Nintendo of America’s George Harrison tells CNN that … games like “Super Mario Sunshine” are too difficult for today’s gamers. Due to Cube’s software sales, Nintendo of Japan and Miyamoto have decided to make games less challenging to sell software to larger audiences.
“Nintendo’s chief gaming architect Shigeru Miyamoto agreed with criticism that the Mario game was too hard. And, in a decision that might anger the hardcore crowd, the word has since come from up high to make games less challenging.” says CNN.
Koizumi: There are about 4 times more camera options in this game over Super Mario 64.
Q: Was the [camera] control constantly adjusted?
Usui: Of course. Miyamoto made sure of that. Koizumi started focusing on that just so he wouldn't have to hear it from the boss.
Super Mario Sunshine has the most sophisticated camera of any Nintendo game, yet reviews on online websites and message boards revealed many criticisms. It was only after an in-depth analysis of these criticisms that I discovered that the majority of the harshest and most vocal critics were those of players with low skill levels. This camera analysis breaks down the camera to the fullest extent. For ease of reference, a list of headings is posted below so the reader can go directly to any of the major camera sections.
1. What makes a camera better?
2. Camera techniques
3. Camera handling
4. Heads Up Display
5. Automated Movement
6. Camera Movement Hindrances
7. Structural Interaction and Obscuration
9. Explanation For The Camera Complaint
1. What Makes A Camera Better?
Let’s get past the superficial “game has good/bad camera”. What is better? What is best? To add more camera techniques gives the player a better selection to provide himself with an optimal view. The player can further learn and develop skill in recognizing when to switch to better views. Players who do not wish to adapt will do poorly. In Super Mario 64 Nintendo showed the player that they are not simply controlling Mario, but also controlling Mario's viewing through Lakitu (Mario’s filming crew).
Mario has a better center of gravity than other 3rd person platformers due to tight camera alignment; its centering, tracking, and behind-the-back attachment of Mario. This gives a strong central force when moving the character that can be described as pseudo-first person. Camera placement has a profound effect on control of the character. A camera can cause death by altering movement or blinding the player to important visual information such as enemy projectile attacks or environment hazards. Super Mario 64 had a few minor camera issues, but triumphed as the best camera in its genre during its console generation. Nintendo addressed all those issues and released a much more advanced camera in Super Mario Sunshine.
In SM64 Lakitu was the seasoned cameraman who gave you some tidbits on camera control. Sunshine has no Lakitu, nor a camera tutorial; you just assume Lakitu’s role. In SM64 the pathways were wide and relatively empty making them easy to voyeur through. In SMS the pathways are narrower and more occupied making them more challenging to voyeur through.
2. Camera Techniques
Super Mario 64
A) Default 1 [Normal Camera] - Camera panned keeping Mario's back positioned directly in front of the camera. Active in Castle Exterior, certain parts of Castle Interior, Jolly Roger Bay, Hazy Maze Cave, Shifting Sand Land's Pyramid Interior, Snow Man's Land, Dire, Dire Docks, and Big Boo's Haunt Underground and Mansion exterior.
Default 2 [Normal Camera] - Camera panned keeping Mario’s position in the center of the screen (when facing forward or backward). If facing sideways the camera pushes back to increase the scope of where Mario is looking.
B) C-Button Left + Right [Directional Camera Control] - Camera rotates left or right
C) C-Button Up + Down [Directional Camera Control] - Camera will zoom in or out. When not zoomed out zooming in will put the camera behind-the-back, Mario locks in place, and the player can look all around an 180 degree rotation. If zoomed out when hitting zoom in the camera will revert back to the original distance; you have to hit zoom in again afterwards to go to the behind-the-back view.
D) R-Button [Shoulder Camera] - Camera will zoom in close maintaining a behind-the-back view
Super Mario Sunshine
A) Default [Normal Camera] - Camera panned keeping Mario’s position in the center of the screen with auto-rotation to redirect behind-the-back.
Default 2 [Normal Camera] - Camera panned keeping Mario's position in the center of the screen without any auto-rotation to redirect behind-the-back. Active on Athletic Courses.
B) C-Stick Left + Right [Directional Camera Control] – Camera rotates left or right
C) C-Stick Up + Down [Directional Camera Control] - Camera zooms in pointing straight ahead (low angle shot while ascending with wall jumps or turbo nozzle boost) or zooms out with an overhead angle (high angle shot while ascending with wall jumps or turbo nozzle boost)
D) Y-Button [Shoulder Camera] - Mario locks in place with the camera fixed over-the-shoulder allowing for full rotation.
E) L Trigger (Soft Press) - Camera tracking of Mario increases to align behind him.
F) L Trigger (Hard Press) - Camera will snap behind Mario. Only works on ground or while hover nozzle is activated.
There are two additional camera techniques to choose from in Sunshine than 64 and the range of vision has been increased on the others. On top of that, Sunshine also gives the option to rotate and zoom at the same time. The changes are below:
A) Maintains Mario’s position in the center.
B) C-stick>C buttons. Smoother handling. Full rotation. No more set angle resting points.
C) C-stick>C buttons. Smoother handling. No more set angle resting points. Zooms out much more. Zooms out at much greater downward angle when fully zoomed out. This is good for providing you with a good view of gaps between platforms. Zooming out will also show what’s directly overhead. An upward angle is possible when airborne, but it makes ascending (i.e. onto clouds) difficult due to not being able to see under Mario’s feet when he is falling.
D) Mario’s mobility is squashed. Functions as c button up does in SM64, but can be accessed at any time without delay as the button only has one function. [Note: You also have the ability to run if you attach the turbo nozzle and slightly depress the R Trigger. Also, allows for mid-air redirection movement] Moving in underwater missions with it activated is possible.
Misc. – No sound effects except on (F)
3. Camera Handling
Modify behavior [eyesight] to take advantage of changes in the situation. Sunshine allows you to smoothly move and rest the camera where you want. It also gives you the option to smoothly follow a turning Mario by slightly depressing the L Trigger (works airborne too!). Camera adjustment while running or hovering is manageable when going in a straight line since its ability to make small smooth movements allow for little character movement disturbance.
When going uphill fast while turbo boosting, Mario de-aligns from the dead center and goes to the top center of the screen, which cuts off visual information. Whether a clear view ahead which minimizes vertical visual info or a short view ahead which maximizes vertical visual info there is a sacrifice being made.
When going straight up fast with a rocket jump it works well to have the camera zoomed out for viewing Mario’s ascent and landing pad from an overhead angle. Moving the camera from being zoomed in fully to zoomed out while ascending is also a stylish option that keeps an effective view.
Having Mario perform an 180° turn and at the same time having the camera perform an 180° turn (L Trigger hard press or Y button) requires a slight pause in forward movement to prevent movement direction disruption; you have to wait on the camera angle change to then switch the analog stick to the opposite direction otherwise you run backwards. Also, in the air the L Trigger (hard press) function will not activate unless FLUDD hover nozzle is active.
4. Heads-Up Display (HUD)
HUD size has been reduced
Top Left = coins
Top Right (when hurt) = health
Originally health was in the top center in SM64. This is a good position change since visual information is more important in what lies straight ahead of the player than what is at their side due to the game’s linear mechanics designed around being forwardly positioned. The icon is still too large and would be better to include on the visual info pop ups when standing still long enough.
Bottom Right = FLUDD water capacity
Another good change is having the lives, shines, and blue coins pop up when Mario remains inactive for a short period of time instead of permanently cluttering the screen.
5. Automated Movement
CAMERA MOVEMENT CAUSED BY MARIO
I. The camera moves to be behind Mario naturally. This is disabled for the athletic courses.
CAMERA MOVEMENT CAUSED BY NOZZLE
I. Squirt Nozzle – When spraying water pressing the L Trigger (hard press) will cause the camera to re-direct to behind Mario’s back unless zoomed out. L Trigger (light press) does not cause any rotation. Auto-rotation is disabled on boats and lily pads. It's obvious enough why: spraying is to produce movement that is opposite of the spray direction, so going forward requires you to see what is in front of you, and that the view of the direction ahead is to be kept in focus for that reason.
II. Hover Nozzle - When hovering the camera always redirects behind Mario. This makes sense because if you are turning your direction the camera should too to show you where you are going. You can hover backwards in a straight line only if the camera is directly behind Mario for going in reverse any other way causes camera re-direction which messes up your control. To regain steady control tap at the c-stick or hard-press the L Trigger for immediate camera positioning behind Mario. You aren't going to want to hover toward the camera -- it would be feel awkward (demonstrated by the swimming areas in Tall, Tall Mountain from Super Mario 64 in which Mario was positioned to swim towards the camera). If you are bouncing off a wall and want to do a 180 while hovering tap the c-stick to re-orient the camera.
When hover is activated the camera will move into a lower overhead angle that is closer to Mario.
CAMERA MOVEMENT CAUSED BY STRUCTURE
I. The camera auto-rotates when going around objects that would block the view of Mario producing a silhouette. It is the same camera functioning as the L Trigger (light depress). Even trees, column structures, and crates will do this. Most recognizable when fully zoomed in. Diminished effect on small structures when zoomed out. –-This is most likely due to the camera going overhead which hinders obscuring Mario. Also, visual depth has a strong influence on the wielding and disturbance of a camera; camera rotation speed is linked to the travel distance needed to rotate around the center (Mario). So, bigger shifts are felt when closer to Mario.
I don’t see the necessity of it for the trees. It doesn't auto-rotate when climbing on them. I was not even aware of it until I specifically studied the silhouette effect. It doesn't get in the way of doing anything from what I have played. Very subtle due to the desirability and natural-inclination to have the camera follow Mario behind-the-back.
II. One significant place is the large windmill in Bianco Hills. When you are working your way up and circling around it the camera turns. Major importance: If you keep the control stick held up while running on the top Mario will not run off the tower but run in a circle on it.
III. The camera auto-rotates on the spiral shells in Noki Bay.
IV. The camera auto-rotates around corner posts and the totem pole in Hotel Delfino.
On II, there is literally nothing to do up there besides get a 1-Up from a Pianta or a blue coin drop from an enemy. On III, there is nothing to jump out towards that camera redirection would cause frustration for. There is nothing else to do but scale upwards on it.
With all that written, auto-rotation around structures should have been disabled since it interferes with movement. This should have been turned off altogether since user camera control movement is smooth unlike 64. This kind-of camera aiding is unnecessary with such an advanced camera system in place.
CAMERA MOVEMENT CAUSED BY ENEMY
I. The camera auto-rotates around certain bosses (i.e. the Big Blooper boss on the helipad in the harbor stage, the first Petey Piranha battle, the final battle etc.), which keeps them front and center. This functions as z-targeting does in Zelda: OOT.
Auto-rotation should be disabled because the enemies are not hard to keep track of since Mario is so fast, nor are their weak spots hard to target due to their large size.
6. Camera Movement Hindrances
I. Hotel Delfino - When inside a room a non-zoomed out camera will lock onto outer room walls upstairs blocking the view of inside the room. (You end up looking at a wall and a silhouette Mario.) The camera will not rotate through the wall with the c-stick. To regain inside room view Mario must move inward in the room OR the camera must be “reset” with the use of the Y-button or L Trigger (hard press).
When attempting to put the camera behind Mario's back to wall jump up the totem pole on the 2nd and 3rd floor the camera won't move unless you L Trigger (hard press).. The camera will not maintain this forced position, so it should be quickly accompanied with the desired action. This isn't an issue unless you plan on doing some advanced maneuvering.
Camera is fixed angle on stairwells.
II. Walls or Wall-like Structures.
The camera will not rotate through them with the c-stick. Use the L Trigger (hard press). [Note: having a wall disable camera movement is desirable for 2D-esque segments that require 180 degree turns such as the wall jumping sections on Noki Bay]
7. Structural Interaction and Obscuration
Level design affects camera. It is the walls that restrict camera movement as the camera is designed not to be placed with a wall between it and Mario. So a flat and barren terrain is much easier on a camera than one filled with various wall structures. Camera clipping reveals what is behind doors or otherwise destroy realism by producing transparent models or total view obstruction. In other games the camera will scrunch up close over-the-head of the character to stay within the enclosed space. It may even bounce around.
I. Silhouette Mode
When Mario is obscured by a structure his body becomes a silhouette. This allows you to keep track of your position better than disappearing Mario. It is great for when your view is partly blocked but you can still see the path to go towards. Doesn't make much a difference if your view is totally blocked.
II. Walls (low & high)
For low walls zoom out the camera and it will go over the wall allowing for rotation.
For high wall move away from the wall or zoom in the camera to do a small rotation around Mario. If that doesn't work the L Trigger (hard press) will snap to whatever view you want.
III. Indoor (building, stairs, etc.)
Tends to be static camera anyway due to clipping or wall detection. A zoomed out view works the best.
The above hotel floor will be obscured as black until moving up high enough above the lower floor.
IV. Tightly constricted space & other blocked views by terrain/environment
(sewer pipes, attic, overpasses, crevice spaces)
The camera will produce a blue pinhole when the level boxes the camera tightly in (i.e. sand dune small rooms).
V. Closely spaced platforms
Descending jumps on closely spaced platforms work best zoomed out (over head camera) or sideways view will properly display the gaps. When there are platforms that are of lowered height the higher platform obscures the view of the space between them.
I. Disabled technique– Athletic Courses
No L Trigger (soft press) function
II. Clipping – Pinna Park, Delfino Airstrip, Athletic Courses, Delfino Plaza
Waterfall in Pinna Park – In other levels the camera hit-detection is enabled to stop upon wall contact, but this level lets you clip the camera through everything. Due to this change the player is caught off-guard; I know I was. If you stay on the guided path flipping the grated tiles there should be no problems on the waterfall. If Mario gets close to a wall the camera can obscure your view depending on how close the camera is to it. If you decide to go behind the grated tiles this leads to a unique camera obscuration of having your view blocked by a wall if you are zoomed out. The best vantage point is to keep the camera panned forward or slightly sideways facing the waterfall wall or zoomed in facing outwards from the waterfall wall otherwise your view will gets obstructed. As always manually rotating the camera solves this problem. There is no inescapable obscuration, just keep your camera movement within the 3-sided box level design as you can.
Delfino Plaza and Delfino Airstrip have one tower that can be rotated through. Oddly enough before the 2nd-shine the hitbox detection on structures is entirely disabled in Delfino Plaza.
Silhouette mode lets you see Mario when obscured, so why disable the camera’s wall detection? It seems to be a difference on how to display the worlds modeled after real world locales and worlds of the abstract type ala athletic courses. There is a different level of realism demanded for each. My theory on Pinna Park despite being the former is that without clipping enabled the camera would lock on to the opposite wall like it did in Hotel Delfino's rooms which would cause frustration in using the L Trigger (hard press) or Y Button to override the wall lock.
9. Explanation For The Camera Complaints
I. The Difference of Complaints
The most slandered videogame camera of all time. Here is what you will find reading message boards and various reviews online:
(1) It is shit, (2) It is worse than SM64’s camera, (3) Worst camera ever in game, (4) The deadliest enemy in the game, (5) Simple tasks become a burden because of it, (6) Camera was not properly play-tested, (7) Messy and unreliable, (8) Silhouette Mario is commonplace outside tunnels, (9) There are blind leaps
All of which any player of skill could demonstrability prove to be false.
II. The Difference of Gamers ~Are you experienced?~
How did this person experience the game compared to how I experienced it. There were many ways that Super Mario Sunshine was experienced. For instance:
• The handicap gamer is a person that suffers from visual impairment. Their spatial awareness disability prevents them from properly judging jumps in 3D.
The handicap cannot overcome their disability from what I know: GoldFishX wrote “It had one of the worst cameras I've ever seen in a game and I found it impossible to judge my jumping.”
III. The Different Handling of A Bad Experience
“When I get to the climbing section behind the ferris wheel, the camera really starts doing what it wants to, which is usually the exact opposite of what I need it to do. I've never had more moments where my vision is restricted to that tiny circle due to the camera being "behind a wall" than I have with this particular section of the game right here.”
“That's the only part of the game where I've found the camera to be truly terrible.”
“Yeah, the camera in that section has led me to a few bouts of thumping my controller in rage. Good thing it's so sturdy!”
Pinna Park – The two words that always come up when one wants to write off all the positive additions the camera system has provided players. While I struggled with that one Pinna Park waterfall mission my first playthrough, as I explained in this extensive write-up on SMS’s camera, Pinna Park waterfall area was a unique situation that had three potential sources of camera frustration unlikely to all be avoided. I can realize that I was at fault then with how I maneuvered the camera there.
IV. The Difference of Vert1
With all that written it is time for me to destroy slander. Witness the power.
Fran Mirabella III wrote: "...but a large part of the design calls for using the C-stick constantly."
Tom Bramwell from Eurogamer wrote: "The camera always needs minute adjusting, and so you feel like you're playing with two thumbsticks and not one"
When experienced drivers steer, they don't lock their hands on the wheel in one fixed position; they turn it slightly to the right and to the left to keep the car on course. Even on a straight road, the car stays on course only a small percentage of the time. Drivers must make constant adjustments, many of them almost imperceptible.
The auto-rotation around structures alleviates a lot of manual turning. He should know to make camera adjustments before jumping to improve landing accuracy. Bramwell’s complaint makes it sound like controlling Mario and the camera are like a player doing a double play run of Ikaruga.
If the player is going to move Mario on the ground or air and change camera angles the most reliable method is to keep Mario moving in a straight line (hold down the analog stick in one direction) while turning the c-stick one direction to the side.
Jeff Gerstmann from Gamespot wrote: "The game is slow to auto-correct the camera angle when you change direction, and as a result, you really have to stay on top of the C stick to make sure you can see what you need to see."
"And behave badly it does - frequently the camera will chose to shift about by as much as 180 degrees, playing hell with any care you may have taken to align your perspective on a difficult jump."
The camera does not move in the direction you are going at a fast speed to prevent jerky camera movement (i.e. SM64's R-cam when turning). This maintains the Mario feel (more on this later) differentiating itself from Diddy Kong's jetpack in DK64 which allowed you to whip yourself around. The next part shows that if you want to make life hard for yourself no one can stop you. He later cites how bad the camera auto-rotation is during the final boss battle. The camera is locked on to Bowser and if you turn it away from Bowser (180 degrees) it snaps back the equivalent degree change to face Bowser. Of course having no lock-on is the superior choice, but facing away from the boss to look off out at nothing but air as that reviewer seems to want is poor strategy.
PREFACE: WHAT IS MARIO?
Mario has a feel to it. When you jump you enter a rigid aerial control scheme that locks Mario into facing one direction allowing the player to exert pressure on the analog stick to move forward on a fixed axis (z-axis) with the extremely minor shifting available on the x-axis.
There is also an element of contracting and expanding (crouch-> long jump, dive->flip) which enters a tightened (linear) controlled path. This tightened movement allows for more precision. It also delivers multiple speeds through bursts of speed.
The game’s meaning is movement, Mario’s movement. Mario is the projectile. All projectile properties not involving Mario’s propulsion are ineffectual to pleasure. Moving forward is strength; Moving backwards is weakness.
To go nowhere, even to ride around in a deserted quarter or on a crowded freeway, now seems natural for the voyeur-voyager in his car. On the contrary, to stop, to park, are unpleasant operations and the driver even resents going somewhere or towards someone.
- Paul Virillio, The Aesthetics of Disappearance
New Changes: Mario’s mass, acceleration, timing inputs, aerial movement
Mario has lost a lot of weight since the last time he saved the princess. Mario is lighter and has more sensitive movements. Super Mario Sunshine upped the performing of multiple moves quickly one right after another making Mario more agile and more fun to control.He can dive immediately (press A+B) and side somersault from a standstill now. He can charge up hills by flipping out of a dive at them. His jumping has been sped up from 64; Skip the 2nd jump input and go straight to a triple jump by jumping as soon as you hit the ground from a spin jump or bouncing off a Pianta. Also, if you drop down off a platform and jump right as you hit the ground you go to a 2nd jump instead of having your jumps reset to the 1st jump.
Mario has the new abilities of strafing, shimmying on edges, and sliding down walls. The latter makes it almost pointless to expect death by falling through gaps between closely spaced columns (ala Donkey Kong) since you can easily recover out of them while 64’s wall jump required good touch-and-go timing. Crouching is gone. It was largely ignored in 64 (only used to enter igloo); the back flip is still in though.
I prefer Mario holding his legs when he flips out of a dive than kicking his legs forward; however, this change lets users better see the arch of a short vs long flip (hold A button down).
While there is water everywhere swimming is kept unimportant. Swimming speed is slower than 64. The controls have been changed to vertical preference (diving & surfacing). This change is welcomed since swimming sections in 64 were the least favorable parts due to the slowness and the lack of complexity (controller inputs) in movement. Something of interest is that on rare occasion Mario needs a little extra height to grab a ledge from jumping out of the water and that requires you to not be touching the structure beforehand. With the small lift of the hover nozzle it goes by unnoticed; without it is slightly frustrating till you figure out this mechanical quirk.
Offsetting the joy of water sliding is the helpless sliding due to steep structural inclines. It is no fun to slide backwards; your momentum slows and then you get zipped away from whence you came-– imagine being a bug trying to scurry up out of flushing toilet. In scientific terms: "as [Mario's] energy is exhausted and gravity pulls [him] back, rushes back down again as 'backwash'." In 64, steep hills were to overcome; In Sunshine steep hills overcome you with their placement on banks where you have no room to build momentum running up them. Even the trusted hover nozzle fails to lift you up when Mario movement begins to stall against this downward force. Backwash is also activated when flipping out of a dive. All of this is best exemplified on the pachinko mini-course: it has both helpless slide and resistance to momentum change when bouncing off a spring pad. If you aren’t using the hover nozzle you might as well quit the level. Another downward unrecoverable movement although it is a rare sight is Mario letting go of the edge on moving blocks in athletic courses.
Continuing on with this “more gain, more pain”: Getting knocked down from hitting a wall feels truly awful, debilitating, and pathetic. Mario looks so stupid all splayed out when temporarily knocked unconscious. Getting hurt can’t be used to direct your movements.
FLUDD (Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device)
Attacking has changed primarily to bopping and projectile use (FLUDD is like a permanently attached fire flower), so how could projectile use be a positive addition to open world platforming? How to improve upon throwing bob-ombs in 64 since that was very slow (it goes against the fast pace of Mario, while in other platformers that kind-of interference is not felt as much since character movement only would go from slow to a little slower) and generally unrewarding? (It was more heroic to charge forward than shoot your way to get past Bowser in Super Mario Bros.)
turn mechanisms (fans, tiles)
propel Mario (leaf, boat, tightrope spin)
grow things (i.e. sand dunes, clouds) + shrink things (spring, ice cubes)
fill containers (balloons, pots)
wet ground (slide) (uncover things)
When I first played the game [note: demo] spraying water was mesmerizing. It is done in multiple eye-pleasing ways: from a jump, while running, while in a 360° sprinkler spin on ground or the air, and most impressively when in a vertical tumbling motion from a triple jump. But the FLUDD spray nozzle would not be worth protecting behind closed doors from game designers eager to steal a game mechanic if not for one new addition to Mario’s core move set: water sliding.
This friction mechanic is done by spraying water on the ground and diving, which makes Mario slide very fast along the ground. This ability can be used everywhere and is useful for anytime a lot of ground needs to be covered; this is quite beneficial to the nearly open world game. The end of the water slide is never in sight, and getting off is a matter of bailing out when necessary. The linear-oriented movement of it avoids it from having a racing car control feel and it being overused. It does have different gears though as you hit top speed after a second or so. It gives fast momentum to slide off an edge. Triple jumping off the edge of a huge drop in a spraying spin and diving right before impact to hit the ground speeding is truly spectacular.
Everything is just extra with what fun water sliding provides.
With natural water supply so abundant players don’t have to grudgingly backtrack through a stage to refill unlike the grind for powerups in other platformers (i.e. Rareware’s). Of interest is that water barrels can be butt stomped through which fully replenishes FLUDD.
No one can stop me! Having fire power in the 2D Mario games was based on the reward of reaching the final evolution with the challenge of not losing it due to Mario’s fragility. The offensive power of the FLUDD is too strong for the enemies in Isle Delfino: it kills, stuns, or has no effect; there is no negative consequence of spraying an enemy with water (i.e. having water power up enemy or reflected back). A light touch sends enemies flying. This keeps in line with the genres nature of quickly dispatching enemies to keep up a steady pace. As such most fights end without slowing down player, which is good since resistance would lead to a different purpose (platforming vs fighting). One consequence is that the distance between Mario and an enemy is increased and so does the player’s comfort zone. The only time you feel like you are repelling (fighting) something with the force of a fire hose is when you push back the mini-boss plungelos on one mission.
The FLUDD switches seamlessly to the alternative nozzle. The player can only equip one alternative nozzle at a time.
suspends Mario in air for limited time (~3 seconds)
greatly improves aerial mobility by allowing non-linear movement
This nozzle is the default alt. nozzle. It shoots out two water streams (a water jetpack!) that let you hover for a few seconds. It gives the player more time in the air and gives them a slight vertical increase. Unlike other jetpacks it will not allow you to re-activate boosting until you hit the ground. This means you cannot suspend or lower; you must go up. This allows more control over landing than a regular jump with the additional airtime and much increased maneuverability; consequently having safer landings makes the platforming easier. It is also used to go around a blockage in a path (i.e. thorny vines).
Nintendo gives an explanation for its inclusion (below), but my findings on hover reveal much more: hover cancels out Mario’s forward momentum that leads to overstep on landing from a forward jump; a skidding that can result in platform death. This skidding is not unique to Sunshine's physics engine as it was visible on 64’s multi-mushroom section in Tall, Tall Mountain.
After Super Mario 64 was released, Nintendo discovered that people had difficulty jumping in a 3D space, and this is why all future 3D Mario games now have “jump support” like the FLUDD in “Mario Sunshine”
ascend to great height
fast vertical speed
This nozzle shoots Mario up very high in the air (estimated height of 3 triple jumps). It is useful for saving time and patience on scaling structures, especially when used to get out of water. It is necessary to have it to snag high up blue coins. What it isn’t useful for are super controlled landings like that of the hover nozzle. Not very useful in the athletic courses as those are mostly horizontal stages. Using the nozzle to try and save yourself from a bad landing will most likely end with you falling to your death before getting off a boost.
zip across land and sea
burst through doors
leap across large gaps
Turbo is the most exciting nozzle to use in the game. While water sliding is faster, this is about as fast and allows you to jump high over hurdles and gaps. I’d dub a jump done with it a ‘super long jump’. It also lets players tear through water, to hit the water speeding. It gives the player a Sonic speed (Sonic Adventure's Sonic) of moving around at one speed with no interruption. Unfortunately, it is the least featured nozzle in the game. Another unfortunate thing is that Rico Harbor marginalizes it by introducing blooper surfing, which has the same turbo jettisoning as the FLUDD’s turbo nozzle.
The slight slowing of running speed combined with a charge time before activation on the latter two nozzles is a wise design choice that maintains that Mario feel. There is a pulling back like a rubber band, a buildup towards a powerful movement; it does not kill movement altogether. This gives Mario a springy feel that corresponds to the bendiness of jumping. Otherwise it would be a jarring snappy movement which would feel poorly controllable. This tightening gives a better connection which is an improvement of controlling a speedy character as to not give a light-touched unstable feel on side movements.
The levels are designed so that any nozzle featured in them will be useful. There is a design to them of obtaining a future satisfaction superior to those sacrificed when a new nozzle appears on a stage, however, on the athletic courses equipping the rocket or turbo nozzles can feel like a FLUDDless sequence. Generally, the hover nozzle boils down to platforming sequences, the rocket nozzle for exploration, and the turbo nozzle for speed. The hover and rocket nozzle are questionable in nature to platform jumping; (1) hovering takes away from the investment one commits to a jump,
Usui: But from the view of people that make action games, having a super function like hovering is kind of like cheating. There are actually courses where we tried very hard to make the routes complicated, but with the hover function, you can use a shortcut.
and (2) going sky-high takes away from the fast-paced forward scrolling nature of the game with its extreme y-axis movement.
Yoshi is underutilized in Sunshine. (I wouldn't mind him returning in a sequel using him in the athletic courses as a 3rd shine mission.) Just as each stage has different nozzles laid out giving the player a choice on how to tackle the stage, Yoshi has different fruit laid out for him. His spray effect on enemies (when as a pink Yoshi) is a throwback to the Super Mario Land lift block. It was very creative to have the fruit he consumes alter his color and spit effect.
But what does adding Mario’s pal really accomplish when movement has already been perfected? Yoshi is not Mario+ (that’s FLUDD). Yoshi is a vehicle to Mario. That means movement limitation sans side somersault, wall jump, grab, dive, water slide, hover, rocket, and turbo for a special attack. Is this sacrifice worthy? Not really. There is only one mission (Rico Harbor's last mission) that requires Yoshi's special abilities for platforming–-outside of that he is essentially given a treatment of being key–-and Mario is powerful enough to hold his own against the world now.
Riding Yoshi reverts your alt. nozzle to hover
Mario’s hat magically returns to his head when leaving the area he lost it from
- - - - - - -
WHAT IS THE OBJECTIVE?
The objective changed after the 2D games.
Super Mario Bros - 2D: Perform maneuvers on platforms to avoid succumbing to bottomless pits, stage hazards, and enemies to advance and reach the end of the level
Super Mario 64 - 3D: Perform action sequences in open environments to collect a star
examples: (1) aim to be shot out of cannon to land onto floating land continent, (2) slide down slide, (3) open chests in correct order, (4) grab a rabbit, (5) talk to Toad, (6) chip corner off wall via shooting out of cannon, (7) swim through consecutive rings, (8) Collect 8 or 100 coins, (9) Win a race
THEME // LEVEL DESIGN // ENVIRONMENT + ENEMIES // MISC.
- Big outdoor hub that is constantly changing – Delfino Plaza
- Much less emphasis on swimming
- No health recovery on resurfacing in water & separate breath gauge
- 1 awful, long jail cutscene and 2 awful Bowser jr. cutscenes.
- No fall deaths (water is safety net) [exclu. last level and final boss level]
- Less fall damage, plummet to non-peril.
- Enemies too ineffectual to platforming; they also don’t evolve to bring more trouble on latter stages
- No huge stage manipulation ala 64's raising water levels, tiny/big switch - granted stages will heave large scale pollution to clean.
- No high-to-low level
- More populace than enemies
- Tower based segments than mountain based [decentralized vs centralized]
- Unbalanced from 64’s all-around approach
The nice thing about having such excellent character movement is that there is no fat in the game. No trudging around on-foot for days to get to the next level like so many of the N64 platformers. The hub is the best designed level. It allows for rooftop running, corridor running, cabana roof bouncing, running underground in sewers to pop out of manholes sky-high into the air, etc.--all of which is closely spaced together.
Super Mario Sunshine
(A) Water slide through hub to a stage portal in less than 10 seconds.
=> (B) Enter stage almost immediately by doing some action, usually spraying water on portal
==> (C) Click the shine mission to begin the stage
Isle Delfino keeps evolving (the change in sunlight, the introduction of new people and stages, the different news feed messages that scroll across the screen, the great flood). The regular levels need to follow the hub approach and get rid of cycling through missions and the mission preview clips.
Mischief theme – bopping on Pianta’s heads, kicking fruit around like a soccer ball, spraying water on everyone, the spread of graffiti. Mario games have never been violent, and in times of peace the desire for mischief kicks in. Insidiously enough the inhabitants of Isle Delfino were changed from human beings (beta version) to Piantas to entice bopping on their heads by giving them gooey body shape.
Chase Sequence - Every stage has a Shadow Mario chase sequence. This is different than rabbit chasing in 64 since the goal is to keep a spray going weakening the opponent through steady aim; it is no longer a simple game of tag. A chase sequence forces the player to navigate through the stage in a thrilling manner. It’s much better than navigating by collecting 100 coins. It gives the friendly populous an added value (challenge) of being obstacles. It is a nice change to the race sequences to have an opponent create time (distance) and the endpoint.
Shadow Mario is sub-par because he is defeated too easily to accomplish a long and crazy chase scene: the chase is over within 5-10 seconds if you are skilled enough. Making Shadow Mario harder to stop (or if you toy with him by allowing him to rise) is for the best.
Pinna Park - chase shows off the adept camera as you weave in and out around persons, structures, and trees; dodge enemy attacks; squeeze around the expanse of a large structure; run through underpasses; somersault over tall planes of land.
Noki Bay - the best chase sequence. Here Mario tails after Shadow Mario doing a series of wall jumps, jumps from bluff to bluff, and one big jump down to the bottom of the stage.
Hotel Delfino – Shadow Mario can tag you as a surprise tactic when you get too close. He is more aggressive where he will run back and floor Mario. The level design is great being able to run up stairs and jump off onto different floor stories.
Gelato Beach – the worst chase as there is too much open space and lack of obstacles and varied terrain result in easy lining up of the target to spray. If only Shadow Mario ran through the cataquacks.
When Shadow Mario appears in the hub there is no select ‘Shadow Mario’. The game needs more spontaneous moments like this. It is wasted when 50 shines in the game throws all the special stuff (rocket nozzle, turbo nozzle, Yoshi egg) one right after the other to recover from Shadow Mario.
Difficulty, Enemies & Stage Control - When Mario went 3D the enemy interaction did not transition well. In 2D things were nice and lined up: chasing after a shell while it obliterates enemy after enemy, bopping on heads of foes in successive order, finding a way through arching hammer projectiles or flying fish – all these stylish designs of performing combinatory patterns are gone with the introduction of a third axis. The enemy placement became mostly inconsequential. Without any platforming utility or space-encroaching ability they turn towards a combatant model. Defeating regular enemies should not be a focus-point unless it has some connection to advancement through jumping or evasion. Unfortunately in 64 only 'Bowser in the Fire Sea' actually had a big connection of an enemy using the arena to its advantage by making it tilt which made it possible to fall to your death.
Levels designed for the fight for space on small platforms become 2D-esque like in 64's 'Tiny, Big World' where getting hit by even a pint-sized goomba would mean death. When you’re on a tightrope a wind duppy usually appears to swoop around and hit Mario. With the stages being set to locales the islanders co-exist peacefully without many problems. (Goop producing enemies can make a Pianta sink into the ground like quicksand).
Early on the enemies are too docile, too domesticated; it’s like you’re turning on your own pet vanquishing them. Getting hit is a discovery; it is a matter of fulfilling curiosity. Which is too bad since the hits they lay on Mario are quite brutal looking (mechanically they only deliver 1 hp of damage). The enemies in this game have better tracking than in 64, but not even mobbing helps them. Enemies mostly reactive. Enemies can’t jump over rises in terrain to continue after Mario. In these big worlds enemies are easily evaded.
The environment is too peaceful. By making the game world based off the real world Nintendo needed to create more threats of violent ecological disturbance to keep things lively. All the death traps to fall into (bottomless pit, quicksand, lava) are filled up with water. Nothing is going to leap out of the water and devour Mario. To transcribe it to a narrative: “make it across or plummet to your…safety”. Nintendo does introduce mass-scaled goop pollution for one episode for each level. And that has the power to kill!! No life-saving, no life destroying--sans heroism. Only in missions like Goop Inferno where movement is restricted (thus slowed) do slow enemies like Swoopin Stus threaten the player.
Destroy Sequences - Starts off by defeating goop-covered piranha plants three times moving from the airstrip to the plaza to the hills.
While most of the enemies have tame designs the bosses are well-designed but not much in the way of challenge. Drown Petey Pirahna, rip tentacles off a giant blooper, capsize a wiggler the size of a train--very lively scenes of violence. The manta ray invasion is super impressive with the splitting off in two with each hit resulting in a swarm of deadly rays each individually spreading electric goop trails everywhere. The downside to the bosses is the squirt nozzle preference over using jumping techniques to beat them. Take the plungelos: They have similar mass to horned bob-ombs in 64 and come at you in similar numbers. And it’s way better to have to butt stomp the opposite end of the battle area platform to bounce them off the stage after spraying them there than a simple one-step process of spraying them off.
Platform Sequences - Nintendo put most their effort into designing environments. The most challenging levels in the game (athletic courses) feature zero enemies. It’s as if the enemies have realized their obsolescence and morphed into various blocks to unleash havoc. These levels are sans goop. Doing the second athletic course without hover to get the 8 red coins on the first stage is crazy. It is here where you test how well you can control Mario jump diving around to distant platforms trying to perform midair coin swipes. If you are going to overshoot you can butt stomp. While the level offers you two 1-Ups, the level is very challenging with no time to waste. Level design really shows off the nozzles. The most impressive of which is charging the turbo nozzle on the side of a rotating cube and turbo jumping off the adjacent side.
What makes these levels so great is that they consist mainly of platform that are in essence timed. Whether it is the sand blocks that dwindle away, the red & blue mats that flip over, or the rectangular blocks that are in constant rotation, everything is requiring speediness to overcome.
ON THE BLUE COINS:
The blue coins are so significant a focus in the game they deserve their own separate write-up. The blue coins give you more places in the stage to reach and explore (the latter shows off how advanced the camera system is - to do this with a mediocre camera like Maximo's on PS2 would be horrendous). Hearing that steel pan make that plunking sfx when you touch one is immensely satisfying. Whenever I read about someone bad mouthing blue coins they never go into any detail about them. All blue coins are not equal. The ones where you have to race to get a blue coin before it disappears are much more pleasurable to get than the exploration ones. Here is a list with a ranking:
BEST! Blue coins for removing X or triangle graffiti - Timed coin dispense
2nd BEST! Defeat wildlife (blue birds) - chase/hunter model
3rd BEST! Blue coins floating in plain site easily reachable, caged or those that are placed in hard-to-get areas
Blue coins for removing M graffiti - Regular coin dispense
Blue coins reward for helping (talking to people after cleaning them)
Blue coins found in nooks & crannies
WORST! Blue coins activated by some invisible design (spray to uncover coin hidden in sand, wall, etc.). These devilish coins are hidden to those not privileged with lots of luck, time (you'd just about have to spray over the entire stage to find them), or being a member of the design team for Super Mario Sunshine. Hints were dropped for secret shines (i.e. spray the *blank* in Pianta Village), so why not these?
The main frustration is with episodic blue coins. These ultimately require you to scurry through a stage of every mission looking for one specific coin. So you end up not only looking for one coin, but for one mission.
If the blue coins had a better collector guide (i.e. display of blue coins collected versus total per episode) the complaints would all vanish. If all the blue coins were in clear view like in Corona Mountain the complaints would vanish. If the blue coins had a hint system the complaints would vanish. Instead Miyamoto decided to go back to Zelda NES days of discovery (outside the game help), which ultimately decreases pleasure within the game. So, the execution of blue coins was probably around 95% good and 5% bad.
Now when I beat the game a few days after launch I did not continue playing it till I got 120 shines. If getting 100% in a game felt exhausting I would naturally give up (see: Donkey Kong 64, Mischief Makers, Yoshi's Story,--geez! probably the whole 3D action adventure library for N64). I felt quite content with my experience devouring the bulk of the game in the short time I did. Looking back this was a healthy approach to this game. I did, you know, get curious about what the final reward was maybe a month or so later, looked it up, and realized I made the right decision. Why do I want to do these ocd tasks without outside help? When Super Mario 64 came out I was young and got a guidebook to 100% the game. There was no shame in it. And I suppose there really isn't any shame in reading a guidebook for Super Mario Sunshine either. If I wanted to 100% the game I still would end up satisfied with my experience because I'd have used the guidebook; the challenge to see how many I could get before needing help. No one sane got 100% in this game without outside help.
BLUE COINS ARE AN EXPANSION TO THE CHANGE THAT TOOK PLACE WITH SUPER MARIO 64: choosing sequences within sequences.
Now when I wrote the blue coins were a significant focus that doesn't mean their 100% collection is too. Collecting everything is indeed the least important aspect of the game. While games like Maximo (PS2) assert game mastery as item amassed, players should know better than to truly believe that. What blue coins inhabit the bad 5% requiring inane uncovering methods would be better suited to be removed altogether or unlock something other than shines. Game mastery is about platforming skill. That's it. Everything else should be treated as a bonus.
Unlike other games the danger of losing valuables before reaching a save point is gone as you can save right away when contacting a blue coin. This means there is less of an investment as you can both save progress easily and exit a stage immediately whenever in standstill.
While a ton of games require hours to get to the good stuff Sunshine only takes 3 shines before entering a athletic course.
What is the nature of platform games and what genre are they close to?
Jumping, bouncing, and speeding. Racing genre - F-Zero.
What is level design balance. Free-roaming peaceful hubs or athletic courses?
Level design should contain a healthy amount of the latter.
An everything2 user named Fondue wrote an excellent write up on the game's graphics (1,000 words):
I was quite surprised to see qualifiers in the previous writeups warning that the graphical standard of the game might not be up to the players' expectations. This is strange, as the graphics in Sunshine, while not always boasting a high polygon count, are consistently brilliantly realised and exhibit many innovative effects.
The most immediately noticable of these is the unlimited draw distance and depth of field effects. From any location in the (often massive and highly complex) areas, you can see all the way to the horizon with no fogging or pop-up. This long draw distance also works for small objects and details. (Best illustrated on red coin stages, where the coins can often be spotted from a vantage point on the far side of the level.) Beyond a certain point, a level of detail system kicks in to reduce the complexity of distant objects, but this is rendered completely seamless by a 'heat haze' that mildly distorts anything a certain distance from the player. Certain locations in the game (e.g. the top of the Shine Tower, the Ferris Wheel, and the Windmill) show this technology off to spectacular effect, with not only the whole of the stage visible below you, but the other areas of the game visible (and animated) on the horizon!
Another powerful and well utilised effect is the 'sludge' system. At various times in the game, areas are coated in mud, paint, lava or oil or some other viscous substance. These bodies of liquid act completely dynamically- for instance you can spray parts of it away using the FLUDD cannon, or smear it around by having objects slide or roll through it. It also conforms to gravity, sliding down walls and floating on water. Pieces of goop will actually stick to Mario as he comes into contact with it, requiring him to spin around quickly or enter water to wash it off. It is difficult to describe the sludge effect in action, you really need to see the game running at first hand (or on video) to appreciate it.
As water plays such an important role in the game mechanic, it is also represented using highly advanced graphical effects. Interestingly, water is represented using a wide range of effects working in tandem instead of a universal polygonal effect such as the sludge. Bodies of water (lakes and oceans) are represented with a glistening, undulating surface (an enhancement of the uncannily lifelike effect used in Pikmin) that reflects sunlight. Anything beneath the surface is distorted and cast in a bluish light. When Mario enters the water, he creates ripples around his body (these are not fully realised ripples that effect the whole water surface), an effect that is created by indirect rendering. Water sprayed from FLUDD uses different effects again: the water stream is a trail of particles, blurred together in a separate rendering pass. When water hits a dry surface, the particles turn to translucent circles which contract as they 'evaporate'. If you spray water onto the ground directly in front of Mario, you will see that the puddle will have his reflection in it. There are a number of other specialised effects, such as the wake Mario leaves when swimming, or the mist caused by fountains and sprinklers.
Reflections on flat surfaces are quite spectacularly used at some points in the game. On one stage there are giant tilting mirrors that can be walked on; another has a large, stagnant lake that reflects everything over it, and the Pinna Park stage has a pool below the swinging pirate ships in which they are reflected. When viewed at close range these reflections are a little pixellated, but are impressive all the same.
Another interesting effect, which ties in with the sludge, is the use of character morphing, which is primarily used on the Piantas and certain types of enemy. In addition to their precalculated animation, these characters can squash and stretch dynamically like a jelly. This adds a more lifelike appearance to the numerous aquatic themed enemies, such as jellyfish, fish, turtles and squid (known as 'bloopers').
There are a number of other small touches in the graphics that are worth noting. The shading on character models is not gradiated smoothly from light to dark- it's abruptly thresholded at a certain value on character's skin. This gives the impression that the skin is shiny with sweat. Another interesting 'post-rendering' effect is the imposition of Mario's outline which is drawn when a wall gets between Mario and the camera. These are not especially computationally expensive, but are interesting all the same.
With this brief tour of the technical visual highlights concluded, you can see that a lot of development effort had gone into creating the rendering tools to bring this Mario title to the screen. I should also mention the actual quality of the artwork, modelling and animation itself. Anyone who played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time on the N64 should have some inkling of the absolutely world-class production values that Nintendo can bring to bear on their flagship titles, and on this front Sunshine doesn't disappoint, although it will almost certainly be overshadowed by the forthcoming The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, where the visual design has been elevated to one of the core distinguishing features of the product.
There is little negative criticism that can be made regarding the lively character designs (again, as with Pikmin, seeming to draw slightly on the Moomins for inspiration, and also, in the case of the Piantas, from the Goons in the Popeye cartoon), and the picturesque, stylised environments. Some of the terrain textures on a couple of the stages, seemingly intentionally distorted to appear similar in style to Yoshi's Island, look somewhat ugly and barren, but these are a rare exception.
I would have to add that the color scheme in this game is fantastic. The main colors are green, white, blue, and beige/brown/tan. It is meticulously designed and nothing looks out-of-place.
The visual design when people are talked to is superb. There is a cinematic quality of producing a 45-degree angle when talking to someone. The text box now has the most personality of a Mario game or any other game I’ve seen. It’s my favorite text box, but it’s not exactly a text box; there are 3 blue squiggle lines holding white text that appear one right after the other – very appealing and unique compared to boring large textbox display. On the opposite side of the blue squiggles in a similar style are stylish green slashes with a white x separating the item icon from the number collected.
Clever use of contrasting the light and dark version of the same color on an object or the object color against its floor surface. The coins look so shiny. The use of yellow coins to contrast with an interspersed blue coin is very good looking. I haven’t seen coins this resplendent in a game before. The downfall of blue coin collection is that the stages become plain/barren by Mario essentially acting as the corrosive element to the environment (removing the world of its "stars").
MUSIC & SFX -more to be added-
peppy music of Mario with an island flavor.
quality non-electronic stuff: vocal "doot doot doot da doot doot" (acapella), distinct instrument (steel pan)
All of Koji Kondo's work is excellent (Delfino Plaza, Secret Course, Bianco Hills, Ricco Harbor, Gelato Beach, Staff Roll)
Game rating: 4/5
Extra: What is style?
Style Video #1
This is a style run where I utilize the most advanced camera techniques and movements possible on Delfino Plaza. The turbo nozzle is the most stylish nozzle to use in the game. By using the Y-cam I access 3D aerial movements.
Style Video #2
This is a style run with the rocket nozzle on Delfino Plaza. The whole run is not abap, and can be improved on. Looking at the video it's obvious that I could ledge grab instead of taking fall damage on one part and successfully cross the trees without falling down.
Extra: Interview Questions
1) Why was the L Trigger decreased trigger function removed on athletic courses? Was it due to that being connected to default camera movement to re-orient the camera behind Mario and problems that could occur from that?
2) What would you change with blue coins in a sequel?
3) Can you tell us more on the rejected nozzles that were cut from the game?
4) There is a soccer ball in the test level accessed via Action Replay. Was the soccer mechanics which are retained in regards to the fruit ever considered for a shine mission?
5) What ideas or things did not make the cut?
6) Why auto-rotation around structures?
7) Pinna Park's camera blue pinhole?
8) What is with the physics on the pachinko level?
**http://www.gamespot.com/articles/ninten … 0-6346454/
****http://everything2.com/user/fondue/writ … o+Sunshine