Press on-hand at Nintendo's Space World 2001 event in Tokyo, Japan caught a glimpse of the anticipated sequel in the Mario franchise for GameCube during a brief video previewed by designer Shigeru Miyamoto. The footage officially introduced Mario Sunshine as the title of the game and highlighted 30 or so seconds of in-game footage that consisted of some big, interactive environments that would make platform junkies drool and a whole lot of trademark jumping to boot.
When it was all over was everyone present speechless and giddy? Well, not exactly -- but there's definitely promise, and as usual Nintendo is keeping the majority of the game a secret at this point. Details aren't incredibly easy to come by, but following is what we do know so far.
- Mario reborn on GameCube
- Huge, 3D worlds
- City and suburban environments displayed thus far are a break from the Mario norm
- Interactive objects and characters
- Graphic goodies including real-time lighting effects and reflections
- The plumber can jump, triple-jump, bounce off walls, run, slide and more
- Mario features a facial animation system to display emotions
- Collect Sunshine Coins
- Water gadget on Mario's back is used to spray H20 on paint that falls from the sky
- More hidden details
- A Sunshine meter performs an unknown task
- Runs at 60 frames per second
- Number of players still undetermined
- Summer 2002 release in Japan. No US date announced
At first glance, Mario Sunshine seems a cross between Super Mario 64 and Sonic Adventure with much larger environments. The character design is very reminiscent of Miyamoto's N64 Mario title in that all of the entities in the demo we saw were cute, off-the-wall, and typically bright and cheery. Mario himself is more detailed than ever, boasting a newly improved high-polygon count and detailed texturing. He also features an extensive facial animation system that displays various types of emotion, from happy to confused and even exhausted.
The mascot celebrity runs through the gargantuan 3D world with an odd gadget -- a kind of drinking bird and hose combination -- strapped to his back and shoulders. Shigeru Miyamoto recently unveiled that the pack is used to shoot H20 at paint splotches that fall from the sky and make a mess of the ground; it's up to the Italian plumber to keep his world clean.
The most recent screenshot of Mario Sunshine in action
The environment -- the one previewed, was not at all like what one might expect coming out of Super Mario 64. Instead of bright green pastures and castle backdrops, Mario manipulated what can best be described as a city and suburbia -- a setting much more fitting for a Sonic Adventure. The plumber jumped and flipped up houses to roof tops, ran through quiet roadways and down alley entrances. The size of the area seemed three or four times the standard level in Super Mario 64, and more detailed too. But not so detailed as to be shocking. Rather, some of the texture work on the background areas seemed rather primitive when compared to some other GameCube titles, and the geometry constructing some 3D objects wasn't terribly impressive.
Mario's new and improved animation in action
Above you can see Mario as he wipes sweat off of his face in the game. The animation fluidity is silky smooth and highly realistic. We suggest downloading the movie we've prevented in the preview below for a better example.
The point of the game is still secret of course, but in looking at the video repeatedly we were able to determine that Mario collects Sun Coins while traveling through the 3D world. Also, in the bottom-right corner of the screen, a water meter is meant to gauge just how much liquid Mario has left for spraying purposes.
The Rainbow Spots
Also notable, rainbow formations like the one in the screenshot above appear in various areas of Mario Sunshine. These are the spots that Mario must clean up with the use of his trusty water gadget, according to the most recent interviews with designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Sounds good to us.
Play-wise, Mario Sunshine already looks brilliant. In the snippets of spliced footage presented, the plumber can be seen jumping from left to right on walls and climbing up them with each pass. In one area he is shown kicking a ball for reasons unknown. The camera follows him around as he flips and summersaults across houses or swings onto polls. He can presumably pick up objects like crates and barrels and move them to and from and it's all done with a relative ease and speed made famous by past incarnations of the franchise.
Mario Sunshine is scheduled for release in Japan during the summer of 2002, which suggests it is much further along than Miyamoto would have us believe currently. While the footage of the under development game presented at Space World 2001 didn't serve as undeniable proof of Nintendo's genius, the truth is that much of the genius behind the title is still a mystery. But even so, the title has already shot up to take a top spot on our Most Wanted Games list.
Mario Sunshine is scheduled for release summer 2002 in Japan. It will arrive in the US this fall and in Europe in Q4.
source IGN Cube