GCN Review: Super Mario Sunshine
Review by: Hairball (hairball@sm128c.com)

Game Info

 System: GameCube
 ESRB: Everyone
 Genre: Adventure
 # of Players: 1
 Developer: Nintendo
 Publisher: Nintendo

 Save: 10 blocks

 Release Date:
 US: Aug 26, 2002
 EU: Oct 14, 2002
 JP: Jul 21, 2002

Screenshots:

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Final Score:
7.5/10

Reviewed on: October 26, 2002

The wait has been long, but Super Mario Sunshine has finally arrived on the Nintendo GameCube. It has been six years since the last true Mario adventure, although not as innovative as Super Mario 64 was in 1996. Super Mario Sunshine takes the SM64 game formula and updates it to the current video game generation.

Mario and Princess Peach are on yet another vacation, they fly over to Isle Delfino, a tropical island in the middle of nowhere. Someone has polluted the island, and graffiti is all over the place, and the Shine spirits have vanished. "Shadow Mario" was the one behind this, and when Mario arrived, he was arrested by island police and ordered to clean up the island. To do so he needs to collect shines, and to defeat the mysterious Shadow Mario. Although Mario games have never had much of a plot, this one is a little lame.

The graphics found in Super Mario Sunshine are very good, but seem to be lacking for a GameCube game. The style of graphics used in the game look similar to the way Super Mario 64 was presented, but taking advantage of more advanced technology found on the GameCube. Most of the game takes place in a bright environment, after all it is a tropical island. The water effects found in the game are really nicely done, as well there are also some fading effects to create a more realistic feel. However many of the textures found in the game look very bland and feel very "blocky", and seem to be an eyesore. It's possible to tell tell that the game has been rushed. On occasion, there is a sudden decrease in framerate, with some slowdown, and it's obvious.

The sound and music are typical for a Mario game. There is new tropical music to fit in with the theme of the game. The best music found in the game however are the remixed classic Mario tunes, that can be found in "retro levels", which bring back those long memories of the classic Mario games.

Mario has been equipped with a water pack known as Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device (FLUDD for short). There are 4 different FLUDD nozzles: squirt, hover, rocket and turbo. Squirt should be obvious, it allows you to shoot water. With the hover nozzle, Mario can float in the air, with the rocket nozzle you can blast into hard to reach places, and the turbo nozzle, you can dash in high speeds on water and on land! It's also necessary to make sure you have enough water supply, so you'll have to constantly go refilling at water sources found throughout the game. Running out of water in the middle of a battle would not be a pleasant situation. Be sure to use FLUDD to the best of your ability to clean up that mess around Isle Delfino and to defeat enemies that come across your way.

The camera is a big problem in Super Mario Sunshine. Although the camera has become easier thanks to the GameCube controller's C-stick, but it's a pain to get it to work the way you want it to. You constantly have to adjust the camera as you move around the worlds, if you let go of the C-stick, the camera will jump back to some default location, making it hard to follow the game. Some objects found in the levels will interfere with the camera. Sometimes the camera likes to mess around with you, and it gets trapped behind a wall. When the camera is behind a wall, Mario and other characters/objects will show as a question mark to let you know of their existence and location, but it's not really that useful.

The huge 3D worlds found in Super Mario Sunshine were not a surprise. But the problem is, they are too huge. The worlds are gigantic compared to the ones found in Super Mario 64, and as well there are long and tedious tasks that could just drive the average gamer insane. Compared to other Mario games in the past, SMS is quite difficult, and requires patience, skill, and a little luck in order to succeed. Unless you can stand to play this game for hours nonstop or use a strategy guide, it's going to piss you off to the extreme.

One drawback in SMS is that you must get the Shines in the order they come in for each world. It's not like in Super Mario 64 when you just come across a star in a level. Super Mario Sunshine also has a new focus on "retro levels", every main world has a retro level that you must pass in order to get a Shine, and there are also these levels in the main overworld. These retro levels are the most frustrating part in the game, one little mistake, and you have to play it all over again.

Yoshi also makes a return in SMS. Riding on Yoshi will seem quite fun at first, he can jump higher than Mario, spit juice instead of water... and that's about all he can do. If you take Yoshi into water, he will literally "dissolve", maybe the programmers were too lazy to make more functions for him or if Yoshi was allowed to do more, the game would become much easier.

Final Comments

There is no doubt that Super Mario Sunshine is a great game with massive worlds, new water pack device, and Yoshi. Does Super Mario Sunshine live up to the hype? The answer is no. The graphics are not that great, gameplay is frustrating, and the game camera is problematic. Nintendo should have spent extra development time to improve the camera, which would have made the game overall less frustrating. But all in all, Super Mario Sunshine would be a good choice for any GameCube collection, just because it's Mario.

-- Hairball (hairball@sm128c.com)

Bottom Line: Super Mario Sunshine is a good game, but it seems to be missing something that can bring it to the top.