problems and it has a fair few so I think its only fair to give it a 6.5/10 and just enjoy for what it is, not the best Mario game but a great way to start the summer.
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