Day 5: A description of all the various SMS levels.
You may have noticed that today's title doesn't follow our rather clichéd "GET!" naming convention… and there's a reason for that (other than the fact that it's getting seriously tired). It's because "Shine Get!", that loveable and super-popular bit of Engrish flashed when Mario grabs a shine, has been removed from the US version. The rather more humdrum "Shine!" appears instead. In a move that does make sense, though, the name of the island has been changed to Isle Delfino (aside from sounding a lot nicer than "Dolphic Island", the voices all say Isle Delfino anyway).
And I'll reiterate, for the million or so people who keep asking - the American version is fully in English. The Japanese text is (surprise!) only for the Japanese version.
So, where am I now? 51 shines and not much closer to the end. The game is getting pretty damn hard now, but it's still fair… mainly. I'm struggling a bit with levels where you're forced to go without your waterpack. It feels somewhat unfair, because Mario doesn't get any moves to compensate for the lack of the waterpack functions, and because as you progress through the game you get more and more dependent on the pack's functions… but then it's all taken away and you have to fend for yourself. On the other hand, though, it usually is just easy enough to tempt you to keep playing, and hard enough to challenge and frustrate you.
Also, another clarification. I've given up actually putting a number on how many shines you can get per world, because it seems to go up and down every day. According to Planet GameCube, you can get ELEVEN shines per level. Thus far, the most I've got on a single level is nine. So, at the very least, it's probably safe for me to say… each level has a few more shines than Mario 64 had stars!
But on to today's topic - the levels. Here's a description of all of Mario Sunshine's levels:
Bianco Hills: Rolling green hills, windmills everywhere, tightropes strung across the stage and an infestation of piranha plants. It's only the first stage, so it's fairly easy and very friendly. As noted, most of the shines involve battling various piranha plant bosses, but it has to be said that tightrope-walking for 8 red coins stands out as a pretty memorable experience…
One problem though is this stage suffers from an excess of palm trees and they tend to mess up the camera while adding little gameplay benefit… definitely annoying.
Ricco Harbor: Possibly my favourite level of them all. Set at the docks, most of the game takes place on struts and fences high above the ships and water… and with Mario's spot-on controls you can really put on a masterclass in platform gaming by running, jumping, flipping and hovering your way to the top of the structures. But that's not all Ricco has to offer, with squid-surfing and a cool Yoshi level also available.
And incidentally, the fences Mario climbs in this stage are from Super Mario World, so there are gates that Mario can flip through to get to the other side.
I was very surprised that in the game there is Voice acting....what does Mario sound like? What does Peach sound like? What does the Old Pruney Mushroom Man Sound Like?
Ravi says: Peach sounds pretty much like Peach… from Super Mario 64. Old Pruney Mushroom Man sounds like a cartoony cranky old man. And Mario doesn't speak. Well, he does his usual "woo-hoo!" and "mamma mia!" sound effects, but he doesn't utter a word during the cut-scenes.
How does saving work in Mario Sunshine?
Ravi says: You're presented with the option to save after every shine and blue coin. The game will also save after certain events, such as unlocking a world, or Yoshi, or nozzle. You can also choose to save from the menu at any time, but you don't start where you left off - you start off in the hub. And as I mentioned earlier, 7 blocks gets you 3 save files.
Mamma Beach: Mamma Beach is dominated by both the massive sunny beach (duh) and the three giant mirrors reflecting light on to a tower set in the green hills behind the beach. Bizarrely enough, watering the shrubs on the beach will cause them to shoot up and temporarily raise whole sections of the beach. There's also a very cool reef off the beach where you can dive for red coins hidden among the coral.
Pinna Park: Another very, very cool level. Set in an amusement park, there's a lot of invention in the shines for this level. There's a roller coaster shine. Then you hunt for 8 red coins on a couple of giant swinging ships. And then there's a ferris wheel to fix. My only real gripe is that not all the shines take place inside the theme park; a couple are set outside and are fairly generic. It's a pity because the rest of the world is so wildly inventive.
Sirena Beach: This is a somewhat underwhelming level. It's much smaller than any of the others - indeed at first sight it's smaller than a standard Mario 64 level. And unlike the other Sunshine levels, very little appears to be going on in the stage. But after one of the coolest bosses in the game (see Day 2), a hotel springs up and the fun begins. The hotel is haunted by Boos, and the level I just completed had Mario exploring the hotel by seeking out secret passages, air ducts in the ceiling, loose tiles in the floor and trick walls to get access to the shine. Which is fun, but before you get the shine, you have to ride Yoshi, which is even more fun.
Interesting note is that from this level onwards, the sludge gets more and more deadly. Whereas it was just oily, ugly goop that barely hurt you in previous levels, Sirena's sludge electrocutes you.
Mare Bay: I've spooged at length about this level in Day 2's update. I stand by it, because it's extremely pretty and my favourite level visually.
Monte Village: This is a bizarre and incredibly tough level. Imagine a deep valley with no apparent bottom, but with three trees shooting out from the darkness… stick a thick green platform between the trees, add hatches that allow you to hang from the underside of the stage, as well as a selection of mushroom platforms to drop down to when you do get under the stage and you've got Monte Village. Oh, and did I mention that the sludge is red-hot lava in this stage? It's appropriate given how tough this level is. I've completed three shines here, and the last one took me a while to figure out, I must admit (the village was overrun with lava and I didn't have my waterpack, so I had to find the right underside hatch to get me to the shine).
Even More Questions!
1. How do you reload the waterpack?
2. How do you refill your lifeguage?
3. Seen any Goombas / KoopaTroopas yet?
1) Jump into any body of water and press R. Or, if you're running low during a boss fight, stomping on a lesser enemy is sure to reveal a bottle of water (no brand is mentioned though - do you think Mario prefers Evian?)
2) With coins.
3) No, and no, sadly.
I was wondering, I saw a screenshot of the island and I see 14 "X" covering the whole island. And I was thinking maybe the 7 stages you have open cover the island but there can be another stage near the other ( I think) What do you think of that?( please it)
--Efrain Camis Melendez
Ravi says: I wish. I did hear various rumours about alternate "dark" versions of each stage, but then there are a lot of rumours running around about this game that simply aren't true. Like this one. Firstly, I only count 13 Xs. Secondly, two Xs are the hub and airport. And looking at the map on the back of the manual to compare, while some Xs are right next to each other - Ricco Harbor has two, for instance - others are nowhere near. And by the way, that screenshot isn't the in-game map or anything… it's part of the intro. When Mario's put on trial for "polluting" the island, that map is quickly flashed as evidence of the island's ills.