Super Mario Sunshine
Description official descriptions
Mario, Princess Peach, Toadsworth, and Toad have come to Isle Delfino for some relaxation. Upon arrival, however, they discover the island has been polluted causing its energy source, the Shine Sprites, to disappear. The culprit is similar in appearance to Mario, who is blamed for the mess, so the portly plumber is forced to clean up the island. Mario is given an invention called FLUDD (a backpack with several water nozzles) to help him clean up graffiti and mud and capture the real villain. Gameplay features a combination of action and puzzle solving, with numerous stages and multiple episodes to each stage, and plenty of hidden secrets and surprises.
- スーパーマリオサンシャイン - Japanese spelling
- 슈퍼 마리오 썬샤인 - Korean spelling
Credits (GameCube version)
100 People (76 developers, 24 thanks) · View all
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Average score: 87% (based on 68 ratings)
Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 129 ratings with 7 reviews)
Super Mario Sunshine was released in 2002 to pretty much universal acclaim. IGN gave it a 9.5 and I'm fairly sure Eurogamer was ready with a 10/10 for this bad boy. It's an interesting game because it incorporates storytelling devices that Shigeru Miyamoto tends to avoid in his other games. The most notable new feature is voice acting, however I can get to that later.
In Super Mario Sunshine Mario is off on a vacation with Princess Peach in a hilariously camp giant pink jet. They land on Isle Delfino (which is probably like the Mushroom Kingdom's Florida) and right away Mario is accused of vandalism. It seems some sort of shadowy imposter has been running around grafitto-tagging the beautiful buildings and natural environment of Isle Delfino and standing accused of a crime he didn't commit Mario is forced to pay penance by cleaning the entire island. With a helpful talking water pack strapped to his back called FLUDD he travels around various locales...cleaning. It's more exciting than it sounds really, after all it's Mario.
Our portly plumber controls almost identically to his appearance on the Nintendo 64 save for a couple of new FLUDD specific moves and a new spinny, jumpy type thing that can be used to clean himself or get to higher places. The FLUDD pack is used to glide, rocket about and clean off the goop that is covering Isle Delfino. The pack also talks, meaning it is used as a defacto guide around the island and provides hints every now and then. I quite liked the addition of the FLUDD pack, the whole cleaning aspect of the game had the potential to be an outright bore but miraculously it's really quite fun and satisfying to clean away all of the mess and end up with a pristine beach or side walk. The FLUDD pack is also used to defeat enemies and as I mentioned before, is an aid while platforming. The platforming is quite weak in Sunshine, so the inclusion of the FLUDD makes potentially controller breaking portions of the game very bearable, until you are forced to go without the FLUDD pack. This brings me onto the new “secret” areas. These “secrets” aren't really very secret at all, they are always very obviously placed. The secret areas are FLUDD-less portions of the game that play like a more linear, back to basics platformer. You are tasked with going from A to B negotiating obstacles while trying not to fall into the void below. These secret areas range from really inventive and fun, to downright malicious.
The level design in Sunshine is very solid and interesting. The game shines (no pun intended) when Mario is tasked with simply going from A to B, practicing his platforming mastery while defeating enemies and collecting coins. There is a lot of this in the game, but not nearly enough. Level goals vary from racing to defeating a boss enemy to breaking into a spa to collect a shine sprite, the requisite collectable in the game.
The shine sprite's are supposed to power the island and without them...well it's not really clear what the big deal is with the shine sprites. The island isn't imploding or anything because they have all been scattered, it's more of a minor inconvenience really. Anyway, the point is, they function like the stars did in Super Mario 64. Your progress through the game isn't really governed by the amount of stars you collect though, it's mostly down to finishing up to episode 7 of each level. It's a nice new progression scheme, one I like. You still find yourself grinding those shine sprites though, the game is just that addictive.
Graphically this is one of the best looking Gamecube game's out there. The engine is super solid. I have not noticed the frame rate dip once while I have been playing and the vivid, almost pastel like textures and gorgeous environmental effects like heat haze are just superb. Mario animates fantastically and I especially like the awesome way he seems to demolecularize when he enters a level.
I'd like to note the approach towards the aesthetic elements of the secret area's as well. They seem to have this spherical texture that wraps around the void that the simplistic platforming elements are suspended in. They are very minimalist areas and I was very charmed by them.
Super Mario Sunshine is a game of extreme's, either it's being extremely good or extremely bad. I've never found myself just mildly frustrated by this game, either you can do something the first time or you constantly have to restart. The problem isn't the fundamental dynamics the game relies upon. I already said how solid these are. The problem is the lazy, ill programmed and downright malicious camera system. The camera is an insufferable prick, pardon my french. I cannot tell you the amount of occasions it has totally screwed me over, doing ridiculous things that really, it shouldn't be doing. It's the main reason the secrets range from awfully fantastic to just plain awful. If the secret is a relatively simple one with a course that doesn't wind too much the camera will do an adequate job of keeping up. However if the secret has multiple levels, snaking turns or giant moving things the camera will totally ruin your day. The main problem is that it is lazy. It takes forever to circle around to an adequate view of Mario meaning you'll constantly have to manually manipulate it to get a view of the action that won't get you killed. Having to concentrate on executing difficult jumps while manipulating this piss poor camera is a pain in the ass and ends up causing way too much undue frustration. There are even indicators that the team knew the camera sucked and without any extra development time to spare on it applied a quick fix. When Mario heads behind something a silhouette will appear, with little question marks indicating enemies and objects. If the camera naturally snapped to a decent three quarter perspective of Mario under normal circumstances there would have been no need for this. Also, when being launched upwards, instead of fixing itself on Mario and zooming out to give you an indication of where you are heading the camera stays where it is and points directly up at Mario meaning you're basically flying blind. It's atrocious. Like I said, if your current activities are relatively simple there probably won't be a problem but when things heat up, the platforming because more demanding and the environments become more complicated, you're going to notice how utterly broken the camera system is.
Another thing I wanted to mention was how monotonous the whole tropical setting for the game becomes. It's always sunny and there is very little variation in the general aesthetics for each area. I get that the team was trying to convey the illusion of this cohesive environment but the variety in artistic direction suffers because of this and frankly it becomes a little tiresome. The inhabitants of Isle Delfino are also pretty much all identical with a bit of pallet swapping going on here and there. This goes for the music as well. Apart from a couple of awesome tunes (which happen to be remixes of music from better Mario games) a lot of the music in Sunshine is just an endless variation on this one theme with a different crappy instrument. The only regular level theme worth mentioning is Noki Bay, and even that isn't worth downloading. The soundtrack is forgettable and lackluster. Frankly, I expect better from Kenji Kondo.
I just briefly want to talk about the story for a moment. I admire Shigeru Miyamoto for finally including something of a more meaty narrative to power the game along, but it's just not very good. It's like very little effort was put into it, we know who the antagonist is going to be, it's not like the game was going to introduce any new major characters. Therefore it stands to question whether the inclusion of such a weak, poorly acted narrative was all that necessary. Peach still ends up getting kidnapped, the antagonist still ends up being Bowser, so why convolute it beyond an opening cinema to establish what is going on?.
The Bottom Line
I got totally addicted to Super Mario Sunshine and kept playing it for hours despite its flaws. There is a lot to like about the game and the core platforming game play is incredibly solid and satisfying. The game is a blast when the challenge is to simply negotiate a platform challenge while collecting coins and grabbing that shine sprite at the end. The variation in level goals was a treat, but ultimately I just wanted to platform, and I wish there was more of it in the game. Sunshine is beautiful, with one of the most solid graphics engines I have ever seen on the Gamecube and the FLUDD pack, which could have been nothing more than a forgettable gimmick, ends up becoming a really cool platforming aide.
The camera system however ends up taking the greatest aspect of the game and smashing it into tiny pieces on the ground. The camera is a total prick that constantly sabotages your efforts at negotiating the tricky secret areas by not following Mario, following him too rigidly or becoming stuck on things. It wasn't taught to negotiate simple obstacles, stick to Mario properly or zoom out to give the player an adequate view in the appropriate circumstances. I just don't understand the almost universal glowing praise when this piss poor system was implemented 6 years after Super Mario 64 which was supposed to have kicked off this dynamic camera revolution.
While I loved Super Mario Sunshine the woeful camera, monotonous artistic direction, lack of real platforming, weak soundtrack and flimsy narrative keep it from being a truly great game.
GameCube · by AkibaTechno (238) · 2010
Presentation is fantastic, as per usual in a Nintendo game. Everything is bright, cheery, and well-designed. Sonics are fine. Gameplay is... erm... Mario 64-esque...
... but not as good.
It's all in the balance of the goals you must achieve to progress, or the lack of. Some are very, very easy, while others just rip open your face and spit. Then laugh. There's also the blue coin goals, which are just... wrong. They feel out of place, and are frustrating to complete.
It simply lacks the addictiveness of its predecessor, and isn't as much fun.
The Bottom Line
A good, solid platform game, that won't surprise you in any single way.
GameCube · by laemus (11) · 2003
1) Above all, the music is the best thing in the game. Koji Kondo has decades of experience doing his thing, and despite the continued use of MIDI sounds, SMS is some of the tightest platform music ever. It manages to convey a "feel" for the spirit of the game, reflect the tropical surroundings, and move the action/mood of the game forward all at the same time. It's really amazing what the music does for the game, and it should serve as an example for other platformers as to how easily a game is enhanced with quality stage ditties.
2) Nintendo manages to convincingly incorporate the new scenery and characters into the Mario world. I'm typically pretty picky about arbitrary additions to Mario/DK (Rare's Kongs, I'm looking at ALL of you), but I think the Piantas, Petey Piranha, etc are okay additions. Like I said, I'm not crazy about them, but I think they're not as offensive as other attempts to expand the Empire.
3) For all the grief it takes, the water pack is still a fun little gadget for platform gaming. C'mon, you know you enjoy blasting bee hives and anthropomorphic venus fly traps. It's fun!
4) Good level design in that the same level is used repeatedly for different objectives but fails to become stale thanks to the water pack tricks "opening" new areas of each level to explore.
5) Though not as impressive as the music, which I feel is up there with the best of any platformer I've played, the visuals are lush and stunning. The coronas produced by aiming your camera into the sun are a nice touch. Good looking game in many respects.
6) Play control is fairly tight. I would say "absolutely tight" if it weren't for the blasted camera in a few choice areas, which I'll mention in the "Bad."
1) Though I love the Mario world, STOP MAKING MARIO GAMES INTO COLLECT-FESTS!!! I can't say that emphatically enough. I loved the use of coins, flowers, and stars to give Yoshi's Island some extra replay, but the "Shine Get!" collect-fest is too much, Nintendo. I'm praying it's not a sign of things to come in the Mario Universe (though I know better).
2) The camera, while good in many places, is so bad in a few places as to negate all the good. I'm sure that a lot of work goes into making things work in this game, and I've given Nintendo more than enough credit in the "Good" section for some of those things. But to have bad camera control after the design experience of Mario 64 (which had a better camera, IMHO) is inexcusable.
3) Not really many fun "secrets" in this place, like SMB's so-called negative world, SMB3's warp whistles, or SMW's Star Road. Would have been a nice touch.
4A) I found most of the boss fights boring. I'm being picky on this one, but I thought I'd throw it out there. They just didn't excite me, maybe because the non-conventional structure of the game didn't make things feel to me like things were "building-up" to a boss fight.
4B) This ties in with 4A: I felt the incorporation of the "bad guys" and boss fights wasn't well considered. The jump to the fight with Bowser Sr. seemed sudden to me--I understand the big "build-up" to the final fight is easier when the worlds and levels/stages are numbered, and you know how far you've got until the big battle, but Nintendo should have thought of a non-traditional way to incorporate the final fight to match the non-traditional themes (for a Mario game/platformer, at least) in the remainder of the game.
5) Finally, I'm about the only person I know who thinks that the "old school" SMB-in-3D bonus stages were entirely unnecessary. I think they're a concession to Mario fans thrown in by the game's designers because they were worried this vacation would be too "different" for Mario fans. I dislike those bonus stages because they deviate from the theme of the game. Instead of bonus stages, I would've appreciated it if the designers put more thought into how to fit the bosses and boss fights into the game more cleverly.
The Bottom Line
The title of this review says it all. This game is clearly a "vacation" from the Mario series--everything in the design is screaming it: for example, the mushrooms, fire flowers, and goombas take a backseat to palm trees, evil goop, and durian kicking.
People who expected this game to be the fabled "Mario 128" or a true successor to Mario 64 aren't being fair to the game or the game's creators. Again, it's pretty clear from everything in the game (from the opening FMV of Mario's flight to the use of tricks and devices unfamiliar to the rest of the Mario world) that this game was designed to be not just a vacation for Mario but for his fans as well.
As a goofy aside (but one I'll try to relate to the overall message), I have a condition in which I often experience music as flavors, and whenever I play SMS or even just hear its music, I have the sensation of tasting fresh, slightly unripe mangoes on the roof of my mouth. And to me, that image is the intent with this game: it's not meant to be a heavy flavor, like ice cream or a thick sauce, but instead light, bright, and flavorful, like a sweet, slightly tart young mango or a citrusy sorbet.
If you dislike SMS, you should dislike it for being "light, bright, and flavorful." But don't dislike it for reasons its creators can't control. I like the game because I take it for what it is: a fun game that's very easy to pick up and play for a half of an hour or so. In the space of time you play it, you'll typically find yourself humming along to music and enjoying the sun-drenched visuals and relaxed characters and surroundings. A great addition to any GC library.
GameCube · by MagFram (33) · 2005
1001 Video Games
Super Mario Sunshine appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
There is a major glitch in the game that allows you to access a sub world, sometimes called the "Blue Hell". The game physics are dropped down (meaning, for example, you can move around normally underwater, but if you jump it will revert to normal) and you can access many areas with little or no effort, particularly the Yoshi fruit boats.
In the Japanese version of Super Mario Sunshine, "Isle Delfino" is known as "Dolphic Island". When a player retrieves a Shine Sprite, the "message" says "Shine Get!" instead of the English "Shine!" Also, despite being developed in Japan, the Japanese version is all in English with Japanese subtitles.
- This game is set on a tropical island named Isle Delfino. "Delfino" is Italian for "Dolphin", which was Gamecube's prototype's name. Also, there are some words written in Italian around the game, like "Benvenuto" ("welcome"), etc.
- There's a reference to the Beatles in this game. There is a yellow submarine on the Ricco Harbor stage.
- In the attic of the Hotel Delfino, the janitor complains about the ghosts, wishing someone would come and "suck them up in a vacuum cleaner". This is a reference to another Gamecube title, Luigi's Mansion, where Luigi did indeed suck up ghosts in a vacuum cleaner.
- When you first find FLUDD, look in the lower left corner to view scenes from previous Mario games, including Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World, and Super Mario 64.
- 2002 – Best GameCube Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
- 2002– Best GameCube Dexterity Game of the Year
- 2002 – Best GameCube Dexterity Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
Related Sites +
Super Mario Sunshine
Nintendo's Official Site.
- MobyGames ID: 7178
- Wikipedia (en)
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Servo.
Game added August 28th, 2002. Last modified November 5th, 2023.