Further Impressions of the Japanese Version
Super Mario Sunshine has arrived in a big way on the GameCube. EAD created this title as a faithful follow-up to its N64 predecessor, in both form and execution. Mario’s main set of moves has been translated over to the new controller intact, to be used in a series of 7 worlds presented in the same format as Super Mario 64.
Here is the control scheme:
Many people will certainly be interested to hear about the camera situation in this game after its tentative first steps into 3-D were made with its predecessor. Rest assured, the analog C Stick works like a charm and rarely is restricted by physical obstacles. Rather, it flows smoothly from one point to another at the player’s will. In the few cases where free camera navigation is impossible in tight quarters, the camera zooms in through the opaque barrier blocking the view with a blue, circle-shaped border in the same vein as an x-ray machine. When smaller obstacles block Mario or other important characters or objects from view, either their silhouette or a shaded question mark is used to illustrate their hidden position. (This silhouette technique is particularly useful when Mario uses any level’s network of pipes to move quickly from one point to another. The sometimes-massive maze of subterranean pipes often is host to hidden caches of coins.) Instances of actual clipping are few, but do still exist particularly when automatically zooming in suddenly to speak with a character standing near a wall. It’s not a perfect system by any means, but an improvement over the limited, digital adjustment available in the N64 game.
Dolphino Town, the peaceful village on Isle Dolphino, serves as the hub from which levels are gradually introduced as Shine Sprites are collected. Upon jumping in front of a warp-zone splatter of paint, our hero is transformed into a swarm of floating paint bubbles to be whisked into the paint to the classic warp sound effect. Once again, the level’s title screen is presented to hide loading times and one of 8 consecutive missions is stated in text, and then illustrated with grand sweeps of the camera upon selection. For the purists, pressing A can ignore these.
Each large level – slightly larger than those found in Super Mario 64 – serves as host for a formulaic selection of missions. Unique to each level are its own special task-based Shine Sprites, mixed in with two sets of 8 red coins to collect, a chase after Mario’s impostor (whose true identity will be left anonymous here), a boss or two, and one or two classic-style mini-games.
The mini-games hidden within each level are quite a pleasant surprise – when Mario enters certain portals placed within each stage, a short FMV is played showing Aqua Mario stealing the red plumber’s water pack. Without the use of special powers from the backpack, Mario must maneuver his way to a Shine Sprite through an obstacle course laid out in the fashion of Bowser’s stages in Super Mario 64, except with more moving platforms and objects making the going rough. This is all done to a music track recreating the classic Super Mario Bros. theme song in a sort of soft-pop, almost acapella style. It’s all very retro and a real treat for long-time fans.
The first three stages of the game – Bianco Hills, Ricco Harbor, and Mamma Beach – have already been described in my impressions from E3 below. There are 4 levels in the final version of the game that weren’t included in the demo: Pinna Park, Sirena Beach, Mare Bay, and Monte Village.
Pinna Park, an amusement park level, is accessed by being shot out of a red dome-shaped cannon from Dolphino Town, unlike the blobs of paint used as portals to other stages. Landing just outside the gates of the park, Mario first enters in pursuit of his impostor, who has taken control of a gigantic fighting robot standing right in the middle of the place. Lest he be crushed, Mario hops onto the winding roller coaster armed with missiles in an attempt to disarm the assailant. It’s only during other missions in Pinna Park that the actual level can be explored; the merry-go-round is missing an orange Yoshi, the towering Ferris wheel is spinning out of control, and turtles with shells that look like Yoshi eggs have choked off the roots of some helpless sunflowers. At about this point in the game, everyone’s favorite green dinosaur is introduced, but more on him later.
Sirena Beach is a normally quiet resort town at the twilight’s edge that has been rudely disrupted by pools of electric green and yellow paint. Upon speaking with the town elders about the matter, a huge, bright silhouette of a stingray emerges from the shoreline spreading globs of more deadly electric paint as it trails along the surface of the ground. Only after Mario with his water pack has divided up the stingray into many pieces and conquered them all, will the town’s resort hotel be restored to its former glory. It’s inside this maze-like labyrinth of a building within a level that many of the later tasks take place, including its exorcism from the ghosts haunting it and later sneaking through every last nook and cranny to bypass the security system guarding a treasured Shine Sprite.
Mare Bay (pronounced mar-ay) is the home of the Mare tribe of shellfish people on Isle Dolphino. Steep cliffs border this blue and purple-tinted stage, with tall, corkscrew-shaped spires emerging from the murky depths below. At the outset, the Mare elder asks Mario to dispense with a cannon-happy Bob-omb-shooting rodent at the top of the cliffs. In so doing, the plucky plumber scales the paint-soaked crags and winding towers to reach the pesky ne’er-do-well. Further adventures allow Mario to not only borrow a small, engineless boat from a local man at the bottom of the cliffs in order to chart treacherous and poisonous, oil-slicked waters, but also carve his own path up sheer rock faces with the switch of a panel in search of the entrance to a cave holding yet another Shine Sprite. It is the goal of the game, after all.
During my short time in the nighttime-set Monte Village, home of the pear-shaped, hula dress-wearing inhabitants of Isle Dolphino, I was summarily eaten by three flaming Chain-Chomps on the loose through the red-painted streets of town. The locals dancing on top of mushrooms sure had the right idea in staying off the ground.
Several stages contain a Yoshi egg with a thought bubble above it displaying a certain type of fruit. Whether it be a banana, pineapple, chili pepper, pear, lime, or what looks like a giant pineapple without the leaves (which must be kicked like a soccer ball rather than be picked up with B), Yoshi hatches when provided with the correct fruit and changes color appropriately. Once mounted, a slightly different control scheme is used – holding A while in mid-air causes Yoshi to float as in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, B does the trademark tongue-slurp, R causes the little green dinosaur to vomit the juice of whatever fruit he’s ingested in place of squirting water (as we reported earlier), and the X Button is used to dismount. Once again, riding Yoshi not only adds a drumbeat to the background music, but also enables players to explore previously unreachable areas.
However, I’ve had some frustration trying to use Yoshi to collect the 8th Shine Sprite in the 2nd level, Ricco Harbor. The task involves vomiting juice onto fish jumping out of the water in order to turn them into purple platforms that will automatically float out to distant girder platforms. Getting out to the first girder platform is just fine and dandy, but using fish as stairs in between girders awkwardly-placed just overhead is difficult given Yoshi’s long approach distance for a floating jump. If Yoshi falls into the water below, he dissolves into many drops of green paint and vanishes without any warning. Getting back up to try the whole thing again takes a few minutes, and becomes very aggravating; there are quite a few acrobatic impossibilities to negotiate in this game.
However, players need not worry – Super Mario Sunshine is just as vast as its older 3-D brother and twice as pretty. At current estimate, there should be at least 80 Shine Sprites in the game for players to collect, the later of which obviously become increasingly difficult to obtain. Neither the targeted young audience nor the seasoned game veterans looking to this title for nostalgia will grow bored quickly, but rather be occupied for a long time to come. Look for the review on Nintendojo soon!
Initial Impressions of the Japanese Version
Bless my 120 stars, Super Mario Sunshine is finally here! With the Internet abuzz with early release rumors, I decided to call my friendly neighborhood Lawson's (where I'd pre-ordered last month) to see if the game was in. Sure enough, it was; the following are my very initial impressions of the final Japanese version of the game.
The game opens with a mix of real-time cinema and FMV depicting Mario, Princess Peach Toadstool, and Grandfather Mushroom onboard an airplane bound for the tropical paradise of Dolphino Island. The characters' voices during these sequences, surprisingly enough, are all in English, with Japanese only in subtitles. Onboard the plane, our trio watches a video preview of the island, and are awestruck by the beautiful sights that await them, to the point of Mario and Grandpa missing a shadowy Mario-shaped character run by in the background. Peach is rightfully distressed, as is made evident by the large glops of paint on the airport runway. Once one of the locals equips Mario with "Flood," his water-squirting backpack, our hero cleans up the mess and is promptly arrested, tried, and convicted by the local officials. Mario's sentence: to not leave the island until he totally cleans it up. With Mario set loose with his backpack in town, Peach is suddenly seized (to much surprise) by Mario's impostor, only to soon get out of harm's way escape into a portal of paint.
The first three stages of the game are those found in the E3 demo version of the game, and have only undergone minor changes needed to set everything in place for the final run. Stay tuned to the Dojo for further impressions and our complete review!
Not to be outdone by his younger brother at launch, Mario has returned in style on the GameCube in Super Mario Sunshine, due on August 26th this year.
While taking a well-deserved vacation with Princess Toadstool on Dolpic Island, Mario discovers that an imposter dressed as him has desecrated the beautiful island with bucket upon bucket of paint. But rather than take the blame, Mario dons a water-spraying backpack and sets out to clean up the mess and reveal the true perpetrator of the crime.
Having had a chance to spend some quality time with the new Mario game this morning, I can safely say that the screenshots simply don't do it justice. Rather than containing the by-and-large blurry images we've seen thus far, Mario Sunshine takes the graphic look of Super Mario 64 and, during actual gameplay, wipes the vasoline off the N64's old camera lens.
The beach stage I played on was about the size of a level in Mario 64, and contained a couple dozen of the pear-shaped island inhabitants we've seen. The beach huts containing the islanders require players to pan down below the roofs using the C Stick in order to see inside properly, or nothing but Mario's silhouette is visible through the covering. These huts and an array of solar panel towers (with actual reflections) are situated about some sort of tall, spired building in the center of the village, presumably the town hall.
Backdropping the village is a steep cliff going up towards a path, complete with a crevice in which I was able to practice my wall-jumping, like the Etecoons in Super Metroid, and our favorite plumber in Mario 64. When swimming in the water beyond the docks, as in the previous game in the series, one can see a beautiful, multi-colored coral reef emerging from the depths. Water-- and now paint-- effects have been refined to add the extra graphical touch that'll set Mario Sunshine apart.
As for enemies, depending on the scenario selected, there was either a giant Wiggler caterpillar stomping back and forth across the beach, or a series of smaller pod-shaped enemies walking upon a floating array of mirrors, as well as some other enemies below the palm trees who would flip you up 50 feet in the air without harming you.
One example of a gameplay objective was engaging a giant Pirhana Plant boss that spat globs of brown paint at and around the plucky plumber. Smaller Pirhana Plant sprouts would emerge from the paint and attack Mario if not stomped upon or sprayed with water using the R button. Finding the boss' weak point wasn't terribly difficult, but replicating the Yoshi-style butt-stomp on the GameCube controller was a bit tricky at first. Defeating the Giant Pirhana Plant rewards the player with a sun-shaed "Shine" token, which helps to keep the island bright and clean.
Another stage, set at an industrial squidport, Mario must eliminate Bloobers that have taken up residence there. Departing from the mountain-front wall of buildings on the piers, Mario can board one of several ships in dock, on the way up to a giant, chicken wire maze. Climbing up onto it and punching or butt-stomping through swinging gates, like in Super Mario World, the elder plumber navigates his way through the elevated, see-through labyrinth. On top of the maze, Bloobers spit ink at Mario as he tries to cross steel girders on his way back to the rooftops.
Throughout the level are sun/moon panels on which Mario slams down to enter a hidden, subterranean passageway. Seeing Mario's silhouette and immediate tunnel vicinity through the ground, he can walk to any one of several exit points.
This level's boss is, of course, a Giant Bloober that spits paint all about and tries to strike a glancing blow with one or several of its eight tentacles. The reward for defeating the boss is, again a Shine token.
This game takes the standard Mario 64 controls and adds a twist. Spinning the Control Stick before jumping results in a whirlwind jump not unlike the one found in Super Mario World. Mario's waterpack doubles as both a firehose and a jetpack, alternated between using the X Button. Y changes perspectives and the C Stick pans with the camera around our hero. Players will be relieved to know that walking the several tightropes in the game includes no risk of falling off on accident with the Control Stick, though dismounting may take some getting used to.
I can't wait to play this game again!
Word on the Street
Folks on the Internet seem to be abuzz with word of the waterpack's various applications, genuinely excited about being able to relive Super Mario 64 in an entirely new game world.
From the Horse's Mouth
Super Mario Sunshine should easily be able to replicate the enormous success of its predecessors and become perhaps the best-selling game of the year for GameCube, or any system for that matter.
word on the street
press release notes