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Super Mario Sunshine

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Super Mario Sunshine
Super mario sunshine.jpg
North American box art, featuring Mario equipped with the robotic backpack F.L.U.D.D.
Developer(s)Nintendo EAD
  • Hiromu Takemura
  • Atsushi Miyagi
  • Taeko Suguwara
  • Kazumi Yamaguchi
  • Koichi Hayashida
  • Shunsaku Kitamura
  • Shinichi Sasaki
Writer(s)Makoto Wada
SeriesSuper Mario
  • AS: July 19, 2002
  • NA: August 26, 2002
  • EU: October 4, 2002
  • AU: October 11, 2002
Genre(s)Platform, action-adventure

Super Mario Sunshine[a] is a 2002 platform action-adventure game developed and published by Nintendo for the GameCube. It is the second 3D game in the Super Mario series, following Super Mario 64 (1996). The game was directed by Yoshiaki Koizumi and Kenta Usui, produced by series creators Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka, written by Makoto Wada, and scored by Koji Kondo and Shinobu Tanaka.

The game takes place on the tropical Isle Delfino, where Mario, Toadsworth, Princess Peach, and five Toads are taking a vacation. A villain resembling Mario, known as Shadow Mario, vandalizes the island with graffiti and leaves Mario to be wrongfully convicted for the mess. Mario is ordered to clean up Isle Delfino, using a device called the Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device (F.L.U.D.D.), while saving Princess Peach from Shadow Mario.

Super Mario Sunshine received critical acclaim, with reviewers praising the game's graphics, soundtrack, and the addition of F.L.U.D.D. as a mechanic, though some criticized the game's camera and F.L.U.D.D.’s gimmicky nature. The game sold over five million copies worldwide by 2006, making it one of the best-selling GameCube games. The game was re-released as a part of the Player's Choice brand in 2003. Nintendo EPD rereleased it alongside Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy in the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection for the Nintendo Switch in 2020.


Mario using the Hover Nozzle

Super Mario Sunshine shares many similar gameplay elements with its predecessor, Super Mario 64, while introducing various new gameplay features. Players control Mario as he tries to obtain 120 Shine Sprites[1] in order to bring light back to Isle Delfino and prove his innocence after Bowser Jr. (disguised as Mario) steals the Shine Sprites and covers the island in toxic slime. Players start off in the hub world of Isle Delfino and access various worlds via portals which become available as the game progresses. Similar to collecting Stars in Super Mario 64, players obtain Shine Sprites by clearing various objectives given to Mario upon entering each stage, with more objectives unlocked in each level after clearing an existing one.[2][3] There are also various hidden areas and challenges across Isle Delfino where more Shine Sprites can be obtained. Throughout the game, players may also find Blue Coins, which can be exchanged for more Shine Sprites in the boathouse in Delfino Plaza.[4]

In this game, Mario is joined by a robotic backpack named F.L.U.D.D. (Flash Liquidizing Ultra Dousing Device), which uses the power of water to clean away goop and help Mario reach new places. Mario starts with two default nozzles for F.L.U.D.D., Squirt and Hover, which he can quickly switch between. The Squirt nozzle lets Mario spray a stream of water which he can use to clean sludge, attack enemies, and activate certain mechanisms. The Hover nozzle lets Mario hover in the air for a short period of time, allowing him to cross large gaps while simultaneously spraying things directly below him. As the game progresses, Mario unlocks two additional nozzles for F.L.U.D.D. which can be substituted with the Hover nozzle: the Rocket nozzle, which shoots Mario high up into the air; and the Turbo nozzle, which moves Mario at high speeds, allowing him to run across water and break into certain areas. Each of F.L.U.D.D.'s nozzles use water from its reserves, which can be refilled via water sources such as rivers or fountains. There are also some areas where F.L.U.D.D. is taken away from Mario, forcing him to rely on his natural platforming abilities.[5] At certain points in the game, Mario may come across an egg which hatches into a Yoshi after being brought a fruit he asks for. Yoshi can be ridden upon and can attack by spitting juice, which can clear certain obstacles that water cannot. Yoshi can also use his tongue to eat enemies or other pieces of fruit which change his color, depending on the type of fruit. Yoshi will disappear if he runs out of juice or falls into deep water. Juice can be replenished by eating more fruit.[6]


The game takes place on the tropical resort of Isle Delfino, which is shaped like a dolphin and comprises ten primary locations. The island is mainly inhabited by the races of the Piantas and Nokis.[7] Delfino Plaza is Isle Delfino's largest city and the game's main hub.

Mario sets out for Isle Delfino for a vacation with Princess Peach, her long-time steward Toadsworth, and several other Toads. Upon their arrival, they discover that the once-pristine island has been polluted and plastered with graffiti. As a result of this pollution, sun-shaped objects called "Shine Sprites", the island's sources of power, have disappeared, and the island is covered in a perpetual shadow. To help with cleaning the airstrip, Mario finds a Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device or F.L.U.D.D., a powerful water cannon which is toted like a backpack and is created by Professor E. Gadd. Mario defeats a giant slime covered Piranha Plant and restores the airstrip, but he becomes the chief suspect of polluting Isle Delfino. Despite Peach's objections, Mario is convicted and sentenced to clean up the graffiti and recover the Shine Sprites. The next morning, Mario begins his efforts to restore peace to Isle Delfino, track down the real criminal, and clear his name.[8]

The culprit seen spreading the graffiti is a shadowy, blue-colored figure known as "Shadow Mario" because he resembles Mario. Shadow Mario wields a magic paintbrush that he uses to create the graffiti, including portals that lead to other parts of Isle Delfino. When Shadow Mario kidnaps Princess Peach, Mario stops him just in time. After collecting ten shine sprites, he discovers Shadow Mario and Peach in a speedboat and escapes to Pinna Island, home of Isle Delfino's theme park just as Mario follows them. There, Mario encounters Mecha Bowser, a gigantic Bowser robot that shoots Bullet Bills and is being controlled by Shadow Mario. Mario defeats Mecha Bowser by firing water rockets at it while riding a roller coaster. It is then revealed that Shadow Mario's real identity is Bowser Jr., the son of Bowser. Like F.L.U.D.D., Bowser Jr.'s paintbrush was also created by E. Gadd.[9] Bowser Jr. reveals that he tricked Mario into getting arrested, spread the graffiti and that Peach is his mother, turns the remains of Mecha Bowser into a hot air balloon and flees with Peach to Corona Mountain, a volcano where Bowser is holding a vacation of his own. Unable to rescue Peach, Mario is left no choice but to continue collecting shine sprites. After Mario beats Bowser Jr. in all seven areas, a flood falls upon Delfino Plaza, opening up a cave that leads into Corona Mountain. Mario enters the volcano, and after getting through the inner cave, reaches Bowser and Bowser Jr., who is sitting in a hot tub in the sky. Bowser becomes outraged that Mario disturbed his vacation and attempts to get rid of Mario, but the plumber defeats them by flipping over the hot tub, thus rescuing Princess Peach but causing them to fall from the sky. Bowser and Bowser Jr. land on a platform in the ocean, while Mario and Princess Peach land safely on a small island. However, F.L.U.D.D. becomes damaged during the landing. The Shine Gate's power is restored as Mario and Peach watch, and the Toads repair F.L.U.D.D. shortly afterward. Mario, Princess Peach watches a sunset at Sirena Beach, home of Isle Delfino’s hotel, and finds the Toads with the newly repaired F.L.U.D.D, who declares that they will resume their vacation.[10] Meanwhile, Bowser admits to his son that Princess Peach was not really his mother—but Bowser Jr. responds that he already knows and he vows to battle Mario again when he is older, making his father proud.[11]

After the credits, if the player has collected less than all 120 shine sprites, a picture shows II Piantissimo, a sprinter that Mario raced during the game, finding the brush that Bowser Jr. used to vandalize Isle Delfino. However, if the player has collected all 120 shine sprites, a picture of the entire cast with the words "Have a relaxing vacation!" is displayed instead.


A sequel to Super Mario 64 had been in development for several years; the canceled games Super Mario 64 2 and Super Mario 128 were some ideas Nintendo had for a direct sequel.[12] Super Mario Sunshine was first shown at Nintendo Space World 2001.[13] The game was later shown again at E3 2002.[14] It was developed by Nintendo EAD.

The game received the first lead directing role for Nintendo designer Yoshiaki Koizumi following a ten-year-long apprenticeship working on various other games.[15] Super Mario creators Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka served as producers. It was the first Nintendo first-party game after Satoru Iwata became president of Nintendo, succeeding Hiroshi Yamauchi. Developing a Mario game for the GameCube was the last request Yamauchi gave the team before resigning. In an interview about the development of Super Mario Sunshine with Koizumi, Kenta Usui, and Tezuka, it was mentioned that the game's development began after showing Super Mario 128 and following the critical and commercial success of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, when Miyamoto conceived the idea of gameplay involving a water pump.[16] However, at first Koizumi, Miyamoto and Tezuka thought that the world was too daringly out of character with Mario. The team also visited France and Italy for inspiration in designing the setting of Isle Delfino, named after an Italian translation of the GameCube's codename, "Dolphin". Therefore, they tried using a man-type character, but thought this was too odd and that "if there was a man next to Mario, there is a sense of incongruity."[16] There were ten candidates for possible water nozzles, and F.L.U.D.D. was chosen because of fitting in the game's setting, though it was not one of the favorites.[16] They also stated that several Yoshi features were omitted, such as Yoshi vomiting water fed to him.[16] It was the first in the Mario series to include Peach’s panneria-like overskirt and ponytail and Toad’s different colored spots, and vests with yellow outlines.

Koji Kondo and Shinobu Tanaka composed the score to Super Mario Sunshine.[17] Kondo composed the main motif for Isle Delfino, Bianco Hills, Ricco Harbor, and Gelato Beach, as well as the ending credits, while additional music was composed by Tanaka.[18] The soundtrack features various arrangements of classic Mario tunes, including the underground music and the main stage music from the original Super Mario Bros.[19]

Super Mario Sunshine features many of the usual voice actors for the various Mario characters. Charles Martinet voices Mario, Toadsworth, and the male Piantas, Jen Taylor voices Princess Peach and Toad, Kit Harris voices F.L.U.D.D. and the Nokis, Scott Burns voices Bowser, and Dolores Rogers voices Bowser Jr. and the female Piantas.[20] Unlike most games of the series, the cutscenes in Super Mario Sunshine feature full English voice acting.


Super Mario Sunshine was released in Japan on July 19, 2002.[21] It was later released in the United States on August 26 of that year. A GameCube bundle containing the game along with a GameCube console was released in North America on October 14, 2002.[22] The game was re-released alongside Super Mario 64 (1996) and Super Mario Galaxy (2007) in the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection on Nintendo Switch on September 18, 2020.[23]


Super Mario Sunshine was critically acclaimed by game critics. IGN praised the addition of the water backpack for improving gameplay,[35] and GameSpy commented on the "wide variety of moves and the beautifully constructed environments".[33] The game received a perfect score from Nintendo Power, who commended the "superb graphics, excellent music, clever layouts, funny cinema scenes and ingenious puzzles".[37]

Super Mario Sunshine won GameSpot's annual "Best Platformer on GameCube" award.[38] GamePro gave it a perfect score, stating that the game was "a masterpiece of superior game design, infinite gameplay variety, creativity, and life."[3] The American-based publication Game Informer said that the game is arguably "the best Mario game to date."[31] Computer and Video Games also mentioned the game is "better than Super Mario 64."[27] The game placed 46th in Official Nintendo Magazine's 100 greatest Nintendo games of all time.[39] Allgame gave a lower review, stating that "During the six-year span between Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, platform games have become more epic, more interactive, and prettier. Yet the core element of collecting items in a world divided into sub-sections has been left unchanged. So it comes with a modicum of disappointment that Super Mario Sunshine doesn't shake up the genre with a number of new and fresh ideas other than the usual enhancements expected from a sequel."[26]

Some reviewers were critical towards certain aspects of the game. GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann criticized the various additions, including F.L.U.D.D. and Yoshi, calling them "mere gimmicks." He also complained about the camera system.[32] Gerstmann said that the game seemed somewhat unpolished and rushed, a sentiment shared by Matt Wales of Computer and Video Games.[40] GameSpot named it 2002's most disappointing GameCube game.[38]


In Japan, more than 400,000 copies of Super Mario Sunshine were sold within four days.[41] In the United States, more than 350,000 copies were sold within its first ten days of release, surpassing launch sales of the PlayStation 2's Grand Theft Auto III, the Xbox's Halo, and the Nintendo 64's Super Mario 64, and boosting hardware sales of the GameCube.[42] In Europe, 175,000 units were sold within a week of its release.[43] In Japan, 624,240 units had been sold by October 2002.[44] In 2002, Super Mario Sunshine was the tenth best-selling game in the United States according to the NPD Group.[45] It was re-released in 2003 as part of the Player's Choice line, a selection of games with high sales sold for a reduced price.[46] By July 2006, 2.5 million copies were sold for $85 million, in the United States alone. Next Generation ranked it as the ninth highest-selling game launched for the PlayStation 2, Xbox, or GameCube between January 2000 and July 2006 in that country.[47] By June 2006, over 5.5 million copies had been sold worldwide.[48] Despite strong sales numbers, Satoru Iwata confirmed at E3 2003 that the game's sales (Along with those of Metroid Prime) had failed to live up to the company's expectations.[15]


Super Mario Sunshine introduces several elements which were carried over to subsequent Mario games. Many of the characters introduced in this game have been staples in the series ever since: Petey Piranha, Cataquacks, and Bowser Jr., who has been one of Mario's archrivals ever since this initial encounter. Many of the bosses from this game and Luigi's Mansion appear in multiple Mario spin-offs that followed on the GameCube, such as the unlockable Petey Piranha and King Boo in Mario Kart: Double Dash and the four unlockable characters in Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour.[49]

Super Mario Sunshine introduces the Shine Sprites, which have appeared in later Mario games such as Mario Kart DS and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. It is also the debut of Bowser Jr., who has since become a recurring character in games such as New Super Mario Bros., Mario Kart Wii, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, New Super Mario Bros. U, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Mario Galaxy 2,[50][51] and in later Mario spin-off and sports games.[52] It introduces recurring character Petey Piranha, known as Boss Packun (ボスパックン) in Japan.[53]

The game is the first 3D Super Mario game with the ability to ride Yoshi.[6] This feature reappears in Super Mario Galaxy 2 in which the Twisty Trials Galaxy in World S is another recurring theme from Super Mario Sunshine, based on one of the missions "The Secret of Ricco Tower".[54] Another mission in this game had Piantas make an appearance on Starshine Beach Galaxy. The Super Smash Bros. series has numerous references to original elements of Super Mario Sunshine; most notably, F.L.U.D.D. has been featured as a part of Mario's moveset ever since Super Smash Bros. Brawl.[55][56]


  1. ^ Japanese: スーパーマリオサンシャイン, Hepburn: Sūpā Mario Sanshain


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