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Ten Reason's Why...I Love Sunshine


I played a lot of platformers in my day. I wouldn't consider myself an expert but I'd say that I played a good amount of them and have the ability to tell the good ones from the bad. I know there's quite a few who will say Mario 64 is classic or that Galaxy is better, but I don't agree. People were so in love with Mario 64 that Sunshine never had a chance. But in my opinion Sunshine has what it takes to be the definitive 3-D Mario experience, here's the reasons why....

10 - Hello Yoshi
Yoshi didn't make his debut in Mario Sunshine, but he did make his first 3-D appearance. Yes, I know he made an appearance at the end of Mario 64. But all he did was give you 100 lives after you had already 100% the game.

As for Sunshine, Yoshi was one of the most frustrating parts for me. Mainly this was because his portions were all about using him to reach an area that required him as progression. Most times a mistake would cause you to lose him and start the process of finding him all over again. I'm having a hard time remembering if this was part of the main game or if I had troubles because I was actively trying to collect all the Shine Sprites in the game. But when you compare his involvement in Mario 64 or his Galaxy 2 chili pepper rocket with a tongue auto-targeting self, I'd hardly call it interesting. Admittedly Yoshi was best in the 2-D games, but for the 3-D ones, Sunshine wins by default.

09 - Island Tunes
All the Mario games have had pretty exceptional music. Mario 64 had some powerfully memorable tracks. Mario Galaxy has some great ambient mood music as well as cleverly orchestrated ones. But Sunshine just does a great job of capturing it's setting. The island theme as well as the different musical settings are just so well put together and is unmistakably Mario Sunshine. Also you'll have to remember that this was the first time a Mario game featured CD quality sound. No more cartridge compression. It's just a shame there's no official soundtrack for Sunshine.

Here's one of my all time favorite video game tracks.

08 - Interest in Bosses
To the best of my knowledge, Mario Sunshine has my favorite boss battles. While Mario 64 was a landmark game for first creating those experiences, Sunshine was truly an evolution for ideas and what you could actually do in a 3-D Platformer. Filling a Pirahna Plants belly with water, fighting a Ghost King on a moving Roulette Wheel, Fighting a Giant Mech while on a Rollercoaster, Dentisting an Eels teeth underwater, Battling a Manta Ray coating the floors with electro goop. Those scenarios were interesting and new. They're not repeated in Galaxy and they couldn't be created in Sixty Four. Which is why they're my favorite.

I do, however, think that Galaxy is a continuation of that evolution, but I feel big enough steps weren't taken. There's a step back in boss complexity design because of the lack of camera and there's also a repeating of the Bowser boss battle which leads me to my next point

07 - Bowser Has a Son?
Think back to the best boss experiences in the Mario Franchise? Did Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World come to mind. Why is that? Variety for one. Could it be that having different members of the family involved brings a breath of fresh air? Being that the other option is beat up on a gradually upgrading version of Boswer for eight straight levels makes things pretty clear. Mixing it up is a good choice. The first appearance of Bowser Jr. had passing of the torch moments to it. This wasn't your parent's Princess Kidnapping. The Koopa's had upgrades in technology and gotten with the times. In addition there were also more comical tones to the game when you saw Bowser and Junior talking about the plans for the future. But more on that later.

“Someday, when I'm bigger, I wanna fight that Mario again!”
Bowser Jr., Super Mario Sunshine

06 - Innovation in the form of a Waterpack named FLUDD
The main addition to Sunshine, the waterpack, made this Mario game somewhat of an oddity. I've always felt from others that feelings towards FLUDD were negative. I only remember hearing from people who complained about the situation but maybe those numbers are a bit skewed. I, on the other hand love the complexity FLUDD added. Sure, there were missed presses and accidental nozzle changes. But having the ability to cover up mistakes by floating around gave the series new life. Eventually I got the hang of it and started pulling off crazy aerial moves to navigate the environment. Water management was handled pretty well where I wasn't always running out of water having to spend large amount of time to fetch some more. I still don't see where all the hate stemmed from. FLUDD didn't have the impact of something like the winged cap, but it was surely a lot more complex, right?
05 - The Best Controller Ever Made
Well, kinda. I love the GameCube controller. There are flaws with it. But for everything on the GameCube, it was all I needed. This is one of the reasons why I can't go back to play Mario 64. After using the analog stick on the GameCube, who wants to use the N64's nub? Or the even C-Buttons for Camera Control? Yikes.

04 - Miss You When You're Gone
As I said before, navigating through the areas with FLUDD was a joy for me. I loved coming up with my own shortcuts around areas. But then to change things up, there were points where they took FLUDD away. Having those sequences really made me realize how much more difficult the game was without the waterpack. I think that was an important point to make within the game. When you have something, you don't really recognize it's importance until it's gone. Then there's at moment of realization leading to appreciation. This is specifically a trait of Super Mario Sunshine.

In the other Mario games, your powers are always limited, situational or temporary as long as you don't get hit. Use metallic powers to sink. Become bee to fly. Turn into spring to bounce. They're all piece meal scenarios which taper your enjoyment to that hook. But those moments are fleeting because there's not all that much more to them. They'd be much less interesting if you tried to build a game completely around that idea. While in Sunshine, a player is given those powers and allowed to do whatever. The levels are designed around that. And it's even more understood when playing the Optional Challenge levels made specifically without those powers.

03 - Evolution of the Stage
With every next step there should be true progress and movement forward. I think that's the case with Sunshine. It took some of the best laid ideas of Mario 64 and truly expanded on them. When I think about the stage design I'm reminded only of fond memories. The high rise scaffolding of Ricco Harbor. The rollercoasters of Pinna Park. The depths of Noki Bay. The solar mirrors of Gelato Beach. While I do think it's arguable that Mario 64 had just as many memorable locales, going back to them now you begin to see the simplicity and the aged look. And if you go forward towards Galaxy, the levels are all scaled down to allow for more variation. This unfortunately also creates a lack of inspiration or grandiosity. Sunshine, I think sits right in the middle of the two worlds, a realization of grand level design before the wave of simplification for newcomers.

02 - The Mario Game with a Story and Explanation
Mario sets off, collects a bunch of stars, beats up Bowser, rescues Princess Peach. It's a formula we've seen over and over and over again. It's not anything that I'd complain about wanting changed, but at least give me good reason to go through the steps. Mario 64 gets a pass for being Mario 64. But what the hell Galaxy? I'm guessing Nintendo decided to abandon all hopes for a story for the Mario Series, even going as far as using the same EXACT set up for Galaxy 2 as it did for Galaxy 1. I'm talking about mirror image except a lesser emphasis on story.

Sunshine features a twisting plot of mystery and deception. A Trial? A Conviction? Who is this Shadow Mario figure? Will Mario ever clear his name? It may not be Bioware or Bethesda, but it's something at least.

Skip to 3:53 (Don't watch these videos if avoiding Spoilers)

01 - Mama Peach?
The cutscenes featuring Peach were my favorite part of Super Mario Sunshine. This partially coincides with the whole Mario with a Story but even without the antics of Peach and Bowser Junior, Sunshine would still be a fantastic 3-D platformer. With them, it's the icing on the cake. The ribbon that ties the whole package together. The cherry on top. As you'll see in these videos.

Skip to 3:20 and 7:30....

So this brings up the question? How many of you finished Super Mario Sunshine and have seen that cutscene before?

Thanks for reading,


  • acicon 8 years, 8 months ago

    I loved Mario Sunshine on the GC and frankly I don't understand why people are hating on it so much. Sure its not Mario 64 but Sunshine is a great game in its own right.

    I thought FLUDD was a pretty cool gimmick for the game as it brings about interesting methods of navigation in the different areas of Delphino Island.

    I only borrowed the game back then and only got 92 shine sprites but I have recently acquired my own copy and can play it on my Wii. Maybe I'll get down to finishing it this time around.

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  • AdjacentKitten 8 years, 8 months ago

    Totally agree. I always felt like some of the bosses of Sunshine were totally overlooked, because now that you bring them up, I remember being genuinely scared of some of those bosses. The scale of some of them was just completely astounding for it's time, if you ask me. Kind of reminds me of the same feeling I get with Shadow of Colossus. Those moments where you feel almost totally helpless before a crazy powerful boss are too few and far.

    Still &lt;3 FLUDD.

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    • Wraith 8 years, 8 months ago

      I remember this game. My brother used to be obsessed with it, and I got into it as well. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the negative backlash baffles me. And... it's so.... colourful. @___@

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  • Redfrenzy 8 years, 8 months ago

    For most of your points I would agree, especially where it comes down to Sunshine bringing some variety to the series. However, Sunshine has to be the only Mario that I have played and never played through 'til the end and haven't enjoyed. One of the complaints people had with the game, was the large gameplay difference with the FLUDD, this was actually the one thing I liked about the game. It was fun and most importantly different.

    Although my complaints lied with the jankiness; I was faced with levels themselves and some detection issues with the platforming. I have always preferred a mario that gave the player a lot of challenge, but this game stressed me out with certain detection issues, that made certain sequences awkward to navigate. Of course some of it wasn't to do with any edge detection, but the camera was the worst I have seen it in any Mario and unfortunately caused me not to enjoy any of the platforming sequences. Finally, the environments you were in started off as a really charming factor of the game, but after a while I found the levels uninteresting.

    When I reflect back on it, the game didn't appeal to me, mainly because of the technical issues. Usually I try not to be phased by issues like these, but when these showed up in Sunshine it perhaps seemed worse because of the expectations you have for a Mario game. Who knows, perhaps one day I will revisit it again.

    Anyway nice article David!

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  • Qualitybeats 8 years, 8 months ago

    Great article! I'm a huge fan of retrospectives, and this one has got me considering playing Sunshine now. I've lost my Nintendo-fanboism in the past 10 years, but recently (w/ a Wii &amp; DSlite puirchase) have spent most of my time cleaning up a Nintendo laundry-list.

    Word up David, I'm going to play this now. High five!

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  • Arxidus 8 years, 8 months ago

    Dude, I'm in the same boat. Loved this game, still do, and actually remember that cutscene fondly. The game still holds up even today, at least for me. Wouldn't mind in the slightest to going back and getting everysingle Shinesprite. Thanks for reminding me of the fun I had with this game, David! Mad respect for you, dawg.

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  • ArcHeRHooD 8 years, 8 months ago

    Probably one of my most favorite Mario games of all time. Right next to Super Mario World for SNES. I loved the scenery, the plot, the mechanics (even with it's few flaws), the humor, the challenge, the puzzles, just ALL of it! It's one of those games I would gladly play again and enjoy.

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  • J52 8 years, 8 months ago

    This reads like a Bizarro version of reasons why I hated Sunshine. For example, I really didn't like the music, the GC controller is my all-time least favorite controller (not counting Xbox 1, because I never used it enough to get used to it and decide I still hated it), and I thought Sunshine 2's levels were really forgettable because they all fit the tropical island theme.

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  • ffsjeezus 8 years, 8 months ago

    thank you david, for posting this article so many years after Sunshine came out. I loved that game, I bought it when it first came out and I still go back and play it again every so often. I must have beat that game 4, 5, maybe 6 times now. i mean, it has some problems, but i don't think there is any reason for people to hate on this game. i mean, have they never played a really crappy game before? even with the bugs, sunshine still sits miles above many other games that came out around the same time, before, and after. in my opinion, anyway.

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  • Zocano 8 years, 8 months ago

    Out of the handful of Mario games I've played, Sunshine was the only one I 100%'d. It was awesome. In fact, I'd go as far as to say I think Sunshine is a better game than Super Mario 64. I thought the stages were incredibly fun and challenging (especially the special ones where you didn't have FLUDD).

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  • hitheresunshine 8 years, 8 months ago

    I loove Sunshine. I actually sort-of play some of the music on my dad's Kurzweil. XD I loved that song with the baritone saxophone… The entire atmosphere was super warm and I remember being totally impressed with the water at the time. I also thought the FLUDD was brilliant, and made the levels super fun to figure out. My only complaint about the game is the voice acting. That aside, it's still one of my favorite Gamecube games. And I still play it on the Wii, sometimes. In fact, I think I'll do that tonight~!

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  • pioshfd 8 years, 8 months ago

    I never got to finish Sunshine before my Gamecube broke. Last I remember, I was stuck fighting that giant electric Manta Ray. :P I'm surprised they never made a sequel to it.

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  • Clidefrog123 8 years, 8 months ago

    Though its been ages since Ive played either 64 or sunshine I can definitely still see what edge sunshine still has to other in its series.

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  • SolidBigBoss 8 years, 8 months ago

    This game was the reason I bought a GameCube, the graphics were astonishing and so was its gameplay. The addition of its new mechanics and incomparable level design really made me enjoy a 3D Mario game.

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  • Oreyn 8 years, 8 months ago

    This is a wonderful article. It feels so good too see others who share the same opinions as me about this game. I absolutely loved Sunshine; and much like David and the other users, I find myself confused as to why Sunshine gets so much hate. So as of right now, it is raining where I live. But seeing this article has brought the sun out for me. Thank you David.

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  • Yoshata 8 years, 8 months ago

    Ahh, Sunshine. That was one of the first games I played on the Gamecube a long time ago, if I remember correctly. Recently, I started playing this game again out of nostalgia, and it's just as much fun as I remember. I really love that you wrote this article, because it sort of coincides with my having picked this game up again. :) *feel-good moment*

    I'm not really a critical gamer, so I don't love Mario 64 or the Galaxy games any less, either. But, I think you have a lot of valid points, such as the story being recycled of Mario saving Peach from Bowser. I personally don't mind this rehashing at all, but I can see why others would. Sunshine certainly did bring some inventiveness to the table that was refreshing.

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  • Rendrak 8 years, 8 months ago

    I loved Sunshine. The only thing about it I didn't like was those damn bonus challenge levels. They weren't themed like the rest of the levels were and they usually required surgical precision in order to get through them properly.

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  • Bombader 8 years, 8 months ago

    I remember not liking the island theme, wasn't really my thing. I also didn't like swimming in video games which probably doubled my dislike there.

    The game was scary at points though, not sure if it would scare me now. Remembered not wanting to follow that shadow Mario at first since I thought he was scary (back then).

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  • Comradebearjew 8 years, 8 months ago

    I loved this game (never beat it sadly) but they never explained who Shadow Mario was!

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    • Skrams 8 years, 8 months ago

      Wasn't it just Bowser Junior? Since he had a paint brush or something from Professor E.Gadd he painted himself into Shadow Mario.

      Also I agree with most of what your saying David. I feel like going back into the 8-10 big levels let you sort of connect with them. I got a unique feeling from all of them despite it being all tropical. The beach with Wiggler, the port with the squid boss and squid races, the casino, the teeth cleaning eel, the square area around a giant tree, and the first basic level. All of it just sunk in over time with a few stars every level while Super Mario Galaxy while being fun just put you on a linear course. Great, I saw imagination but I never got to do much else besides platforming with different gimmicks. Fludd also was a gimmick but the traversal with Fludd and how they implemented it with his speed/rocket boosts and different boss battles like the eel teeth cleaning one were crazy.

      So ya, pretty much loved Sunshine.

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  • Dimensaur 8 years, 8 months ago

    I remember ordering this game from Nintendo Power. It was like $20 or $30 and included a copy of the game, a strategy guide, and a nintendo power subscription. It took a long while to show up but I liked it. I don't understand where the hate comes from either, I thought it was pretty enjoyable.

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  • TheFlameLurker 8 years, 8 months ago

    This post just reminds me of how the Gamecube was one of my personal favorite consoles, sure the games don't have the nostalgia factor SNES and N64 games had but I still remember playing and beating so many more games for my Gamecube then I ever did for my PS2. Also I was always astonished by just how nice games looked on Gamecube. I wish I still had my copies of Sunshine, Skies of Arcadia, Starfox Adventures, and Resident Evil 4 come to think of it at least I have my favorite racing game of all time F-Zero GX, mastered all the championship races but I could never beat that damn story mode and I don't regret that.

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  • PrideSwine 8 years, 8 months ago

    Definitely agree here. Sunshine was, in my opinion, one of the best games I've played on the GameCube. I definitely think that the pros outweigh the cons on this one, immensely. I can't even think of a con off the top of my head...

    Well, maybe just one: the disk wore out before I could play it through a couple hundred more times!

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  • Aromanx 8 years, 8 months ago

    Mario Sunshine was great, i bought the gamecube just to play that game, still my favorite mario game ever..... i managed to get all shines :P

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  • Killerx137 8 years, 8 months ago

    I remember the first time i got this game.i didn get to beat it because it broke.after some years,i forgot about the game.when it was 2008,i was at gamestop and i found the game,but ever since the game broke,i forgot almost took me 1 year to beat this game,and i still don't have all the shine sprites.

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  • Killerx137 8 years, 8 months ago

    now i feel like getting all the shine sprites now.thank you David for posting this.i really enjoyed this game

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  • Killerx137 8 years, 8 months ago

    and yes i got that scene

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  • zzman305 8 years, 8 months ago

    Lol at the last scene with Bowser and his son.

    Never finished this Mario game, maybe I should go back and play it all some time...

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  • SJ_1S8 8 years, 8 months ago

    Well put together article.

    I really enjoyed sunshine as well. Not sure why so many disike it.

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  • wesjc24 8 years, 8 months ago

    the experince this game gave me i will never forget, i loved this game it was mario but it wasent at the same time. it totally gave a new view of him. just like one of my other favorite GC games Luigi's mansion, proffessor E.Gadd made FLUDD and the ghost busters vacum in that game and they both are very great games

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