Let the Sun Shine!!
Super Mario Sunshine for GameCube holds a special place in my heart for its unique setting and gameplay mechanics. Considering Mario’s thrown plenty of parties and chased after the checkered flag for nearly two full decades, Nintendo took a risk in placing a device on the red plumber’s back and making it the core concept of the title. But what the Mario series is missing are more vacations away from the Mushroom Kingdom, and an ambitious Wii U sequel to the summer 2002 smash hit could be just what the doctor ordered.
Picture the scene. Mario’s spent enough time in space, so what better way to take advantage of Wii U’s HD graphics than to have the game set on an expanded Isle Delfino? Just imagine the water effects… the sandy beaches… the grassy hills… Nintendo could even have Mario hopping back-and-forth between Isle Delfino and the Mushroom Kingdom in order to showcase the rest of Mario’s world in HD as well, because let’s be honest, the pounded-to-the-ground storyline of Bowser capturing Peach could also use a break. Mario always tends to get short shrift when it comes to engaging plot developments, so with one threat on the island and another back home, this is where things could really get interesting. Bowser could invade Isle Delfino with the graffiti-inducing Magic Paintbrush given to him by Il Piantissimo, but back in the Mushroom Kingdom, a much bigger threat looms. In the final act, Mario could even persuade King Koopa to help him take down the surprise antagonist: Wart. The frog king takes Peach hostage and that provides leverage for Mario in obtaining Bowser’s help.
Both Shine Sprites and Power Stars could feature here too, and a certain amount of one or the other would be required to warp between the two locations. F.L.U.D.D. would return as the primary game mechanic when Mario was on the island, with Mario relying on his own special skills to take on Wart in the Mushroom Kingdom. All nozzles return with enhancements as well, as Mario would need them to fight Bowser’s newest creations, and after aiding Mario in a few 3D adventures, Yoshi would bridge the two worlds together.
Nintendo may have put this out there in case of a sequel.
The Wii U GamePad’s screen could also be used as a task manager, showing messages from Toad, Piantas, Nokis, and back home, Peach, Toadsworth, and Luigi. A fully-customizable HUD could allow the player to drag features from the touch screen to the television, and minigames scattered throughout Isle Delfino could take advantage of the controller in various ways. Think of the tech demo from E3 2011 when a player catches a ball, with the controller acting as a glove. In my version of Super Mario Sunshine 2, Mario could use F.L.U.D.D. to catch watermelons and launch them across Gelato Beach.
Of course, with players having already been to Isle Delfino a decade ago, there would need to be enough new to outweigh the familiar. Subtle changes like a day and night system would work wonders for the beach setting, and imagine if you could visit an HD version of Peach’s Castle as well, just as it was in Super Mario 64. This time, the paintings would be different and would be invaded by Wart’s army instead– but naturally there wouldn’t be as many levels as Super Mario 64 as the game would be split between the castle and the island.
Ultimately, even with New Super Mario Bros. U being released around Wii U’s launch, Nintendo’s still going to need a big Mario game later in the console’s life-cycle, perhaps during late 2013 or early 2014 to see their Italian plumber take advantage of the console’s upmost capabilities, and Super Mario Sunshine is a shining example of taking Mario and placing him in a new situation. He took care of business in the worlds of Subcon, Smithy Factory, and deep space to name just a few, and when you combine HD graphics, an increased focus on story, tried-and-true gameplay, and the GamePad, I think you’ve got the perfect recipe to reinvigorate the Super Mario series.
Mario… Zelda… Sonic… Those three names can make gamers talk for hours on end. So, what do you say, readers? Direct sequels, yay or nay? Fire away in the comments below! Oh, and feel free to brainstorm a game entitled The Legend of Sonic Sunshine. I know I will!