Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube)
Super Mario Sunshine released in 2002 and had to help the struggling GameCube to get back on track. This explains why a few parts in the game lack polish - most notably the pachinko stage - and why the amount of content is surprisingly thin for a 3D Mario game. The number of worlds is limited - there are only eight, including the hub - and blue coins are scattered across them to give players something to do without the developers having to do much work. The total of 240 blue coins converts to 24 shine sprites which translates to 20% of the game's main collectible. The frustrating part about the blue coins is that they can be exclusive to certain chapters within a world and there's no way to check where you are missing one. Chances are very high that you won't get around using a guide to find them all.
Nintendo must have heard the calls for more story and voice acting, so Super Mario Sunshine features several cutscenes early on. If the main objective was to make players never wish for such things again, then Nintendo definitely succeeded. Since as of the writing of this review we have the benefit of hindsight, it can be said for certain that Mario hasn't turned into a joke like Sonic.
The positives of Super Mario Sunshine are very good controls, varied 3D platformer gameplay that covers exploration as well as skill-demanding pure platforming, and surprisingly little swimming and diving for a game that is built around water. The major difference to other 3D Mario titles is F.L.U.D.D., a water backpack that doesn't only spray water, but can also be used to hover for a limited amount of time. This makes the objectives that are based on exploration of a level comfortably to play, but every now and then the bad guy of the game will take F.L.U.D.D. away from Mario for classic jump'n'run obstacle courses.
F.L.U.D.D.'s water reserves must be replenished regularly, but the locations of Isle Delfino aren't in short supply of lakes, fountains or the sea itself. It's here where it needs to be asked why the individual worlds couldn't feature more different themes, but this probably takes us back to the beginning of this review. The game needed to be released fast, so additional worlds were probably scrapped and blue coins implemented to make up for it.
Super Mario Sunshine is very different from other Mario platformers, so whether that is a pro or a con is up to each player to decide. I like the game. I like how short many of the tasks are. I like that I can skip the intro sequence for every shine sprite, unlike in the Super Mario Galaxy games where they are unskippable. But speaking of the Galaxies, Sunshine can't compete with the polish found in those games. I was pondering if the score should be an 8 or a 9, but the fact that Sunshine doesn't live up to the series' standards resulted in the lower grade.
|Controls||10||One of the few GC games that makes use of the special
shoulder buttons. Great camera controls despite no options.
|Gameplay||Solve a wide variety of objectives to collect shine sprites
and unlock new worlds and stages.
|Story||A cutscene-heavy start thankfully levels off quickly.
Voice acting and writing are cringe-worthy.
|Single-player||Isle Delfino's locations have too much emphasis on water
despite the gameplay logic lending itself to more variety.
|Graphics||Textures could be sharper. Occasional framerate drops.
Fluid animation and draw distance are plus points.
|Sound||The soundtrack fits the tropical island theme, but lacks
outstanding compositions. Good remixes though.
|Value||About 20 hours are more than sufficient for a 3D platformer.
Content padding with blue coins is minor criticism.
|Replay Value||Nothing new for additional playthroughs, but the game opens up
quickly and offers a lot of freedom in which order you complete it.
|Score||8||Super Mario Sunshine feels a bit rushed and F.L.U.D.D. is a
matter of taste. Great game, but one of the weaker 3D Mario titles.