My first Mario game was Super Mario sunshine for the Nintendo Gamecube. Although it holds a great deal of nostalgia value for me, after playing all the main line Mario games I have to come clean and admit that super Mario sunshine is the worst Mario game.
Before I start to explain why I think this. I first have to say that I love Mario. Ever since I was young I have been enjoying this fat Italian plumbers adventures. great controls, solid level design, memorable worlds. All of these are what you expect when you play a Mario game. But even though they are all essentially platforms all of the mainline games are different and add something new to the formula. So here is a quick rundown of all the Mario games just to give context to why I think Mario Sunshine is the worst in the series
The first Super Mario Innovated the platforming genre. you can make a case that this is the most innovative game of all time, and for good reason. The controls feel are extremely tight and responsive, and the levels are designed to be fair and challenging. It’s never the games fault when you die, it’s your own fault. Over 30 years later and it’s still a solid, fun game.
Then after Mario 2, They perfected the 2d platformer with Super Mario bros 3. With this new installment the level design and solid controls where back better than ever. but they also added an overworld system with diverging paths, A p meter that fills up when Mario’s momentum builds up, and a bunch of new powerups. With all of those elements added up together, you have my favorite game in the NES library.
Then they came out with super Mario world which is more or less Mario 3 on with better graphics. I know there are a lot more differences than that but that’s essentially what it brings new to the table. Also it’s the first game where Yoshi shows up
Then, In 1996, Super Mario 64 came out.
Remember how I said that you could make an argument of how Super Mario 1 is the most influential game? well Mario 64, I think, Is what most people think is the most influential game of all time. There where 3d games before this, but none of them felt this good or fluid to move around in. This was also the first non linear mission based Mario game. Meaning that the levels have multiple missions to complete that can be completed out of order. Many people have this as their greatest game of all time, and I think, for a good reason.
Now skipping sunshine for a little bit let’s talk about the Galaxy games and Super Mario 3d World. First Galaxy 1 and 2. Super Mario galaxy 1 and 2 are both games on the Wii. And because of that they both incorporate motion control. But luckily it’s integrated well enough so it not only doesn’t impede the game play, but sometimes it even facilitates it. It goes back to a more linear style, but that’s alright because all the levels in this game are brimming with good level design that utilizes it’s gravity mechanics to its fullest.
That brings us to super Mario 3d world. Super Mario 3d worlds gimmick is that it’s a 3d game designed like a 2d mario game. They are able to do this by always keeping the camera at a fixed angle and your goal is to complete the stages by touching the flagpole. The level design in this game is the highlight for me. Every level is brimming with creativity and new gimmicks to explore. If you are looking for a classic platforming game then this game is the one for you.
That brings us back to Sunshine.
Now before I continue, I just want to say that I don’t think Sunshine is a bad game, In fact I think it’s a very good game. But it does have some issues that I think need to be pointed out.
Number 1: Glitches
This has to be the most glitchy Mario game I have ever played. Now i’m not saying the other games never had any gliches but the frequency of when I experience the gliches are light and day. Remember that pachinko level?
on more than one occasion there where spots where Mario would be stuck on the nail forcing me to quit the level and reenter. If it was just that level that was glitchy I wouldn’t mind so much, but the entire game has glitches that just ruins the immersion. This game just isn’t as polished as the rest of the series.
Number 2: Gameplay
As a sequel to super Mario 64, Super Mario sunshine Took some of the movement options that Mario had in that game and added fludd.
Now Fludd, or your Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device, expands Mario’s move set by giving Mario the ability to hover, and the ability to shoot water for attacking and cleaning goop. Now I’m going to try to explain to you why I think the inclusion of fludd was a bad idea
First of all because of the new Hover ability, the pace of the game is slowed down to a halt. With hovering it takes forever to do anything. Now compare the act of hovering to long jumping, which is faster? Long jumping, but not only is it faster, it feels more fluid and responsive to long jump over a gap instead of just hovering over it.
The second reason I don’t like Fludd is that he Feels like a safety net. All of the challenge of platforming has been erased with the inclusion of fludd and replaced with challenge with controlling boats and other poorly designed gimmicks (refer back to pachinko stage)
That’s not to say that there aren’t any levels that utilize flood for platforming. One of my favorite levels of the game has you jumping across great distances with the boost powerup for flood
This game would have been up there with the best of the series if there where more moments like this.
one other thing that I don’t like about the gameplay is Marios downgraded movelist. In mario 64 you could crawl, longjump, and back flip. Sure you could spin jump in Sunshine, but that never feels as satisfying to pull off as a longjump.
Number 3: Level Design
A big reason I play these games are for the level design. And out of all Mario games, Super Mario sunshine has the worst. And I think the underlying problem with the level design is the dev team trying to keep continuity intact.
What I mean by this is that Is that super Mario sunshine tries so hard to keep the levels logically consistent at the consequence of lowering the quality of the level. The best Example I can think of this is Pinna Park
Pinna Park Is an amusement park at isle delphino plaza. And since it’s an amusement park there are a bunch of rides (obviously) but it seems like the dev team tried to make the level seem like a real amusement park instead of trying to make it fun to traverse. If you try the red coin mission in this level, you will realize just how annoying and poorly designed this level is.
That’s not to say there are only bad levels, In fact my favorite Mario levels of all time are in this game. The secret levels that take fludd away from you really challenge your mastery of the games mechanics.
These levels are fun but they are only a small part of the whole game.
Number 4: The Missions
The missions in this game are so goddamn annoying. And I’m not just talking about the pachinko missions or the missions you have to steer a boat. I’m talking about how most of these missions are designed. Now to be fair most of them aren’t that bad. But some of them just go off the deep end.
The worst one in this game is Yoshi’s Fruit Adventure.
This has to be one of the most tedious levels in all of gaming. I’m going to explain how you beat it and keep in mind if you screw up once, you have to start all over. So the plot of this mission is that there is a star off of Rico harbor, but the star is in a high place so you can’t get to it with conventional means. The only way to get the star is to get Yoshi to spray the fish jumping out of the water to make platforms to get to where the star is. The whole way over there you are passing over water, so if you screw up once you have to start all over. Here is the video of this level.
Hopefully you get the idea for why I don’t like this game as much as the other Mario games. I could go all day nitpicking why I think yoshi was terribly implemented or the god awful camera and terrible voice acting, but I feel like we would be here all day if I did that.
Also I don’t want you guys getting the wrong idea. This game holds a special place in my heart. The setting, presentation, and music are all really good and despite how much I critique it, I actually like this game a lot. Maybe the reason I’m so hard on this game is because I like it so much…
I give Super Mario Sunshine a 6/10, It’s definitely better than most games, but just not on par with other, more polished games.