Space World 2001: First impressions: Mario Sunshine

Read our impressions of the first Mario game for the GameCube.

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At its pre-Space World press conference today, Nintendo showed a brief video clip of the sequel to Super Mario 64, Mario Sunshine (working title) for the GameCube. The game seems to be early in development, as many of the textures looked like they were pulled directly from Super Mario 64 and special effects such as particle effects, transparencies, and the like have yet to be implemented. However, we were able to garner some basic information from the footage shown.

The most puzzling aspect of Mario Sunshine is an apparatus attached to Mario's back that resembles a jetpack with a ray gun mounted on the top. The footage did not show the odd backpack in use, and in an interview with GameSpot after the press conference, Shigeru Miyamoto stated that the use of the backpack would remain a secret for some time to come. The backpack looks like it has a tank attached to the bottom of it that could hold a liquid substance. In the top right portion of the screen, there is a meter that fills with water. The meter was filled to varying degrees throughout the footage, but a connection between the tank and meter has yet to be confirmed. Sun coins are collected in the game, and a meter in the lower left corner of the screen tallies how many Mario has collected. It was impossible to discern what purpose the sun coins serve based upon the footage shown.

Many of Mario's moves found in Mario 64 have returned. The wall jump that allows Mario to scale vertical walls has returned, along with his signature triple jump and sideways backflip. Another scene shows Mario kicking a white ball for reasons yet unknown. Camera trickery was also prevalent in the footage. One scene shows Mario running toward the camera with an enormous plantlike enemy chasing after him. The lone level shown in the footage looked like it was several times the size of the levels found in Super Mario 64. It stretches on for a great distance, yet you can see it in its entirety if Mario is perched upon a rooftop. Judging from a quick glance at the level shown, it looks like it's split up into different sections that provide the game's objectives. For instance, the enormous creature that chases Mario that was mentioned earlier can be seen circling a fountain in a pattern in one clip shown. Mario's character model has been refined when compared with his model in Super Mario 64. He features a rounded look that compares favorably to renderings of Nintendo's mascot used to promote the Nintendo 64 in its infancy. One scene shows Mario wiping his brow, sending sweat flying into the air. No other familiar characters from the Mario universe were present in the demonstration. Like the textures used in Mario Sunshine, the placeholder sound effects were also pulled directly from Super Mario 64.

As previously mentioned, Mario Sunshine looked like it's extremely early in development, and it's surprising that it's scheduled for release in the middle of next year. Much like with the new Zelda game shown here at Space World, Nintendo and Shigeru Miyamoto have asked the media not to release footage or screens of Mario Sunshine at this time. We'll have more on Mario Sunshine for the GameCube as it becomes available.

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