Review: Super Maio Sunshine

Here marks the return of the King. No, not me, Mario of course! Yes guys and girls, he's back on a Nintendo console in his biggest game in 6 years, after numerous sporting appearances, flat adventures and kart outings. It's been 6 years since 'Super Mario 64' first hit British shelves. 6 long years since anyone could sample a new, 3D platforming wonder that is Mario. The burning question that many are seeking the answer too, of course, is "is Super Mario Sunshine as good as, or better than, Super Mario 64?" Well, hopefully in this review, you will find your answer. Oh, and by the way, if you think Mario is for kids, this game will make you think again. All hail King Mario!

Graphics:

Excellent. Forget what your thoughts may have led you to believe, based on early screen shots, because 'Super Mario Sunshine' is a beautiful game. Everything is perfectly rounded, and there aren't really that many pointy aspects in the game. Crisp and sharp, the game runs smoothly, save for odd moment per five hours. This game is full of everything you've come to expect from Mario games, plus so much more. As soon as you turn the power on and the cube rolls around the screen, you are greeted by a cut scene that explains where Mario and co. are going, which is gorgeous. The cloud effects are superb as the plane glides softly through them, partially masking the plane for a few moments.

'Super Mario Sunshine' is full of trademark Nintendo stuff. Vibrant colours, cartoon-like graphics and luscious effects really bring this epic to life. In five words, Mario has never looked better. Aside from that, this is also one of the GameCube's better-looking titles, which is an achievement considering the amount of games on the GameCube at the moment anyway. As I just mentioned earlier, the effects in the game are quite astounding, in particular the water effects, which are simply stunning. Jumping from a high platform into the soft waves is one of the many visual joys in the game, and getting out again is another. Mario drips for at least 5 seconds, which is a really nice touch, as it adds a little realism to an otherwise physically impossible game.

On the whole, the graphics of the game are brilliant. There are a few minor set backs, namely the textures on the walls, which in some places – as much as I hate to say it – can be appalling. Along with that, there's also the fact that there's no green Yoshi, which will upset major fans. Aside from those two really big issues, I've come across nothing worth bringing up now. Just be glad that you're playing such a good-looking game!

Sound:

This I feel is the only real disappointment of the game, although the music itself is excellent, along with the sound effects. What is disappointing about it though is the fact that the tunes just aren't anywhere near as catchy or 'humable' as the themes from 'Super Mario 64'. On a lighter note, the themes fit the worlds superbly, seemingly capturing the landscapes and scenes themselves, and actually turning them into the music. A mix of laid-back Hawaiian guitar music and frantic action music really sets the mood at the appropriate time, but still, not as much so as in 'Super Mario 64'.

On now to the sound effects and the speech. There's nothing extremely amazing about either of them, yet they do the job well, and don't hinder the game in the slightest. The voice acting is decent enough, although it's not the best example in the world when compared to say, Eternal Darkness. And Bowser's voice is just strange, nothing like you would expect. However, all the familiar sounds are there, such as Yoshi's 'yyyooowww' and Mario's ya's, wah's, and yahaaaaa!'s as they jump, bringing back fond memories for all of us.

On a side note, some of the music from the very original makes it into the game, namely the pipe music, and the music you get in the puzzle areas without the FLUDD, that is done in really amazing bluesy way.

Gameplay:

As with all Mario games, the gameplay is by far the best part. Epic, vast, wonderful and a joy to play through. From the very beginning you are sucked into Mario's world and you literally become the Plump Plumber himself. Let's get one thing straight before I go any further; 'Super Mario Sunshine' is, like I've said before, NOT a 'kiddy' game. Underneath its cute graphics and cheery music lurks a bastard of a game. Well, in some places. But thankfully in most places, 'Super Mario Sunshine' gets the difficulty factor just right. The learning curve is excellent, and kicks in right from the start where you first come across FLUDD (which I'll say now works excellently). It breaks you in extremely slowly, teaching you the basics, but by the end of it, you'll be tearing your hair out over how hard it can be. Getting all 120 shines is by no means feat!

'Super Mario Sunshine' takes on an entirely different location, and thankfully, it works. As Mario extremists will know, the Plucky Plumber's games are usually set in various worlds: Fire World, Water World, Ice World etc. Well, 'Super Mario Sunshine' tries to break that mould and is all set in just one land, 'Isle Delfino'. Delfino Plaza serves as the 'hub' level, from which all other levels are accessed. To access the different levels (in which there are 10 shines to be collected), you are warped, or shot, to various parts of the island. Each level is filled with enemies to stomp on, coins to collect and perilous cliffs to fall from! When you enter a new level for the first time, tidings are grim. However, as you progress through the level you will find that once you collect the 8 shines that are readily available (yes, there are 2 hidden ones that aren't listed as tasks!), the level becomes clean once again, and you can realize the true beauty of the surrounding landscape. A favourite of mine is 'Noki Bay', which is easily the biggest and best-looking level in the game.

FLUDD is a great little contraption. It's not at all difficult to use – which was one of the worries about it when it was first revealed – and becomes the key to everything in the game, except the evil puzzle sections where you have it swiped from you by 'Water Mario' (no, I won't reveal who he is!). There are three nozzles to choose from, not including the standard nozzle. To accompany the standard 'Squirt Nozzle' comes the 'Hover Nozzle', the 'Rocket Nozzle' and the 'Turbo Nozzle', all of which come in handy when going for those hard-to-reach shines. There isn't much that can be said about this great little contraption, except that it's not just a gimmick add-on; it's vital throughout the whole game, and without it you wouldn't get very far at all.

On to the very little down-points that could be mentioned about the gameplay. The camera is sometimes annoying, but not to the extent that some people make out. You can focus it behind the dungareed one at most times by pressing L, but at other points the C-stick is needed. Concerning the shine tasks; sometimes it's hard to make out what you must do from the vague descriptions, but it's a rare occurrence. Another flaw is the controls for swimming. The A button makes you swim on the surface, whereas the B button makes you swim deeper. Personally I think that Nintendo should've stuck to the 'Super Mario 64' controls for swimming, as they are far less annoying. Finally, the difficulty of the game may prove too frustrating at some points, and you may want to throw your cube out of the window. Don't! The rewards are great, and you will be safe in the knowledge that you've conquered this most excellent game.

'Super Mario Sunshine' is a wonderful gaming experience. From the very basics of cleaning paint from the floor to the final boss battle with Bowser, you will find yourself immersed in a game that's truly brilliant.

Playability:

'Super Mario Sunshine' plays like a dream. Oh yes, there's no doubt about it. Everything is fast and flowing, and The Plumber reacts to every flick of your thumbs. The physics of the game are perfect, and everything happens exactly the way you would expect it to happen. Everything from wall hopping to triple jumping is kept within the laws of physics (to some extent), and the movement of Mario is just as good.

When moving Mario you will notice that the harder you tilt the direction stick the faster Mario will run, as is the norm with platformers these days. But instead of just simply walking and running, Mario goes through several stages starting out by tip-toeing, followed by walking, then fast walking, then running. It's a small touch, but it adds another element of realism to the game. Taking control of the Little Man is as easy as pie. His movement is smooth and he'll do whatever you command him to do, whether it be cleaning up paint or jumping from tree to tree like a crazed monkey.

Controlling Yoshi is simple as well. It's basically the same as controlling Mario, except that Yoshi can hang around in the air for a few moments whilst jumping. There are certain things that Yoshi can't do that Mario can, such as wall jumping, but that's not altogether important when using the trusty dinosaur. You can use FLUDD whilst riding Yoshi, but only the standard 'Squirt Nozzle' can be used. Just press R and a stream of water will shoot from the dinosaur's mouth. But watch out! Yoshi doesn't last forever! Make sure you top up his 'juice' by eating lots of fruit.

There's only one section of the game that I don't think plays as well as it could, and that's the aforementioned underwater sections. The controls are too niggly, and would've been much better if Nintendo had kept with the controls used in the underwater sections of 'Super Mario 64'. But all in all, 'Super Mario Sunshine' handles as well as you would expect it to, being a Mario game.

Lastability:

Unfortunately, like all games of its genre, 'Super Mario Sunshine' has to end at one point. Disappointingly there isn't much to make you want to go back to it, but you certainly won't rest until all 120 shines are found (I know I didn't!). Unlike 'Super Mario 64' and 'The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time' there just aren't enough mini games to keep it alive for long after you've gotten every shine. Everyone's been back to OOT just to go fishing. Lord, that game could've been released as a game on its own, and it still would've been the best of its genre! But alas and alack, there is nothing of the same calibre in 'Super Mario Sunshine'. Don't get me wrong, it's by all means a classic, it's just a classic with very little replay value.

N-Europe Final Verdict

In every way a classic, yet something is missing to put it on the same level as Super Mario 64. Nevertheless, go and buy it! Now!

  • Gameplay5
  • Playability5
  • Visuals5
  • Audio5
  • Lifespan4
Final Score

9

Pros

It's Mario!
Intuitive controls
FUN FUN FUN

Cons

It's not Mario 64!
Some poor textures
Devilishly hard in places


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