Skip to main content

Super Mario Sunshine: 20th anniversary

Today is the 20th anniversary of the U.S. release of Super Mario Sunshine, the Super Mario game of the Nintendo Game Cube.

Super Mario Sunshine follows the formula laid down in Super Mario 64. Mario's move set is largely unaltered, so if you've played that game, you'll be able to dive right in. Each level is a large play space in which Mario must find and collect Shine Sprites (the equivalent of Stars in Mario 64). Each stage contains eight "episodes." When Mario finds a Shine, he completes the episode. Each episode changes certain aspects of the level (same as in Mario 64). For example, in one level you are tasked with removing enemies from giant mirrors in order to dislodge an enormous Wriggler, then in the next episode you must defeat the rampaging Wriggler.

The game also re-uses Mario 64's organizational mechanic by which Mario accesses the different levels through portals painted on walls. The central hub of Mario 64 was Peach's Castle. Here it is Isle Delfino, a beautiful island resort inhabited by the gelatin-like Pianta, who have trees growing out of their heads.

The Pianta

Just as Peach's Castle housed several hidden Stars, so too does Delfino Plaza hold Shines, effectively making it the second level of the game (after the quick opening stage at the Delfino Airstrip). A new feature is that Mario can purchase Shines by spending ten blue coins. Some blue coins are in open air, like yellow coins, but most are uncovered by spraying graffiti. Some of these cause the coin to appear elsewhere on the map next to a matching graffito, and Mario has just a few seconds to race over and collect it. A few Pianta gives you blue coins after you clean goop off them. The usual yellow coins also appear, of course. Each yellow coin restores one bar of Mario's life meter, getting 50 in a stage gets him an extra life, and getting 100 gets a Shine Sprite.


Besides the island-resort theme, the biggest difference between this game and its predecessor is the FLUDD: Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device. Throughout the game (except in some difficult platforming areas) Mario wears a water-shooting device akin to a portable firehose. It runs out of water after a while, but Mario can refill it in any body of water or sprinkler.

Bowser Jr.

Bowser Jr. is introduced in this game. He has contaminated Isle Delfino with an oil-like goop that Mario must clean up. Mario has been falsely accused of creating the mess himself, because Bowser Jr. disguised himself as Shadow Mario. The Pianta are apparently too stupid to tell the difference between Mario and the translucent, ghostly Shadow Mario.

Shadow Mario

FLUDD lets you wash away the goop as well as graffiti left by Bowser Jr.. You also can attack enemies with the FLUDD. Mario can pick up different nozzles for the FLUDD. Hover Nozzle lets him hover for a few seconds. This allows Mario to access areas that would be very difficult or impossible for him to reach. Rocket Nozzle shoots Mario extremely high into the air. Turbo Nozzle propels him forward at great velocity.

FLUDD is a huge departure from other Mario games. It's creative and can be fun, but it can also get tedious washing away goop. It makes for a style of gameplay that feels un-Mario-ish (for lack of a better term). On the other hand, with so many fantastic Mario games available to play at this point, it's not a bad thing to have something else on offer. No doubt there are people for whom this is their favorite Mario game.

Different-colored Yoshis make an appearance in this game. To hatch a Yoshi egg, Mario must feed it the specific fruit it's thinking about. The Yoshis spray juice out of their mouths like FLUDD. For some reason, this juice turns certain enemies, like Boos, into platforms. Depending on the color of the juice, which is determined by which fruit the dinosaur last ate, these platforms may move vertically, horizontally, or not at all. Personally, I found this ability weird. Yoshi's appearance here doesn't live up to how fun he is in Super Mario World.

A downside of the game is the small number of levels. Mario 64 has nineteen levels: Super Mario Sunshine has only tenBoth games contain 120 Stars or Shines to find, which means that instead of six main Stars per stage, there are now eight Shines. In this game you have to finish the first seven episodes of each level, because these involves chasing and spraying Shadow Mario, and catching him advances the plot.

Another downside is that the game is hard. It's probably the second hardest Mario game after Lost Levels. Many tricky jumps throughout the game can frustrate. This is especially true of the high platforming areas in which Shadow Mario steals FLUDD, thus preventing Mario from using the Hover Nozzle. These areas involve a lot of rotating and moving blocks, and there's no floor, which means every time you fall, you have to start the area over. I suspect a lot of people have never been able to finish this game because of these areas.

The game, as expected, looks and sounds great (especially the HD remake in Super Mario 3D All-Stars). Graphically, it's a huge step up from the blocky polygons of Super Mario 64. The camera controls much better than in Mario 64, too, though you still can't turn it upward except in first-person mode. In tight corners, the camera often hides Mario behind a wall, and you have to rotate it until you can see him again.

Even though Super Mario Sunshine is weaker than its predecessors, it's still a great game. Super Mario games are so good, even the lesser ones are well above average.

Grade: A-

Linked Review
"Though it's not exactly the Mario game everyone was thinking of when it came out, it's still a classic Mario title that's definitely worth having in your collection."
— Brad Long, Nintendo Life, 9/10


  1. One of the best Mario's. Wish they would rerelease it as a stand alone instead of in that bundle.

    1. That'd be cool, but it's an excellent bundle! I still need to play SM Galaxy.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

SimCity: The OG city simulator still rocks

When I ordered an Analogue Super Nt to begin collecting and playing SNES games, I knew which game I wanted to play first: SimCity. This game hasn't been rereleased since the Wii Virtual Console in 2006! Analogue Super NT SimCity was created by Will Wright as a PC game, published in 1989. Nintendo worked with Maxis to have it ported to the Super Nintendo for their new console's launch. The SNES version is a huge improvement over the original, with better graphics, pop-up advice screens from Dr. Wright, and, most importantly, gifts. But let's start at the beginning. SimCity was the first ever city-simulation video game. Your goal is to build up a city as successfully as you can. You can play however you like, as it is not possible to "beat" the game, but the main achievement is reaching a population of 500,000, at which point your city becomes a "megalopolis." The maps are fairly small (and some have a lot of water), so the only way to achieve this is to h

Mega Man X: 30th anniversary

Thirty years ago Mega Man X brought Capcom's beloved blue bomber into the 16-bit era, to great acclaim. In a creative twist, Mega Man X (called X for short) is a new robot, not the original Mega Man . As with Super Metroid, Super Castlevania IV , and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past , Mega Man X uses the winning formula of remaking the original NES game but with more and better. Mega Man X, like his predecessor, faces eight robot masters, now called "Mavericks." Instead of "men," they are made in the image of animals: Chill Penguin, Storm Eagle, Launch Octopus, Spark Mandrill (a kind of monkey), Armored Armadillo, Sting Chameleon, Flame Mammoth, and Boomer Kuwanger (a Japanese stag beetle). An opening stage ends with X being defeated by the robot Vile, a henchman of Sigma, who wants to destroy humanity using something called "Reploids" (the Mavericks?). Fortunately, a "Maverick Hunter" robot named Zero jumps in to save X. He encourages

Rock n' Roll Racing: 30th anniversary

Although not marketed as a sequel, anyone who has played Blizzard's RPM Racing will recognize Rock n' Roll Racing as its successor. They are both isometric racing games with weapons, similar to Rare's classic R.C. Pro-Am on the NES, but Rock n' Roll Racing is the superior game by far. You can enjoy Rock n' Roll Racing solo or with a second player. At the beginning, you choose your racer from six colorful, punky characters: Tarquinn, Snake, Cyberhawk, Ivan, Katarina, or Jake. Each is good at two skills from among acceleration, top speed, cornering, and jumping. Olaf, from The Lost Vikings , is secretly available by holding down L, R, and SELECT while Tarquinn is selected. Olaf is busted because he's good at all four skills! Four characters race and attack one another's vehicles with lasers, missiles, and mines. You begin with only one laser shot per lap. Between races, you can purchase additional shots and upgrade your vehicle's armor, tires, shock abso