16 reviews liked by mordack550

Super Mario Sunshine is an odd game. It has a lot of good qualities and I could easily see it ranking alongside people’s favorite games of all time, but there’s also a lot of stuff holding it back, arguably more than any other 3D Mario. But, as a fair game critic, I should start with the positives.

Mario Sunshine’s biggest strength is in its personality. Right from the title screen, the game introduces an offbeat tone in both design and visuals, letting players mess around with Mario’s moveset and making them physically select a file. The aesthetics are beautiful, with vibrant tropical locales that still hold up visually. The soundtrack has a unique style that’s both catchy and fitting to the environment. It’s even the only mainline Mario game to feature voice acting! Bad voice acting, yes, but the voices are indeed acting!

There are some really good character designs here, too. Newly introduced series icons like the Piantas, Petey Piranha, and Bowser Jr join sleeper hits like Cataquacks and Electro Koopas to form an all-star cast. Also, I love how E. Gadd’s ties to FLUDD and the Magic Paintbrush connect this game to Luigi’s Mansion, showcasing a continuity Mario hasn’t really done since…Dream Team? Sunshine isn’t the most charming of Mario’s Gamecube outings; it’s outdone by the sports titles and especially TTYD, but the vibes are still as fresh as the water from Mario’s jetpack.

Speaking of which, FLUDD is a great addition to the gameplay. Not only does he fit with the game’s theming, but he’s a wonderful tool in Mario’s arsenal. The spraying mechanics are fun to use, serving as both a means of attack and of increasing momentum. Plus, the additional airtime provided by the hover nozzle is a nifty means of getting around. The rocket and turbo nozzles are also pretty fun to use, offering great vertical and horizontal utility respectively. And when you fully understand how FLUDD works, movement becomes an absolute thrill ride, where Mario hops, slides, and speeds along at an exhilarating rate…

…Which makes it suck when the game forcibly removes these options. Scattered throughout Sunshine are a series of self-contained platforming challenges over a great blue void. This might sound like a great chance to use that movement I mentioned, but here’s the thing: You can’t use FLUDD in these sections. Now, on paper this is a fine enough idea. FLUDD is the game’s central mechanic, and it’s only fair that it spends the entire game fleshing him out as much as possible. And removing that mechanic is a good way of doing so.

There’s just one problem: Remember that fluid movement I mentioned earlier? Yeah, see how much fluid you get without your fancy water bottle. Mario Sunshine’s movement really wasn’t built around not having FLUDD, at least not in the context of precise platforming, which is the exact situation where they remove him. It just feels awkward trying to get around without him, the game’s odd lack of a long jump especially making traversal a lot more frustrating. And on top of that, these sections harshly punish your mistakes. One wrong move and you fall into a pit and have to start the section all over again. Oh, and God forbid you lose all your lives and have to trek back through the level, wasting even more of your time.

Okay, so the no-FLUDD sections are frustrating, but so what? Every Mario game has at least a few bad levels. Just skip them! Oh, you sweet, stupid summer child, let me introduce you to one of Sunshine’s other major blunders: the change in structure. Now, Mario 64 was very generous with its completion requirements, only requiring 70 of its 120 stars in order to face the final boss. Plus, you could get a level’s Power Stars in any order. This meant that if you didn’t like a level, that’s fine. You could just do another one. Sunshine, for some odd reason, lays out an incredibly specific goal for the player: you have to do the first 7 missions in every level in order to reach the ending. All those sections that really suck? Yeah, they’re mandatory. So either slog your crusty, dehydrated plumber through platformer purgatory or give up and haul your ass back to Kirby Air Ride (Please note that I hold no ill will against Kirby Air Ride or its playerbase).

Another victim of the game’s structure is the optional shines. Now, optional content in games is cool, but usually there’s some kind of reward attached to it. Like, oh, I don’t know, something that helps you progress in the story. Mario Sunshine throws all that out the window, snapshots its corpse, and slaps it on a custom-printed postcard from the Land of Sensible Design. Yeah, I wish I was there, too. So many neat ideas in Sunshine are gimped by their complete uselessness in the face of the game’s ultimate goal. The shines you can earn in the overworld? Sorry, their purpose is in another castle. The secret shines scattered throughout the levels? The real secret is they’re a waste of time. The blue coins? Please, you’re better off buying crypto. Even the fact that shines help unlock levels (I think) is redundant because the main missions already give you more than enough to unlock all of them.

Let’s talk about those main missions some more, because Sunshine’s level design is…odd, to say the least. Remember when I praised Mario Galaxy for how its tight level design got the most out of its simple movement? Sunshine’s kind of the opposite. You have a lot of movement options, but every level either removes your access to them or plops them into an uninteresting layout. In what I can only assume was due to the game’s rushed development, Sunshine’s levels sit at an awkward midpoint between 64’s open-ended playgrounds and Galaxy’s linear, mission-based structure. The levels are technically open, sure, but you have to do all the objectives in a specific order, one at a time. Unlike the Galaxy games, though, the bulk of the level often remains largely the same, just with an objective tacked on at a different point, so you don’t really feel the variety. For a game all about cleaning, they paid shockingly little attention to polish.

But for what it’s worth, the missions you do within the main levels are fine. They reuse a lot of objectives, but they do a good enough job being engaging and the movement carries it a fair bit. Plus, this game features Yoshi’s first 3D appearance, even if it is by far the weakest and it portrays him as oddly soluble. And unlike Mario 64, the bosses don’t suck, even if the final stretch of the game is god-awful. That’s the thing about Sunshine. It’s not a bad game. Hell, I’m even tempted to call it good. But it really squanders a lot of its best ideas with an array of baffling design decisions and a development cycle that leaves it feeling less finished than the GameCube’s actual tech demo. It had the potential to reach the sky, but for every time it came close, it just got burned.

It's not gonna set your world on fire, but it's a great deal of fun, save for a couple of the transformations. Also the final boss wouldn't be out of place in a Sonic game.


the story is up there with yakuza 0, hell i'd argue it surpasses it! ichiban, oh my god holy crap ichiban is such an amazing protagonist! i never stop smiling at anything he does! adachi is also a great character! funny enough that 2 sega characters are an adachi and an a detective. nanba is really gooood! he fits right in with the group and his friendship with ichiban is just too wholesome! saeko (rgg can write women?????) is a really good character and definitely a badass in this game, her dynamic with the group is gold. i never got eri as a playable character cuz i never bothered with the business managment content (i definitely will eventually)but she seemed interesting. there are 2 playable party members i can't mention because spoiler reasons but just know they took me by surprise and they're such amazing characters too! one of them is very broken too. won't mention any more characters but just know they're all very good (except one that i absolutely hate you all know who) and the story is just excellent!

the gameplay might not be anything special compared to other rpgs for sure, but it's still really fun! especially for people who are not familiar with rpgs, you can get many different jobs and outfits for the characters and they're all hilarious and awesome to use! although they give you the most stats so if you ever switch them up you'll be as weak as a skeleton until you level them up which doesn't take too long but it's a hassle. the bosses are also really fun but get really tough halfway through the game so make sure to grind!
this game introduces poundmates, which are basically summons in this game, they're all very quirky, funny, awesome, and over the top that id recommend getting alot of them! first time is free but then you'd have to pay in-game money to use them again.

the side content, where do i even begin? alot of them are really good and fun that i won't spoil them and just say that you should check them out! the music.. left me speechless, quite literally every single track is at worst good and at best SPECTACULAR!! the boss themes too holy crap the boss themes!! they're so GOOD!!


i was watching my friend stream the finale and man idk how people despise it. that last scene is genuinely so fucking beautiful when you consider what kind of person ichiban is

It's a really, really pretty game with a great OST but the gameplay isn't relaxing enough nor deep enough to be a challenge or an unwinding experience, making my experience pretty much uphill LMAO GOTTEM

big youtube won't tell you this game controls like shit

Donkey Kong’s newest game is a decade old.

I think I need to stop falling for Nintendo hype in a post-Switch world. It seems like every game that comes out on the console (this was on the Wii U, but nobody played it there) gets hyped to the point of over-inflation, always being hailed as the “best [X] ever”. Tropical Freeze is certainly no exception to this, reaching a sort of deified status as the apex of the modern 2D platformer; it isn’t even the best Donkey Kong game. It’s good, certainly. But it’s an experience carried immensely by its vibes, and they’re wrapped around a core that seems to get emptier and emptier the closer you try to examine it.

Grudgingly, I respect how heavy Donkey Kong is in this game. He is fucking slow. He’s a big, weighty gorilla, and his standard jump carries him about two feet horizontally. He will not be able to clear gaps that I could probably get across simply because of how bulky he is. You’re likely going to feel that Donkey Kong controls like shit at first while you grapple with the controls, but it won’t be much longer until you figure out the way that momentum works in this game: if Donkey Kong gets a running start and rolls into a jump, he can practically clear the entire horizontal space of the screen in a single leap. You’ll start overshooting jumps rather than coming up too short. The tools are there, they’re just a little tricky to get the hang of. What I really don’t like, however, is that the virtually worthless ground-slaps are bound to the same triggers as the roll; Donkey Kong can only get the roll from a running start, and he does the slaps while standing still. There will be many, many times that you’ll be standing on a teeny, tiny platform that requires you to roll jump to the next one, and the timing to get a running start is ridiculously tight. Most of the time you’ll risk either walking straight off the edge because you didn’t roll soon enough, or slapping the ground and then doing a slow jump down into the abyss because you pressed the roll button too early. Binding ground-slaps and roll to different buttons probably would have cut my deaths completely in half, and forcing them to be contextual on the same triggers made the actual act of platforming feel way clunkier than it needed to be.

The game is tricky, but very easily broken. I don’t know if the Tropical Freeze was balanced with the expectation you would have Dixie Kong or not, but she erases any degree of challenge from the game; playing without her feels like walking on a broken foot without crutches. Dixie Kong allows you to double-jump in the air, swim faster underwater, and she comes with a special ability that converts all enemies on screen into bonus health pickups that overheal you, allowing you to have a potential maximum of ten hits before death if you bring the right equipment compared to the usual two or four you get with anyone else. Compared to the other Kong partners, Dixie is the clear winner: Diddy’s glide doesn’t give any vertical height, which makes recovering from bad jumps nearly impossible, and Cranky needs a flat surface to do his Ducktales cane bounce off of in a game that’s 50% bottomless pits. Speaking of, you’re also allowed to bring up to three green balloons into a level at once, each of them allowing you to float all the way to the top of the screen whenever you fall into a pit. This effectively gives you three extra lives and three extra mid-level checkpoints. It makes things go from a bit too tough to way too easy. Sure, I could play without partners and without power-ups, but why would I? Not only are Dixie and the green balloons extraordinarily powerful, but they’re fun to use. Dixie has plenty of tools to expedite the platforming challenges, and the green balloons prevent the frustration of losing both your progress and your partner to a single bad jump. If you give me a choice between “optimal and fun but I feel like I’m cheating” and “sub-optimal and challenging and I’m going to tear what’s left of my fucking hair out”, I’m picking the former every time. I’d prefer a middle ground, but you’re not going to find that in Tropical Freeze.

David Wise is back to compose the soundtrack, and he does as good of a job as you ought to expect from the guy who made every song in Donkey Kong Country. While mostly solid, the songs do bleed into one another much more than they did in his earlier work on the Super Nintendo titles. It's ironic when you consider how few tracks the first SNES game actually had; differentiating music from between worlds here is easy enough, but you could shuffle the individual level themes around and not really notice much of a change. Also not helping matters is the copying of his own music from three decades ago; the generic “underwater” theme that gets used every time Donkey Kong leaps into the waves recycles Aquatic Ambience. Aquatic Ambience is an outstanding track. Aquatic Ambience becomes significantly less of an outstanding track when it interrupts the level music every single time Donkey Kong goes underwater. Even if it’s just for a few seconds, you’re gonna be listening to the opening notes of Aquatic Ambience for the entirety of those few seconds. It’s an odd choice. I was starting to get sick of it long before I had run out of bodies of water where it was going to play, and that’s not really something you want when you’re so clearly aiming to create fondness through nostalgia.

Tropical Freeze did manage to charm me, and that's laudable. There's a lot here in terms of alternate paths, secret exits, and even an entire extra world you can discover after beating the game once. I don't especially care to explore beyond the critical path, but it's not too hard to dig into if you really do find yourself wanting more. Visually, it's a treat, and mashing the triggers to obliterate end-level barrels and bosses is as satisfying as it was in the 3DS games.

It's far from bad, but it does leave me a little wanting. Tropical Freeze has a lot of potential that could have been built upon further in a later installment, but it doesn't seem as though one is coming any time soon. As it stands, the Donkey Kong franchise is going to stay in stasis for at least as long as it takes for Metroid Prime 4 to get finished or cancelled, as nobody seems interested in picking up where Retro Studios left off.

I did not play the version with the New Funky Mode.

This game is proof you should not overhype things

everyone on planet earth told me this game was "the greatest ever" so when I played it and it wasn't better than the peak of the franchise (DKC3) I got disappointed

didnt like this one as much as the last one, physics were fighting against me and almost no death felt like my fault
not even gonna bother with the side content, game did not feel good to control or fun to beat
i did beat the final boss so go fuck yourself

the soundtrack really really pulls you into the game, the story may not be the best but the presentation immerses you so well you really feel like you are participating in a war