Super Mario 3D All-Stars (Parent Review): A surprising history lesson

Nintendo /
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Super Mario 3D All-Stars - Super Mario Sunshine
Nintendo /

Super Mario Sunshine (2002, originally for the Nintendo Gamecube)

Super Mario Sunshine was the next stop on our little tour through Mario’s history. This one I felt very little connection to. While I played and beat it the same year it came out, I didn’t really like it. Something about trying to stand still and spray things while playing a Mario game doesn’t feel like a Mario game.

This one is also an interesting historical blip because it’s the first time they try two different things with a Mario game.

The first one is introducing F.L.U.D.D., Mario’s sentient water-spraying backpack. My kids very much enjoyed the character because, admittedly, it’s cute and kids love spraying water everywhere. It’s an easy win for my kids plus it really helped my kids get over the weird bummer storyline where Mario, essentially representing an entire foreign embassy, is arrested with almost no trial for vandalism because he looks fairly similar to a local criminal — despite the criminal being made out of metallic slime.

The other thing that this game does which is somewhat of a first for a Mario game (if you ignore the brief moment that Peach talks in the intro to Mario 64 and the awful CDi games) is that the game surprisingly features fully voiced cutscenes. Peach is talking, Toadsworth is talking, the NPCs and Toads are talking. The cutscenes still needed to be explained to my kids however because, for some odd reason, the music drowns out the dialogue. My youngest, who’s still learning to read, couldn’t keep up with it.

The game itself was really interesting and I think this is the one Nintendo really dropped the ball with because a full rebuild could have made this incredible. Just for a brief moment, imagine if this game abandoned it’s original control scheme and went with a Ratchet and Clank control scheme. Imagine if you could fight bosses and aim the water sprayer like a third-person shooter while running instead of having to stand still to aim up and down.

Traditionalists would hate me but don’t deny it would it be a killer game.

As far as my kids were concerned though, it was a little rough because the game is very easy for them to get lost in. Though definitely prettier than its original release on the Gamecube, a lot of the scenery is too similar so they’d run down an outdoor tropical resort line of shops, turn the corner and… run down a dangerously similar street. They got lost a lot.

Also, after all the important hints that Mario 64 hid in the signs and NPCs, they came to find out that the NPCs of Mario Sunshine, the native Piantas, are incredibly unlikeable as their comments are either passive-aggressive jabs or weak attempts at humor. It got to the point where they just became avoided as much as possible. My kids would actually groan when one showed up in a cutscene. I now understand why Nintendo doesn’t really bring the Piantas back as they’re the Mario universe’s Jar Jar Binks.

It also doesn’t really explain a whole lot which left my kids a little confused. For example, the first time you spray off a statue and dive into the M to start the first “stage,” my kid asked me why there was an entire town trapped in the paint. I not only never really thought about that but I didn’t have a good answer for them. It’s really weird. Why ARE there places in the paint?

But the camera was way better than in Super Mario 64 and it was a much prettier title even if Peach comes off terribly and there’s a bit of a variety issue in what you need to do. My kids definitely got more interested in this one than they did Super Mario 64 though so I see them getting a good deal from this one.

Also, side note, my kids let out a collective gasp when they say the name of the villain’s layer.