I played Super Mario Sunshine back in 2002 and it was my first Super Mario game that I owned (I played other ones at friends' houses) but something that blew me away about the game that hasn't happened since is the connected, real world that the team developed in Isle Delfino. I am playing it again and I am once again in love, I love that you can see Ricco Harbor and Pinna Park from Delfino Plaza, I love how instead of Field Level/Water Level/Volcano Level/Ice Level we have distinct levels on Isle Delfino that still feel part of one cohesive world.
A big disappointment to me (in an otherwise great game) in Mario Odyssey was that the different Kingdoms didn't really feel like real places, I like the globe that we get to explore, but nothing felt connected really, just different worlds that you travel to in the hatship. I think those Kingdoms could have been paintings in Super Mario 64 easily without anything missing from the game really, whereas in Super Mario Sunshine even though you're teleporting using ink graffiti you go to places that feel real. It's also such a departure for the franchise in terms of character and enemy designs, I love that we received weirdos like Stumblin' Stus and the Piantas, and I'm disappointed that Nintendo feels the need to keep Mario games cohesive in terms of branding so we're not getting new characters like that anymore, even in the RPG series games.
I love the way the levels change as you go through episodes, I know all Mario games do this, but I love that not only does this happen in terms of gameplay mechanics, but also in terms of the game's theme of cleaning up pollution. Bianco Hills gets cleaned up to explore then later on when a boss returns he makes a mess of it again and it feels like you're fighting off these bullies terrorizing the natives. Ricco Harbor gets new boats when you clean it up, and gets more lively. It's just so nice to see Delphino Plaza brighten as you make progress. I think it might be my favorite hub world in the franchise.
I just wanted to gush, I know the re-release came out recently, but this is an excellent game and just so wonderful and makes me feel warm and even if it was released in the last week of a crappy summer that I didn't get to enjoy as much I normally do, it feels like I got a little more summer in 2020 while I vacation on Isle Delfino.
I think that aside from the typically excellent Super Mario platforming in the game the biggest draw for me is the world they built in Isle Delfino. It feels as real as can be in the whimsical Mario universe. I wanted to see what other people thought about the game structure and world design and what fans hope for in the next game (after Odyssey 2). Is there an appetite in the fan community for more narrowly focused Mario games like Sunshine?
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