It was a scary time following the release of Super Mario 64. There was inevitably the time to do a follow-up, but how could it not be a disappointment? Finding a sequel to Super Mario 64 ended up being a near impossible task, with everyone frothing for this title and Nintendo quaking at the eventual task of it. While a number of ideas and prototypes were played around with, ranging from Super Mario 64 2 to Super Mario 128, the sequel to the unofficially-lauded “best game of all time” would end up sending Mario to a tropical island, setting him with the task of cleaning up all of the island’s paint and pollution with a mechanized hose system. Oh yeah, and an evil Shadow Mario keeps running amok, spreading this muck, and tarnishing our hero’s name.
It’s definitely not the most conventional Mario story, and certainly not the most logical choice for the sequel. Already the game faced an uphill battle, as it would no doubt be a let down in comparison to its predecessor, but Super Mario Sunshine smartly chose to distance itself from what came before it, focusing on new control mechanics and other things to get excited about, like new enemies. While many people agreed that it certainly was different and most definitely was not Super Mario 64, these people still thought that it was an exceptional game. That being said, others still didn’t warm up to the title, with it often being seen as the neglected stepchild in Mario’s next-gen library. However, with Nintendo having a more sequel- and remake-happy mentality than ever, now is the time for them to strike and finally deliver the Super Mario Sunshine sequel that we deserve.
To begin, Wii U or 3DS controls make so much sense for the FLUDD design from Sunshine, whether it be through the gamepad or the stylus, that it’s honestly surprising that an update or sequel hasn’t happened yet. It’s practically built for it with the touch interfaces as you navigate your FLUDD or Yoshi around. There’s a pretty heavy Yoshi emphasis here too. In fact, mechanics like cleaning the paint and sludge off of areas could be beautifully done by either wiping your gamepad’s or 3DS’ screen (a similar concept has even been used for the Blooper ink projectile in Mario Kart). Sensible translations like this have been done before in niche franchises when it’s made sense, with the 3DS’ technology and its fit with Luigi’s Mansion being a prime example. Sunshine is a game where the hardware actually compliments the gameplay, which has never been more of the case before. Sure Galaxy used the Wii’s hardware to its optimum capacity, but not in a symbiotic way like this. Even the 3DS’ Mario outings, which have obviously taken heavy advantage of the 3D capability, still wouldn’t have you as immersed in the gaming as you would be if you were cleaning paint as you FLUDDed away. There’s also the simple fact that these other Mario games like Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 3D Land, have had sequels and it hasn’t. It’s actually the only 3D Mario game to have not had a sequel or remake, so what’s the hold up?
Super Mario Sunshine also boasted a harder difficulty than typically seen in Mario games, mostly in the form of their blue coins, treating them like badges of honor for completing hardcore platforming at its most unforgiving. Mario games are often given a lot of slack for being too easy, but these blue coins were a direct answer to that, and feel like a more appropriate inclusion than ever with today’s games. Similarly, the game also had special stages which ditched the FLUDD and saw you relying on acrobatics and wall-based platforming. This is more of the Mario that we’re getting now and what people are craving, with these additions in the title feeling even more relevant in the series’ current landscape. These sort of “departure stages” have also been adopted in more recent titles too, like Galaxy and 3D World, showing that more of Sunshine’s makeup is getting integrated into current Mario, whether you realize it or not.
Even the open world platforming approach that Sunshine employed feels more up to date with where Nintendo and these sort of games are now. Playgrounds are bigger and more expansive, with levels not being so clearly defined. With what the Wii U (or even the 3DS) is capable of now, the heights that Sunshine’s hub area could reach are tantalizing.
With the capabilities that we have now, Delfino Island could even double for the Wii Sports Resort or Nintendo Land hub that this increasingly Mii-friendly world has warmed up to. The ability is now there to have a full-out Mario game that also caters to the online hub mentality that Nintendo has adopted in recent generations. Sure Mario can water ski or scuba dive to get Shines, but afterwards, why shouldn’t your Mii be able to do the same, and then trade scores online?
Nintendo has also been moving in an increasingly co-op direction with their titles, with the feature being a big part of most of the new Mario games, but also in their return of the Donkey Kong series, Smash Bros., and more. It’d be all too easy to open Super Mario Sunshine to this set-up, with a second player operating FLUDD while you focus on Mario.
It might sound silly, but Super Mario Sunshine’s inclusion in recent Nintendo games, like the FLUDD being in Smash Bros. Brawl, or references and stages based on the Delfino area and inhabitants being featured in many titles (Mario Power Tennis, Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour and Advance Tour, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and essentially all the Mario Kart games since Mario Kart DS), at least shows that Sunshine is still on Nintendo’s radar. They could have just expunged all references entirely, moving on from the creative departure. And let’s not forget that Sunshine also introduced Bowser Jr., who has obviously become a mainstay to the series now. With how much he’s popped up, and the considerable fanbase he’s accumulated, returning to his roots and giving him another substantial story seems logical.
Super Mario Sunshine was also a very atypical Mario game, particularly for its time. For instance, there are actually no Goombas or Koopa Troopas in it, along with the many more obvious differences in the title, like how most of Mario’s moves are done through a water-based jetpack. Nintendo should be embracing more of the unusual though, and with them choosing to resuscitate a lot of older franchises, such as Kid Icarus, Star Fox, Majora’s Mask, the aforementioned Luigi’s Mansion, and hopefully F-Zero. Super Mario Sunshine 2 doesn’t even seem like one of the larger leaps amongst the lot. Isn’t it time to take those game mechanics and translate them over from Delfino Island to the Mushroom Kingdom?
Hopefully in the mean time we won’t be treated to a Super Mario Galaxy 3 or Super Mario 3D World 2 to rub more poisonous mushroom into the wound.