It’s been the elephant in the room for nearly two full decades; is Super Mario Sunshine a good game? At the time of its release (2002), it received critical acclaim. However, there were also some negative feelings toward the game directly after it released. Mainly due to the mechanic of FLUDD, many preferred Super Mario 64 for its classic 3D gameplay.
As for me, I have spent many years playing this game and even bought it (it was a gift) when it was being released in stores. I was back and forth with whether I hated it or loved it for many, many years. It’s all too clear to me now, however; I highly dislike Super Mario Sunshine.
FLUDD is Not Even the Reason
Ironically, the FLUDD mechanic is not why I take issue with this game. To this day, I actually somewhat enjoy the gameplay presented by it. From the different nozzles to the platforming capabilities, it makes the game unique. For the most part, the mechanics of it are also well-executed. The main hover nozzle responds and functions very well.
The Lack of Major Areas
Alright, so now let’s get into why I don’t like this entry. For starters, when you strictly count the main areas you explore (not counting the main hub and the few smaller locations) there are only seven “worlds” that you can access. Yes, they are quite large in scale but more on that later.
The problem is each world centers around water (some of them are pretty much nothing but water). Sure, FLUDD’s main gimmick is that it needs water to function so it makes sense. However, underwater Mario levels are infamous for being despised. So, when you factor in that virtually every level is a water stage, you can see the lack of interest build.
Admittedly, I actually like Ricco Harbor and Noki Bay. But, after a while, the level design gets a little old.
This game didn’t introduce blue coins, but they function in a unique way. Instead of giving you five regular coins, you need to hunt them down to trade them in for shines. Cool concept, right? Well, the execution is horrendous and here’s why…
Firstly, there are 240 of these suckers throughout the game (factoring in there aren’t very many main stages). Secondly, and most importantly, they are in random (extremely random) spots. Some require you to spray water at specific locations to unlock them. Unless you go around spraying water everywhere, you probably won’t find them all.
Oh, what’s worse? Some are only available in certain stages of each world. To say that collecting them becomes monotonous is an understatement.
The Soundtrack and Linearity
I love Mario music and there have been some epic scores throughout the years (Super Mario Galaxy anyone). Yet, in this game, outside of a few locations, I never dug the soundtrack. It matched the environments (which is a plus) but lacked the flair that other games had.
Wait, did I just call this game linear? This is my number one pet peeve with this game. So many people claim it is open-world, but it really isn’t. While you can access levels in different orders, each level is linear in its progression. Outside of some minor exceptions, each level shine must be completed in the same order every single time.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind linear games. If there were more areas to explore this wouldn’t be an issue. But, alas, I feel it is with this game.
Not Up to Par
For those who adore this game, I can respect that. Video games appeal to people in different ways and for some, this may be their favorite 3D Mario game of all-time. For me, it will always be my least favorite.