Retro Vault is our regular weekly feature in which we dive into gaming's past and share five classic nuggets of retro nostalgia. If you want to catch up on previous Retro Vaults, check out the CVG Retro Vault archive.
July 2002 - Super Mario Sunshine artwork
It's safe to say that Super Mario 64 took the world by storm when it launched alongside the Nintendo 64 in 1996. Completely reinventing the platforming genre and setting the template for countless other 3D platform games to follow, Mario's first polygonal adventure was a revelation.
Naturally, all eyes were on Nintendo to see how it would follow up this momentous feat. These eyes would be trained on the company for a while, as the Nintendo 64 went through its entire lifespan without another 3D Mario adventure to speak of. Even the GameCube launched with Luigi's Mansion instead, as a way to pass the time until the real main event was ready.
That main event was Super Mario Sunshine, a game that ultimately divided Mario fans. With its tropical setting of Isle Delfino and its selection of weird and wonderful characters providing a complete change to what had come before it (there isn't a single Goomba in the game, for example), Sunshine was certainly another attempt to shake things up.
The main new gameplay mechanic in Sunshin was F.L.U.D.D., Mario's personal water cannon, which could be used to fire water at enemies, give Mario a boost into the air or blast him forwards at high speed. Ironically though, the sections most players fondly remember are the bonus stages where F.L.U.D.D. Is removed and standard platforming prevails - a revelation that Nintendo surely kept in mind when working on its successor, Super Mario Galaxy.
Time is a great healer though, and many have warmed to the fact that while Super Mario Sunshine may not be up there with Galaxy and Super Mario 64, it's still an accomplished platformer that, some frustrating moments aside, offered an interesting new take on the Mario formula.