This game is basically version 2 of Mario64, which is fine by me. The graphics are better (just watch Mario bob up and down in the ocean!), Mario has more moves, and the environments are richer. Instead of collecting stars, Mario collects “Shine Sprites”. The game is done basically the same way as Mario64: different levels, each containing “episodes” (mini-stories) where you get another shine. The episodes in each level are very diverse, ranging from stop-this-huge-rampaging-caterpillar to traverse-this-floating-array-of-colorful-rotating-geometric-shapes.
Along with the ability to ride Yoshi, Mario has at least three different nozzles for his water cannon (FLUDD). The nozzles allow him to hover, rocket high into the air, and sprint at top speed. These options lend much variety to the way Mario can navigate his 3-D world, allowing the game designers to make endless challenges in getting Mario from point A to point B. One thing I enjoyed doing throughout the game was to lay down a slick of water in front me, then take a running diving jump forward, causing Mario to Slip N’ Slide across the ground on his belly. In addition to using FLUDD as a means of transportation, Mario can blast enemies and clean up the pollution deposited by Shadow Mario. The water-heavy theme of Mario Sunshine means that there are plenty of places for Mario to reload FLUDD as he travels around.
My brother says he’s not interested in playing Sunshine because he doesn’t like “collecting” games. In Sunshine, Mario can collect different colored coins to earn more “Shine Sprites”. Although there are many story-like parts of the game, a lot of it is straight collecting. That is fine with me because to collect these things you need to do problem solving and fast thinking. Tetris is fun for the same reasons.
I poured a lot of time into this game to pull off 100% completion. Using a shitty-ass hint book (full of misnumberings, mislabelings, and incomplete information), I collected ALL blue coins. Cashing in my blue coins and beating the game allowed me to complete Sunshine with the maximum 120 Shine Sprites. Yahoooooooooo!
On a related note, this related Penny Arcade comic is required reading for any player of this game.
Even though I got the “special” ending, I felt it was a bit brief considering all the work I did. One can probably beat this game fairly easily, but if you want all 120 Shines, you gotta work for it; some of those tasks I had to do were very, very difficult. But the more difficult and time-consuming the problem, the sweeter the sense of victory. 9/10