Today I am reviewing the second game that is part of the Super Mario 3D All Stars collection, Super Mario Sunshine. If you were looking for the first part that covers Super Mario 64, you can find it here: Review: Super Mario 3D All-Stars, Part 1: Super Mario 64 (Switch).
So as I begin my review, it should be noted that Super Mario Sunshine is collectively considered the weakest of the three games in this collection, and is also considered the worst of the 3D Mario games (with the possible exception on the DS remake of Super Mario 64). To the best of my recollection before replaying this game for this review, I wasn’t particularly bothered by the quality of Super Mario Sunshine when I first played it on the Nintendo GameCube. So now it is time to look at whether or not this general dislike for the game holds any weight, or if it was blown out of proportion.
I suppose the first thing that separates Super Mario Sunshine from the rest of 3D Mario games is the addition of the “F.L.U.D.D.”, a device that shoots water and doubles as a jetpack. It is used in a variety of ways, but mostly cleans up graffiti in Mario’s adventure. Mario can change to the F.L.U.D.D.’s hover nozzle to help him reach higher locations, or jump a little farther as he moves around the game world. The hover nozzle helps out a lot, but moves Mario somewhat slowly as you get that extra boost.
There is also the turbo nozzle and boost nozzle to run faster or jump much higher respectively. These aren’t used as often, and requires a pickup to use in some stages, but are fun additions nonetheless. It would have been more enjoyable if the main adventure required them more, but it doesn’t work out that way.
The F.L.U.D.D. also has to refill its water supply the more you use it. This is easy enough to do, as Mario just has to jump into a body of water, run by a sprinkler, or grab a water bottle, and it fills right up. Most of the time, I never got close to running out thanks to the tropical island setting and plentiful bodies of water in this game.
I should also note that there are some differences in controls in this edition of Super Mario Sunshine. If you do not use a GameCube controller, (there was an update that allowed this option after the initial release date) you cannot control the water pressure from the F.L.U.D.D. by adjusting how hard you press the trigger button. This rarely hindered my play sessions on my end, but I noticed it a little bit nonetheless. Additionally, to enter first person view in order to aim the water nozzle, you have to click the right analogue stick to toggle between perspectives.
Aside from that, the controls are relatively smooth, as Mario is at least as fun to move around in Super Mario Sunshine as in Super Mario 64. I noticed that wall jumps were easier to perform in this game than its predecessor. There are some physics based glitches that can make it somewhat harder to move around, particularly in the special platforming segments. This can throw you off a bit and can lead to losing a life quite often.
To make progress in Super Mario Sunshine, you need to collect shine sprites at the end of each level. These are roughly equivalent to Super Mario 64’s stars, but there are some distinctions surrounding their collection. Most notable are the requirements to get to the final level of the game. Unlike Super Mario 64, you have to collect the 7th shine sprite in each level to open up the final stage. You have to get each previous shine sprite in each level, in order, to do this. Also unlike Super Mario 64, you have to gather the sprite that you choose from in the level menu, as the other sprites do not appear in separate episodes.
What makes this somewhat frustrating is that you lack the freedom to try to skip a hard to get sprite if you want to beat the game. You can avoid a difficult task if you have access to other levels for a time, but you eventually have to complete that task if you want to see the ending of the game. Also odd is that for the sake of just beating the game, gathering any of the extra shine sprites does nothing to increase progress, so the extra collections of blue coins and other shine sprites seems pointless except for those who want to do everything.
On the other hand, there is some good variety in these levels. Many of them tell a slight story. For example, there is a hotel covered in graffiti in episode 1, then you go inside it in the next episode as they are cleaning it up, and eventually check out the casino when it is ready. It isn’t much, but it still is a nice touch.
However, this variety leads to an inconsistent difficulty curve. You could start a level on an easy note, then jump to a difficult platforming segment without the F.L.U.D.D., then end the level in a very easy Shadow Mario chase (the 7th shine sprite for every level, by the way). Let’s not forget that difficult but cool looking sand bird stage midway through the second area, where you can suddenly lose your footing at almost any time!
Even the final level and boss fight has this weird difficulty curve to it. Without giving anything away, it starts out easy enough, gets quite difficult near the middle, eases somewhat near the end before the finale, then the final battle is practically too easy. Most games get harder overall throughout the course of the game, with slight dips in difficulty after certain milestones. The hardest challenge is almost always at the end, or is a secret after the game is finished. This doesn’t happen here, and it is an odd feeling when you play to find a task that is too annoying at first, only to find out that the rest of the game is easier. Greater freedom in what tasks you need to complete, or a normal difficulty curve would make this game feel much better.
Super Mario Sunshine doesn’t feel like the complete flop that everyone says it is. It isn’t perfect but it doesn’t have to be. It is fun to move around and try out the water gun based mechanics. Yet, on the other hand, you can run into awkward roadblocks that impede progress for a while, but then the game let’s up on the difficulty for the next few tasks. This game is awkward, but playable if you can get past its general faults and awkward difficulty curve. It can be fun to play again every several years after the memory fades of the last time you played it.
For Super Mario Galaxy, follow this link: Review: Super Mario 3D All Stars, Part 3: Super Mario Galaxy (Switch)
- Get used to the controls early.
- Mix up the order you play in each area, to limit boredom from seeing the same area over and over again.
- If one level is too tough, come back to it later assuming you have more areas to complete.
- If you want to beat the game, then complete up to episode 7 of each level.
- You can get everything after beating the game if you are very persistent and observant. You will need to find every blue coin, and to complete a lot of optional areas and tasks. You are rewarded with a new ending screen, but this might not be enough motivation for a lot of players.
- Good graphics, especially considering the original hardware.
- Good music.
- Mostly good controls.
- The F.L.U.D.D. adds some uniqueness to the gameplay.
- There are some brutal platforming sections.
- Erratic difficulty curves.
- Some controls feel off in this edition, depending on the controller used.
- Little need to collect everything, a tedious task.
8.4/10 A great game, despite its flaws
Not everyone would appreciate Super Mario Sunshine fully. It does offer variety, but has an awkward difficulty curve that may cause some players to lose motivation. Since parts of the game don’t age as poorly as Mario 64, yet also don’t reach the same highs as Mario 64, the range could be a 7.8-8.6 for some players.
And that covers my review of Super Mario Sunshine. Stay tuned for the review of Super Mario Galaxy coming soon. What was your favorite part of this game? Did you like or dislike the F.L.U.D.D.? Did you encounter any odd glitches? Let me know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this review, then click that like button and share on social media. To keep up with That’s All Games, you can also subscribe via email or WordPress. Until next time, have fun gaming!