Developer(s) – Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) – Nintendo
Director(s) – Yoshiaki Koizumi & Kenta Usui
Producer(s) – Shigeru Miyamoto & Takashi Tezuka
Following on from the immense success of Super Mario 64 back in 1996, Nintendo released Super Mario Sunshine on the GameCube in 2002, and went on to receive overwhelmingly positive critical acclaim, with many publications giving it a perfect score, and Japanese website Famitsu also giving a near-perfect score; one of very few games at that time to achieve such an honour. Personally, however, although I can understand why critics and players alike appreciate this game to the extent that the do, with it presenting a new and outlandish style of play that had never been seen in a Super Mario game prior, it seemed like too much of a step down from Super Mario 64, and there were fundamentals that I feel the developers didn’t handle as well as they should have done.
Graphics – 7/10
In terms of conceptual design, Nintendo were at least able to break away from many of the normal conventions there were within the series at that time, and take it to an entirely new setting with new types of supporting characters, very effectively expanding the mythos of the entire Super Mario universe; something that arguably needed to happen for some time prior to the release of this game. It was also the first time at FMVs had been implemented in a Mario game, which helped it to showcase what kind of graphics the Nintendo GameCube was capable of processing in it’s early shelf life.
Gameplay – 5/10
After the prolonged success of 3D platforming games on the Nintendo 64, Super Mario Sunshine was Nintendo’s attempt at bringing something new to the table, introducing new gameplay mechanics in the form of Mario’s new companion, F.L.U.D.D; a water hose which Mario must use to clean areas of land in order to get around and to use a weapon against enemies and bosses. The problems I had with this game, however, is that there are a number of game-breaking glitches throughout, which made me believe that it was left unfinished overall. It was highly unorthodox by Nintendo’s standards, making this game one of the first true signs of weakness I personally witnessed within the gaming industry. Yoshi’s Story did little to impress me when I was a kid, but I naturally expected much more from a Mario game, and unfortunately in this instance, my expectations were not met.
Controls – 8/10
Another way in which Nintendo could be seen as going back on themselves in this instance is in the game’s control scheme. It ultimately plays out almost identically to Super Mario 64, but the new mechanics can take some getting used to at first, and even after this, I found them to be somewhat unresponsive at times. Overall, it was a little dissatisfying to see this after Nintendo had pioneered such a sophisticated control scheme with Super Mario 64.
Lifespan – 8/10
One good thing I can say about this game, however, is that for those who may not experience as much of a problem with it as I did, there is certainly a fairly lengthy experience to be had. Lasting just as long as any 3D platforming Mario game, around 30 to 40 hours time can be clocked, which is pretty impressive. In general, it surprised me how such long games could be stored on mini discs when I first started laying the GameCube. I saw it with both Wind Waker and Metroid Prime, but his game is yet another shining example of this.
Storyline – 6.5/10
The story of Super Mario Sunshine takes place on a vacation island called Delfino, in which an unidentified figure has been vandalising large sections of the resort. Once Mario and company touch down ready to take their own vacation, Mario is immediately and wrongfully identified by the Delfino authorities as being the vandal, and is sentenced to clean what mess has been made with the aid of F.L.U.D.D. At first it seemed like a positive change from the damsel in distress story that had become synonymous with the series even at that point, but overtime, that’s exactly what it unfolds into, overall making it not much different to any other Mario game.
Originality – 7/10
Despite Nintendo unwilling to provide a great deal of uniqueness in terms of story, I do respect their willingness to have tried something new in terms of gameplay; which after all, is much more important than the former. There would be many more 3D platformers released throughout the sixth generation of gaming that would blow this title out of the water in my opinion, such as Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank, but this game was able to at least stand out among these others to the extent that it did.
Overall, Super Mario Sunshine is my least favourite 3D Mario game, but it’s by no means the worst game in the franchise overall. There are gamers out there who hold this title in much higher regard than I do, and this is understandably so, but to me, there were far too many faults I found with it to be able to call it a classic game.