Way Back When
In a franchise with a history as long as that of Mario, there’s certain to be a few peculiar games along the way. The first mainline entry in the series to deviate from its fundamentals enough to alienate some fans, however, was the plumber’s second 3D outing. 2002’s Super Mario Sunshine for the GameCube was certainly a Mario game through and through, but it implemented some unexpected mechanics and themes that would go on to make it a very unconventional experience for veterans of the beloved IP.
So what exactly could a Mario game do to put off some of its fans? Well, for starters, Super Mario Sunshine featured fully voice-acted cutscenes, and said scenes were used to tell a story about a character called Shadow Mario, who had spread graffiti across the new setting of Isle Delfino, prompting the island’s denizens to blame Mario for the mess. The somewhat deeper narrative and undeniably awkward voice acting was a major departure from franchise norms and certainly felt like a misstep for a property that had spent its entire run capitalizing on its simplicity.
However, the bigger change came in the gameplay this go-around. Tasked with cleaning up the island’s graffiti, Mario wore a backpack device called F.L.U.D.D., which he used to shoot water to wash away Shadow Mario’s sludge, briefly hover above ground, gain a turbo boost, and more. Though the fundamental aspect of platforming and collecting items felt similar to its predecessor, Super Mario 64, this new title’s implementation of these drastically different mechanics made some players feel robbed of a more traditional Mario experience. Thus ultimately, for better or worse, such unusual design choices turned Super Mario Sunshine into an oddity that felt more like acquired taste than another of the mustachioed character’s must-play adventures.
Further complaints were leveraged at Super Mario Sunshine‘s occasionally frustrating controls and camera, but despite these concerns, the game was still well-received overall, even earning itself a few perfect scores. It went on to sell over five million copies and became one of the GameCube’s best-selling titles. In the years since its release, Mario has had copious other exploits, yet none quite as divisive as his trip to Isle Delfino – and maybe that’s why it took Nintendo so long to provide a way to play the game on modern hardware. Now that it’s available via Super Mario 3D All-Stars, though, maybe it’ll gain a newfound appreciation from old and returning fans.
Where You Can Play It Now
Unlike most other earlier Mario titles, Nintendo has been a little weird about making Super Mario Sunshine available outside of its original GameCube release. At the moment, it’s currently only accessible on modern hardware via the Switch’s Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection. It’s very much still the pure experience of the game, but you can enjoy it with a much-needed visual update.
Here’s the modern platforms on which you can access Super Mario Sunshine:
- Nintendo Switch (via Super Mario 3D All-Stars)
Luckily, the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection features visually-enhanced versions of the Nintendo 64’s Super Mario 64 and the Wii’s Super Mario Galaxy, too, so it’s definitely worth picking up for a major dose of nostalgic bliss.