In this series articles celebrating the upcoming 30th Anniversary of Super Mario, various members of the Nintendo Life extended family will share their memories and thoughts on the iconic franchise. This time we have Pokémon expert Andrew Karklins.
When I was younger, my first home gaming console was a silver Nintendo GameCube, a gift from my parents. I don't recall exactly when they bought it for me, but I vividly remember one of my first games: Super Mario Sunshine.
Prior to the GameCube my only exposure to the vast world of video games came through my Game Boy Advance. It was the original model with no backlight, and my small collection of games consisted of a few hand me down GBC games, along with a handful of licensed titles. Suffice to say, my gaming collection didn't begin with the most memorable or greatest hits.
However, Super Mario Sunshine was not only my first experience with the true potential video games held, but introduced me to a passion I still hold to this very day. Immediately from booting the disc up, I can still hear the iconic "Super Mario Sunshine" jingle ring inside my head and see Isle Defino in the distance as I performed side somersaults over the save blocks.
I define my love of Sunshine in two categories: gameplay and visuals.
Firstly, the visuals are not the greatest the GameCube could offer, nor the best of its competitors. That is without question. But, as a new gamer playing a 3D Mario game for the first time, this game created a world I thought only possible in movies. An immersive environment, that no 2D platformer or GBA game could ever achieve. Chatting with Piantas and endlessly jumping off their stand canopy's to the rooftops to see the vastness of just the hub world was unforgettable.
The gameplay of Sunshine is not something many ever say was perfect. Yes, it did remove the long jump, much to the dismay of many. But, the implementation of FLUDD in the 3D environment was incredible. Mastering the spray nozzle, saving bad jumps with the hover nozzle, and speeding through the air and water with the rocket and turbo nozzle was great fun. Even years later, people have found ways to beat the entire game without using the hover nozzle, an impressive feat yet one which is still on my bucket list.
Now, I know many people disagree that Super Mario Sunshine is the greatest 3D Mario platformer of all time, prompting the inevitable response that "Super Mario 64 is the greatest game of all time!!1!!". Now yes, experiencing Mario's first adventure in a 3-dimensional environment is a magnificent experience, and one I didn't embark on until much later. But, the continuous argument of which Mario game is the best does not matter. These games aren't meant for us, as a community, to judge. Instead, they allow us to immerse ourselves a world vastly different than our own, with memories to make and superb gameplay to master.
Mario games over the years may feel similar in some regards, or radically different in others. However, Mario as an iconic gameplay figure, and symbolic of his immaculate gameplay, is a feat with no need for debate.
The kids of today who missed both of these titles may say Super Mario Galaxy or Mario 3D World is the greatest game of all time. And to them, it may be. But who is to say they are wrong? My brother was born after both Mario 64 and Sunshine were released, and experienced his first true Mario experience, the one I had with Sunshine, during our co-op adventures in 3D World. Now that is not to say he has deemed it his favourite, as he loves Sunshine and stills play it to this day.
So here's to 30 more years Mario. Your first thirty have been superb, embarking on journeys that many hold near and dear to their hearts. You've inspired generations and created memories that last a lifetime. Now it is our turn to try our hand at a feat you've perfected.