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Super Mario Sunshine is Awesome





With a new Mario movie being released in Theaters soon and the weather warming up, I thought I'd talk about another Mario game. The game I'd like to talk about is yet another underrated game (nowadays, at least) for an underrated console: Super Mario Sunshine for GameCube.

Unlike Kirby Air Ride, Super Mario Sunshine actually received positive reception from critics when it was released in the Summer of 2002. Nintendo Power gave it a 5 out of 5, though that isn't too surprising since they were the official Nintendo magazine for the U.S. and Canada. Other critics, however, called the game a "masterpiece." That might be stretching it a little, but in general the game was well-received in 2002. Charles Martinet (voice of Mario in the games) at one time considered Super Mario Sunshine his favorite Mario game (before the Super Mario Maker games were released).

Things change, of course. Super Mario Sunshine is now considered the black sheep of the Mario series, similar to Zelda II: Adventure of Link for the NES. A lot of people like it, and a lot of people hate it. With the release of Super Mario 3D All-Stars for Switch, which includes Sunshine, critics weren't as nice to the game as when it was released in 2002. Some of the criticisms include F.L.U.D.D. (the water pack that Mario wears for most of the game) and sometimes awkward controls. And like Kirby Air Ride, some also criticize the game for being "different" and at times not looking or feeling like a Mario game. Like how Kirby Air Ride isn't the first game in the the Kirby series that's different, Super Mario Sunshine isn't the first game that's "different" in the Mario series. Super Mario Land takes place in "Sarasaland" rather than the Mushroom Kingdom, and doesn't even have Princess Peach (Toadstool) or Bowser. Even Super Mario World doesn't take place in the Mushroom Kingdom, and instead takes place in "Dinosaur Land." Both games are loved by nearly all Mario fans to this day. Super Mario Sunshine takes place on "Isle Delfino" and introduces F.L.U.D.D. and new characters like the Piantas and Nokis, but at least still involves Mario rescuing Princess Peach from Bowser. But apparently that doesn't matter much, because the game is both loved and hated. I guess if a game that's a little different than others in a series, whether it's a spinoff or a mainline entry, is released for another system, it's fine. But if it's different and for the GameCube, it's apparently "not fine" to some.


I first played Super Mario Sunshine in 2002, when I noticed it was available to play at GameCube Kiosks in Walmart and Future Shop. I remember playing one of the Interactive Multi-Game demo discs that featured a Mario Sunshine demo with a level selection screen allowing you to play some of the Super Mario Bros. style platforming stages included in the game.

I finally got the game as well as a GameCube in 2003. Yes I got the Super Mario Sunshine bundle that was available in 2002 and 2003, and was happy to get a Mario game with my new console like I did with my NES.

Before I talk about why I believe Super Mario Sunshine is a good game, I'd like to point a few things out. I do not like Super Mario Sunshine as much as Super Mario 64, nor do I consider it a "masterpiece" (not quite). It definitely has some issues and I agree that Super Mario 64 is the better game, though to be fair it's kind of hard to top that. Also, I don't expect everyone to agree with my opinions. But a new Mario movie is being released soon and the weather has gotten warmer, so I'd like to talk about why, in my opinion, Super Mario Sunshine is still a good game even though many of the other Mario games are better.

Why I Believe Super Mario Sunshine is an Awesome Game

It is Not Quite as Different as Some Think


At first, it seems like Super Mario Sunshine goes off in a completely different direction and strays from other mainline Mario games as much as possible. Mario, Princess Peach, and Toadsworth (one of the game's new characters) leave the Mushroom Kingdom. During their flight, they watch a commercial for an Island known as "Isle Delfino" and decide to go on vacation there. 


While watching the commercial Peach notices a shadow on the TV that looks like Mario, while Mario and Toadsworth are distracted by some of the Islands attractions shown in the commercial. 


Once they've landed on the Island, they notice some strange goop. Peach notices someone in the distance...the shadow she saw on the TV.


Mario looks around Delfino Airstrip and comes across F.L.U.D.D. (Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device), a pump developed by Professor Elvin Gadd (a character Luigi met in Luigi's Mansion). Armed with F.L.U.D.D., he is now able to clean up the goop and graffiti spread around the Airstrip.




A Piranha Plant covered in goop appears, and this is the first instance that the game isn't quite as different from other Mario games as it appears to be. After defeating the Piranha Plant and cleaning up the Airstrip, Mario finds a shiny object called a Shine Sprite which is what this game has instead of the Stars in Super Mario 64.



The Delfino Police then arrive. Mario is accused of messing up the entire Island and is sent to prison (for those who haven't played the game, I am not making this up). Isle Delfino has been spread with goop as well as graffiti by Shadow Mario, the mysterious character Peach saw earlier, who holds a magic paintbrush. Mario, still being accused of crimes he didn't commit, is released from prison the next morning and is ordered to stay on the Island and clean up Isle Delfino. He also needs to find more Shine Sprites to unlock new areas and bring back sunnier weather to the Island, which is now darker than it used to be. 



In addition, Peach is captured by Shadow Mario and the real Mario needs to rescue her again. Magical "M" portals are found throughout Delfino Plaza that lead to the game's main levels, similar to the paintings in Super Mario 64.

Even though Mario games don't really need deep storylines to be good, I appreciate that Super Mario Sunshine has a deeper storyline than the mainline Mario games released before it. But I'm not going to talk about the entire story. My point is that while Super Mario Sunshine seems very different at the beginning, as you play it it becomes clear that it is still very much a Mario game. Mario still runs, jumps, stomps, and collects coins and mushrooms like he does in other games in the series.




Super Mario Bros. style platforming levels are included throughout the game, complete with a catchy remix of the Mario theme. In addition to platforms, these levels also have enemies that can be stomped on, coins and mushrooms to collect, blocks that can be destroyed, and cubes that spin around. When you first enter these levels, Shadow Mario takes F.L.U.D.D. and you are restricted to using classic Mario moves only.


Completing these levels and re-entering them allows you to play through them with F.L.U.D.D. The backgrounds also differ with many of them, with some having a background showing Mario as he appeared in the first Super Mario Bros. game.



Mario fans likely remember the underground levels from other mainline Mario games. In Delfino Plaza, there are several manholes that you can enter. The game does not go to another level and the camera view does not go underground. Instead, the camera view remains above the ground and you only see Mario's shadow. There's another shadow that indicates what directions you can go. Coins and mushrooms can be found underground, and are shown as question marks. While you're exploring underground, a remix of the underground music from Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 plays (the remix sounds like it's based on both versions from those games). Running underneath a manhole and jumping allows you to get back above ground.





In the Ricco Harbor level, Mario can climb fences, punch enemies, and flip to the other side. This is a feature from Super Mario World.



In Delfino Plaza, there are pipes leading to other levels. Enter one, and the classic Mario pipe sound effect plays. The sound effect only plays when entering the main levels, so the sound effect doesn't always play when entering pipes. But there are two pipes in Delfino Plaza that lead to two of the game's main levels, so hearing the pipe sound effect when entering those pipes is pretty nostalgic. The classic version of the Mario coin sound effect also plays when the game starts up, while the Nintendo logo is displayed. 

F.L.U.D.D. has Four Nozzles


Some people think Super Mario Sunshine was "ruined" because of F.L.U.D.D. I don't know about that. While it does take some getting used to if you haven't played the game before (or haven't played it in a while), F.L.U.D.D. isn't that bad. In fact, it's actually kind of cool. 

In each of the mainline Mario games, Mario has a different way of powering up. In Super Mario Bros., there are the Mushroom, Fire Flower, and Star (sometimes called "Starman" or "Super Star") power ups. In Super Mario Bros. 3, there are the Tanooki, Hammer, and Frog suits. In Super Mario World, there's the cape. In Super Mario Land 2, there are the rabbit ears. In Super Mario 64, there are the Wing, Metal, and Vanish Caps. And Super Mario Sunshine has F.L.U.D.D., which has four Nozzles: Spray, Hover, Rocket, and Turbo. Super Mario Sunshine continues the tradition of giving Mario a new way to power up with each game.

With the Hover Nozzle, Mario can fly over small gaps. 


With the Rocket Nozzle, Mario can reach the higher areas of a level. If you press the L button while really high in the air, Mario's ground pound becomes stronger and he's able to break through or damage certain areas. The Rocket Nozzle needs a few seconds to charge. 3...2...1...Blast off!


And with the Turbo Nozzle, Mario, not surprisingly, moves much faster. He can also use the Turbo Nozzle to ride on the water like a Boat or a Jet Ski, as well as break through certain doors.


F.L.U.D.D. also has a Spray Nozzle, which is the default Nozzle. It can be used to clean up goop and graffiti. It can also be used to attack certain enemies.

F.L.U.D.D. can be used in creative ways


In the Bianco Hills level, there's a section with water and a lily pad. If you stand on the lily pad and use F.L.U.D.D.'s Spray Nozzle, you can ride on the lily pad like a raft.



In some levels, there are some flowers arranged in a circle that you can water. If you water them all really fast, you'll get some coins. To do this, it's easier to press the Y button to go into the look mode. Use the Spray Nozzle, then just hold left or right on the Control Stick to turn in a circle while spraying.


While Mario can swim in this game like most other Mario games, he can also sometimes use F.L.U.D.D. while underwater. There are certain sections in the game that take place underwater. In these sections, you can use the Hover Nozzle to move around or reach higher areas.


In the Pianta Village level, there are some giant swings. You can use F.L.U.D.D. to ride on the swings and reach higher sections of the level.

The Game Makes Use of the GameCube's Capabilities

I'm not even really talking about the graphics (though Sunshine does have some nice water effects). Even in 2002, Sunshine's graphics really didn't impress me much though they aren't really bad either. The environments are large, the water effects are nice, and the game runs at a mostly smooth framerate. But I'm talking more about the game's inclusion of full voice acting, FMV cutscenes, and lots of special effects. The GameCube was the first Nintendo console to use discs, which have far more space than the N64's cartridges.

While the voice acting in this game really isn't that great (especially the Pianta's, who basically just mumble or speak gibberish except during some cutscenes), it's nice that Nintendo made use of the larger capacity of the GameCube's discs. Princess Peach, Toadsworth, the other Toads, Bowser, Bowser Jr., and even F.L.U.D.D. all talk during cutscenes. Peach already talked during the opening and ending of Super Mario 64, but that was basically what that game offered for acting during cutscenes. Like most Mario games, Mario doesn't really talk much in Super Mario Sunshine. Like Super Mario 64, he "talks" when he performs his moves or gets hit by enemies. He doesn't say much during cutscenes. However, it's worth noting that Mario does talk in one cutscene in the Japanese version. After landing in Delfino Airstrip at the beginning of the game, when Peach sees Shadow Mario (the character she see's on the TV before arriving), Mario says to Toadsworth: 

"Hmm, looks like-a Mario's gonna have to find a job!

Followed by Toadsworth saying: 

"Trying to start a new career?

For whatever reason, these two lines were removed from the American version of the game. My guess is that Nintendo of America wanted Mario to (basically) remain silent like in most other mainline Mario games. Charles Martinet voiced Mario in Super Mario Sunshine, as he did in other Mario games that have voices.


The game was one of the first Mario games to have FMV cutscenes. Which is nice, and shows that Nintendo made use of the added space on the GameCube's discs.


The game also has lots of special effects. On the episode selection that appears before a level starts, the screen flashes with loads of special effects when you select an episode or Shine Sprite. The special effects change depending on whether you've collected that particular Shine Sprite or not. 


Like Super Mario 64, Mario falls asleep if you don't press any buttons for a little while. Several "Z's" appear while he sleeps.

If the camera gets stuck inside or near a wall, a circle appears and part of the screen turns blue so you can focus on Mario. 


If Mario's in front of a wall, the game shows his shadow/silhouette so that you can still see where he is.



Super Mario Sunshine has Progressive Scan support. It also has Dolby Pro Logic II Surround Sound, in case you'd like to hook up your GameCube to a Home Theater System and listen to the game with five speakers and a sub woofer. The game's options menu allows you to test out the surround sound, like some of the console's other games (such as Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Soul Calibur II).

The Game is Similar to Super Mario 64

Adding to the fact that the game is not quite as different as some people make it out to be, Super Mario Sunshine is pretty similar to Super Mario 64. Just about everyone who's played Super Mario 64 knows it is a great game. As the follow-up to the N64's flagship game, it's no surprise that Super Mario Sunshine has a lot of similarities.



Mario has most of his moves from Super Mario 64, including the wall jump...



...the ground pound...






...and climbing trees, among other moves.



Before a level starts, an episode selection screen appears showing Shine Sprites you've collected and a small hint for each one. This, of course, is the same idea as the star selection screen that appears before a level starts in Super Mario 64. And like how some stars in Super Mario 64 require you to collect eight red coins, you have to collect eight red coins to get some of the Shine Sprites in Super Mario Sunshine.


Like some levels in Super Mario 64, Mario can occasionally lose his hat in Super Mario Sunshine. Without his hat, he takes more damage. If he loses his hat In Super Mario Sunshine, he also slowly loses energy automatically due to the fact that he's on an island and it's extremely hot. However, if you go into some water while he doesn't have his hat he won't lose energy. I like the logic.

The Boss Battles Are Unique

Though the bosses in Super Mario Sunshine are new characters (except for Bowser), most of them are a classic type of Mario enemy (Piranha Plant, Blooper, Boo, Wiggler, etc.). Some games have basically the same boss battles over and over. Pac-Man World 2, released the same year as Super Mario Sunshine, has a few boss battles with the ghosts that are basically the same, with the only real difference being the difficulty. Even so, Pac-Man World 2 is one of my favorite games for GameCube, and like Mario Sunshine it was one of the first games I played on the console. Maybe I'll make a blog about the Pac-Man World games someday.

In Super Mario Sunshine, many of the boss battles are different and unique. Here are some of the highlights.



First off, there's Petey Piranha. For this battle, you spray water in his mouth which he swallows and fills up his belly. You then run up to him, jump on his belly, and do a ground pound which not only hurts him but also causes him to spit out the water you sprayed into him.



Then there's Gooper Blooper. For this battle, you have to grab onto his tentacles and pull them off. After that, you have to pull on his nose, let go, and send him flying.



This is Mecha Bowser, a boss in the Pinna Park level. For this battle, you get to go on a Roller Coaster. There are water-filled missiles on the track, which you have to aim and shoot at Mecha Bowser. Aiming can sometimes be difficult, since you're constantly moving and the track has some loops. While you're cruising around, Mecha Bowser will shoot a familiar enemy at you: Bullet Bills! Simply spraying them will defeat them. There's a section of the track where you'll get very close to Mecha Bowser, who constantly shoots flames. Better get F.L.U.D.D.'s Spray Nozzle ready if you don't want Mario to get Burnt.


After defeating Mecha Bowser, Shadow Mario will reveal himself to be Bowser's son, Bowser Jr. He's the one who actually spread the goop and graffiti throughout Isle Delfino, using that paintbrush he's holding.



Wiggler ahoy! Full steam ahead! 

This battle takes place in the Gelato Beach level, and features a Wiggler enemy (Wiggler's first appeared in Super Mario World). You need to spray Dune Buds on the sand, which causes the sand to rise and flips over the Wiggler. You then jump on it and do a ground pound. An arrow points where you need to ground pound. The boss moves faster and faster as the battle progresses, and even the musics tempo speeds up.


Here's King Boo, who's hiding underneath the Casino in the Sirena Beach level's Hotel. While he has the same name, he doesn't look like the King Boo from Luigi's Mansion. Unlike the one in Luigi's Mansion, this King Boo is a goofy, slobbering ghost who loves eating but can't stand spicy food. He holds a Slot Machine, which you have to spray with F.L.U.D.D. Depending on what is shown on the Slot Machine, enemies or food will appear. You have to pick up Peppers and throw them at him, which sets his tongue on fire. While his tongue is on fire, you have to pick up any of the other fruits and then throw them at him. The giant Roulette Wheel also moves.


As mentioned above, the real Bowser (the one Mario has battled since the first Super Mario Bros. game) is the final boss like most mainline Mario games. The battle takes place inside Corona Mountain, the game's final level. Peach is there rooting for Mario, while Jr. roots for Bowser.

This is one area where F.L.U.D.D.'s Rocket Nozzle comes in handy. As mentioned above, if you use the Rocket Nozzle and press the L button while you're in the air, Mario's ground pound becomes stronger and he's able to damage the floor...which eventually causes everyone (including Mario and Bowser) to fall from a great height back down to Isle Delfino. Don't worry, the game's ending isn't (too) tragic.

The Game Fixes Some of Super Mario 64's Issues


While I like Super Mario 64 more than Sunshine, it isn't perfect. Sunshine has some issues of its own, as mentioned in the intro above, but it also fixes some of Super Mario 64's problems. 




For example, hanging onto a gate/fenced area. In Super Mario 64, you have to hold the A button down and hope that Mario doesn't let go. I can remember how frustrated I got getting that Star in the picture above (showing an area the Hazy-Maze Cave level), because Mario would sometimes let go even if I was still holding the A button down.



In Super Mario Sunshine, Mario hangs on automatically. You don't have to hold any buttons down. Just make sure you don't bump into any enemies.



In Super Mario 64, Mario has one meter for both his energy and oxygen. So if he's underwater and almost out of air when he jumps out of the water, he'll also be low on energy. But as most players likely know, simply swimming up to the surface (rather than jumping out) is an easy way to refill Mario's meter. Collecting coins while underwater slightly refills the meter.



In Super Mario Sunshine, there are separate meters for Mario's energy and oxygen (yellow for energy, blue for oxygen). When the meters are low, a sound effect constantly plays to warn the player that Mario's almost out of energy or oxygen. If you keep losing energy or oxygen the warning sound effect plays faster (similar to a heartbeat), increasing tension. Like in Super Mario 64, collecting coins refills Mario's energy and oxygen. He also sometimes receives a helmet in this game, which allows him to stay underwater much longer.

Not everyone is going to agree with me on this, but in my opinion Super Mario Sunshine has better camera control. The N64's Controller has C buttons, meaning digital controls for the camera. I've played Super Mario 64 a lot over the years, and sometimes the camera just doesn't want to go where you want it to. It either stops moving and plays a buzzing sound (meaning it can't be moved any further in that direction), or it swivels a little too much.

The GameCube's Controller doesn't have C buttons, but instead has a C-Stick. This means the camera in Super Mario Sunshine has analog controls. The camera control is more fluid, allowing you to move it at different speeds. Unless it gets stuck inside a wall, you pretty much have almost total freedom to position the camera where you want it. Aside from the more fluid controls, the camera system is similar to Super Mario 64's. You can hold down on the C-Stick to zoom out, hold up to zoom in, and hold left or right to rotate it. Like when you press C-Up in Super Mario 64, you can press the Y button in Super Mario Sunshine to look around from Mario's point of view. It's worth noting that this look mode is also improved over the look mode in Super Mario 64. In Super Mario 64's look mode, Mario doesn't turn around so you can only look up, down, left, or right (you can't see what's behind you). In Super Mario Sunshine's look mook, Mario turns around when you look left or right allowing you to look in any direction and also see what's behind you.

Yoshi appears on the roof of Peach's Castle in Super Mario 64. After collecting all of the stars, you can use a Cannon to blast up to the roof. I can still remember the rumors about Super Mario 64 that spread around the Internet during the N64 era, and even after Super Mario Sunshine was released. Among other things, people wondered if it was possible to ride on Yoshi like in Super Mario World. Unfortunately, you can't ride on Yoshi in Super Mario 64. He tells a message to the player, saying that "this is the end of the game, but not the end of the fun!". He then gives Mario several 1-Ups, then leaves. After that, Mario gets a new version of the triple jump that protects him if he falls from a high ledge or platform.



I suspect that Nintendo knew players wanted to ride on Yoshi in Super Mario 64, so they likely made sure early on that he would also be in Super Mario Sunshine. Yoshi appears on lots of promo images for Super Mario Sunshine, including in the manual and on the cover for an issue of Nintendo Power. In most levels and in Delfino Plaza, you can find an egg. You can see a thought bubble that shows the kind of fruit Yoshi wants. Since the game takes place on an Island, fruit can be found all over the place. If you bring Yoshi the fruit he wants, the egg will hatch and you can ride on him. In this game, Yoshi...err..."vomits" juice to attack enemies and open up some areas that are blocked off.



He still sticks out his tongue, like other Mario games, if you press the B button. Just like Super Mario World, Yoshi eats fruit in this game. The Juice meter is Yoshi's energy meter, so eating fruit is necessary to give him energy. Depending on the fruit he eats, he may also change color. Also like Super Mario World, the music changes somewhat while you're riding on Yoshi.


Unfortunately, the green Yoshi was removed from the game. Green Yoshi was in early versions of the game, appears on promo art, and even appears in a screenshot in the manual (likely from a prototype version of the game). The decision to remove him appears to have been last minute. However, green Yoshi is still in the game's memory and can be played by using an Action Replay (as seen in my video above).

The Game is Full of Variety and Extras

Like several other Mario games, Super Mario Sunshine is chock full of secrets and has a lot of variety. Since Super Mario Sunshine only has seven or eight main levels (compared to fifteen main levels in Super Mario 64), some have complained about there not being enough levels or enough variety for level themes. I suppose that's a fair complaint, since the levels are mostly beaches, a harbor, in a Hotel, etc., though it makes sense that the game would have mainly these kinds of levels since it takes place on an Island. In my opinion, the game more than makes up for that by giving players a lot to do each level. 





You can ride on a Blooper and go surfing in Ricco Harbor, go on a Roller Coaster ride in Pinna Park, go after Shadow Mario and spray him with water, race a character named Il Piantissimo in some levels, grab "floaty fluff" in Pianta Village to ride up to higher parts of the level, etc.


There are hidden levels/areas/minigames in each level. In a sense, there are levels within the levels. As mentioned above, there are platform levels that are similar to Super Mario Bros. Even if you've completed these levels, you can come back to them and get another Shine Sprite. When you come back to these levels, a red button appears. If you pound these buttons, eight red coins appear and you're given a limited amount of time to collect them. I also mentioned above that, after you've beaten these levels once, the game allows you to play through the levels with F.L.U.D.D., making the experience a little different than the first time (classic Mario action with a twist).


There are also hidden areas that take place up in the clouds. One of these areas is a "super slide", where the goal is to simply slide to the bottom to find a Shine Sprite. 


Another secret area has you collecting red coins, most of which are hidden inside lots of grass.



One hidden area is basically a table that is based on Pachinko, a game that's popular in Japan. This is often considered to be one of the most frustrating and difficult parts of the game, because of the controls and some odd physics. Until just last year, this was one of the few areas in the game that I couldn't complete. However, I figured out that it is actually not as difficult as it seems.




So basically, at the start of the table, Mario bounces up to the top of the table where there are red coins. Where you land depends on which direction you're moving the Control Stick (the stick on the left side of the Controller, not the C-Stick) or if you don't move the Control Stick at all. It's easy to get the hang of it after a few tries. You just need to remember where Mario landed before, then either move to Control Stick in that direction if you need to try again or move it in a different direction to land near another red coin. You can also use F.L.U.D.D. to hover over to some of the red coins.



Some of these hidden areas require you to make use of F.L.U.D.D.'s different Nozzles. There's the waterslide, where you use the Turbo Nozzle to get enough speed to jump over gaps and reach other platforms in the distance.

There's another hidden area where you collect red coins while riding on a lily pad. This is another of the areas in the game that I couldn't beat until just last year because you can't touch the water. It's also somewhat difficult to get all of the coins, due to the current pushing the lily pad. And if you miss some red coins, you have to walk on the sides and hope you can make it back to the beginning of the area without falling so you can try again (the lily pad reappears).


I'll mention one more of the secret areas. There's a secret area in the Gelato Beach level where you ride on a "Sand Bird." The Sand Bird flies in a circle around a tower, and at different altitudes. Once again the goal is to collect red coins to get a Shine Sprite, but you have to do that while riding on the Sand Bird and not falling off.




You can play games and complete some tasks while in Delfino Plaza. There's a minigame that requires you to destroy boxes within a time limit. Some of the Pianta's want you to work for them. They want three of a particular fruit. You can grab fruit and toss them into a basket that's either beside or above the Pianta's. You can kick Durian's like a Soccer ball. One of the tasks actually requires you to kick this fruit over some water to the other side of the Plaza, then kick them into a Pianta's basket. GOAL!!!! 

Once you've given the Pianta's three of the fruit they want, they'll give you a Blue Coin.


A Mario Soccer game would be released for GameCube a few years later: Super Mario Strikers (a.k.a., Mario Smash Football). The game also received some sequels, including a Switch game.



There's a Blooper-surfing minigame in a hidden part of Ricco Harbor. 

The Blooper-surfing area has a hidden background. It's the Train background used in some of the Super Mario Bros. style platforming levels.




Blue Coins are another complaint some players have about this game. Blue Coins are required to get certain Shine Sprites, as there's a store in Delfino Plaza that sells some of them. Some of the Blue Coins are well-hidden, while others are in plain site but can be a little frustrating to collect. Even so, I'm glad the game has lots of Blue Coins to collect. They add to the game's replay value, and the game allows you to save your progress everytime you collect one.


Super Mario Sunshine, not surprisingly, is a very bright game. In many of the levels, there are Pianta's wearing Sunglasses. If you talk to them, they'll give you some Sunglasses to wear for a little while. The screen darkens a little while Mario wears them, making it a little easier on the eyes.



Once Bowser is defeated, load up your save file again. Talk to any of the Sunglasses wearing Pianta's (either in a level or in Delfino Plaza) and he'll not only give you some shades, but also a Shine Sprite shirt. You can wear these items while riding on Yoshi.




In the highest section of the Sirena Beach level's Hotel, you'll come across a Pianta who mentions there are ghosts (Boos) in the Hotel and wishes someone would suck them up with a vacuum. This is an obvious reference to Luigi's Mansion, where Luigi uses a vacuum to suck up ghosts. The vacuum Luigi uses was developed by Professor Elvin Gadd (a character from Luigi's Mansion), who also made Mario's pump F.L.U.D.D. in Super Mario Sunshine.




This is the same area, in the highest section of the Sirena Beach level. It is a maze, with Boos. Some of the Boos sleep, while others wander or go after Mario. A maze and ghosts makes this section a little bit like Pac-Man. Nintendo would collaborate with Namco the following year (in 2003) on Pac-Man Vs., which is included with the GameCube version of Pac-Man World 2 (Player's Choice copies only) and some copies of the GameCube version of R: Racing Evolution. It was also included with some copies of the GameCube version of I-Ninja, and sold on its own in a limited amount.

I also recommend checking out my video above, which shows a Test level that's hidden in the game's memory and can be accessed with an Action Replay. Oh, and this test level actually has a Soccer ball.


Speaking of beta content, there are some things left in the game that seem to relate to early versions of the game. After defeating Shadow Mario in Episode 7 of every main level, Delfino Plaza becomes flooded. This is actually a different part of the game's memory, and it has some differences compared to the normal version of Delfino Plaza. It's not just the fact that the place is flooded that's different, but some parts look different from the normal version of Delfino Plaza.



The Jail Cell has a manhole. It's not there in the normal version of Delfino Plaza. Apparently, Mario originally entered this room with a manhole in early versions of the game.



The Bell Tower's door is different. The normal version of Delfino Plaza has a door that Mario can break through with F.L.U.D.D.'s Turbo Nozzle, where a Shine Sprite can be found.



Behind the Jail Cell. It's open in the normal version of Delfino Plaza. Once again, you can see that there's no manhole inside in the room in the normal version of Delfino Plaza.


Surprisingly you can still ride on Yoshi when Delfino Plaza is flooded, even though he can't touch water in this game, Mario can still swim while he's carrying fruit (which, by the way, is almost as big as he is). If you decide to ride on Yoshi during the flood, you'll have to jump on the trees and rooftops to get around.



There's a mysterious book hidden in one of the game's underwater areas (which takes place in a bottle floating in the sky). Apparently, the book had a purpose in early versions of the game.



I showed this picture earlier in the blog, but I'm showing it again because it shows one of the game's easter eggs. Once again, I have to say I appreciate the special effects in Super Mario Sunshine. Look in the circled area. The Sirena Beach level is shaped like the GameCube's Controller. Also, if you look at the second pic in this blog, you'll notice that Isle Delfino is shaped like a Dolphin. Maybe some of you remember that the GameCube was known as the "Dolphin" before it was released.

The Game Left its Mark in History and hasn't been forgotten 

While Super Mario Sunshine is considered the black sheep of the Mario series, it was both a critical and commercial success. 





Like how Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros.3 were included with the NES and Super Mario World was included with the SNES, Super Mario Sunshine was included with the GameCube. In 2002 and 2003, a Super Mario Sunshine GameCube bundle was available at retailers that came with an indigo GameCube, one Controller, a Memory Card 59, Memory Card labels, and the Super Mario Sunshine game. Another Super Mario Sunshine bundle was released later that included a platinum GameCube, one Controller, a Player's Choice copy of the game, and a nicer-looking (Super Mario Sunshine themed) box.


In 2002, before the game was released, Nintendo of Canada sold ten copies of Super Mario Sunshine on eBay that were autographed by Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. I remember seeing that auction in the Summer of 2002.


Super Mario Sunshine was featured on the cover for issue 160 of Nintendo Power. Issue 159 came with a Mario Sunshine poster.

Various merch was released, like shirts and hats, through Nintendo Power's "Super Power Supplies" catalog. Toys R Us gave Mario Sunshine towels away as a pre-order bonus. Mario Sunshine toys were available at Burger King.

Bowser Jr., who was introduced in this game, has been in most of the mainline Mario games since Super Mario Sunshine, including New Super Mario Bros. and the "Bowser's Fury" expansion in the Switch version of Super Mario 3D World. He's also in several Mario Kart and Mario sports games, and appears in Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour as Shadow Mario.

Pianta's have appeared in other Mario games, like the Mario Kart games (Double Dash!! and later) and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Both Pianta's and Noki's are playable in Mario Superstar Baseball.



F.L.U.D.D. has appeared in every Super Smash Bros. game since Super Smash Bros. Brawl, as well as a stage/arena based on Super Mario Sunshine. The Super Smash Bros. games also include music from Super Mario Sunshine (with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate including both the original version and an updated version of the Delfino Plaza music).



Shine Sprites appear in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. There's also a Shine Sprite Game Boy Advance e-Reader card that works with Animal Crossing for GameCube, which can be used on clothing, Umbrellas, wallpaper, floors, signs, the Island Flag, etc. Most Mario Kart games since Double Dash!! have a Shine Thief battle game featuring Shine Sprites, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has a Super Mario Sunshine race track called Sunshine Airport.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf for 3DS has a Super Mario Sunshine reference, where the character Gulliver mentions he hasn't "met someone so willing to help since the residents of Ricco Harbor!".


Super Mario Galaxy (Wii), Super Mario 3D Land (3DS), and Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury (Switch) use some features or ideas from Super Mario Sunshine. Like the "Too Bad!" words that appear when you lose, jumping/bouncing on other character's heads (like Toads), and Mario's shadow being shown if he's in front of a wall so you can still see where he is.




The Switch version of Super Mario 3D World includes an expansion called "Bowser's Fury", which has several references and ideas from Super Mario Sunshine. Some examples include the "M" graffiti that appears in the intro, and the inclusion of Bowser Jr. (who assists Mario, and can be controlled by a second player). "Bowser's Fury" also has Shines, called Cat Shines. Also note that the place where you find Bowser Jr. (pic above) is a beach.



Super Mario Maker 2 for Switch has a fan made level based on the Sand Bird hidden area from Super Mario Sunshine. The GameCube's logo appears right before the level starts, the Delfino Plaza music from Mario Sunshine plays, and the level uses graphics from Super Mario Bros. 3. 



Of course there are better Mario games, but Super Mario Sunshine, in my opinion anyway, really isn't that bad. I had a lot of fun playing it in the GameCube era, and have continued to play it on occasion in the last decade or so. It has a lot of cool ideas and boss characters, while including some things from other games in the series and still managing to look and feel like a Mario game. The game was re-released, along with Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy, in Super Mario 3D All-Stars for Switch, where the game is largely the same but displays in HD. I like that 3D All-Stars has the option to use the GameCube's Controller (the real one) while playing Super Mario Sunshine.




I've had a Super Mario Sunshine save file since first getting both the game and a GameCube in 2003. In fact, the Memory Card 59 I have now is the very same one I got with my GameCube twenty years ago, though my Mario Sunshine file has since been moved to a Memory Card 1019 (there's an option on the GameCube's menu to move files from one Memory Card to another). For many years, I had 110 Shine Sprites. While I've technically beaten the game many times before, last year I finally got the remaining ten Shine Sprites and fully completed the game.

Super Mario 64 screenshots captured from a real N64. Super Mario Sunshine screenshots captured from a real GameCube, not a Wii or an Emulator.


Edited by MegaMan52
Fixed typos and added pictures

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Posted (edited)

Wow this a lot to read! (Awesome!) I am one of the underraters, not of the GameCube which I love, but I didn't like Sunshine. I gave it a pretty fair shot, I past the Bowser Jr. reveal for sure, but I got stuck on some boss and gave up. Fwiw 3D Mario simply has never appealed to me so this isn't just Sunshine. I didn't like Galaxy either. I haven't played 64 or Odyssey. But this makes me want to give it another chance.

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I liked it back in the day and I enjoyed my replay on Switch.  Never understood why it was so maligned.

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I wouldn't say it's awesome, but it's easily my favorite 3D Mario. It has some unique stuff and FLUDD expands Mario's abilities in a fun way.

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I have a lot of happy memories of Sunshine, though upon replaying it years later, I can't deny there are some definite eyeroll moments. But I still strongly prefer it over the 3D-but-still-linear Mario games (3D Land/World, Galaxy 1/2)

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I played it for about 10 minutes in like 2004 or something. Then didn't touch it again until late March of this year. I absolutely love it and I'd say I'm about 80% through the game now. It's a ton of fun. Using FLOOD takes getting used to but after that it's truly a great game. 

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I loved it. The caribbean island theme was just right for a mario game, sunny, warm, fuzzy, with that sandy sound when you run on the beach.

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