Tuesday, April 09, 2013

My Month with Super Mario Sunshine, Part 1

At long last, I've started playing through Super Mario Sunshine--a game that was released all the way back in 2002 but which I didn't acquire until a few years ago.

So far, I've only played this tropical-themed, GameCube-based platformer for about three hours. I had hoped to spend a bit more time with it than that in the last week or so, of course, but that's all I was able to devote to it due to an overly busy work schedule and an annoying bout of tendinitis (at least that's what I think it is) in my right arm.

What do I think of Super Mario Sunshine after capturing my first seven "Shine Sprites"? Here are the game's pros and cons as I current see them.


FLUDD--Although Mario's water-squirting accessory is far from perfect in my mind, I'm still enjoying tinkering with it. I especially enjoy making use of its hovering capabilities.

Isle Delfino--To be honest, before I began I wasn't sure if I was going to like Super Mario Sunshine's resort-like setting. Those apprehensions flew out the window as soon as I set foot into the title's first real stage ("Road to the Big Windmill"), which is so bright and cheerful that only avowed curmudgeons are likely to find it off-putting. That said, it'll be interesting to see if the atmosphere retains its freshness throughout this adventure or if it becomes a bit stale and repetitive over time.

Non-FLUDD stages--I've lost track of how many people have told me over the years that this game's "secret stages," which don't allow players to use Mario's FLUDD contraption, are its highlight. Given all of that hype, you'd think that I may have found them underwhelming. I haven't. In fact, the break they offer from the Isle Delfino levels has been refreshing so far, as has the "old school" challenge they offer.


A little help, please?--Although I've only played through a couple of Super Mario Sunshine's many stages so far, I've already found myself lost on more than a few occasions. One of those occasions ("Petey Piranha Strikes Back") was due to the title not properly showing me what I was supposed to do (or, rather, where I was supposed to find ol' Petey), while another ("Red Coins of Windmill Village") was due to me being unable to discern the location of an unearthed Shine Sprite. Granted, I'm usually against games doing too much to hold a player's hand, but in this case I think a bit more could be done to let someone know

Playing blind--As much as I've been annoyed by the above-mentioned situation so far, it's nothing compared to his one, which centers on Super Mario Sunshine's often-wonky camera. Especially frustrating for me has been attempting to jump from the ground or a roof or a wall onto one of the game's many tightropes, although attempting to race along the tops of said walls and roofs can be just as trying.

Given all of the above, what's my current consensus of this GameCube "classic"? Sadly, I have to say that I'm finding it more annoying and less enjoyable than I imagined I would before I booted it up for the first time.

That's mainly because of all of the problems I'm having with its camera, though, so hopefully I'll come to terms with that aspect of the game in time. (If not, don't be surprised if this series of posts ends with me sharing that I've put my trusty WaveBird controller through our TV or one of our walls.)

Now that I've had my say, what do all of you think of this game--and my impressions of it so far?

See also: previous 'Bye-Bye, Backlog' posts


Justin Difazzio said...

Keep going. Ricco Harbor is great! The hotel level is a little strange, but fun.

thegaygamer.com said...

Is Ricco Harbor the one with the ships and all of the fences to climb? If so, the first level there already stumped me :| Seriously, I don't know what it is with me and this game! I never felt this confused while playing SM64 or either of the Galaxy games. Anyway, don't worry, I'm not giving up ... yet.

thegaygamer.com said...

Hey there, Matt! Thanks for the bit of advice. I wouldn't say I've been fighting the camera so far, but I'll do my best to remember your words of wisdom when I finally get the inkling to fight it (which I know will happen eventually).

Jyr said...

I'm happy to see you're mostly enjoying it (is that a leap?).

I'm really looking forward to your reaction on some of the later levels, especially the near-endgame Fludd-less sections.

thegaygamer.com said...

Honestly, Jyr, at the moment I'd say I'm a bit annoyed with the game. I can't believe how long it took me to collect some of the early-stage Shine Sprites--due mostly to not knowing where the hell to go and/or to having a hard time with the camera.

Don't worry, though, I'm not giving up on the game ... yet. I'm not sure I'd expect me to play this one as religiously as I played, say, Dragon Quest Heroes, though!

diaglyph said...

Just trying to remember my experience. Hmm I think I got maybe 3 quarters into the game? I don't really remember being irritated by what you listed. As I've mentioned for me it's the fludd control when squirting that I had major issues with.
This might be surprising to see from me, but keep at it. I do remember having fun with some of the levels and the main plaza theme is now stuck in my head forever too LOL (especially the notification sound effects LOL)
As annoying as it was, I really like the water and goop effects

Nightmare Bruce said...

Oh man, when I saw you were going to tackle this game I was excited and hoping you'd love it. It's been a long time since I played so I can't remember the camera issues (we were probably more forgiving of wonky cameras back then) but as a total package the presentation of Sunshine won me over completely.

It's certainly the "brightest" Mario game there is, and the sunny atmosphere (i seem to remember some nice atmospheric "heat haze" in the backgrounds sometimes too) and hub world/NPCs doing their own thing makes this feel like a vacation from the standard Mario formula--I guess it really is supposed to feel like a vacation, considering that's what Mario & company were doing before the trouble started. Not to say that other Mario games are deadly serious, but the "no big deal" atmosphere of Sunshine was a real pleasure to me. Playing with FLUDD is awesome too, and makes me appreciate the tough FLUDD-less platforming bonus stages more.

Does it excuse vague gameplay and a crappy camera? Probably not for most sensible people, but the look and feel of the game is so damn infectious I can't help but love it. Even lacking the considerable wow factor of Mario Galaxy, I'd venture that I might prefer Sunshine when it comes to Feel Good Experience. I should probably revisit the game before saying something like that though, haha. Give it a little more time and it might grow on you more.

thegaygamer.com said...

Hello again, Jeremy! (It is Jeremy, right? Or have I got it wrong again? Gah, the fact that your username is Bruce really throws me off...)

Anyway, yes, the look and feel of this game is great. And I like the 'heat haze' in the background, too. Very nice atmospheric effect, if you ask me.

I like FLUDD, but I have to admit I have a slightly hard time when I'm supposed to hose things down. Hovering over them and squirting them that way is much easier for me.

Anyway, I'm not giving up on this one, don't worry about that. Also, no worries at all about having positive things to say about a game that you haven't played in a while. I say positive things about Super Mario 64 quite often, for instance, even though I haven't played it in a number of years!

That said, it would be interesting, I think, for you to replay it and see if you still feel the same way about it...

Alois_Wittwer said...

Have you sprayed the ground ahead of you, bellyflopped forward with B, and watch Mario whizz across the surface like a rocket yet?

Sunshine is all about the lovely boisterous animation and cheerful exploration over the more directed challenges of older Mario games (and Super Mario Galaxy in particular). To be lost in this game is just another adventure.

thegaygamer.com said...

Oh, sure, Igor, now you're coming around saying you weren't that irritated by the game? :P

BTW, I also have some issues with controlling ol' FLUDD--mainly when I'm supposed to stand and squirt it at something (as opposed to hovering and squirting).

Anyway, I am having some fun with the game ... no worries there. I hope, though, that I'll eventually have *more* fun with it than I'm having now.

thegaygamer.com said...

Hmmm, I don't think I have, Alois! I'll have to give that a try sometime today, I guess :)

As for having fun exploring, etc.: I can see that, and I'll do my best. That said, you can't spend the whole game just running around--not if you want to see everything it has to offer. At some point, you have to beat stages/challenges, and right now that's proving to be a bit of a challenge for me :|

Nightmare Bruce said...

I agree. Tomorrow I'll track down my copy and give it a shot..replaying old favorites and seeing if they live up to my memory of em might give me some content for my blog! (also yes it's Jeremy haha, but I answer to whatever)

thegaygamer.com said...

Ah, that's great! I look forward to hearing what you think of the game now, Jeremy :)

diaglyph said...


yea I was enjoying the game until I encountered those 2 missions (beach clean up and 2nd or 3rd race with the idiot Il Piantissimo (I really started hating the guy LOL). I know the trick with squirting water on the ground to make you move faster, but I could just never pull it off, no matter what I tried - it just made me feel really stupid and uncoordinated LOL

So yea, those 2 missions made me rage quit

thegaygamer.com said...

Ah, well, I guess I'll look forward to encountering those stages/missions myself--not! Sorry to hear they caused you to stop playing the game :|

Justin Difazzio said...

It's hard to get UP to the girders you're supposed to be on. Try a combination of wall jumping and hovering. My joy with this game is in the ability to sort of outsmart the landscape with a combination of jumps and hovering stuff...and the rocket nozzle is sheer joy.

thegaygamer.com said...

I'll do my best, Justin! Haven't played in a few days, but I'm going to give it another go tonight.