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Super Mario Sunshine Review - Gamecube

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So, back in 1996, Mario made his first outing into the third dimension with 'Super Mario 64'. In doing so, it forced a rethink on the conventions of game design. Never before had there been such unparalleled freedom of play. Gamers had more-or-less free reign over how they wanted to tackle each level's set of goals and tasks.

Enter: Super Mario Sunshine. Nintendo's long awaited and much talked about 'killer-app'.

The question it seemed, was never 'is it any good?' Rather, we all knew that Nintendo had a lot riding on the success of this game - if the Gamecube is to survive in a three-console market, it had to be good.

Thankfully, Super Mario Sunshine delivers the goods on all fronts. Not only does Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of the Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong series, among many others) push the tired platforming genre into new directions, but he also managed to create a worthy successor to Mario 64. I'll say it now for those who'd rather skip down to the scores: Super Mario Sunshine is arguably the best platforming game ever released on any system. Turning your back on this game would be criminal.

Gameplay:

Traditionally, Mario games have been all about running, jumping and swimming. Super Mario World incorporated Yoshi the dinosaur, Super Mario 64 had it's hats (not to mention the shift to 3D), and now Mario Sunshine incorporates the 'FLUDD' - a water-powered backpack that fires pressurized water from it's nozzle.

Starting off the game with just two nozzles, the default 'super-soaker' mode and the 'hover' mode, Mario sets about restoring Isle Delphino (the setting for this adventure's escapades) to pristine condition after a mysterious Mario lookalike covered the joint in muck. This is much more fun than it might sound - trust Nintendo to make menial activities into a viable game!

Isle Delphino acts as a central hub for the game's levels - you start off with just one level available, but within an hour or two, you'll be hard pressed to choose which levels you want to play! Like in Mario 64, levels are goal-based - climb to the top of the tower and dethrone the baddie, or clear the pollution and destroy the cause. That kind of thing. Of course, there's much, much more to the game than that, but why spoil the surprises along the way? Mario's trademark moves are back. Triple jumps, side flips, wall jumping (much improved over the mechanics in Mario 64) and even the return of Mario's patented spin-jump - he has a full arsenal of acrobatics at his disposal.

Once you add the FLUDD into the equation, you'll always find the right moves for the situation. In fact, with the later FLUDD attachments, the feeling of freedom of movement within the game becomes apparent, and the finely tuned play mechanics begin to 'shine' (pardon the pun)! Which brings me to the collectable element in SMS - the Shine ... (continued next page)
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