Due August 2002 for Gamecube.
|We have been waiting years for a new
Mario game. The plumber has sought to appease his fans by making appearances here and
there. A couple of times a year hell show up at events like a golf tournament, kart
race, or tennis match. Rather than focusing on being a star, its like hes
spent time using his star power to help out some of his family (How many people played
Luigis Mansion just for a glimpse of Mario?). Despite the absence of a new Mario
adventure in the last seven years, his popularity hasnt waned. Nintendo is more than
happy to point out that Mario Advance 2 for the game boy color was the first game to
unseat Grand Theft Auto 3 from its seemingly unassailable number one position on the
charts. Some may wonder why we havent seen more of him, but I completely understand
why Mario has been so hesitant to step out into the spotlight again with new material. How
do you follow up a game like Mario 64arguably one of the most influential console
games of the last decade? Mario 64 redefined a genre and raised gamers expectations
to a level that still hasnt been met, that is, until now. Mario Sunshine promises to
have everything a Mario fan could want and a few things we never would have thought of.I need to begin by saying that I did not get enough time with this
game. Fifteen or twenty minutes with Mario Sunshine can only give one a brief glimpse into
the possibilities of the game; such short game play can only hint at the level of detail
contained therein. The premise is pretty basic: Marios on vacation and is soon
interrupted by forces seeking to pollute his newfound paradise. Never one to shirk
responsibility, Mario takes it upon himself to clean up the island and set things right.
Apart from his powerful jumping and stomping abilities, Mario is armed with a water canon
backpack that is used to hose away pollution in the land of sunshine. It will also both
hose down offenders and act as a sort of short burst jet pack.
thing I need to talk about with this game is the control. Within seconds youre
running, jumping, and sliding (my favorite mode of transportation) around the island. This
is a game that my four-year-old son will have down in his first sitting. The button
configuration is very intuitive and the on-screen icons work as effective prompts. With a
lot of the Gamecube games that I play, I tend to forget about the X,Y, and Z buttons--not
feels much more open than Mario 64. It really feels like you can go anywhere and do
anything. Any object on screen seems to yearn for interaction with Mario. Whats
more, the stages are incredibly intricate, with level upon level of places to go and
things to see. The game looks fantastic. Theres really no way to describe it other
than having you take a close look at the screen shots, and even they dont do the
game full justice. There are a lot of little flourishes with this game that will have
gamers pointing at their screens with their mouths agape. There is a segment shown in the
demo where Mario fights a baddie on a precariously balanced, highly reflective mirror that
is phenomenal. My personal favorite is the mud that gets on Marios outfit that will
only wash off with a swim. Youve got to see it to believe it.
Mario Sunshine isnt going to revolutionize gaming in the same
way its predecessor did. In fact the game feels a lot like Mario 64, just better, bigger
and more detailed; Miyamoto isnt holding anything back with Mario Sunshine.
Its like hes finally been given a system that frees his imagination rather
than limiting it. Mark my words: August will be Marios month. Were going to
see a sharp rise in used PS2s and X-Boxes on the market this summer as gamers try to drum
up enough cash for a Gamecube and Mario Sunshine.