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What made you enjoy Mario Sunshine?

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For those of you who initially disliked Mario Sunshine, at what point did the game start to grow on you? I got 3D All Stars and was super excited to try out SMS, but after several hours and about 12 shines in I don't know if I can bring myself to finish this game. This is the first Mario game I've ever played that running and jumping just doesn't feel smooth and natural. I constantly use fludd as a crutch for even the most basic jumps because it seems like a necessity. I've never lacked the confidence to run towards a series of platforms and take different sized jumps across them like I do with SMS. The level design in the first couple levels feels very unforgiving because there are no "checkpoints" or "safety nets." If you miss the last jump you start from square one.

My reliance on fludd makes the secret levels next to impossible. Mario seems to slide on slopes that aren't very steep, I constantly spray water directly overtop of the slime baddies and have to awkwardly stop and aim to hit them, and while precision platforming the camera suddenly decides to cinematically rotate around for no good reason throwing my run off axis. I know people are going to say "git gud" or get used to the controls, but this feels beyond that.

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I have been playing Mario games since the original NES game. I have beaten games like Dark Souls and God of War 3 on hard. I consistently school my gaming buddies across all genres. I understand patience, keeping a cool head, and figuring out the mechanics of a game in order to beat it. I got every power moon in Odyssey and every star in 64. The "secret" levels in Odyssey were challenging at times, and I like games to be a challenge, but every time I fell I felt like it was my fault. I could see what I did wrong and what I should do to avoid the mistake next time, but with SMS it feels like I fall because Mario isn't doing what I wanted him to do or the camera screwed me up. I understand that games have a learning curve, but when the fundamentals feel this off how many hairs am I supposed to pull out just to get to a point where I can enjoyably perform basic actions that should immediately feel natural? As I said I like games to be a challenge and typically play on "hard" when possible, but this feels like masochistic torture where the difficulty is in the flawed control, camera, and level design rather than a well designed challenge.

The first 3 levels also feel kind of bland so far. I really want to give this game a chance as I have been looking forward to it for a long time and really like the concept on the surface, but I feel like as the difficulties of the game increase with each level, the frustrations I am feeling now are only going to be exacerbated.

Obviously people are allowed to love this game and if you grew up with it the controls probably feel second nature and phenomenal to you, but my question is moreso aimed at people who had a hard time with it before growing to love it. I am hoping this may be a possibility for me, but as my gaming time is quite limited nowadays I don't want to waste it trying to grow accustomed to controls/camera that will always feel wonky and hurt my ability to have fun.

TLDR: for those who initially didn't like Mario Sunshine, what made you come around and warm up to the game?

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