I have spent a lot of energy throwing shade at Super Mario Sunshine over the years. If anything, playing it again as part of Super Mario 3D All-Stars has only amplified my disdain for this GameCube title. The further I go, the more glaring its issues become, from its terrible camera, to its slippery controls, to its overly-punishing level design.
Even so, this game does have a few bright spots. Playing it now has reminded me that it isn’t all bad.
Solid Art Direction
Yes, Super Mario Sunshine gets a bit of a resolution bump during the porting process to Super Mario 3D All-Stars. Nevertheless, the game at its core is one of the most cohesive-looking in the entire Super Mario series. Every locale looks and feels like it’s part of Isle Delfino, versus the mishmash of environments strung together to form most Super Mario games. Though it does have the unintended consequence of making the game feel overly same-y as time goes on, I at least appreciate the intent behind its art direction.
Again, Nintendo set out to create a tropical island vibe, which the absolutely nailed with its presentation. All of the game’s songs give players that island flair that fits perfectly with the environments you’re exploring. Delfino Plaza in particular is one of the single-best songs from any Super Mario soundtrack.
Interesting Boss Fights*
The first time you fight Petey Piranha, it’s a fairly straightforward battle where you fill his mouth up with water before he falls over and you stomp his gut. The second time around, the entire stage becomes the battlefield, as Petey takes flight. You then must scale buildings and other plateaus in order to spray him from above and knock him back down to Earth. Though the boss fights still run on the easy side, I appreciate the scale and ambition was thinking with here.
*Except for the final battle. What a stinker!
An Attempt at More Challenging Platforming
When F.L.U.D.D. gets taken away, Mario is forced to take on some of the most challenging platforming in any Super Mario game. Yes, a lot of its challenge comes from factors that are cheap in nature, such as its unhelpful camera, slippery controls, and level designs that brutally punish even the slightest of mistakes.
Nevertheless, Nintendo came up with some really interesting challenges for Mario to traverse. Most notably, these areas really force you to run around rotating objects, giving you a whole new dimension of challenge. With a slight gravity change, Mario running around these rotating objects would grow to become the foundation of Super Mario Sunshine.