A next-generation Mario 64? No, but then again, Mario 64 wasn’t all that. Super Mario Sunshine eschews Nintendo tradition by adding a plot, which will totally embarrass anyone over the age of 13. Nintendo has caved in and added cutscenes (complete with hammy English voice acting and dialogue with almost no adult appeal) to a classic franchise, and we’re all the worse for it.
Other than that, Mario’s new water pack is a riot, and while there’s less moves than Mario 64, what the Big M’s got is nuance. Subtle controls and tons of contextual actions such as fence-climbing, high-wire bouncing, and jetting around from pressurized water add a lot of depth. And this time around, there’s loads of REAL platforming, hindered only by an archaic camera scheme that can’t really seem to figure out where it needs to be.
Like Mario 64, Mario opens up new worlds (7 in all) from the main hub as he fights Water Mario and Baby Bowser to save Dolphina Island from the scourge of pollution and collect 100+ “Shines” - Miyamoto is as unrepentantly LSD-addled as ever. Sounds stupid, but the paint pollution and jaw-dropping water effects make up for it.
SMS looks good, controls alright, and has bigger worlds with way more play technique than the previous outing. SMS traded world variety for world complexity, and it definitely makes the game a more interesting outing for adults- but will that offset the agony of Nintendo-branded cutscenes with chirrupy voice acting? We’ll see.