Retro Review: Super Mario Sunshine – 10 Years On

This republished review was originally written in 2002, this review is unedited and appears as it did back then. We hope this review gives you an idea of how the reviewer felt at the time and at the end you’ll see a small review from today where you can see how well the game held up over time.

Mario likes his fun, what with tennis, golf, karting and porn movies as part of his jobs, he also likes to go on holiday. And here he is, on holiday, in Super Mario Sunshine. The game every Nintendo fan boy has been waiting for for 6 lonnnnggggg cold years. The hype has been huge, ever since the first showing of it and what the water pack was going to be for. Has it lived up to the hype, well those of you that checked the score will still be wondering. So you better read this…ok?

Mario has gone away to the beautiful island of Delfino (dolphin, geddit?) for a relaxing holiday, taking peach and some toads with him. Once landed they come across a huge big of gloop covering the run way. This is your introduction to the game where you meet FLUUD. This is your water cannon with which you’ll be using most of the time in the game. The towns people are upset, and why? Because they think you are the person who has polluted their island, making it dirty and horrible. You are swiftly sent to prison but let out as long as you clean up the island, this is where the real game begins.

Your task much like Mario 64 before it is to collect something. In this case its shine sprites instead of stars. To get them you have to complete a level task, such as collecting 8 red coins, or cleaning up something. Where as before in Mario you’d have to just get to where the shine was hiding you have a specific task to complete now. Such as clearing a path from all the muck that has been dumped there by ‘Mario’. Or you may have to find a hidden warp, or you may need to rescue someone who will give you a shine sprite in return.

You have 7 levels to mess around in, much less than mario 64, but there is a total of 11 tasks to complete in each, as well as another 3 shines on top to find as well through the collection of blue coins. There’s 3 types of coins in Mario sunshine now, gold will be your standard coin, red your collecting coins and blue which when you get ten can be exchanged for a shine, these are the hardest to find and there are loads around the game!

The aim of the game is using your fludd to clean up mess, such as oil and paint and other types of graffiti, which revels characters, new parts of land or bosses. Its great fun cleaning up the mess and the graphics really do add to it in the way the mess moves very much like water. It is the main aim of the game to clean up the mess but it really just adds to the normal mario platform style. There are times when you’ll be without your fludd and its back to typical Mario gaming where a single wrong move means instant death, which is always your fault.

The graphics are wonderfully detailed and really add to the game, don’t look at screen shots and thinks its crap, see it running and you’ll notice how smooth and bright and beautiful it is, when you meet the caterpillar boss you’ll forget about the crap textures you saw and think its wonderful. Sure some of the textures look poor but they are meant to be like that, to be simple and fit into Marios world. The water however is so life like, and so gorgeous, much better than wave race’s water. There’s hardly any slow down in the game, i only noticed it in one place and it was in the same place in the level where you can see every inch of the level. Pop up is there, but only for smaller things like characters in the distance.

It is truly wonderful, especially the heat haze effects which make the backgrounds shimmer and the reflections you get in the water and the way cleaning the dirt makes the levels change. It may not be as gob smacking as halo but it certainly is up there with halo in graphical terms.

The sound is mainly out remixed Mario themes and a few new ones which while are not as catchy, do seep into the back of your mind and are not annoying. Everything has its own unique sound effect and it all works well in the game.

The camera is a mixed bag however, sure you can control it with the C stick, but it never quite goes where you’d like it to. You might want it to go side on, but it never goes right where you want it to, its stuck to Mario a bit to much, its a shame you couldn’t hold down a button and move the camera around on a horizontal plane to get the best view, or to fix it in place as it does tend to move around again once you have set it to a position you’d like it to be in. It also gets stuck behind objects which is annoying, especially on small ledges or when your running. It does compensate by offering you a shadow outline of Mario but not of objects. It also uses a port hole view where you can see through the object but this is hardly ever used. It’d have been much better to have fading graphics.

We have completed the game, and while we must say it was great fun, which it certainly was it feels like it was and is missing something. Take Mario out of the game and put in generic platform animal No.4 in and it’d be a totally different game. Its what Super Mario Bros 2 is to Super Mario Bros. It doesn’t really fit in and just feels like Mario has been plonked in the game. Its a great game though and if you enjoyed Mario 64, you’ll enjoy this but don’t expect it to be better, to quote EDGE magazine ‘Its the 2nd best platform of all time, OF ALL TIME!’

2012 Re-Review
Time sure does fly by. Mario Sunshine is now 10 years old, it feels like just a couple of years ago we were playing this for the first time. Edge said it was the 2nd best platformer of all time. Thats no longer true, its 3rd after Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Mario 64. This game was clearly rushed at the time and everyone including us got fixated on its faults. It does have them but they are a lot fewer than you may realise. The blue coins are cheap, the camera plays up at times and some stars are a major pain but for the most part it plays brilliantly. It looks just as good today as it did on release and no game has yet matched its warmth and summer holiday feel.

It still looks amazing, perhaps even more so today. The levels are HUGE. You can see for miles and all with practically zero popup. The colours are so over saturated you really do feel the heat from the TV screen and watching the waves lap against the beach, you just can’t help but wish you was there right now. This is every summer holiday we’ve ever had rolled into a game, its has such a fantastic feeling to it still that no other game we can think of has captured.

Its a tough mario game, whilst Mario Galaxy onwards have been easier (at least for the first time) to get new players playing this is tough. You’ll need to use all your finger to get mario to do what you want as you control the fludd whilst jumping and spinning. This is for more experienced Mario players and one everyone should go back to, even if its just to enjoy the locations, the sound and the warmth. As we said, 3rd best platformer ever, it has niggles but its still better than pretty much every platformer out there.