As the story goes, much of it is pretty simple to all of the other Mario games. A simple strategy that¿s been working for more than 15 years. Princess Toadstool has been kidnapped and it¿s up to Mario to save her. Of course we all know that it has to be Bowser that stole her. But this time around, Bowser is no where to be found. Instead there is a Mario Clone that has kidnapped her! Not only that, but this Mario look a like has ruined the isle of Delfino, by mucking it up. Who is he and what does he want with the Princess? Why is he getting Mario into all this trouble? With the Island becoming so dirty something is not right. Now the shine sprites have disbanded, and normally the typical Vacation spot has been struck with doom.
Enter FLUDD, the water carrying backpack that will help Mario in his quest to clean up the messes in and around Delfino Isle. It¿s a slightly different story from the last real Mario game, but the core of the game remains the same, just as it has for the last 15 years. Even though this is an obvious fact that doesn¿t mean that the game isn¿t fun. I would think that the experience from all the new levels and the spin that the story takes is what keeps this game fresh and fun. It¿s very true that cleaning up has never been so much fun.
As with all Nintendo games and Mario games specifically, the controls are always very tight. With the new addition of the FLUDD, it may take some time getting used to switching back and forth to the normal and floating modes. Yes, that¿s right; the FLUDD is one of Professor E. Gadds greatest inventions. It can shoot water like a hose, it comes equipped to allow Mario to hover, and there are even upgrades that allow Mario to blast into the air and speed through out entire worlds. But with the new weapon this means that Mario is no longer the punching and kicking Mario of the 64 days. No, he lets his weapon do the fighting in this game. The blast of water is powerful enough to defeat enemies, so Mario doesn¿t need to throw a single punch. Basically SMS becomes a straight forward platformer and restores Mario¿s claim to fame ¿ Jump man. That is more or less the main thing of the game, jumping from one area to the next, collecting shine sprites as you jump around.
In a world that¿s based in full 3-D environments, how well you place those jumps determines how often and how well you will clear the game. Your own understanding and use of the controls plays a big part. Floating with the FLUDD can help correct some minor mistakes, but it won¿t fix everything. If Super Mario 64 was your most played 64 game then you should not have any problems breezing through this game. If it wasn¿t, then there might be some time before you can really get total control of the game. In some levels, the sublevels of the game that require you to get a sprite with out any use of the FLUDD can be quite difficult. When playing these levels, Mario¿s shoes seem to be a bit on the slippery side. For me, he seemed to be sliding all over the place, causing me to get game over a bit faster than normal. But on the second play through, I noticed that it wasn¿t happening as much. Again the use of the controls plays a big part of the game.
As far as graphics are concerned, Mario Sunshine maintains the level of awesomeness when dealing with great graphics. Ever Since the days of the NES Mario has always been a great looking game. Super Mario 3 is one of NES¿ best looking games. Super Mario World improv ed heavily on that. SMW2 Yoshi¿s Island, looked even better than that and had the element of looking like a painting. Super Mario RPG was one of the few ¿3-D¿ games on the SNES, but looked better than many of the early Playstation games. Mario 64 is still thought of as one of the best platformer games ever. Mario Sunshine continues that path of consistency.
The world looks amazing, and all of the effects that are related all are amazing too. Mario games never went with the idea of being realistic, but this game still manages to become a believable world. When you first begin to play the game, the first thing you notice is the water. It looks as if someone poured water inside your TV and a Mario is swimming in it. Standing on the shore looking in the water you can see you reflection! The next thing you would notice is the Pollution. Every thing that is causing Delfino Isle to be dirty has the appearance of being wet. Whether it is oil, paint, mud, or even goo, everything looks as if it needs to be cleaned up. So you then notice the FLUDD¿s effects. When it sprays water you see its range of cleaning power. When it¿s not spraying muck, its making the ground wet. When you¿re floating, you see the streams below and all the mist from spraying the grounds below. Another thing is that if Mario manages to get dirty, the dirt stays on him. Well, until you jump in and clean him off. Then you see the muck, dissolve in to the water. All very exciting this cleaning up is. Who would have ever thought that cleaning up would be so cool?
But that¿s not it; one of the coolest things in the game is in the main island. When you collect more and more shine sprites, the main isle begins to brighten up. It becomes that hot and sunny travel spot that everyone in the mushroom kingdom is always talking about. Look out to a sunny area in the distance and you can see the heat waves blurring the vision. This is another reason for wanting to go out and collect all the sprites. And there¿s still so much more. Entering the levels Mario will freeze in his jump and dissolve into all these little balls of paint and enter the world. The scenes for entering a world look almost like a FMV. The visual feast seems overwhelming at first, but then you realize it never lets up. As splendid as the graphics are Nintendo doesn¿t focus the attention on graphics only, and you still have a great controls system, as well as sound track as well.
As amazing as the graphics are, the soundtrack is almost as good. There are several tunes that are throwbacks to the old games. When you are in the tunnels, the song from world 1-2 from Super Mario Bros plays. I could have sworn that the Warp Menu song from SMB 3 is in the game somewhere too. But With the New songs, the Tracks play pretty well. When a dramatic song is needed, an Overdramatic song is played. [Princess being kidnapped for round #43] All of the level themes fit in to the atmosphere of the level. One level focus¿s on a Theme park. So you get a theme park song. Enter the boo world. Of course the song here sounds a little spooky. Though as different as the songs begin to sound, they all share a similar quality. They begin to tie in to the idea the Mario was/is really on vacation. So you get these slower more relaxed songs, which almost make you play in a relaxed mood. You begin to soak up the world, and want to stay there, and then you notice all of the effects that are incorporated into the game. The Music helps make the game seem more realistic.
Even the sound effects are nicely handled. All of the variations of Mario¿s jump sound different. Even his little Woo¿s and Haw¿s all are said differently. The Sound of the water is perfect. It is just like being stranded out in the ocean and hearing the waves crashing. The sound of water gushing out of the FLUDD sounds realistic too. All of the enemy¿s growls and noises carry that Classic sound too. The only thing that I didn¿t like was the voice acting. It wasn¿t bad, but it was spoken like Mario and the Princess were complete idiots. There was never a game before SMS that I ever thought, how dumb can Mario really be? Is pasta all he ever thinks about? Princess really is a dumb blonde. Things like that ran through my head when I first hear them speak. But because VA scenes rarely ever happen, and they really only are shown in the first hour of play, it isn¿t a big thing. Still the sound effects and the Soundtrack are really well done, that bad voice acting is cancelled out.
Overall I think that Super Mario Sunshine continues in the line of excellent Mario games. Sure, first off it might seem a bit strange, but once you get passed the quirkiness of cleaning up a town, you realize that Super Mario Sunshine is a really great game. Still one of Nintendo¿s finest on the Gamecube, it is a game that really needs to be played on the system. Whether it¿s a great platformer you¿re looking for, a great looking game you¿re looking for, or even a new idea in a game you¿re looking for, Super Mario Sunshine has all of these in it. Now that its only $20 there shouldn¿t be a Gamecube owner that doesn¿t own this Mario game.