This week we will be talking about Super Mario Sunshine as part of this month’s theme. You probably thought I wasn’t going to talk about any clichés this week, but I decided to mix it up a bit. To start off though, I just want to say that I have mixed feelings about this game. For one thing, it is the only game in the Super Mario 3D All Stars trilogy that I have yet to 100% complete at the time of writing. It’s not because the game itself is hard to control or has any real design problems. Sure the game has a heavy obsession with collectibles, looking at you blue coins, but at least the game itself is fun and easy to control. Besides it isn’t like you can’t look that stuff up if you are really pressed to get 100% completion. That being said, I am crazy enough to try and accomplish it so that doesn’t really bother me. In fact I think some of the bonus areas actually handle better on this version. It only took me four tries to do the Yoshi river. Four tries! I even used the lily pad the entire way down the river without having to walk along the sides. So with 100% completion being quite a realistic goal, you can see that there isn’t much point in me harping on the gameplay. So naturally I decided that the only sensible thing to do was to nitpick the story. I know that nitpicking the storyline in a Mario game is the equivalent of beating a dead horse, but that never stopped me before. So let’s take a look at that story shall we?
It all starts with Mario, Peach, and the toads heading on a plane to Isle Delfino, a tropical island resort where they plan to stay for vacation. Once they get there the plane stops on the airstrip in front of some colored goop which Mario sets out to clean up. Meanwhile, Peach notices Shadow Mario and doesn’t say a word about it to anyone. Then Mario gets equipped with F.L.U.D.D. so he can clear up the air strip and upon doing so is awarded with a shine sprite, essentially the same as a power star in the previous game. Without missing a beat, Mario is incarcerated, convicted and tasked with permanent community service until the island is cleaned up from all of Shadow Mario’s handiwork since the people of Isle Delfino seem to be colorblind. Now this is not a cliché, that should be unfamiliar to anyone. The hero is wrongly accused of a crime they didn’t commit and have to find to real perpetrator so they can clear their name. This is something we all have seen before, however Nintendo is using this cliché in a bit of a non-standard way. So I want to take some time to analyze the pros and cons of their approach to the use of this cliché.
First, the fact that the hero is forced into doing community service is something that is a strange twist. In the game Shadow Mario admits he wanted to get Mario thrown in jail, but he ultimately failed because Mario was tasked to clean up the island. The police officers say they will keep tabs on you, but they definitely won’t do any such thing. Especially because if they did, they would clearly see Mario and Shadow Mario duking it out and would realize how bogus the charges are. The people don’t seem to care about the fact that they were wrong or even acknowledge it for that matter. Also, they believe him to be responsible so they leave him to fix everything despite not keeping tabs on him. If he were actually a villain, Isle Delfino would have been ruined for sure. The only reason he can even do anything about the situation is because of F.L.U.D.D. and it isn’t Mario is the chosen one who has to use it. Heck, he just found it at the airport and used it because people told him to after having just arrived. Are you telling me that no one else could use this device? Not a single person? Yeah right. I wondered to myself while playing this game if these people deserved me saving them when a good portion of them treated me like garbage. If Peach didn’t spend have the game kidnapped, there would be absolutely no motivation for me to help these people. After all, I’d be pretty cross too if I were arrested with no real evidence except faulty eyewitness testimony and was forced to serve a sentence for a crime I didn’t commit. I have a feeling it probably happens a lot at Isle Delfino.
Now let’s talk a bit more about Peach’s kidnappings to get a idea of the story that doesn’t relate to how foolish the inhabitants are. I have already said before that kidnapping Peach is the bread and butter of Mario storylines, but in this one Bowser doesn’t do the kidnapping and rather leaves it to his son. That’s right the villain for this game is Bowser’s son Bowser Jr. Nintendo’s really working to change that formula by making some bold strides. Bowser Jr. disguised as Shadow Mario in order to frame Mario, but since the police system is absolute trash Mario was left pretty much unhindered so he could do whatever we wanted. The reason he did this was Bowser told him Mario was actually the one who stole Peach and that Peach was his mom. To protect his “mom,” Bowser Jr. kidnaps Peach again and heads to the final boss area. There are two reasons why I brought this up. The first is because that to this day, I find this to be the weirdest reason Peach has been kidnapped. Usually Bowser is a bit more straightforward is his kidnappings, but this time he is having his son do the dirty work? That’s cold. The second reason is to highlight the fact that pretty much everyone in this game is an idiot. Bowser Jr. not only failed to stop Mario from acquiring F.L.U.D.D. at the airstrip, where his is clearly seen at the beginning of the game, but he continues to disguise as Mario after his plan to imprison Mario has already failed showing that there are indeed two Marios. I know it’s a Mario game, but that means I can’t take the villains seriously. Not only do they fall back to the whole kidnapping plot, but this time they have it done by a smaller version of Bowser. How can I take any of this seriously. I would be more efficient spending my time finding hidden shine sprites than believing anything significant is happening on Peach’s end. So might as well leave it alone for now. If I am being perfectly honest, the only reason I beat the game at all was to take a break from finding blue coins.
Now the false charges don’t really do anything to effect the game so exactly why are they even brought up in the story. This false charge storyline is supposed to end with you being recognized for being right and clearing your name, but it seems like nobody actually cares about the truth. They just want things to be fixed so things can go back to normal. Now this cliché usually involves rampant corruption and finding leads, but in this game people are just too dumb or too blind to see the truth. The problem with using this cliché in a Mario game is that the game is not serious enough to effectively use this cliché and so it ends up with us having everyone sounding like an idiot. I really can’t think of any Mario game that has a bigger disconnect between the story and the gameplay. Normally it’s simply Bowser being evil and you have to stop him and that cliché works for a Mario game. Peach getting kidnapped is something you could probably do without, especially if you do it multiple times in the same game. However the Mario being falsely accused storyline doesn’t really work because Mario never really seems to struggle with these false accusations. There is no sense of accomplishment for clearing my name or saving the island from darkness because people just trust you to do things for you regardless of whether they think you are good or bad. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy playing the game and appreciate Nintendo trying to do something new with the story. I just think they fell short on what they could have done with the story. If they wanted to change things up they should have gone all in. I appreciate Super Mario Sunshine for daring to take some risks with the story, but they all just fall flat. So I will close with one last thing. I noticed that I got more satisfaction from messing with the two cops by the station than saving Peach and beating the game. That seems like might be where you went wrong Nintendo. Alright, see you next week everybody.