Doesn't it just figure that when the Mushroom Kingdom's hero goes on vacation, someone would be around to screw it up? As soon as Mario arrives on the lush tropical Isle Delfino he's arrested for polluting the entire island. Mario, polluting? Nonsense! As it turns out, a mysterious Shadow Mario has been making a mess of the place, and it's up to the real deal to set things straight. Unfortunately, wall jumps and ground pounds aren't the best means for dealing with gobs of goo, so what's a plumber to do?
In Sunshine's case, he's to meet up with a talking water pack, pleasantly nicknamed FLUDD. The FLUDD introduced some novel gameplay concepts into the typical Mario repertoire, and was genuinely fun to use in plenty of instances. Some others, not so much -- you can only spray a certain amount of muck before it gets tiresome. Hovering, water sliding, and using the FLUDD's rocket and turbo nozzles did provide some interesting mechanics quite different than traditional Mario platforming, but some of the game's best levels actually did away with the FLUDD entirely.
Similar to the challenge stages in Galaxy, Mario Sunshine featured a handful of stages that took place in some nebulous realm outside of Isle Delfino, comprised of some legitimately frightening construction floating free in starry outer space. Despite its overall cheery aesthetic, Mario Sunshine ramped up the difficulty in quite a few places. In some cases, such as the red coin challenges, it was an artificial and frustrating challenge. In others, such as the FLUDD-less platforming stages, it was all about skill. Suddenly finding yourself without FLUDD was both scary and liberating, and the pure platforming brilliance of these levels hinted at the awesome game Mario Galaxy would turn out to be.
Mario Sunshine was always going to be a disappointment to some for failing to revolutionize the genre in the same way Mario 64 did. It had its fair share of shortcomings, but in the end, it was a great 3D platformer with some absolutely gorgeous levels, sweeping vistas, and a perfect watercolor theme that really brought Delfino to life. A New Play Control version of Mario Sunshine may well make gamers eager for more Mario give Sunshine another shot, and a few additions and tweaks could help them realize it wasn't so bad in the first place.
The most obvious and best thing to add to Mario Sunshine is a new way to control the FLUDD, a device that seems practically designed for the Wiimote. In fact, between Sunshine and Luigi's Mansion, it makes you wonder why Nintendo had these kinds of pointing devices on the brain for so long...But that's a conspiracy theory for another day.