Have you ever had a game that you played when you were younger has stuck with you until now? For a lot of people that game could be Ocarina of Time, Smash Bros, Final Fantasy 7, Pokémon Red & Blue, etc. I loved those games when I was a kid too, but the game that makes me happy just thinking about it has always been Super Mario Sunshine.
How can you not smile when looking at that?
This game makes you a better person
When I read that there was a study proving that people who played Super Mario Sunshine growing up were nicer people it wasn't difficult to believe. Not because I think of myself as a wonderful person, but because I recognize how good the game feels to play and how it can make an impact on who you are later in life. "Prosocial games", as they call them, are highly likely to make people helpful, showing how games don't necessarily make people "violent" by playing them, but actually build social skills. It makes sense that SMS falls in this category because the entire game is basically helping with chores and cleanup. I know that sounds boring, but you couldn't be more wrong!
Now that I'm finished bragging about my social skills via video games, let's talk about the game itself. Super Mario Sunshine came out in 2002 for the Gamecube, my main entertainment system for a good chunk of my life. The game takes place on Isle Delfino, where Mario has been framed for making messes, polluting the island, and causing general destruction. With the help of F.L.U.D.D., or Flash Liquidizing Ultra Dousing Device (created by the same inventor you see in Luigi's Haunted Mansion), you clear your name and clean the island while restoring the sunshine by collecting Shine Sprites. The twist in this Mario? The antagonist in this game is none other than Baby Bowser! That's right, his royal cuteness. Bowser makes an appearance as well, but I love Baby Bowser and his tough facade and motivation for kidnapping Peach.
The iconic "SHINE GET" also comes from this game
And with the recent release of the Gamecube controller support for the Switch, my hopes are getting higher for the Gamecube emulator rumor to be true. Why? Because that just might mean I can play this game again after so many years! It also means that kids now could have a chance to experience the same game that I loved so much when I was their age (which makes me feel old, but that's beside the point).
So why do I love this game so much? There are tons of 3D platformers to choose from, and I could just as easily be thrilled about Mario Galaxy (which I do like, but not as much) or any great game released from the '90s-'00s.
The plot is hilarious and adorable
First, I have to mention the antagonist again. Baby Bowser is adorable, you can empathize with him as the player, and his handkerchief he uses to look scary like his dad is just iconic. I almost feel bad rescuing Peach in the game, because he's more like a troublemaking kid you're babysitting than a villain.
"Leave my mama alone!"
Okay, I'm sorry, don't be sad!
In SMS you really feel like you get to know the characters. The story is engaging and the first time I played I didn't want to stop because I had to know how it ended. Later I would play to see the cutscenes again, like rereading my favorite book.
Every boss fight is unique and exciting
Next, you have the boss battles. These are challenging and fun, and each one feels unique. Fill up the piranha plant with water! Shoot down the missiles! Feed the ghost a spicy pepper! Super ground pound the platforms! Rocket to beat them in the race! Pull off their tentacles! Each battle is a bit different than the others, but they're all fun to complete. It doesn't feel repetitive at all, and there's something satisfying about each and every defeat.
Sources: Moarpowah, Sporcle, Giant Bomb, Destructoid
There are different nozzles you unlock over the course of the game, and they're all useful. You can go back and discover secrets with them, and the ways that you can use something as simple as water is refreshing (pun intended) and creative. The same tool can be used to clean eel teeth, climb up waterfalls, fight off ghosts, win races, cool lava, fly up towers; and of course, clean up paint.
Secrets. Secrets everywhere
I mentioned the secrets, which reminds me of how I would play this game to its completion because it felt like it was worth it. Collecting all the secret Shines was crucial to me, and after I unlocked the Hawaiian shirt Mario I would go back and play all over again (just like I did with pajama-clad Link in Wind Waker).
Finally, I think just the general atmosphere of the game is what makes it one of my favorites. The whole thing feels relaxing. Eating tropical fruits with Yoshi, the sunset beaches, going underwater, and fancy hotels and casinos just make you feel like you're on vacation. Sure, the incredibly difficult mini areas like the dreaded Sand Bird aren't relaxing at all, but the rest certainly have their appeal. I think another reason I get the "warm-fuzzies" with this game is I usually played it during my summer vacations, adding even more to that vacation feeling.
It's all about the details
There is such attention to detail in this world. The way you can see the other areas off in the distance, the beautiful look of the water and sand, the way you can get covered in muck while cleaning and have to wash it off, the different colors of Yoshi. All of this just contributes to the look and feel of the game, and you can tell that so much time and affection went into this project.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, Nintendo, please please please let me play Super Mario Sunshine on the Switch! I don't care about the cost, because I can live with one less kidney, but I can't live without playing this game at least one more time.
If I can play this on the switch I can die happy
I can't recommend it more! If you've never played it before I really think you should. And if you can't play it yourself, you can also find a Let's Play to get a look at the game.
What game do you miss the most? What's the one game you could play over and over without getting bored? Let me know in the comments!
See you next time,