As we look back, we all have games that resonated with us in special ways. On this week’s RetroNight I get to talk about a game that really changed the way I viewed game design. This game introduced me to the concept of using a mechanic to make a seemingly uninteresting premise creative and fun at the same time. You’d have to really push it to convince me that you were interested in playing a game about cleaning up the environment. Yet even still, Super Mario Sunshine effectively stood with the principles of design, and managed to combine the beloved familiarity of Mario, with the unabashed creativity of the GameCube era.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, Super Mario Sunshine puts you in the shoes of a familiar super as you travel through Isle Delfino, attempting to clear your name, clean the island, and save it from an unexpected foe who shares a striking resemblance to you.
This game is incredibly unique even by Mario standards, as it incorporates elements like a full voice track for cutscenes, a surprisingly complete narrative, and of course a mechanic so original, it may turn off new players at first.
Mario’s main weapon in this game isn’t fire or flight, but rather water. FLUDD, created by Luigi’s Mansion’s own Professor E. Gadd, offers Mario the ability to use incredibly powerful water pressure to clean this island of filth.
This game had a memorable soundtrack as well, as the worlds of Isles Delfino were only strongly complemented by the incredibly musical works tied to them.
That being said, no game is without flaws. This game had a rather terrible camera. It was often disorienting, and made platforming difficult in many areas. While it was certainly the most creative 3D Mario game even by today’s standards, I’d argue it was also the least forgiving. It was incredibly difficult, sometimes due to awkward physics.
Even still, despite these flaws, Super Mario Sunshine will forever be cemented as a truly beloved title in Mario’s lineage. Hopefully they revisit it in planning for Super Mario for Nintendo Switch.