Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
Where would Mr. Miyamoto be without his trusty plumber Mario? Every time a Nintendo system has graced the market, Mario has stepped up and has given us countless hours of entertainment. When Mario broke through into three dimensions, all of us who grew up playing the side scrollers couldn’t wait to get our hands on it. We can run around? In actual circles? Super Mario 64 was a true revolution for fans of the bounding plumber and was a milestone for Nintendo when the N64 hit stores. Fast-forward six years when the next Mario feature arrived for the Gamecube. Super Mario Sunshine showed up after Luigi’s little temp job with the Ghostbusters didn’t interest gamers.
Super Mario Sunshine follows the adventure of Mario on his vacation away from adventures. Don’t you hate when you get called into work on your vacation? Some shady character, who looks very similar to Mario, has made a terrible mess of the Isle Delfino and the residents accuse Mario. As punishment, he is required to do some community service and clean up the island with his trusty FLUDD water dispersion unit and its three attachments. Along the way, you need to discover the identity of this mysterious figure. (I wonder who it could be?)
Game play is uncanny to that of Mario 64. You run around and explore areas to which you are required to collect “shines” to save the day. Very much like Peach’s castle and the paintings. Collect eight red coins for stars... er.. shines, find blue coins, spray things, perform some incredible acrobatics. Just another day at the office for Mario. Some nice things are added to whet your whistle. For example, a familiar friend shows up that you can ride around and eat enemies. Weren’t you ticked off when you got all 120 stars in Mario 64 and found out that you couldn’t ride him! Well Nintendo got the message. The play is fast and fun which is what we expect from Mario but there is the inherent frustration of running around up high only to fall hundreds of feet to the water below. (I don’t know about you but when I was younger, I threw my NES controller a few times in Super Mario 3) The camera angles can get equally frustrating but this is an burden that comes with the territory of 3-D.
You will find yourself searching endlessly for blue coins if your aim is to collect all 120 stars.... er.. shines in this game. The game designers have done a great job at hiding things and making you work for the 100% complete achievement. Many FAQs that I have read advise NOT to search for all the coins because they are too well hidden. The regular game time is at a good place. You won’t get bored playing for hours but you won’t beat the game in a day. When it comes to replayabiliy, I can’t really say because I’m still trying to find those elusive coins to reach that summit of 120 stars.. er... shines. If it’s anything like its older brother, I would say that you could play this game over again and still have some fun.
The graphics of this game are smooth and the colours vibrant. The GC excels in the department of cartoony graphics so Mario looks clear and crisp as he somersaults through the air. The water in this game is surprisingly wonderful. When I saw it, my faith in the GC’s ability to provide decent graphics was restored. Since water is everything in this game, you’ll see it a lot. As well, the sound is what you would expect from a Mario game. Good music mixed with some classic Mario motifs.
Overall Super Mario Sunshine was not revolutionary nor was it the flag ship for the GC but I had a great time playing this game. I kept wanting to compare it to the 64 version but you can’t. They are in different categories altogether because Mario 64 was so revolutionary. Once you look past your prejudgements, Super Mario Sunshine is happy to provide you with some solid, colourful, water logged fun.