February 27, 2013
Gaming Flashback: Super Mario Sunshine
Back in the early 2000’s, when Nintendo controlled my life with Pokemon and Starfox Adventures, a purple Gamecube sat gloriously atop my TV stand as I gave hours of my life away. But aside from the traditional deal with the devil, this machine gave me my favorite Nintendo characters in a shocking three-dimensional rendition. Before, I had only experienced the joys of Super Mario from a side-scrolling angle, more than enough visual space needed to smash me some goombas.
Between Super Smash Bros. Melee and Starfox, Nintendo’s Super Mario Sunshine stood out as one of the most visually pleasing experiences that I had ever played in my short life. This game marked the first time that I touched a version of Mario that didn’t involve two dimensional animations, and as such, was the first world of Mario that I truly felt some real depth in.
We pick up the story, of course, as Super Mario on a private jet to a much needed vacation spot called Delfino Island with Princess Peach and her companion Toadsworth. Upon landing, they find that the island has been polluted and that the sun sprites, the metaphysical source of energy and life of the island, have been taken from their respective guardian spots. Even worse, Mario has been framed by a look-alike (dubbed Shadow Mario) for causing the pollution and mishap of danger to the island. When arrested and brought before a court of Piranhas for a hearing, we find that it’s simply a duck sentencing and Mario is immediately found guilty and sentenced to clean up the mess. Mario finds FLUDD, a technological water supply device that fits to him like a backpack, and proceeds with the charge that has been bestowed on him.
FLUDD’s perky sense of humor matched that of GlAdOs from Portal, minus the obvious violent tendencies. He was a smart and much needed comic relief in some of the darkest moments of the game. FLUDD was a strange addition to the lore of Super Mario since we’re so used to seeing mostly goombas and evil turtles that throw boomerangs. Likewise, his addition made the depth of the game seem that much more appealing in the grand scheme of revealing narrative to us.
FLUDD had the ability to morph into a water hose, a jetpack, and finally a turbo boosting water jet machine. Needless to say, FLUDD brought a water world aspect to the table that brings back a heart-warming feeling of nostalgia.
This is a classic Super Mario story: Peach gets kidnapped, Mario chases after, pounces on a few goombas, kicks Bowser in the shins, and we’re off to a sunset while the Super Mario theme song plays in the background. But what we truly take from the experience is the music, arguably the most depth-full thing about playing this game. As a kid, I remember being sucked into the evil carnage (not really) of Bowser and his Piranha minions.
The ghost mantis levels, the roller coaster with shark bullets chasing me, and the mushroom layered worlds that allowed me to see the midnight hours of Mario’s experiences is what truly kept me stuck in the game.
Of course, this was back when I couldn’t be bothered with completing a game, so I never reached the end of the journey for Mario and his new companion, FLUDD.
It hardly matters; Super Mario Sunshine was a flagging experience for Nintendo fans and will likely be the architecture for my kids gaming experiences. Did you ever reach the end of the journey?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the game in the comments below.
Image Credit: Nintendo