Super Mario Sunshine - GameCube

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Viewed: 3D Third-person, floating camera Genre:
Arcade origin:No
Developer: Nintendo Soft. Co.: Nintendo
Publishers: Nintendo (GB/US/JP/GB)
Released: 19 Jul 2002 (JP)
26 Aug 2002 (US)
4 Oct 2002 (GB)
10 Oct 2003 (GB)
Ratings: PEGI 3+, 3+
Accessories: Memory Card


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Five years, five months and three days is a long time to wait for a video game, especially when it's the sequel to what is inarguably the greatest game of all time. Luigi's Mansion may have whetted our appetite on launch day but this game is the reason why we all bought our Gamecubes. Whether Nintendo's decision not to release this as a launch title was intentional or more related to time constraints is no longer an issue - the big guy is back. Please give it up for Super Mario Sunshine!

Taking a well-earned break following his previous adventure in the Mushroom Kingdom and recent imprisonment in a certain haunted mansion, Mario heads out to a remote, sun-drenched island, along with his special lady, Peach. Upon their arrival it transpires that some cheeky young scamp has been polluting the island, thus causing its energy source, the Shine Sprites, to diminish. What's worse is that, according to the inhabitants, the person responsible for the mess has a round nose, a thick moustache, and a cap! Oh my word! So, anyway, following a rather brief and unforgiving court case, the falsely accused tubby plumber is charged with cleaning up the island.

This daunting task is made somewhat more bearable by FLUDD, the back-strapped water cannon. FLUDD is Mario's primary weapon in his quest for cleanliness and is used, amongst other things, to squirt enemies, clean up the gunge and graffiti, activate switches and, at the push of a button, propel our hero through the air. The combination of this tool, along with the moustachioed Italian's already-existing versatility, makes for an astounding array of moves. You'll probably spend ages merely running around the game world, finding out what the guy is capable of. Run, jump, hover, climb, swing, swim, spray - the list goes on.

The game world itself, in similar vein to Mario 64, is based around a central hub, with a number of small worlds accessible from certain areas around it. An expansive and lively environment, bustling with interactive inhabitants, Delfino Island is this hub. Throughout the island, the evil Mario-impostor has graffiti'd a number of walls and buildings. Upon receipt of a squirt of water, these paintings transform into portals to the various worlds, each world having a number of polluted areas, puzzles, objectives and bosses that need cleaning, solving, completing and defeating respectively. In each case, the reward is a Shine Sprite, a cleaner area and a generally increased amount of good feeling amongst the natives.

That about sums it up. Collect the full 120 Shine Sprites in order to complete the game. But, honestly, that doesn't sum it up at all. There's so much to this game that it can't be fully quantified in these pages. Tons of interactive characters populate expansive and diverse environments, which contain some of the most innovative level design ever witnessed in the world of video games. The levels are also incredibly interactive, with the sheer amount of the protagonist's moves and abilities meaning there's seemingly nothing that can't be accomplished. It looks gorgeous as well.

Like Super Mario 64 before it, Sunshine has created a benchmark and set a precedent for the 3D platform genre. Hopefully, this time around, other developers will be inspired by the game, rather than shamelessly turfing out second-rate clones. Failing that, lets just hope it's not going to be another five years, five months and three days before we see this standard of game again.