In this series of articles we'll write about one or more Mario game per day, each representing a different year as part of our Super Mario 30th Anniversary celebrations.
It was a bold move from Nintendo to launch the GameCube in 2001 without a Mario game. The tables were turned so that Mario's link to the launch was through new series Luigi's Mansion, putting the green half of the Mario Bros. in his first starring role. Super Mario Sunshine arrived the following year in 2002, six years after Super Mario 64 showed the world how 3D platformers should be done. No pressure then. Gamers eagerly waited to see what Shigeru Miyamoto had cooked up for this long awaited follow-up in the Mario series.
The game starts with Mario packing his blue dungarees to jet off to the sun-kissed tropical Isle Delfino for a well-earned vacation with Princess Peach and some Toads. Of course the relaxation doesn't last long as a Mario imposter steals the coveted Shine Sprites and covers the island in toxic slime.
Thankfully Mario is joined by a robotic backpack named FLUDD (Flash Liquidizing Ultra Dousing Device) so he can clean up the slimy mess and reach new areas. Using different nozzles Mario can even use FLUDD as a jetpack which helps with tricky platforming sections and to reach higher ground. Yoshi even shows up in the game for Mario to ride on.
While Super Mario Sunshine was received positively by critics of its day, it wasn't without some annoying quirks. Compared to the sublime Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy which would follow on the Wii all those years later, Sunshine does lack a bit of polish, as if it were rushed to market. The in-game camera struggles at times, the game story and voice-over work isn't the best and on the whole the game arguably doesn't do anything to shake up the 3D platformer genre in the sense that Mario 64 did.
That's not to say that Sunshine isn't a whole heap of fun. Exploring the island of Delfino at a leisurely pace is a delight and the abstract secret stages where Mario is stripped of his FLUDD hovering abilities are pure platforming joy. The game has definitely left fond memories with a number of our readers, as well as our very own Andrew Karklins who wrote warmly of his Sunshine memories recently.
Sunshine's legacy lives on with the tropical locations of Delfino represented in the Mario Kart series from Double Dash to the present day. In a sense Sunshine has been consigned to a mere footnote in Nintendo's rich history, but we still love to bask in its warmth from time to time.
We'll leave you with an impressive speed-run from 2013's Summer Games Done Quick. Shine GET!