Top positive review
22 people found this helpful
Probably the greatest platform game ever made…
on 6 January 2004
You’ll probably want an acceptable reason why I have rated Super Mario Sunshine a 5 star game and here it is. It’s Mario, he’s back and is better than ever…nuff said. Perhaps that wasn’t worthy enough to make this a helpful review, so to those who aren’t familiar with Mario games (may god help you) and need more than the above passage to convince you to buy this, read on.
Mario, Princess Peach and Toad are heading on a plane towards their holiday destination, Isle Delfino. But trouble begins from the moment they land as some form of goo covers the runway. Mario immediately takes on FLUDD (Flash Liquidiser Ultra Dousing Device), a water-squirting backpack courtesy of Professor E. Gadd enterprises (remember the scientist from Luigi’s Mansion?) and begins to clear the mess. To thank Mario though, the island’s citizens throw him into prison, accusing him of causing the foul graffiti.
When he is finally released, his relaxation time is over, as his sentence is to clean the island and trap a fiend impersonating him…and naturally, Peach is kidnapped. The plot is of little importance but it’s intriguing to see this game containing more story than its predecessors, as you actually feel like taking part in an adventure rather than persistently tackling new stages. This is aided by the central hub being a vibrant seaside town instead of a deserted castle (i.e. Super Mario 64), although the tropical theme, while Making SMS feel unified and whole, lacks the abstract inventiveness of Super Mario 64. Still, the move clear of the forest-sand-ice-lava world custom is refreshing and each stage seems to have its own originality of carribean influences.
Speaking of originality, this games primary feature is the FLUDD. Now when I first heard this before the games’ release, the idea of a water-squirting backpack in Mario’s first GameCube title was about as bizarre as the idea of a vacuum cleaner in Luigi’s first GameCube title. I criticized and criticized, despite not having played the game. Yet all the time I forgot my status as a keen Nintendo and Mario fanatic and Mario’s status as the spearhead of Nintendo, who has rarely (if ever) let us down in any of his games. It’s easy to criticize anything when you haven’t actually tried or seen it, but the fact I did at Mario is simply unforgivable.
Those fortunate enough to have owned Super Mario 64 will feel at home with the game physics. The jumping, back flips, wall jump etc. naturally make an appearance but it’s the combat system that has undergone dramatic changes. By simply squeezing the right trigger, the FLUDD propels a blast of water that whacks your enemy. It isn’t only used as a weapon but is also your primary means of exploration and is vital to retrieving Shines (SMS’s Star equivalent). Beside the spray, there are three additional functions. The jetpack launches Mario into the air and allows him to move whilst hovering, the jet boost is a more powerful version of the jetpack although you cannot continue hovering, and the propeller is a speedy alternative of transportation on land or water.
It all sounds like a huge and daring step to have taken since Super Mario 64, but this is precisely what makes it complete fun to play. You didn’t have to follow a linear path on the N64, and Mario’s incredible agility showed that a daunting degree of freedom is infinitely preferable to the sensible yet boring thing. SMS has the exact feeling, but somehow it excels its predecessor as it makes everything much harder. It does feature an excellent learning curve but when it gets challenging, it is challenging. This is evident in the hanging-in-space levels when your FLUDD is often removed. Your immediate impression is fear because you have been naturally dependent on the FLUDD and you are forced to fall back on Mario’s innate abilities you mastered on the N64. When there is risk, there is fun and therefore, these stages are a massive thrill.
But what is a Mario game without impressive visuals. This game is simply gorgeous. It’s breathtakingly colourful and lush to look at, even if lacking in immense detail. That’s the cue for anti-child game players to nitpick, but they are missing the point. Mario doesn’t need realistic textures, although the water effects are literally to die for, they are that amazing, and it isn’t since Zelda: Ocarina of Time that I’ve felt transported to a virtual environment. In general, every sun-kissed polygon is like an eye-massage and is a consistent treat of sheer beauty for your eyeballs.
As good as the game is, those expecting a quantum leap since Super Mario 64 will be disappointed. It’s a case of evolution not revolution and is a refinement of what’s gone on before; essentially it’s a glorified version of the N64 classic. I found other disappointments too. Some activities are repetitive (chasing your rival), Yoshi (yes, the lovable green dinosaur!) is useable but not enough for our needs, the difficulty can be terrifically hard (yet it’s always challenging and never unfair) and the camera has opted toward manual control, which does enable greater precision but a lot of adjustments during gameplay…but these are little irritations.
The homage detail is done in a subtle yet brilliant manner, enough in fact to bring along fond memories of past legends staring the plump Italian plumber, such as staring at the sun to enter a bonus stage or even the themes and game sounds. There are lots of simply magical moments, but it’s far better to experience them for yourself. Even if over a year old, it will take many years before this game (like its’ predecessor) begins to show age. Super Mario Sunshine has not triumphed over Super Mario 64, but has definitely earned more than the right to stand next to it proudly and hold its’ head high.