GCN Review: Super Mario Sunshine
Review by: TW (tw@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:

Screenshot

Screenshot

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Final Score:
8.5/10

Reviewed on: December 15, 2002

After years of excuses, party games, mediocre ports, Mario spin-offs and ‘SM64 II’ Talk; A Real Mario game has finally arrived in the form of Super Mario Sunshine. Following SMB, SMB3, SMW and SM64 in the line of ‘Flagship titles’ for the Nintendo system, Super Mario Sunshine was actually 10 months late due to lasted production, and Luigi’s Mansion was released in ‘it’s place’ so to speak.

I won’t go into the plot detail, as you can see that by simply reading the case. It’s really the most plot-driven Mario game so far, but it doesn’t really interfere with the game play that much. Its structure is basically identical to Super Mario 64 with an over world, and several levels that can be accessed from this one location, and several missions in each to collect “Shine Sprites”, which are in effect like “Power Stars” were in SM64, and there is the same old 120 to collect.

Graphically, the game is brilliant. It’s not revolutionary like Super Mario 64 was, but it is truly amazing. The water effects are super-realistic, and the sunshine effects (integral to the game) are also like this. The Camera, though, can be at times quite erratic, no way as good as the stable camera in Super Mario 64 (even though the Gamecube has a c-stick). One to mention is the ‘sand effect’, in some levels where you have to step across sand blocks, the sand falls down realistically, you can see every grain; and the ‘sand bird’ is very impressive too. As well as this, the Camera movement is hampered by the loss of the shoulder buttons to work the FLUDD.

The Introduction of the FLUDD water pack is quite interesting, although you will be using it 90% of the time you are playing the game; and the ‘caps’ from SM64 have been replaced with nozzles for the FLUDD. The Speed Nozzle is my personal favourite, acting like a Hovercraft as you skim around the waters of Delfino Plaza. It’s a bit disappointing that some of Mario’s moves have been lost from SM64 (he can’t even punch anymore -_-), but the FLUDD can compensate.

I do have some other bothers, though, it seems that Nintendo have tried to make the game pretty difficult in places, such as on the ‘retro levels’, although they are few and far between, at times they have to be executed with super-precision. They remind me most of the 'Road to Bowser' Levels in Super Mario 64, and they contain precision jumps, disappearing platforms and rotating cubes that the slightest mistake when crossing will make you fall and die. This is incredibly frustrating at times.

I was disappointed in the way the levels are presented. I believe that Super Mario 64 excelled in the sheer amount and variety of the level design, with 15 levels including everything from a sunken ship, to the top of a mountain peak, and to the hot desert, with 7 stars to collect in each. Here all the levels are very samey and all 'done before' in other games, to name a few, a couple of beaches, an amusement park and harbour, and there is only half as many as SM64. Although the levels seem moderately larger than SM64’s, they aren’t really that much bigger (with the exception of Noki Bay and perhaps Bianco Hills). To compensate there is now 11 Shines to get in each, and more shines on the overworld than SM64. Nintendo have been lazy, there simply isn’t enough variety there.

Although, there also is a lot on the positive side of SMS - I must say Nintendo have excelled in terms of providing a solid, fun action game as well as providing great control response and amazing graphical detail, ranging from the flap of flags in the wind to the reflective aspects of the water. The game also sees the return of Yoshi, absent from play in SM64, which adds all to the experience.

Final Comments

Super Mario Sunshine is a great adventure-platformer with amazing graphics. But at times it feels that there is something missing. Everywhere is very similar, with half the missions being identical on each level, and there simply isn’t enough variety or scope to make it as epic as Super Mario 64 was.

-- TW (tw@sm128c.com)

Bottom Line: “Nice Try”, very good, but something lacking. If you’ve read my SM64 Bottom Line, They Failed.