Super Mario Sunshine is a Mario action-adventure 3D platformer. It follows Super Mario 64, and is the second 3D Mario platformer. Gameplay features a combination of action and puzzle solving, with numerous stages and multiple episodes to each stage, and plenty of hidden secrets and surprises. This game introduced many recurring characters and bosses in the Mario series, including Toadsworth, Bowser Jr., Petey Piranha, Gooper Blooper, Piantas, Nokis, Shadow Mario, and F.L.U.D.D. Super Mario Sunshine pays homage to Mario's Italian heritage and upbringing, with many of the locations in the game having Italian names and sometimes referencing Italian culture.
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It's super neat and charming, albeit it has some odd elements and a lack of polish. It's biggest sin is the structure, resulting in some shine sprites being required and some being absolutely worthless to progression.
Bowser Jr is a baby and I love him.
Man, this one hurts. In my mind, Super Mario Sunshine was always given a bad rap. People love to hate on it, and I always thought they were just being soulless grumps. The Vibe is untouchable! How could you hate Mario on the beach!
I was wrong, and the haters are right. Mario is so fun to control, and the FLUDD mechanic works well enough, but the game is constantly piling janky gimmicks on you to work around that are frustrating at best and unplayable bad at worst. I thought the Pachinko machine was the worst of the gimmicks when thinking back on this game, an odd outlier in a charming romp. I was wrong! Almost every shine is a mess. I game overed 3 times on the blooper red coin shine in Ricco Harbor crashing into the dock that the shine was on. I had to stop playing on the god awful Gelato Beach watermelon shine because it was driving me insane. The boat mechanic in Corona Mountain almost made me give up on beating the last boss, like 5 minutes away from the ending. It's a mess!
Outside of the actual gameplay, there is a lot to like setting and story wise. The plot about Bowser Jr trying to kidnap Peach because she's his mom has weird implications. Is Bowser hitting it raw? if so, what a legend. It's also weird that they made FLUDD sentient to me, as it never really comes into play? It barely talks to you, and you don't really develop any sort of connection to it, it never transcends tool status to the point of being a character (which makes the fake out death at the end feel weird and out of place? who cares, its literally a pump, Mario can get a new one).
the levels themselves look great, and like I said controlling Mario is fluid and fun. Also, this has some of the best music in any Nintendo game. Delfino Plaza theme is an all timer.
TL:DR - As a long time defender of this game, I was very disappointed to find that when you remove the kid goggles, its kind of unplayable? bummer!