Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The Black Sheep of Mario: Super Mario Sunshine

Hi readers. I've been playing a little old game called Super Mario Sunshine on the Nintendo Gamecube.  It is generally acknowledged that Sunshine was a bit of a wet fart in the history of Mario's console platformer outings and you can see why this is the case just by looking at it.

First of all, what the hell is all this Delfino Plaza rubbish? Speaking as someone who waited for this game, I was there expecting this long awaited Mario game and looked forward to the coin collecting, Piranha Plant avoiding, old school action that we all loved the moustachioed jumping midget for in the first place. Instead we got some thoroughly unlike-able creatures called the Pianta people getting rather irate about some trippy coloured vandalism which actually makes the bland Delfino Plaza only more interesting to look at.

We don't even get to the Princess kidnap scene for at least an hour perhaps and even then it's all just a bit weird. Not Mario at all. Hell we even get some kinda talkin' water powered jet pack (that has no real personality) so we don't even get to enjoy any real pixel perfect jumping action except for the 'special' abstract levels which to be frank felt really tacked on and more or all of the game should have been like that.

The game feels more difficult than it should because tricky jumps need to be cleared using the aforementioned fiddly FLUDD jet pack. The difficulty of said jumps is amplified due to dodgy game cameras and awkward level design. But even with these glitches Super Mario Sunshine never seems too unfair and the game does not just give away its Shines, it is a real fight to nab them all. I repeat, the character of FLUDD is very dull (even with the tongue in cheek Dr E. Gadd reference) and I maintain to this day that I honestly couldn't care less about the fate of any of Isle Delfino's inhabitants. Yet I have to concede that every Shine in this game contributes to some greater narrative and the platform action is quite nicely wrapped around this.

 To an unseasoned player expecting an easy ride, Sunshine does not offer you that and once you figure out how to even find the Shines you are after, you then have to actually go and bloody do it. I very much enjoy the game but I can see why Nintendo made the Star goals very clear in their subsequent Galaxy games.

Now of course the Mario franchise has had its fair stick from the likes of Zero Punctuation and those who prefer to only play grown-up looking games, which is fine because let's face it, Mario is so squeaky clean his perfect little while gloves have never so much as seen the bad side of a blocked up U-bend in his entire plumbing career. That being said, Sunshine shows how devious Nintendo can be when they really want to be. An open challenge to Mario-haters and those who claim 'Nintendo is easy' is to put up or shut up and play this game first. It will school you.

Verdict: Hardcore despite its flaws.