By: Jac Bakley, Video Game Critic
Super Mario Sunshine is the sequel to the revolutionary Super Mario 64. It was released on the GameCube in 2002, one year after its launch.
The main mechanic is to use FLUDD to spray slime off walls and the ground, as well as stomp on most enemies, like in the first game. There are four different kinds of nozzles that Mario can use with FLUDD: hose, which sprays water like one and is good for spraying graffiti off walls, hover, which lets Mario float in the air for a short time and is ideal for cleaning slime off the ground, rocket, which is used to launch Mario into the air to reach high platforms, and turbo, which is used to give Mario a booster to break through certain walls. Gone are the special caps that granted Mario special powers, like the wing cap and the metal cap. With these new and restricted mechanics, levels in this game require a lot more thought and effort. Instead of the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario is now exploring Delfino Plaza and many tourist attractions around it. It is a unique setting that only appears in this game. Instead of 15 worlds, there’s now only 8. Instead of 6 levels per world, there’s now 8, so I guess it feels somewhat equally even. One of the changes that I really appreciate is that the levels are a lot more secretive than Super Mario 64. Sure, some entrances are similar to the magic paintings, but a few other warps are hidden a lot better than Shifting Sand Land and Snowman’s Land. Goombas, Koopas, Lakitus, and other enemies from Super Mario 64 are also gone, replaced by Stus, Electric Koopas, Bloopers, and other strange enemies that we will never see again in future Mario games.
Mario’s animations make a return- triple jumping, backflipping, turnaround jumping, wall-jumping, and diving. A spinning move, which is just a farther jump than the turnaround, is introduced. However, his punch is gone, replaced with an object-picking function. The only object Mario can pick up is fruit, which is exchanged for blue coins (more on that soon), and more importantly to be given to Yoshi so he will hatch out of the egg. That’s right, Yoshi is in this game, and he has many different functions- he can do a higher triple jump, swallow birds for coins, eat fruit to change color, and squirt juice to penetrate lava shields, which Mario can’t destroy with FLUDD. Strangely, if Mario falls into swimmable water when mounted onto Yoshi, he is instantly killed. This can be pretty frustrating, because if Mario are doing a side quest that requires Yoshi to complete and mistime a jump somewhere where there’s water, Mario will lose him right away. Mario can’t ride Yoshi forever, anyway, because if his juice meter drains and he doesn’t eat any more fruit, he will disintegrate. Yoshi is an enigma. This game is pretty challenging; I’ve never died this much in a 3D Mario game. There’s fiery slime and electric slime that Mario cannot easily escape, and fiery slime can kill Mario within seconds if Mario are too deep into its range. Hovering over bottomless pits is risky, because Mario won’t hover forever, and Mario move a lot slower while using it than expected. If Mario don’t time his jumps and hovering properly, he will either fall to his death or sustain major damage. It’s also pretty difficult to change direction while using the hover nozzle. The world that is probably the most challenging is Sirena Beach, because it has one of the hardest bosses in Mario history, and is just hair-pulling and downright cryptic in other levels. I never managed to finish this world, because of the third level, where Mario has to find a well-concealed fruit in a well-concealed area in the hotel to get Yoshi to hatch from the egg so Mario can finish the level. So, the overworld feels new, the control feels better, and there are a few welcomed differences in this game. It’s challenging, but it’s definitely an excellent sequel. But of course, like Super Mario 64, it has a main flaw. One can find blue coins around Delfino Plaza and all of the worlds throughout the game. Mario can trade 10 to a raccoon salesman to get a shine sprite, and can buy a total of 24. Seems like a good deal, but these blue coins are hard to find. They are sometimes in plain sight, but other times they are almost impossible to find without a walkthrough. Sure, some may be a little easy to figure out, but some are way too cryptic, to the point of being criminally insane. Super Mario Sunshine is a major improvement over Super Mario 64, but both of them are still equally as good. The blue coins didn’t make a return in Super Mario Galaxy, which I’m kinda grateful for. I kinda wish FLUDD and Delfino Plaza would make a return.