Die Another Day

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Super Mario Sunshine Review Written By:  Alex Sandell

Steal from your failures and learn how to win:

Super Mario Sunshine succeeds where I felt that Super Mario 64 failed: it makes you feel like you're playing a classic 2D Mario game in a 3D world. Unlike 64, the bad guys are numerous, the platforming is plentiful, and the game is incredibly hard. If you've grown accustomed to the new style of 3D gaming (IE - walk around for hours doing nothing, solve a puzzle, raise your "charisma" and buy magical weapons that you never have to use on the painfully easy, and easily avoidable, bad guys) and can't handle a game that isn't boring to the point of absurdity, the fast-paced and frantic Super Mario Sunshine definitely won't be your cup of tea (is it fair to assume that you drink tea?  Usually decaf?).  But, if you're an old school gamer who likes your blood pressure high and your games challenging, Super Mario Sunshine will allow you to take one nostalgic step back as you jump to exciting new heights. Sunshine stole the excellent concept utilized in its innovative Nintendo 64 predecessor, and has turned that concept into an excellent gameSuper Mario Sunshine is one of the best platformers ever created, it is the best platformer in over half a decade, and it's the best 3D platformer ever made.

Why you shouldn't play on your treadmill:

I purchased the wireless Wavebird controller, thinking that it would be sorta nifty to play the game as I ran on my treadmill.  I turned on the Gamecube, went to the treadmill, started a slow jog of about 4.5 miles per hour and ran in place like a gigantic hamster with a ponytail as Mario ran, jumped and hovered throughout the many massive levels contained in the game.  Things came to a grinding halt when Mario stopped running to look around for something, and I ended up stopping too, as the treadmill kept going, causing me to fly off the damn thing, removing about 20% of my little toe in the process.  Mama-mia!

Big dicks and camera tricks:

In Super Mario Sunshine you are given complete freedom with the camera.  Unless you're trying to defy physics and get it to zoom through a wall for you, you can move it virtually anywhere.  And move it you will . . . constantly.  This freedom the developers gave the player has caused a lot of friction in gaming groups, where spoiled teeny-boppers and fully-grown virgins have taken a short break from arguing over whose dick is bigger, who has the best console and who manages the nicest hotel, to debate over who knows more about control schemes.  I thought that changing angles throughout the game became second nature and feel that Super Mario Sunshine has the best camera system ever implemented in a 3D platformer.  Did I mention that my dick is bigger than yours, my console is better, and the hotel I run is the Delfino?  Don't doubt me again, bitch.

Pure platforming bliss:

After a fairly slow beginning, you are thrown into a 3D world of pure platforming bliss. The water gun that they strapped to Mario's back is definitely not a gimmick. The entire game seems to be structured around the gun.  Being that you can now hover, much of the game works from the bottom up (think of the old-fashioned gaming structure used in classics such as Popeye or Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).  You run up mountains, hover over windmills, jump from one really high bouncy rubber band thing to an even higher bouncy rubber band thing.  The gun even changes the type of enemies you fight in the game.  There is one exceptionally fun level where you hover over a huge Manta Ray, dividing it in two, then hover over the two Manta Rays, dividing them into four, and so on.  By the time you're hopping, hovering, dodging and destroying hundreds of mini Manta Rays, you notice an incredible similarity between this level and the classic Asteroids video game from the early 1980s.  Asteroids isn't the only classic video game Super Mario Sunshine pays homage to.  There's Pac-Man, Dig-Dug, and Mario is even running up levels to reach bosses, just like he did in the first game he ever appeared in, Donkey Kong.  Along with the old-fashioned gameplay comes the old-fashioned frustration. 

Do you remember playing Super Mario World and wanting to pull your hair out, you were so frustrated? Those days are back, and when you finally pass a level you have spent hours struggling with, you feel the same sense of satisfaction that you did back when you were still at an age when you could get away with that feeling without feeling like you're acting too young for your age.  Oh, and don't forget that you now have less hair to pull out, due to male-pattern baldness, and therefore know that an elderly gamer is indeed a happy gamer.  There are a few levels that seem like they will be impossible to beat, but with a lot of perseverance and free time on your hands, you will end up beating them.  It was refreshing to finally have a platform game released on a next generation console that took me over 20 hours to finish (it actually took me just over 40).

The Wavebird doesn't really fly (but it does seem pretty durable):

Fucking Nintendo.  Birds are supposed to fly, damnit!  Now I have one beat up Wavebird, thanks to those annoying damn levels where Shadow Mario takes away your water gun thing and you have to jump your way through what seems like a retro Hell, with pictures of the original Mario jumping around in the background to the classic Mario soundtrack.  Stupid classic soundtracks.  Stupid Shadow Mario taking away your trusty water gun.  Stupid retro Hell levels.  Stupid original Mario jumping around in the background.  Stupid temper causing me to throw my wavebird controller against the wall.  Thank Heaven for duck tape and glue. 

Subtle Xbox slam, just for shits and giggles:

When you're around water, which is over half of the game, the graphics are gorgeous. When you are on dry land things get a bit drabber. Still, even on land there are times that you are amazed over the colorful worlds created for this newest Mario and the graphics are always more than sufficient. Definitely a big jump up (don't you dig all these little jumping references I keep including?) from Super Mario 64, as it should be. The graphics are worthy of any of the new consoles out there and the water effects are literally the best Iíve ever seen.  There were quite a few collision detection problems in a certain level ("The Watermelon Festival"), which made me feel like I was playing the Xbox, but the fact that they were only in one level reminded me that I was still using the superior Gamecube.  The graphics become better the further you progress into the game.  The people behind Super Mario Sunshine definitely saved the best for the second half, so make sure you don't give up before you get there!

Yoshi's back!:

Damn I missed that little bastard.


Very Mario. Almost more Mario than the original, if that's possible. The music from the first Super Mario is back (two different themes) and a bunch of new stuff is included that gets firmly stuck in your head, causing you to hum corny synthesized music throughout the day, humiliating yourself in the process. All Mario's little "woo-hoo" type things from Mario 64 are included, which are always fun, when they're not wildly grating. The only problem with the sound is the annoying Princess Peach. She sounds like Britney Spears on helium. All in all, the sound, like the rest of the game, is far more Super Mario World than Super Mario 64, and will put a smile on your face Ö at least when it doesnít have you ripping out your last remaining hairs and throwing controllers at your already abused walls.

Gameplay: 10
Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Overall: 10

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All text is copyright ©2002 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].  If you copy this, without my permission, I'll be the last boss you'll ever face!

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