Super Mario Sunshine – the only game in which Mario runs about blasting baddies with a water-gun while frolicking acrobatically across the Isle Delfino Resort. His water-gun isn’t just a random pick off of the supermarket shelves, though, it’s name is FLUDD and it is a helpful A.I. buddy on Mario’s sun-filled adventure. FLUDD can blast bursts of water like a cannon but can also help Mario hover, blast-off like a rocket or even fire backward to increase running speeds to the point the team can run across water! FLUDD is the main mechanic of the game and the whole world is a bit like a giant playground for the player to experiment and explore with Mario’s new buddy.
As usual, Mario is an acrobatics wizard, able to make amazing long jumps and triple jumps, wall jump in narrow spaces and perform his amazing ground pound maneuver in order to smash the baddies. In Super Mario Sunshine, however, he adds an amazing helicopter jump that can be performed by rotating the analog stick while jumping, allowing a pinpoint high jump that can reach incredible heights and some pretty impressive distance when coupled with FLUDD’s abilities.
The story is a pretty solid Mario tale with a twist that I won’t spoil in case you haven’t played before, but it does run a similar course. A princess thief targets Peach after tricking the island residents into blaming Mario for a huge mess that has been made on their island. Eventually Mario must manage to not only clean up the mess and clear his name but also save his precious Peach from the sneaky thief. All manner of adventure follows our plumbing powerhouse, as he releases sealed or captured “Shine Sprites” across the island (these parallel to the starts in Mario 64 pretty closely). The sprites are very important to the island’s inhabitants as an energy source. Mario will defeat zany bosses, collect red coins and clear obstacle courses like a parkour master on his journey and as the player increases in skill it can feel very satisfying to pull off some of the crazy maneuvers that can be performed.
All in all there are 7 levels with 9 sprites (Including the 100 coin shines) in each which is actually an increase from the 7 stars per course found in Mario 64, and that is counting the 100-coin bonus stars. When enough sprites have been collected events will trigger, finally culminating in a final event in which Mario will confront the princess thief and save the day. The events are triggered not by a set number of sprites overall but the player reaching a certain degree of completion in each of the 7 levels. To me this can kind of make some of the “bonus” sprites seem kind of pointless, but as the game is so fun and most sprites are truly fun to save, I’ll give it a nod and pass.
Overall I will say that if you are looking for a platformer that is not too terribly difficult and has all of the polish you would come to expect from Nintendo then give Super Mario Sunshine for the Nintendo Gamecube a try. Just don’t forget your sunscreen 😀