Retro Review: Super Mario Sunshine (GameCube)
Content Warning: This game is rated E and is a Mario game. Very family friendly.
Normally my retro reviews are of the N64 variety. However, I also own a Gamecube and some significant titles for the console. Every now and again I will review a classic or maybe a hidden gem that was on Nintendo’s purple box. Beware there may be some spoilers!
Everyone was highly anticipating the next Mario platformer after the game changing Mario 64. It was rumored that the next Mario game was going to be called Mario 128 and not much else was known. What Nintendo ended up releasing was Super Mario Sunshine and Mario 128 went the way of the Nintendo Dolphin.
Super Mario Sunshine starts you off in a plane with your lovely lady, Princess Peach. You watch a welcome to Isle Delfino video on the plane ride which shows you the island and some of the fun stuff they have to do. Sweet! Finally Mario gets a much needed vacation after his epic adventure on the N64. Princess Peach sees a Mario shadow in the video but Mario is too entranced by the thoughts of a vacation to care about anything else. Who can blame the guy? All he does is save Peach’s sorry butt with no reward. Mario’s plane on Isle Delfino but of course something is amiss! Why is there paint everywhere? Who cares? Mario is here to save the day. To make a long story short, Mario cleans up the mess on the airstrip but the residents of Isle Delfino think he is to blame so they take him to court and pronounce him guilty! You would think he would go to jail or something but nope! They just tell him he needs to clean everything up and collect shine sprites. Man, what I would do to get easy punishments like that. This is more story than you get from most Mario games and way more than that simple cake promising letter in Mario 64.
Of course, gameplay is the shining sprite here in Super Mario Sunshine (pun intended). Gameplay feels similar to Super Mario 64 until…you acquire the backpack named FLUDD. It is essentially a water pack that can be used to spray water like a hose, used as a jet pack to hover and launch, and has a few other varying features that you discover as the game progresses. The controls are tight and FLUDD adds a much welcomed change to the gameplay that helps differentiate itself from Mario 64. I wonder who would win between Mario + FLUDD vs Luigi + Poltergust 3000. They should add that to Super Smash Bros. While I like FLUDD, sometimes it felt like it made platforming a bit easy since you can correct yourself with the hover feature. I did enjoy getting myself as high up in the air as possible then hovering, just to see how much water would shoot down. FLUDD has a water meter but you are rarely in danger of running out of water. The stuff is practically everywhere to refill your pack. Once every level you will have Shadow Mario steal your FLUDD and run off. This leads you to, what seems like a Super Mario Galaxy precursor, a straight platforming level where you need to get from point A to point Shine Sprite. No FLUDD or anything to help you but your awesome platforming skills. These sections were a nice change of pace even though some were satisfyingly hard.
I know Super Mario Sunshine is not the shining example of the Gamecube’s graphics (pun intended). However, the graphical style of the game combined with the Gamecube’s raw power made this game pure eye candy. An HD remake would look amazing on the Wii U. Everything from the water to the residents of Isle Delfino to Mario just look flipping fantastic! The music… Oh the soundtrack in Super Mario Sunshine is another thing of beauty though it is not as iconic as the legendary soundtrack of Mario 64. My only complaint here is that FLUDD’s voice is a bit annoying but otherwise everything sounds great. The satisfying whoosh of water shooting out of FLUDD and onto the icky, gooey paint is music to my ears.
Overall, I really enjoyed my visit to Isle Delfino. It wasn’t as great as Super Mario 64 but it was pretty close. Everything in this game is bigger and prettier. Unfortunately when everything is based around a tropical resort, you don’t get the same level variety as Super Mario 64. I highly recommend the game to all!
Sounds + soundtrack is great
Gameplay with FLUDD is a true highlight of the Mario series
Level variety is lacking