As Super Mario Sunshine turns 20 on the 19th July, 2022, Kate wants to get a few things off her chest about how the game would have been a massive hit today, probably...
ALRIGHT, LISTEN. Whenever I am in polite company, and I mention enjoying Super Mario Sunshine — yes, despite its insistence on collecting ten thousand blue coins, despite its occasionally frustrating camera controls, and maybe even because of its goofy voice acting — everyone tends to swivel towards me, monocles popping off their faces, spitting wine everywhere like a faulty hose, and then all the corseted women in the room faint in horror and I'm forced to pay their medical expenses for saying something so horrific.
Do you know which game was added to Xbox Game Pass this week, a feat which usually means that a game is popular or beloved enough to warrant Microsoft forking out money for it?
I mean, come on! That's just Super Mario Sunshine with less story! Put your monocles back on!
So, here is my thesis: Super Mario Sunshine was simply born in the wrong era. It captured something that humans seem to innately love — making sure that something is very clean — and centred the gameplay around it, which made a lot of people very angry, even though TikTok is currently full of videos about menial-yet-satisfying labour, like pool cleaning and thatched roof installation. I am not kidding about either of those.
We love power washing, just as we love peeling the clear plastic off a new TV, or installing a screen protector on a phone with zero bubbles. A blank slate is immensely satisfying. So, when Mario is tasked with cleaning up all the goop across Delfino Island, even if he didn't make it himself, that's not all that different from the ultimate power fantasy that Power Wash Simulator provides!
Humans, for various reasons, are drawn towards work simulation games. It's only recently-ish that those games have been boiled down to their raw essence, moving away from the story-led work games like Harvest Moon and Slime Rancher, and more towards "doing a thing for the sake of it" games, like House Flipper and Truck Simulator. It's zen. It's relaxing. It seems weird, and maybe it is. But you know what? I work at a desk all day. I can dream about a life where I not only get to go outside, but I also get to wash things.
Mario never really gets to work. He's a plumber who never plumbs; his main day-to-day activities seem to mostly involve jumping and combat, neither of which is really much of a job. Super Mario Sunshine not only gives him something to do, at last, but it requires him to do a good job of it, too. Sure, there's combat, and honestly, those bits are often a bit bad (usually because they involve wrangling a tricky gimmick), but the slime-cleaning aspect never gets old.
I reckon that, if Super Mario Sunshine came out today (which it sort of did, with All-Stars), and maybe if it offered a first-person F.L.U.D.D. mode, people might appreciate it a little more. But apparently, twenty years ago in 2002, the world just wasn't ready for a game about cleaning.
Do you disagree with me? That's okay, we can still be friends. Let's discuss Super Mario Sunshine in the comments!
Anyone else think this was the other article for a second?
Not a bad game by any means, it just didn't age well.
I even seen people saw they would rather play the original Mario 64 over it.
Hehe good article Kate.
I personally don't hate mario sunshine, I've had it since it came out on the gamecube and recently picked up 3d all-stars and tried to give it another chance. I think the crippling difficulty of some of the levels is what's stopped me from completing it all these years, it still bugs me that it's one of the only mario games I've not finished.
The cleaning aspect it's pretty zen though I agree!
Not a bad game just... not as good as most other mario games. I rank it 4th for 3D Mario personally (below 3D World, Odyssey, and Mario 64) and I also rank most 2D Mario games above Sunshine. The bar for Mario games is very high so even a less good Mario game is usually still a good game.
“…everyone tends to swivel towards me, monocles popping off their faces, spitting wine everywhere like a faulty hose, and then all the corseted women in the room faint in horror”
Best thing I have had the pleasure of reading today. 🤣
Good point that Super Mario Sunshine scartches that sort of cleaning itch at points but I personally found many other aspects of the game lacklustre. Like the aforementioned blue coins: I groaned hard when I realized you don't need them for anything and all levels need to be completed anyway so the shines from blue coins don't substitute for anything. That, Pianta Village, Pachinko, at times clunky controls and straight up bugs often made it a chore to play, and not in a Zen way.
Honestly, I likely would've liked Mario Sunshine more if it was more like Powerwash simulator instead of trying to still be a platformer at the same time for some reason, and inexplicably being more janky (in a sense) than Mario 64 somehow (a 2002 platformer should not have more issues and a feeling of being rushed out than a 1996 one, ever).
I have the same feeling for the non-DLC Splatoon campaigns, which are somehow simultaneously both pretty great shooter campaigns and a disappointing attempt at Mario Galaxy (Splatoon does very much remind me of the Galaxy levels that don't rely on gravity as much).
And even if I loved Sunshine as much as other 3D Mario games, how little they use the Turbo nozzle would still be a massive disappointment. What a fun thing that they did almost nothing with.
@Nintendo_Alski as someone who has played the gamecube and switch versions of Mario sunshine, is the switch version a great port? Decent? Bad? I have 3d allstars, as well, and ashamed to say I haven't played any of the three.
Sunshine would be the second-best 3D Mario of all time (tough to top Odyssey) if it just had a tracker for how many blue coins were left in each stage; that's my take and I'm sticking to it.
Related take: Sunshine's blue coins were the prototype for Odyssey's Power Moons. =o
Two articles proclaiming the virtues of Sunshine in one day? Fantastic. I'd disagree with that one jab at the end, but I'll take what I can get.
In my opinion, Ratchet & Clank games are way much better than Mario Sunshine in term of weapon aiming and storyline.
That weird that it happened twice meme.
@Anti-Matter That may be, but respectfully, it misses the point: Mario games have never been about the weapons, aiming or otherwise (excepting that crazy Rabbids game, I suppose); they're platformers that happen to have defeatable enemies, while I'd wager R&C games are at heart third-person shooters that happen to have platforming (feel free to tell me I'm wrong, though, since I've sadly never gotten around to playing any of the latter myself).
This woman is clearly a menace to Victorian England. I feel complicit and dirtied just reading her articles.
No wonder people feel the overwhelming urge to clean deeply... while cosplaying as a plumber... who is clearly having delusions of competence. And all of that while his true aims (gorging himself further, as if that New York Italian diet wasn't filthy enough for the arteries) are clearly stated at the beginning.
Alas for this world. FLUDD itself could not conduct away all the water of my tears.
My personal advice for Mario Sunshine on the Switch: If possible, play it with a Gamecube controller using the controller adapter, not sure if one of those GC-lookalike wireless controllers also work.
It feels wrong when I play it with the Joy-Cons, particularly for the water shoot, I always end up pressing the wrong button.
The Pachinko Machine can die in a fire though. That Stage alone was nearly responsible for the destruction of my Gamecube Controller.
Whats Up for tomorrow? "How Mario brought Sunshine Back into my life" followed by " Sunshine bloody Sunshine" the day after?
Again, great game and I love it. Partly nostalgia but then not really, as I’ve played it many times over the years and it’s still great fun.
It's still one of the most unique platformers I've ever played, with the only two other games that come to mind from recent memory that match it being Super Mario Odyssey with the Captures and Kirby 64 with it's copy ability combinations. It would be grand enough having just great basic movement controls being able to do literally any movement from a standstill but the extra dimensions FLUDD adds between cleaning, hovering and his extra nozzles brings it from good to fantastic.
Also I am fully in support of this pro-Sunshine propaganda happening today.
If I had a nickel for every time a mario sunshine article was posted I'd have two nickels. It's not a lot its just weird it happened twice.
It's a janky game, full stop. The concept, music, story, graphics, etc. are all irrelevant and invalidated by the game failing at being fun to play and control which is the base line for a good platformer. I can't even give it up for the power washing because it doesn't actually feel like power washing, which is slow, methodical, focused, and intense. Mario Sunshine feels like randomly splashing around with a lousy "never kink" hose that constantly has to be adjusted. And then you have to play terrible platformer between the sloppy washing.
It didn’t age the best but tbh, I love how the game controls, it’s so off in a way but I love it, it gave the game a movement style if that make sense, where you had to play through the levels a specific way if you know what I mean? I’m not to sure how to explain it, but that, that’s what ai love about it.
@PhhhCough I think all the 3d all-stars ports are good to be honest, and they really pop in HD. That being said, it's been a long time since I've booted up the 'cube version of sunshine to really compare the difference.
Splatoon is a banned game on Isle Delfino.
@PhhhCough Some people would call it a lazy port, but the game runs well with a boosted resolution and is feature-complete other than the slight caveat of not having analogue triggers for finer control of FLUDD.
My biggest problem with the game was how short it was and it felt like it had less level variety than 64. From a technical standpoint it played and looked amazing, even today it looks great for a 20 year old game. It was obviously rushed like Wind Waker because the N64 was a flop and Nintendo wanted the Gamecube out the door ASAP.
Loved it as a kid, but replaying it in All-Stars was a bad experience.
I was shocked at how unpolished it was to play! And I got the impression that the game was rushed? Don't know Sunshine's entire history but it was giving that impression.
Not awful by any means, but Galaxy/Odyssey really improved on the 3D Mario formula.
I loved this game first time around.
Tried playing it with all stars. And i couldn’t get along with it at all.. controls felt.. clunky ..
Might be lack of cube controller though
Super Mario Sunshine is the GameCube era personified perfectly in just one game. It’s fun, profoundly weird, and not quite the best Nintendo has done, but certainly underrated by the gaming community overall.
I do prefer most of Mario’s other 3D outings, but I’m glad Sunshine exists. Nintendo deserves praise for all the directions they took the Mario canon in that timeframe.
Anyone know if the blue coin crash in noki bay was fixed in 3D All-Stars??
If by "ahead of its time" you mean clunky controls and barely functioning physics, then yes, it was way ahead of the competition...
Super Mario Sunshine is easily the worst mainline Mario game in my opinion, yet that's just becuase of the company it keeps and I find it's messiness and brokeness and stupidness still compellingly fun.
@PhhhCough It's decent but FLUDD is harder to control. I like it overall, and Sunshine on the Cube is my favorite Mario game, but not having analog triggers hurts the port. And I haven't played far enough on the Switch to know if all the camera issues have been fixed.
Great game, love it to pieces. Don't @ me, nerds
Why do so many people think it's weird to have two (or more) articles about an important mainline game in one of Nintendo's top franchises on the game's 20th anniversary? A lot of games get this treatment on their anniversaries, and this is a Super Mario game. Fair to make a big deal about it, IMO.
(Also, still one of my favorite games from the Gamecube and very underrated in my opinion. I'm aware that it has mad janky parts and is not as polished as, say, Odyssey. But it's still tons of fun to play. No other 3D Mario game has drawn me in as long or as enjoyably as Sunshine. I can see greatness in all of them, but Sunshine is the only one I spent months trying to finish.
I love this game and dont understand the hate
@TheBigK Can I @ you if I agree? I love it, never understood all the "worst Mario game" talk. I feel like I played a whole different game from some of the people on this site.
Hot take but I like Mario Sunshine better than Galaxy
It's amazing. Its only tedious when you're going for 100%. And honestly the most tedious 3D Mario game to 100% ( yes even over Odyssey). The blue coins alone make me dread 100%ing it
no one has said it was bad. literally no one.
My fiancé still laughs at me for getting pissed by a game called Sunshine, a funny memory which makes me feel less harsh about the frustration that game brought.
Maybe this is the real reward I got for going 100%, in lieu of that underwhelming post-credits photo.
@liljmoore Odyssey was really fun to complete as it wasn’t as frustrating (maybe too easy at some point, like Galaxy).
I don't think there's a single bad first party Mario game out there. Except the mobile cash grabs. Sunshine was a perfectly okay game. I still prefer the Galaxy series and Odyssey.
When referring to the occasionally frustrating camera controls in Sunshine, if by occasionally, you mean every time I decided to play the game, then I agree. I didn't "rage quit" the game in any spectacular fashion, but I did reach a point where I just realized I was having much less fun than frustration and decided "never again"(like Battletoads). Obviously, many people like the game a lot, but it was also notable for Nintendo to miss the mark with this game for so many people. But we're never going to all like the same games, regardless of their quality.
”it was just ahead of its time.”
Geez, and here I said the last guy had to be delusional for thinking Sunshine was the best 3D Mario game.
The last thing I’d even think of calling Sunshine was being ahead of its time. And even then I wouldn’t call it that.
Let everyone think whatever they want, I greatly enjoyed Sunshine when it came out and still do to this day. It was the main reason I got the 3D collection.
Sunshine being 20 years old makes me feel very old, but then I realised it wasn't released in Europe until October so I can continue feeling young for a few more months!
Because I don’t think it aged well at all, I don’t think it was ahead of its time either. I tried to play again several times to no avail, especially because of the terrible controls. It’s my least favorite Mario.
@FishyS you rate it above both Galaxy games?
It's not a bad game, it just had lots of poor decisions that stopped it being a great game.
My biggest issue was how it didn't respect the players time. There are so many cases where you've navigating through certain levels, only to slip off a platform and have to start from the very bottom of a tedious climb all over again e.g. Noki Bay.
There's a particularly awful section in Delfino Plaza where you need to take Yoshi on a boat ride to find a pipe that leads to a hidden Shine. One small slip, or if Yoshi gets wet, and you need to start the frustration, yet again, from the beginning. I gave up after 45 minutes of trying and just moved on to other Shines.
Nintendo should be really bold and make Sunshine 2.... then you'll all see
Ah Super Mario Sunshine. The closest Mario has gotten to water since we still have yet to "plumb" with him.
@Wteph I second this idea. Give me Sunshine 2 you cowards!
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