July 20, 2002

Article at Gamers.com

My Week with Super Mario Sunshine: Yoshi Get!

Day 2: Nine hours in, and Ravi finds himself a Yoshi! But is Luigi in the game?

Before we begin, a quick status update: I'm about 8-9 hours and 34 shines in now. There have been no new plot developments and I've opened three new stages up. And I have Yoshi.

Ever since I bought the game, the biggest question I've had from people is "do you have Yoshi yet?!?" I do now, but only in the hub world. Getting Yoshi was amusing, because it's triggered by getting a seemingly unrelated shine. The fly-through before Story 5 at Pinna Park showed what looked like several large Yoshi eggs sitting half-buried in the sand. So I walk up to it, spray it with water, and… it's a large, ugly turtle with an exact replica of a Yoshi egg for a shell. Cruel, Nintendo. They do make up for it by unlocking Yoshi the instant you return to the hub, but still...

You might have seen fruit lying around in the screenshots, and it's there because of Yoshi. You need to get the right sort of fruit to lure Yoshi out of its egg (don't worry, no Japanese needed because Yoshies think in pictures, apparently). Early reactions – why is my Yoshi PINK? – gave way as I got used to the controls and quirks. The Fruit/Hunger meter that replaces your water is for Yoshi to spit out fruit juice. This has pretty much the same effect as spraying water, but there are some things that Yoshi's spit can dissolve that simple water can't. But the cool thing is you can change Yoshi's color just by eating a different fruit, though I've yet to discover what to feed it to make Yoshi green. Yoshi also has its magic tongue that automatically locks on to any food, and can "hover" if you hold on to the jump button after jumping.

This might be heresay, but as happy as I am to see Yoshi… to be honest, what you get isn't as thrilling as you might imagine. When you already have the waterpack (that allows you to hover around, shoot enemies, etc), playing with Yoshi seems a bit slow. Then again, playing with Yoshi in the hub doesn't allow you to eat enemies, so maybe I'll change my tune when I can find him in a level.

The other new item that I've (finally) got are the two new nozzles for your waterpack, the rocket jump and propellor. I am a little disappointed with both, too. I had assumed that, like all Nintendo games, once you earned them suddenly opportunities open up in virtually every area to explore and use your new powers. But first, you have to earn them seperately for each level. Second, you get both in the hub at virtually the same time (EXACTLY the same time in my case). It's not a case of slow progression opening up the map… you just suddenly get both. And the propeller is pretty useless in the hub thus far. The rocket jump is extremely useful and necessary to reach certain levels, but I've yet to find a use for the propellor other than to push my slow rear across the stage at ungodly speeds.

Burning Questions
Is Luigi in the game?

So far, no, I haven't seen him. Even though Miyamoto hinted to EGM that he'll be there, my gut feeling says that it won't be anything major. I get the feeling it'll be just like Yoshi's appearance in Mario 64 or Mario's in Luigi's Mansion.

Where can I get a copy of this game?

If you've got a Japanese GameCube or plan on picking one up for this game, you've got two options: track down a local import shop and hope that they haven't sold out of it yet, or head over to online import game retailer NCS and get on their waiting list.

Will the Japanese text be in the American version of the game?

Another strangely popular question! Rest assured, the American version will be fully in English.

When I gave my impressions yesterday, I didn't really talk about the graphics. Part of it was a conscious decision to focus on the way that the game plays and the feel, but the other was because I honestly wasn't really thinking about it. Despite some excellent little touches and water that looks really, really good, it's not the best looking game out there. It's not exactly bad, either, but nothing outstanding. Most models are pretty simplistic and textures aren't as sharp as other titles, but it makes up for it in other ways. For one, it's a very bright and colorful game that perfectly matches the theme. And the other is that you can pull the camera way, way out and the game doesn't slow down. I've only had two minor instances of the frame rate dropping, though these were pretty inexplicable (I wasn't trying to make the game show more than it could, it just slowed down in a very low-detai area).

The average look of the game doesn't extend to animation. The animation is superb. Mario reaches up to wipe his brow. Toad jumps around in frustration when you spray him. Piranha plants flick their heads back before striking… it's smooth, natural and great to watch.

The game's levels are large, multi-leveled and packed with things to see and do. The method of approaching them has changed from Mario 64 and is more linear in a sense. Like Mario 64, you do select the shine you want to collect at the beginning of a level; however, unlike Mario 64 if you select one shine you can't go off and get another one. If you select one shine, that will be the only one that you can collect on a level. So in the case of the 8 Red Coins shine, the red coins will only appear when you select that shine… not during any other shine.

Speaking of levels, I also managed to open up a new world… Mare Bay. Oh. My. God. This is a world that I had never, ever seen before. And it is beautiful. It's very hard to describe it in any simple terms. For those of you moaning about the tropical theme, rest assured that this isn't bright and sunny and full of beaches and palm trees. But yet it's not dark and stormy. The stage is set in the waters off and on the face of cliffs, with three huge towers spiraling out of the water. The water glows purple. The oily sludge is bright orange. Ruins of ancient platforms and lifts dot the cliff face. It's strikingly different from anything seen in the game thus far.

The other two new levels are a beach resort and a mountain village. The beach resort looks a lot smaller than all the others and doesn't seem to offer as much to do. I haven't really explored this level yet (partially because unlike the other levels it's not too enticing). And I only briefly toured the mountain village, which takes place at night – a surprise considering that the only screenshot of the level shows daylight. Mini Chain Chomps, without leashes and red-hot, wander the streets of the town and make it a rather dangerous place to explore. I really want to explore this level (which includes the familiar sight of giant mushroom stalks shooting out of the ground!).

One consolation for the beach resort is one of the more original and incredible bosses in the game. You've all seen Independence Day, right? Remember the way the shadow of the alien ships moves across the doomed cities? Right, now for alien ship, think manta ray. And for shadow, think light. It's a flat boss that slinks across the landscape, and (as usual) spraying it hurts it… but then it splits into two. Then it splits again. And again. And again. And by the end of the battle, it's Mario and 40 tiny manta ray shadows swarming around the stage trying to electrocute him.

Needless to say, I died. 

Incidentally, a clarification and correction: There are 9 shines per level, not 10 (thanks John!). The seven worlds (plus the hub, plus the airport) that I've opened up so far actually fills up the entire status screen, so I may have potentially seen all the levels in the game. Rumours from Japan suggest that the game does actually have 14 levels though. I hope so, anyway. I've been playing Mario Sunshine for just under 10 hours and I don't want this experience to end any time soon – I want more!

Remember to send in your questions for us, because we'll be answering them in a big update on Monday. Also talk it up on the Super Mario Sunshine Message Board.

Difficulty Level
As you might be aware, Famitsu Cube gave Mario 10/10/8/8. The two 8s were apparently because the second half of the game is too hard. Frustratingly hard, even. I didn't think about it too much at the time (who knows, they might have been really awful gamers), but now I'm starting to think about it a bit. Because the game is getting hard. Very hard.

First off, calm down – there's been nothing extraordinarily hard, or unfair, just yet. And the difficulty has ramped up in a fairly smooth manner. But the fact is… it started pretty high in the first place. The game is a lot harder than Mario 64, and I like it for that. But if I'm only – presumably – at best a third of the way in, how hard will this game get by the end? Will it get too hard, as Famitsu have suggested? Food for thought.