PREFACE: WHAT IS MARIO?
Mario has a specific feel. When you jump you enter a rigid aerial control scheme that locks Mario into facing one direction while 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 steady precision from contraction and expansion (crouch-> long jump, dive->flip), which enters a tightened (linear) controlled path. I prefer the look of Mario holding his legs when he flips out of a dive in Super Mario 64 than kicking his legs forward in this game; however, this change lets users better see the arch of a short vs long flip.
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 and side somersault from a standstill now, of which the latter felt a bit touchy on a few occurrences on my first playthrough when meaning to simply turn around and do a regular jump but doing a side somersault instead. Mario can charge up hills by flipping out of a dive on 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 two closely spaced columns since you can easily recover out of them; 64’s wall jump required good touch-and-go timing. He can also climb on grates. Crouching is gone. It was largely ignored in 64 (only used to enter igloo). The back flip is still in though.
While there is water everywhere swimming is kept unimportant. Swimming speed is slower than 64. The controls have been changed to favor vertical endeavors (diving & surfacing). This change is welcomed since swimming is a departure from platforming; Super Mario 64’s water segments impressed with the world design but sacrificed the action element, which wasn’t an issue in Super Mario Bros. 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, but without it, it is slightly frustrating till you figure out this mechanical quirk.
A 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 (i.e. touching lava) can’t be used to direct your movement making a lot of hurt animations a static event.
FLUDD (Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device)
-turn mechanisms (fans, tiles)
-propel Mario (leaf, boat, swing, tightrope spin)
-grow things (sand dunes, clouds) + shrink things (spring, ice cubes)
-spray island inhabitants
-launch projectiles (i.e. bottle rockets)
-fill containers (balloons, pots)
-clean up (environment, people)
-wet ground (water 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 airborne in a 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 in these spacious levels and would be perfect for an open world Mario game. The end of the water slide is never in sight, and getting off is a matter of bailing out when necessary. The linear movement of water sliding ensures that its function does not totally consume getting around a stage as if Mario was to steered like a race car. 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.
Gondola steering with the spray nozzle is a creative way of propulsion that was well-controlled. There are two things to keep track of: force, which pushes the boat in a straight line, and torque, which turns it. Shooting to the side in general will turn it. Firing short bursts of water can clue you into how the boat is going to behave without having to zoom off unintendedly into a wall or low pillar. Far more enjoyable than BOTW’s boat steering or any other non-racer videogame boat steering.
With natural water supply so abundant players don’t have to grudgingly backtrack through a stage to refuel unlike the grind for powerups in other 3D platformers (i.e. Rareware’s). Of interest is that water barrels can be butt stomped through, which fully replenishes FLUDD.
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 3D platforming? Throwing Bob-ombs from 64 was very slow, and while in other platformers that kind-of interference is not felt as much since character movement only would go from plodding to a little slower, it goes against the fast pace of Mario. And the only cool feedback was throwing em at the giant Chain-chomp, so it was pretty underwhelming. Has there been a 3D equivalent to the daring charge forward gambit rather than shooting Bowser in Super Mario Bros.? Getting to Bowser with fire flower Mario was the tough part and shooting him a rather tame way of defeating him.
No one can stop me! Having fire power in the 2D Mario games was based on the reward of reaching the final powerup evolution with the vulnerability of 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). Consequentially, the fighting space between Mario and an enemy is increased, and so is the player’s comfort zone. The only time you feel like you are fighting something resistant to 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 (~4 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. Unlike regular jumping hovering allows the player to curve/turn/rotate/3-Dimensional aerial movement. This allows the player to go around a blockage in a path (i.e. thorny vines). 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 mid-air. Neither can you apply different boosting pressures to lower Mario; you must go up.
More control over landing than a regular jump by providing additional airtime and increased maneuverability. The camera orients itself around following 2-Dimensional linear movement despite the 3D-steering input.
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 required 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. Moving around at one speed with no interruption like Sonic in the Sonic Adventure games. 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 = safer landings, which makes the platforming easier, thus 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. The game makes certain high up areas inaccessible without rocket jumping but usually places a rocket nozzle box close by. By doing so it alleviates punishing players for carrying their current nozzle, of doubling back on the map for a particular nozzles.
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 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. Earlier I mentioned a Super Mario Land similarity but it’s more likely to be a Sutte Hakkun inspiration, which would be cool to see 3Dimensionalized as Yoshi’s levels.
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. He can eat bees and large ghosts. Only Rico Harbor’s last mission requires Yoshi’s special abilities for platforming—outside of that he is essentially given the 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