The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

Boskeopolis Land: Let’s Code a Crappy 2D Platformer Like Millions o’ Other People on the Internet & Lose Interest & Give Up Only a Few Months In, Part LV: I Can Go with the Flow

I Can Go with the Flow

Here’s a level I’ve been working on for a while. It’s actually a level I apparently wanted so much ’twas the primary inspiration to add the rather recent “swamp” theme to this game ( well, that & my desire to use this level’s music ). This level’s main gimmick is also 1 o’ the many I ripped off from the Wario Land games, but with this game’s oxygen mechanic & the need to aim for bubbles to keep Autumn from drowning as an extra challenge.

The reason this level took so long to finish that 2 other swamp levels were finished before it was simply that I had many 2nd thoughts ’bout this level. ¿Is it truly fun or just annoying? The current mechanic doesn’t work as well with Boskeopolis Land’s Mario-style swimming as Wario Land’s, where you’re actually swimming without gravity constantly dragging you downward, rather than constantly bopping upward in water, as in this game. I also wasn’t sure if the direction the currents are going are easy ’nough to see & whether the path to the end isn’t too obscure. As a developer it’s always important to keep in mind that actually playing a map, where the camera is only showing narrow pieces o’ the map round you @ a time rather than showing the whole map in its entirety before you, is harder than navigating in a map program. While playing the level I was surprised by how much I myself got lost in the maze.

On the other hand, the level is easygoing, with no enemies in the river itself to worry ’bout. I debated adding enemies, but figured the player doesn’t have ’nough control in the currents to make that fair & figured ’twas better to err on being a bit too easy & fair being preferable to frustrating cheap deaths. As a compromise & a way to give the level mo’ variety, I added sections @ the beginning & end with the hopping frog enemies from the 1st swamp level. Anyway, this is only a 2nd-cycle level, so it shouldn’t be that hard, anyway, & I think the threat o’ drowning is ’nough. I also added a small loop o’ currents going down & up ( but ultimately still linear ) round an otherwise unpassable wall @ the top as a tiny unspoken tutorial before immediately throwing the player into the big maze. This expanded the level a bit without making it too long: if one doesn’t make any wrong turns in the main maze, it’ll take the player ’bout 20 seconds. This is ’cause the big maze isn’t all that big, which I consider a +, since a gimmick like this with the risk o’ becoming annoying should err on the side o’ not o’erstaying its welcome.

’Cause the current physics are somewhat janky, I made the time & gem scores somewhat lenient. The time score offers plenty o’ time so long as you don’t take any wrong turns @ all, which is a fair challenge in itself. While the gem score is 1 o’ the highest score requirements in the game so far, @ 40,000₧, there are gems all ’long the current tunnels ( which I just now realized has the advantage o’ showing players paths they’d already taken ). I avoided having hidden tunnels in walls with gems & kept collectibles, like the collectible card, to some branching paths near the bottom middle o’ the level, which are tricky to get to, or in side cliffs in the out-o’-water sections, as expecting players to just ram gainst every wall while struggling thru currents would just be annoying, neither challenging nor fun.

As an arguably irrelevant addendum, to help me create the o’erworld events shown when beating this level ( as well as the previous level’s event, so the level isn’t just floating on water & inaccessible ), since ’twas getting tedious @ this point, I crapped together a quick JavaScript script to generate the event files from specially made Tiled map files. This will be specially useful, since I plan to heavily redesign the o’erworld map ( which means all o’ the events I’ve already made will have to be remade ), not the least ’cause I’ve thought o’ yet ’nother new theme I may add…

This video almost kept in a serious graphical error, like almost all my previous videos, in which 1 o’ the currents was missing most o’ the moving current tile graphics. Howe’er, this was so jarring & this video was relatively quick to record that this time I went thru the whole trouble o’ rerecording & reuploading to YouTube ( yes, it took that long to find, e’en tho I watched the video before uploading ). Howe’er, there is still ’nother bug shown in the video that I still haven’t fixed: you can clearly see the toad enemies hop thru the player from ’neath, hurting them rather than getting bonked. I think this only happens during a high hop, caused presumably by them moving so quickly upward that they pass the bonk collision threshold within a single frame, causing the player to get hurt ’stead.

Learn mo’ ’bout Boskeopolis Land @ https://www.boskeopolis-land.com/.

Read this code as tortuous as this level’s currents.

Posted in Boskeopolis Land, Programming

Sucky Stages: “Poisonous Pipeline” & “Low-G Labyrinth” ( from Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble )

Poisonous Pipeline

View an interactive map courtesy o’ DKC Atlas

Not only is this the worst level in the game, it’s the worst level in the whole trilogy — & the bitterest sting is that this is the final level o’ the main game. While the original DKC gave you some o’ the trickiest platform jumps that game had to offer & DKC2 offered the ultimate challenge for Squawks, ¿what does this game offer? Water that reverses your controls when you’re in it. This is neither interesting, nor challenging, making this a breather level — & the last level is perhaps the worst level to have as a breather level. The hardest part o’ this gimmick is that jumping out o’ water is trickier ’cause you have to adjust what direction you’re holding right after leaving water.

& yes, just to make it e’en easier, they give you Enguarde, as they do for just ’bout every water level, for ⅓ the level if you find the 1st bonus or the Enguarde barrel just after the 1st bonus, allowing you to just plow thru nearly everything. ¿Why is a level with the slightest difference from a world-3 level @ the end o’ the game?

As for the level layout, it’s just a winding maze full o’ the same Kocos & Lurchins you dodged in every water level. The developers didn’t e’en try to add variety to their arrangements: get ready to weave thru Lurchins going up & down in alternating directions & dodge Kocos going right & left ’tween 2 Lurchins ’bove & below 4 or 5 times — but the last time they totally switch things up & add a 2nd Koco. Shit.

The bonus barrels aren’t e’en well-hidden: they’re both just @ the end o’ halls that telegraph you to make a turn & the “puzzle” is to ignore those signs & not turn yet. But if you’re looking for bonuses, obviously you’re going to search every path, ¿so why would you not explore the extent o’ every hall?

The challenges themselves are middleground: you just defeat all the enemies & collect all the ornaments. They’re far from new challenges @ this point o’ the game, but they do require a bit mo’ precision with the reversed controls than the main level.

As for the hero-coin-holding Koin, he’s just to the left o’ a fork just before the end & the way to defeat them is to just bounce the barrel off the wall right next to him.

The only positive things I can say ’bout this level is that it a’least tries to hide how linear it is by making it twist around space like a snake & that I like the color purple. Some people don’t like the gloomy visuals & music, but I don’t know why they single out DKC3 for this, when the original DKC had just-as-barren aesthetics, specially in its last world. I think it fits the mood o’ the end o’ the game fine as well as this game’s nature vs. technology theme; I just wish its gameplay fit as well.

Low-G Labyrinth

View an interactive map courtesy o’ DKC Atlas

After reversing controls underwater, making your character slow & have high jumps is the next lamest gimmick in this game, made e’en mo’ laughable by the way they just ditch the gimmick halfway thru the level so you can have yet ’nother Quawks section where you dodge moving Zinger formations. & slowly grab barrels & try hitting Zingers with them, which is just a worse version o’ being able to just spit nuts @ them with the superior Squawks — not the least o’ which since the Kongs can already throw barrels themselves, making Quawks feel e’en mo’ redundant. You know “Poisonous Pipeline” & Quawks suck when they make me hate purple things. The slightest difference they give to this o’erused mechnaic is that you move mo’ slowly, which is s’posed to be harder, but just feels less fun. You should ne’er create difficulty by handicapping the player; it’s cheap & not fun.

Some parts o’ this level are cheap, too. The vertical sections oft lead to blind hits if you’re playing as Kiddy or not using Dixie’s helicopter twirl ’cause the camera was clearly not programmed with downward movement in mind, oft leaving you @ the bottom o’ the screen with li’l space to see Zingers coming as you slowly drift down vertical shafts.

& getting past the 2 red Zingers after the midway point is ridiculous: the space is so small that your character’s graphics absolutely cannot fit ’tween it; you have to rely on you & the Zingers’ generous hit boxes to just squeeze thru — which means you have to know Squawks & the Zingers’ inner hit box, despite not being able to see them ( ’cause they don’t line up with their graphics ). It’s good game design to make your character & enemies’s hurt hit boxes smaller than their graphics to leave leeway for the player; but that’s s’posed to be leeway; it is a sin — a no-Reeces-ghost ( since Twinkies are gross ) offense — to make players play based on this invisible hit box. The player should always be able to squeeze their whole graphic thru a danger, not just the smaller invisible hit box.

In this level’s defense, it does try to implement meaningful branching in the latter half o’ the level. The bonus positions are somewhat clever, too: 1 challenges you to go back after getting Squawks to go up the suspicious banana trail ’bove the line o’ Zingers, which you couldn’t reach before, while the other is in a fork hidden under a Zinger, rather than just out in the open like in “Poisonous Pipeline”.

Tho the bonus challenges themselves are lame: yet ’nother bonus wherein you destroy a bunch o’ Zingers with Squawks & a bonus where you have to collect ornaments without any impediments — it’s just a rectangular room full o’ ornaments. Yeah, you move mo’ slowly, but you still have plenty o’ time to spare. This is halfway thru the game & yet this feels like the easiest bonus in the game.

On the other hand, there’s a few alcoves that serve li’l purpose, such as an alcove with bananas that are not worth dodging the Zingers to get or the invincibility barrel on the far top-left. You might think the latter sounds useful, but you have to do some rather precise maneuvers — either getting the steel keg o’er the gap with the 2 moving Zingers to throw it @ the line o’ Zingers in your way to the left, & still probably have to jump o’er the last 1, since your character accelerates so slowly that the barrel will despawn before you get to that last Zingers, or just jump o’er the 3 Zingers. & ’cause you move so slowly, the invincibility will run off before you get to the actually challenging part @ the end with the red Zingers clumped together. You’d be better off not bothering.

Posted in Sucky Stages, Video Games

FINALLY: Moderate Liberals Known for Pragmatism Slightly Better than Utter Failures

Stormy fall ~

@ the tree’s feet

’mong the mud

& dog droppings

orange leaves.

Treue schwören, keine Flagge,

Gottnation, gottverdammt;

der Teufel tanzt mit den Verachteten,

und wie das Feuer uns warm hält.

—Septuplum ultio dabitur de Cain de Lamech vero septuagies septies…

It’s that time o’ the year. ¿Will the Democrats after years o’ humiliating failure finally snatch victory from the US’s 2nd least competent president1? Stay tuned to find out… Or, you know, just pay attention to real news.

For instance, votes have already been counted in the tiny community o’ Dixville Notch, NH — all 5 votes ( that’s popular votes, not electoral votes ) for Sleepy Joe, which is proof that people are taking seriously the need to exorcise the Hairpiece, as the kind o’ people hipster ’nough to count votes @ 12:00 AM are the kind o’ people mo’ likely to vote for a 3rd party, like 1 o’ the 4 alternate Republican parties I saw on my primary ballot last August.

As a laugh, I decided to watch the 1st the presidential debate after The Guardian alerted me to how so-bad-it’s-good ’twas, &, yeah, ’twas bizarre. I don’t know what I like best: journalist whose boring white name I recognize, but I know nothing ’bout, trying & failing to take some control as moderator as Hairpiece rambles & Sleepy Joe grumbles; Sleepy Joe’s straight not giving a shit attitude, which is refreshing from the typical false sincerity o’ Democrats; or Hairpiece seeming to care mo’ ’bout getting sweet jabs on Sleepy Joe than whether or not these jabs were actually politically potent, such as when he claimed that Sleepy Joe would lose the “far-left” for claiming he didn’t support “socialist” health care ( the kind o’ nationalized health care that pretty much all civilized countries have & has led e’en poor countries like Cuba to have better health care than the US ), which goes gainst Hairpiece’s attempt to portray Sleepy Joe as a far-left antifa Soros whate’er. I mean, I do that, but I’m a satirist, not a president. Maybe Hairpiece should be debating Colbert ’stead.

Actually, I think my favorite part was when Hairpiece claimed that he would make insulin as cheap as water thru magical trade agreements ( which from what vague info he gave, sounded like a scheme to get cheaper-made medicine from seedier places by butchering health regulations… which would not make people healthier ), which e’en the moderator couldn’t stop laughing @. Nobody asked the obvious question: ¿why hadn’t Hairpiece enacted this brilliant plan o’ his in the 4 years he had?

It always amazes me when I watch debates & see how li’l substance is ’hind either candidates arguments — high school students in debate class could do better. I’m sitting here thinking ’bout all the ways e’en someone as simple as I could deconstruct Hairpiece’s complaint ’bout “socialist” health care — ¿what is his definition o’ “socialist”? If it is government control or use o’ government taxes, ¿how is that different from the use o’ tax $ to fund police, which is ironically something that only the “far-left” supports? — or thinking ’bout all the statistics that show the US’s inferior health care performance compared to e’en poor countries like Cuba, including life expectancy, infant mortality, & death by cancer. Hell, I myself could make a better shot gainst the Democrats than Hairpiece by pointing out how lucrative government-funded health care is for private insurance companies, who get their money either way ( & lobbied for it, from both the Republicans, who were the ones who actually created Obamacare ). Sleepy Joe just babbles on some nonsense ’bout how Obamacare on 1 hand barely changed anything — it s’posedly just gives health care to people already eligible for medicaid ( which he accidentally called “medicare” once ), ’cept those whose governors tell them, “fuck you, you can’t have it, either” — but on the other s’posedly does a lot mo’ than just regular medicaid for helping people get insurance ( ’cept for the people in red states, who would still be fucked o’er ). Meanwhile, I’m just sitting here wondering why I should care so much ’bout keeping my private insurance, anyway — ¿Who cares ’bout their particular insurance provider? & indeed, I looked it up & found out that it’s not just the “far-left” who prefer “socialist” health care, but the majority o’ Americans, as well, making the whole debate subject a farce. So we have a ludicrous situation where both candidates are arguing o’er whether 1 o’ them is a socialist when the majority’s saying, “Actually, we want a socialist, please”.

Then ’gain, these debates are aimed @ the same type o’ people who voted for the rambling Hairpiece, anyway, so maybe research & critical thinking would be less palatable than Sleepy Joe dodging questions on expanding the supreme court ( rather than point out all the ways Republicans have been cheaply sabotaging Democrats from appointing judges when Obama was president, like a competent candidate, or be so audacious as to point out that having judges be appointed for life rather than elected for limited terms is stupid & antidemocratic ) or eliminating filibuster ( rather than, ’gain, pointing out that everyone knows it’s a stupid loophole & should have been eliminated decades ago ) by urging people watching to vote, which, presumable they’re going to do if they’re wasting their time watching a debate.

Still, with how nonchalant & passive-aggressive the debate is, it’s hard not to see it as as the elites sober-minded ’nough to know that the US’s government is a joke & now everyone has been let in on it by & are just going thru the motions in the waning years before the country is devoured by rioters & brownshirts.

As a refresher to moderate liberal Redditors fantasizing ’bout things the Democrats definitely won’t do if they win, such as prosecuting Hairpiece or fixing the mess that is the US’s electoral system, I checked in on my favorite faux-rural leftist hipsters @ Naked Capitalism & saw that Yves Smith is still somewhat o’ a crank. For instance, in her article, “One Trump Voter Explains Why Trump Will Win”, which quotes some anonymous hipster Trump voter named Zelda, she links to an o’erly-long thinkpiece that points out the shocking revelation that Democrats like Clinton ( who is still enemy #1 o’ hipster leftists, who is, as Eric Idle would say, an uppity rich bitch, & a’least she isn’t male, so fuck you all so very much ) are rich airheads who only exploit the troubles o’ minorities for their get-rich schemes & then later in her own article calls medicine “a medieval art”, as opposed to random online person’s thinkpieces, which are as hard a science as natural sciences.

FiveThirtyEight has frozen their election forecasts & are currently predicting that Sleepy Joe has a 9/10 chance of o’erthrowing Hairpiece & Democrats have a 3/4 chance o’ retaking the Senate. Howe’er, they were wrong in 2016, so we can ignore what they say & make armchair theories ’bout the psychology o’ the “average American” that I’ve ne’er met, ’cause I only know rich white people like me.

But in FiveThirtyEight’s defense, they do now have cute fox cartoons on their site, so that should absolve them o’ their sins o’ being know-it-alls who are sometimes wrong.

Daily Kos has an interesting spreadsheet listing important referendums and measures on the local state level, including an attempt by Republicans to repeal Colorado’s inclusion in the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which, if ’nough states sign up to it, would make presidential elections based on popular vote ( genuine democracy ) rather than the silly electoral college the US’s drunk slave-holding founding fathers conjured up, — since it’s already well established that Republicans are opposed to democracy — as well as many other electoral reform measures. If there is 1 good thing from the great 2016 mistake it’s that mo’ normies are realizing how botched the US electoral system is & starting to actually reconsider it & consider ways to fix it, rather than just obsessing o’er whether candidates are civil ’nough or whether they come from “Starbucks” or “Chick-fil-a” America, or whate’er bullshit. This Cookie Monster man named Stephen Wolf e’en says that there’s a possibility the National Popular Vote could pass by 2024, which genuinely excites my cold, stony heart.

Hilariously, there is a website called “American Interregnum” that provides a table listing various social media’s policies regarding posts calling election results early. Only the US would form brands round the US’s crumbling electoral system.

The /r/politics ne’er mind, I somehow ended up on the /r/neoliberal subreddit, — don’t know why I would e’er want to go there — which I mentioned earlier in this very post already planning for what the Democrats would s’posedly do when they won ( which they most definitely would not do ) are now in despair mode ’cause they feel the polls were off ’gain, tho I feel like that’s just ’cause it’s not a blowout as they wanted, e’en tho that’s not what the polls promised. Anyway, I don’t see how anyone could have any idea o’ whose on top yet, considering how partial the results we have now seem to be. I particularly love the story 1 person told o’ smacking chicken nuggets their mother made for them out o’ their mother’s hand ’cause o’ how stressed they are. Good job making us look like adult-children, buddy. ¡Ha! ¡Ha! ¡I always knew neoliberals were secretly 30-year-ol’s still mooching off their mommies’ chicken nuggets! I’m glad that 1 person yelled @ them to apologize to their mother, tho.

Everyone knows it’s not o’er till Daily Kos starts despairing, & they’re still as calm as e’er.

Thanks to stumbling into the wrong neighborhood o’ /r/neoliberal, I did find this exciting livestream o’ 2 boring white people noodling o’er FiveThirtyEight’s stats all day. I thought neoliberals liked to pretend they were smart ’nough to read.

There’s a few fun electoral hijinx stories, like UPSP ignoring federal court orders to actually count all votes, a poll manager being late to work ’cause they just needed a few hours o’ extra sleep, & Facebook sabotaging liberals’ ability to get noticed. The fact that Facebook’s spokesman’s last name is literally Bourgeois just makes it all the funnier.

¡Ha! ¡Ha! ¡Look @ these Fox News polls showing what socialist atheists the majority o’ Americans are! I can’t wait for Republicans to still win the election, tho, ’cause polls don’t matter, since the US isn’t a democracy.

Everyone’s dour, but I don’t think that’s ’cause they necessary assume Sleepy Joe’s going to lose but just ’cause they for some reason expected a landslide & were hoping that all the Americans in the middle wilderness would come to their senses on Hairpiece. Considering the shitshow W. Bush was, I take for granted that Republicans are incapable o’ coming to their senses & that this was wishful thinking for people in the blue bubble. I have to say tho that I am a bit salty toward people who say things like “I can’t believe so many Americans are this racist, fascist” ( ¿Why didn’t Hairpiece’s original win convince them? ¿Were his sentiments subtle then? ). I’ve been aware o’ this before Hairpiece, but you don’t see me begging for pity.

Washington D.C. elects to turn themselves into the Mushroom Kingdom by legalizing hallucinogenic shrooms. We now have objective proof that the US’s politicos are all on shrooms.

The New York Times embarrassed themselves as they always do by claiming that declaring the winner o’ the election “falls to the news media” ( which only includes rich, connected papers like them, not newbie websites ) to determine election results.

Politico “news”: “We don’t like Hairpiece voters”. I can think o’ a few reasons that’s not exactly news, specially the fact that everyone knew this long before this election.

A great snapshot o’ both Hairpiece’s diehard fanatics’ disdain for e’en the weak form o’ democracy that the US has & their strategical brilliance: they chant “Stop the Vote” in front o’ a vote-counting building e’en tho voting has already stopped — they’re counting now — & @ the current count Sleepy Joe is ’head.

( Laughs ). Thank you for this, Zimbabwe: United States Risks Sanctions From Zimbabwe If Elections Are Not Free And Fair. Obviously, this isn’t truly important, politically, but it is a nice “Fuck You” jab.

I’m also amused @ this comment chain o’ Canadians expressing concerns o’ US people immigrating to Canada & the pros & cons.

( Laughs ). Vanity Fair: “Donald Trump, Colossal Asshole, Says Doctors Get Extra Cash If People Die of COVID-19”. I think you may be editorializing just a tiny bit in that headline, Mr. Lamestream Media. ’Sides, it’s needlessly wordy: “Colossal Asshole” is absolutely redundant before “Says Doctors Get Extra Cash If People Die of COVID-19”.

That article led me to a Twitter stream ( Fun fact: I don’t think I’ve read a single thing Hairpiece — or any politican — has said on Twitter for the entire 4 years o’ his presidency, & I can’t say I missed out much ) that I’d be better off not reading, & I found this bizarre tweet in response to some irrelevant bitching gainst General Motors that Hairpiece was doing for unknown reasons that I can’t tell if it’s ironic or genuine:

It’s too bad Hairpiece’s hands weren’t big & strong ’nough to win this election. ( Hopefully tomorrow doesn’t prove me as wrong on that as I was mo’ than 5 years ago. If that happens, this paragraph may have to mysteriously disappear like Trotsky did from Stalin’s selfies ).

Ne’er mind: I just found out he outright says he loves Hairpiece “*Sometimes sarcastically*” ( ¿What do asterisks mean in this context? This foreign Twitter culture is strange to someone as backward as me, who still thinks o’ the internet as the place for Geocities-like fan sites ’bout Super Mario 64, where I can learn such intriguing facts as “friendly Bob-ombs” & “70 stars to beat game, or come back to levels for all 120 stars” ).

I must admit, it’s surreal to see a milquetoast left-centrist like Paul Krugman echo the very same “extreme” critiques o’ the US electoral system & warnings ( well, in my case jokes ) ’bout the US becoming a failed state I’ve been making for years. & then we have milquetoast motherfuckers like Bloomberg offered this comprehensive deconstruction o’ all the problems o’ the US electoral system, which includes admitting that the US is the least democratic o’ all countries that aren’t blatantly nondemocratic — tho I would insist that it’s still inaccurate to call the US a democracy for both defacto & historical reasons ( the US was ne’er founded on democracy &, in fact, many o’ its most important designers, like James Madison, were very hostile to democracy, as anyone will learn from The Federalist Papers ).

I must say this election has completely fucked up my yearly tradition — that’s a far greater crime than COVID or the security dangers o’ vote-counters threatened by wingnuts ( ¿why does nobody use this term anymo’? It’s a beautiful word ). What was usually a recap o’ news sources commenting on a finished election has devolved into a muddled stream-o’-consciousness collage o’ random bullshit I found on Reddit. ¿Does it make sense to try talking ’bout how Daily Kos has reacted to Sleepy Joe’s victory when they’ve been talking ’bout it for days?

Well, fuck you, I’m going to do so, anyway. Here they are, showing off Sleepy Joe & Rando VP in their sinister anarchist black face masks, presumably ready to smash every small business window in the universe & cut socialist spending on police like the rabid laissez-faire-lovers they are.

I love this line, by the way:

There are still potential state wins on the table, but he does not need them.

Fuck you, Georgia & Arizona — Get outta here. Nobody needs you anymo’.

( O, shit, we still have 2 senate elections in George — ¡No, wait, come back! ).

I thought everyone’s favorite economist troll, Noah Smith, stopped updating his blog, but then I found out half a year ago he wrote an article ’bout keeping rabbits as pets. It is probably the only article he’s written that I 100% agree with — I am radically pro-rabbit, which is why I voted for Bugs Bunny for president this year, actually, which is why I feel absolutely no sympathy for Hairpiece & his whining o’ so-called sabotage. Bugs was the true victim here.

Lord Keynes, who I also haven’t been reading for years, still makes blog posts every blue moon, but he’s been quiet on any topic regarding Hairpiece or the alt-right — or alt-left, I guess — for the past few years, presumably after Hairpiece’s major tax cuts completely shattered any delusions o’ him being a Keynesian socialist whate’er. I can’t fault this decision o’ his.

Speaking o’ Reddit, I couldn’t get it to load to see what those idiots say, so I’m just going to assume Hairpiece shut it down in his beginning bid to silence all opposition. ¡Soon obscure blogs like mine will be the only 1s left & we will get our chance to shine!

The Nation responded with a seemingly backward schmaltzy article ’bout how, despite Sleepy Joe being a nothing centrist, they should still be appreciated for their “decency” ’cause he was 1 o’ the few people in the world to have family members who have died. ( I’ve had family members die, too, & no sane person would call me decent. ) I thought The Nation was a bit less coddling to centrists. On the other hand, The Intercept had no problem gleefully pointing out all the ways moderate Democrats were hypocritically attacking their base, not ’cause their ideas are bad ( like maybe some o’ Hairpiece’s mo’-rabid fanbase’s racism, sexism, etc. ), but ’cause it might make Democrats look bad. No wonder there are still many who prefer voting Republican: apparently Republicans still allow their voters to have independent ideas & try to attune their policies to their voters’ whims, rather than the opposite, trying to tell voters what they should believe & say. It’s shocking voters are so ambivalent toward a party that treats them as if they should be their servants, not the other way round.

’Course, I say that moderate liberals are only slightly better than utter failures, since as almost every major newspaper has been admitting ( thanks to Hairpiece breaking the moral horizon so much that e’en mainstream media can no longer delude themselves with the ol’ “both sides” bullshit ), the fact that Hairpiece received mo’ votes than he received last election & that this election was so close is still a deep embarrassment. Also, the Senate will probably stay red, — those fucking commie reds — so I look forward to 4 years where nothing happens & the embittered poor turn back to the right wing for ’nother zany heiler. Apparently the real-life version o’ Thursday O’Beefe is a top contender for 2024.

CounterPunch, a news site I have definitely not read in years, came out with an article called “Why Capitalism Was Destined to Come Out on Top in the 2020 Election”. The answer is obviously: “’Cause Capitalism Always Comes Out on Top”. This is as opposed to the 2016 election, when communism was so close to sweeping up the US & giving us all sweet Lenin-brand Po’ Boy hats. This article is legit so generic & transparently phoned-in that it could be applied to just ’bout every election. ¿Why e’en bother writing a new article? If anything, this election could’ve threatened to pull us much farther backward, which should a’least alarm or excite e’en noncompromising communists.

The only interesting thing they note is @ the end:

But those signs also reveal a huge remaining problem: disorganization on the left.

The problem is that CounterPunch doesn’t realize the obvious reason why: intellectual people tend to try avoiding conformity. CounterPunch should understand this, as their founder was praised for s’posedly being gainst the grain, which included his controversial climate-change denialism. The idea that everyone sympathetic to the left will zombie-like become urban labor unionists with the same fervor as Republicans fall into step is delusional.

Democracy Now! makes fun o’ spoiled white people for blaming Latin Americans for not stepping in line to the Democrats, when those honkeys are too busy playing The Last of Us to get off their ass & vote themselves, failing to realize that many Latin Americans are whitebread motherfuckers themselves, like a lot o’ Florida Cubans who couldn’t give a fuck ’bout Mexicans, they just want their tax cuts, bro.

FiveThirtyEight argues that the election was not as close as people thought ’twas this whole time, thanks to making judgments before all the votes were counted ( which is what we’re still doing now, as Sleepy Joe’s victory is still technically a projection ). Honestly, I agree with a lot o’ people, including Naked Capitalism, who expressed skepticism toward a huge landslide. Most pundits, many o’ whom still want to cling to the “both sides” idea, e’en if it’s been debunked, just wanted to believe that most US citizens weren’t low ’nough to support the kind o’ person who outright expressed tyrannical aspirations, a delusion that could be fed only by only associating with their kind o’ enlightened upper-class kind.

Anyway, let us end this week-long voyage thru the strange waters o’ the US’s 300-year-ol’ election system with these words o’ wisdom from our ex-president:

These might be as good as such words o’ wisdom as “IT’S DANGEROUS TO GO ALONE”, “IF ALL ELSE FAILS USE FIRE”, & “I FEEL ASLEEP!!”.

&, truly, ¿didn’t we all win this election, by a lot, metaphorically?

Well, ’cept Republicans — but those fuckers wouldn’t be reading this now, so fuck them. We can whisper secrets ’hind their backs & there’s nothing they can do ’bout it.

Posted in Politics

Mumbling ’bout Luigi’s Mansion 3

Luigi’s Mansion 3 is an ol’ familiar sweep o’ the rug under your feet. During my 1st 8 or so hours playing it I felt that this game melded the good elements from Dark Moon, such as the secret gems & the rainbow dark-light flashlight that reveals missing furniture, with fixing some o’ the complaints people had gainst Dark Moon, such as the mission system & E. Gadd constantly yapping @ you1, & adds extra mechanics, like the plunger shot & Gooigi2. I began to think that Luigi’s Mansion 3 did as I predicted it could in my comparison o’ the original vs. Dark Moon: easily besting its predecessors by doing the “1 big mansion, lots o’ freedom & exploration” thing. It does do that for the basement & the 1st 2 floors, before you enable the elevator, as these floors connect to each other naturally with stairs, creating a Metroidvania-like up & down that was not straightforward, like the 1st game did. But after that I noticed that the game devolved into simply going from floor to floor, with each floor being its own separate level, like Dark Moon’s separate mansions.

I should add that some o’ these “floors” have multiple floors themselves, which makes no sense, & is inconsistent with how floors 1 & 2 work. If you look @ the map & select floors 1 & 2 on the left, they will show floor 1 & 2 respectively selected on the right & selecting either o’ those right options will select the corresponding option on the left. This is the only time selecting a left option will have you default to the 2nd floor on the right. But if you select, say, floor 7, its right options will be 1, 2, & 3, & selecting any o’ these right options won’t change the left option. So, the right options represent the #’d floors o’ the hotel as a whole on floors 1 & 2, but represent subfloors on any other floor. I can only dream o’ what this game would be like if all o’ the floors connected to each other in the complex way that floors B1 to 2 do, with the elevator buttons as just pieces to that puzzle.

Thus, this game is a return to form to the original game & simply bullshits & pretends it isn’t divided into distinct linear sections, when they most certainly are. That said, Luigi’s Mansion 3 is free from the Super Mario Sunshine Syndrome bullshit o’ having to play thru the same areas in multiple missions just to find all the gems, as in Dark Moon, while having much better variety than both the original & Dark Moon. Still, it would be nice to finally see a Luigi’s Mansion game that was actually nonlinear.

I’m mixed on how the level themes are laid out. As you go up the hotel, floors begin to feel less like hotel floors & mo’ like other places, like a floor that’s a pirate cove, a garden, a desert tomb, & a medieval castle. Tho I defended Dark Moon for mixing its o’erall mansion theme with other themes, such as nature, desert tombs, & snow as being mo’ interesting than the original just sticking with a basic mansion, that game did a better job o’ keeping those levels grounded as mansions, with non-mansion elements feeling like exceptions. Floors like “The Spectral Catch” & specially “Tomb Suites” don’t feel much like they belong in a hotel @ all & feel mo’ like a ’scuse to have standard video game settings rather than be a hotel. But a’least this game has some mo’ exotic themes. While “Tomb Suites” is just a generic desert tomb, which had already been done in Dark Moon, & “Garden Suites”’s garden theme is hardly rare ( & was also done in Dark Moon ), the castle, pirate, disco club, museum, & shop themes feel a bit mo’ refreshing than Dark Moon’s mo’ standard themes; & I like how the game gradually makes floors mo’ exotic as you reach the middle-to-top floors, & then gradually goes back to normal as you reach the top, with the final floor being a normal hotel floor ’gain, as if the middle floors are a drug sequence that Luigi is not sure he truly experienced.

Pictured: a “hotel floor”.

’Nother problem is that this game falls into Super Mario Odyssey Syndrome with some levels — most notably, “The Dance Hall” & “Unnatural History Museum” — way too short & underdeveloped. I wish they’d spent less time copying Dark Moon & other desert levels in bloating out “Tomb Suites” with trite Indiana Jones traps & spent mo’ time developing mo’ deserving levels with mo’ interesting, new themes like “The Dance Hall”. But then ’gain, like Super Mario Odyssey, it says something good ’bout this game’s levels that the main complaint one might have is them being too underdeveloped in a medium where developers try to bloat everything out as much as possible. & most games would probably wish they could have “Tomb Suites” as their worst level.

Still, this game had some interesting levels that did a better job o’ balancing this game’s o’erarching theme with creating a new theme that felt fresh, such as the “Fitness Center” with puzzles ranging from running on a treadmill to reveal items ( a subtle reference to the original Luigi’s Mansion ) to folding & unfolding yoga mats to match posters on the walls or “Twisted Suites”, with its gimmick o’ mixing up rooms so that doors warp you to a completely different room on the floor & rooms that seem to make a puzzle out o’ every magician cliché, from chained-up water tanks to optical illusion mirrors to rotated floors.

& while its mechanical/sewer theme is far from the most original theme, “Boilerworks” uses this theme to create clever puzzles involving you maneuvering Luigi round in an inflatable duck to avoid hitting spikes while Gooigi ’bove has to manipulate switches to open Luigi’s path without getting hit with the water all o’er the place, while also fitting perfectly its place in the 2nd basement floor. Some people may not like the return trip & consider it to be padding, but you don’t redo much o’ the floor on the return trip & I like the way the developers foreshadow this return with inaccessible paths ’hind brick walls. I only wish they hadn’t made the reason for the return trip as arbitrary as E. Gadd randomly sending a Toad there ’lone.

& then there’s “Paranormal Productions”, with its clever o’erarching puzzle involving warp TVs to movie sets parodying movies like The Ring or cheesy spider monster movies. Granted, much o’ the puzzle is technically fetch-questing; but the area is small ’nough that you don’t have to do too much travelling, & the game doesn’t spell out exactly what you need @ each part o’ the sequence like many fetch quests.

I’ve read complaints that the game starts boring with typical hotel floors round the beginning, but I like how the game warms you up to exploring hotel rooms before getting exotic. Also, I like how the basement & 1st & 2nd floors connect to each other, making them feel some cohesion that all the other floors lack.

1 subtle thing Luigi’s Mansion 3 has that its predecessors don’t is the sheer amount o’ destruction you can cause to all property you see. Not only can you suck up all papers or clothing you find, as in all games, but can also use the plunger shot to fling & break all manner o’ garbage cans, shelves, & potted plants. A particular highlight is on the 7th floor when you can grab a buzzsaw & shred thru everything: beds, couches, chests o’ drawers. It’s as if the Halloween spirit made the developers not only want Luigi to be a ghostbuster, but also a normal-sized Godzilla as well ( speaking o’ which: you can also destroy a shrunken set o’ buildings while fighting a ghost disguised as Godzilla ). Honestly, the funnest part o’ the game is just exploring the variety o’ environments & destroying everything you see for money, just like any good entrepreneur does.

Still, while the Godzilla element was fun, the actual ghostbusting is less so: combat has not been made any less arbitrary, only now it’s streamlined ’nough that it gets o’er with faster — sort o’ a less extreme version o’ Ocarina of Time’s “press Z & let the game sword fight for you”. For instance, Luigi can swing ghosts back & forth as he is sucking them in, allowing you to hit other ghosts & prevent them from taking cheap shots from ’hind you, while also whittling down their HP before sucking them up, while also allowing you to break e’en mo’ shit. It’s not meaningful, mechanics-wise, but it is just a li’l mo’ fun. 1 problem this game has that the previous entries didn’t is that the game ne’er tells you that you have to press the A button right as you slam the ghost onto the ground to go fast ’nough to get mo’ slams & cut down on cycles, rather than mashing the A button, as one would intuitively guess, which is actually the least optimal way to handle slamming.

1 element that has become worse is the flashlight, which for some reason has piss-poor hit detection. The most blatant example I can give is when I had my light covering the inside o’ a barrel full o’ rats, flashed, & yet 1 rat somehow didn’t get killed, e’en tho there was nowhere in the barrel the light could have missed. Many bat $ have been lost repeatedly flashing straight up @ bats, only for the bats to not react @ all, e’en if the flashlight beam was right in their face. It’s light for fuck’s sake: it spreads. If the light is anywhere near a bat or rat it should hit it; ’stead trying to flash up @ a bat is like jabbing a thin needle up & trying to pierce one with it — which is to say, nothing like how light works in any sane realm. ’Nother problem, tho 1 that was in the 1st 2 games, is that when you aim your flashlight & then start moving, Luigi automatically moves his flashlight back down for no reason, forcing the player to use alternate buttons for using the flashlight to avoid holding the controller in a weird way to flash upward. Luckily, you can suck up enemies to collect their money, like in the original Luigi’s Mansion. It’s just unfortunate that I ne’er bothered to check since I just assumed the game worked the way Dark Moon.

The dark light, howe’er, has been improved, not only ’cause it’s used a bit mo’ sparingly than in Dark Moon, but also ’cause it no longer o’erheats, which was a mechanic that ne’er added anything to Dark Moon. They also added new enemies that are possessed garbage bins & treasure chests that are defeated with the dark light.

But what makes these nitpicks less o’ a problem in this game is that this game focuses a lot less on ghostbusting than previous games, emphasizing puzzle-solving e’en mo’ than Dark Moon. Since the ghost-catching mechanic was ne’er the most interesting element o’ the series, I consider this an improvement. Unlike Dark Moon & specially the original, which could sometimes feel monotonous with making you catch the same ghosts o’er & o’er ’gain, I don’t think I e’er felt like ghost-catching was o’erbearing in this game, save for maybe in the postgame, when you can just ignore them, anyway.

As mentioned, the game adds new mechanics to give a bit mo’ variety to a series that e’en in Dark Moon didn’t have much but a hammer to solve almost all puzzles. Some o’ these work well, like the plunger & Gooigi, while others feel tacked-on & janky, like the weird blast attack that on rare occassions is s’posed to be used as a wimpy jump, rather than, you know, let the 1 man who can jump better than the king o’ platformers, Mario, jump. Some people have criticized Gooigi for being a “flat character”, ’cause a rational person would certainly expect a Mario game to have the deep character exploration o’ a Henry James novel ’nother hurtfic character who does nothing, like Rosalina. But Gooigi’s character works perfectly for the game mechanics that he is used for, being a copy o’ Luigi who can move thru permeable surfaces, but dies to water, fire, or lasers, which is what’s actually important to a video game. Also, I don’t know, I find his uncanny valley blank-faced robotic behavior kind o’ funny. I found it hilarious that he’s standing round @ the end & nobody, including Mario, asks what this abomination gainst nature is & where it came from. “Sure, my brother just has a clone made out o’ slime that he can possess. Just ’nother day in the Mushroom Kingdom”.

The problem with all these mechanics is that the game is inconsistent ’bout how effective they are. There is no logic to when you can stick a plunger to any surface, what the blast attack can or cannot break & whether enemies are stunned by the flashlight, dark-light, or blast attack. It’s a coin flip whether or not a ghost wearing shades will allow you to suck its shades up or require you to use your blast attack or whether a ghost with a shield will need you to yank it ’way with your plunger or blast it ’way with your blast attack.

Puzzles are hit & miss in this game. There are plenty o’ great puzzles thruout levels, such as the secret brick in “The Dance Hall” that you have to blast attack to jump under & hit to reveal coins like a classic Super Mario Bros. coin block, the weight puzzle in “Tomb Suites”, or most o’ the puzzles in “Boilerworks”, ’mong many others.

Then you have puzzles like the laser statue puzzle in “Tomb Suites”. You have no idea how annoyed I was, dying multiple times & having to wait thru long loading times, ’cause silly me kept trying to stop the lasers by blowing sand to cover them, using the mechanic that made the most sense in this situation & which was explicitly introduced in this level, when the actual solution is just to use your blast attack on all the statues, which I only found after finally judging that the sand method wouldn’t work & just started brute-forcing all my moves. E’en ’mong your moves, the blast attack is the last you’d expect to work on the statues. I still don’t e’en know what that attack is s’posed to be doing, canonically — it doesn’t destroy the statues. I guess these statues are just triggered by harsh blasts o’ air & nothing in the game hints @ this @ all ( well, ’cept for maybe E. Gadd’s hints — but I shouldn’t need to say that good puzzles telegraph their solutions, not tell them to you directly ).

Bosses can also be rather unintuitive. The 2nd phase o’ the T. rex fight expects you to move Gooigi next to the T. rex so that it tries to eat Gooigi, stunning it long ’nough to hit it with an egg. The seemingly very similar method o’ having Gooigi lure the T. rex into shooting shockwaves @ him doesn’t work — then the T. rex will immediately swing its head round after you shoot the egg. Why it can stop its shockwave that fast but not stop eating Gooigi is a mystery, as is why you need Gooigi to be right next to the T. rex to make the T. rex try to eat it, when the T. rex looms o’er you no matter where you are in the room.

I’m also mixed on the hint that Polterpup gives you for the Johnny Deepend fight. I wasted a lot o’ time trying to sneak Gooigi o’er to the switch, only to keep getting sprayed by water, e’en tho I had already come up with the idea o’ smacking Deepend with a volleyball ( the most obvious idea ), simply ’cause Polterpup hanging round the switch seemed like the game was explicitly telling me, “1st you have to get Gooigi to hit the switch”. I had to ignore this hint to figure out the actual solution. On the other hand, you need to distract Deepend with Gooigi to get the chance to hit him with the ball as Luigi, & I guess Gooigi going toward the switch is a way to do that. I still feel as if Polterpup got in the way o’ my progress o’ already figuring out the puzzle, rather than helping in any way, which feels cheap. It’s better to give no hints than give bad hints.

Speaking o’ bosses, they’re pretty weak, which is unfortunate, as a few floors are just a few rooms & a disappointing boss. I cannot fully communicate how sad I am that they squandered the cool theme used for “The Dance Hall” simply for the small intro to a boss that’s just a mo’ simplistic variation o’ the main mechanic o’ the magicians from “Twisted Suites”, which was a fully-developed level. Almost all bosses in this game are Rareware Bosses with phases where you just dodge shit for a while & then you get 1 hit in on them, rinse repeat. ¿Does anyone like these bosses? They’re transparently lazy compared to developing a boss with actually interesting interaction & make fights feel slower & drawn out. They’re basically inherent padding. What makes it dumber is they throw virtually infinite hearts @ you, so there isn’t e’en much urgency to avoid getting hit — which is somewhat good, since some o’ these bosses are cheap. The knight ghost has a magical hit box that makes its jousting stick warp you to its end, e’en when you’re clearly inches ’way from it. ( Meanwhile, it’s a coin-flip whether or not flashing the knight’s face will actually stun it; if it doesn’t, have fun waiting while the knight rides round the edges ’gain ).

I’m close to thinking the best boss is the penultimate Hellen Gravely boss, who requires you to go back & forth ’tween moving Luigi & Gooigi, moving Luigi to keep him safe from the lasers ’bove & Hellen’s attacks & moving Gooigi below to turn off the lasers ’bove so Luigi has room to suck up Hellen, with the urgency o’ needing to act quickly before Hellen turns on the water below & kills Gooigi, forcing the player to restart. It can be annoying & a li’l cheap, specially on the last phase, as Hellen just keeps undoing the progress, which can make what you do feel a bit repetitive. Also, Luigi’s weird explosion attack that late in-game acts as a jump, well, is a shitty ’scuse for a jump with a noticeable delay, which is terrible for trying to dodge a laser that accelerates as it moves, & which needs to be moving fast ’nough to not land back on top o’ it. It feels like something you’d see in a Super Mario World rom hack whose developer realized a mechanic not meant for a certain puzzle can be jankily used for that puzzle. This boss also doesn’t just throw hearts @ you left & right, making it an actual challenge.

But what ruins Hellen is that some idiot decided to make it so that if you lose to the boss, you have to mash thru the whole cutscene ’gain. I stared with wide eyes as this horrific realization came to me the 1st time I died to her. ¿What game in 2019 has unskippable cutscenes @ all, much less unskippable cutscenes after beating a boss? ¿Did nobody playtest losing to the penultimate boss? The problem is that they just make you reload your save when you die ( forcing you to load what you’ve already loaded ), ’stead o’ just letting you restart the boss immediately, as a well-programmed game would do. What makes it most maddening is that the final boss does just restart you @ the final boss3.

It’s annoying ’cause you know if you make this reasonable complaint some douche bag will retort, “just git gud”, proving that they’re too dumb to be worth listening to; but the problem isn’t losing itself, but that the developers contrived some idiotic extra punishment for losing that slows down my playing momentum & just wastes my time. This is a maddeningly common problem in modern games & is why I sometimes prefer games like Lost Levels o’er easier games: a’least Lost Levels doesn’t make me mash thru a bunch o’ bullshit just to retry a level. It’s 1 thing to make me retry a level when I lose: that’s necessary for the challenge to actually work. I’d be annoyed if I died @ a tough level & then the game just warped me back to where I died & didn’t let me try to challenge ’gain properly. ¿But what does seeing a cutscene ’gain have to do with the challenge? ¿Why would anyone e’er want to see a cutscene a 2nd time so soon? Imagine if after every time you died in some classic NES game they made you read the same scene o’ Hamlet. So if you die on level 3 o’ Ghost ’n Goblins a dozen times, you have to read Act 1, Scene 3 o’ Hamlet each time. You’d despite that scene o’ Hamlet by then & ne’er want to read it ’gain in your life. That’s why nobody e’er reads books mo’ than a couple times in 1 sitting & why nobody should e’er have to watch a cutscene — which, let’s face it, is no Hamlet — mo’ than once in the same playthru.

Technically, you can buy bones to maybe avoid the cutscene. I don’t know ’cause I’ve ne’er bought a bone, ’cause they’re otherwise useless, since the game autosaves after every room. These bones are the perfect example o’ a game implementing a mechanic, despite having no use in this iteration o’ the series, simply ’cause an earlier game did. Some may find this 1 convenience clever, but I find it stupid needing to think to buy an otherwise useless item just to avoid having to waste time on a long cutscene.

But the worst boss in the game has to be the final King Boo boss. O’ all the Rareware bosses in this game, this is the Rarewariest. ’Cept in Rare’s defense, e’en a boss as tedious & repetitive as the final K. Rool boss from Donkey Kong Country a’least works solidly & is intuitive. Many o’ the mechanics in this boss, such as tossing a bomb into King Boo’s mouth or pulling on his tongue, don’t work half the time, forcing you to wait thru mo’ generic attacks, like making you run to the 1 spot where they don’t shoot lightning down or making you dodge fireballs, if you miss your chance ’cause throwing the bomb didn’t work or the 1st few times I tried to attack King Boo after I did manage to blow him up, ’cause after I tried to vacuum his tongue & failed, I tried doing other things till, in desperation, I tried his tongue ’gain the 3rd time only to find, to my surprise, that this time I magically worked now. In the final phase, you have a time limit, which means if the bomb just bounces off King Boo’s open mouth or if the motion control bullshit just suddenly swings your aim in a different direction right as you shoot too many times, you’ll have to do the whole boss all o’er ’gain.

This is worsened by the fact that this is the most generic boss in this game, who could fit into virtually any 3D game, it requires you to use Luigi’s Mansion mechanics so sparingly & shallowly. Most o’ the challenge is dodging things, whether it be fireballs, lightning, tongues, spike balls, or bombs. None o’ it is challenging, ’cept for maybe trying to jump o’er the tongues when they rotate toward you thanks to the aforementioned jankiness o’ Luigi’s “jump” & the wonky hitboxes on the tongues, & unlike Hellen, this boss goes back to just throwing hearts @ you left & right, so the only true danger is the timer on the final phase; but you have no idea how mind-breakingly tedious it is to do them o’er & o’er & o’er ’gain. It’s annoying, ’cause it makes this boss’s 1 clever element terrible: during the 2nd & final phase, he splits into copies, only 1 o’ which is genuine & is actually affected by getting a bomb thrown into their mouth. This is telegraphed in many subtle ways, the most prominent being that the real King Boo has 4 teeth, while the fakes have 2 ( a clever callback to how King Boo looked in the original Luigi’s Mansion ). This would be cool if missing out on this fact a few times didn’t make you waste several mo’ minutes dodging fireballs that will ne’er hit me if their life depended on it.

What makes this lame final boss mo’ annoying is the way they tease a much better boss. They have you rescue Mario after beating Hellen Gravely & have Mario lead Luigi up to the final battle, which makes you think you’ll get to have Mario helping you during the final boss, which would be a cool twist to the series.4 But for some asinine reason, King Boo just puts everyone back into the painting, ’cept for Luigi simply ’cause o’ a Deus Ex Machina thrown in using Polterpup. ¿Then what was the point o’ rescuing Mario before Peach? ¿Just to trick the player? ¿Why on earth would the developers o’ this game think leading players into thinking they’ll get an awesome boss battle with Mario assisting you only to deliver a generic Rareware boss would in any way produce a positive effect on players?

Many people online criticize Polterkitty as being padding. I agree that the boss itself is unintuitive when you 1st fight them & repetitive on subsequent fights. For some reason she’s impervious to being flashed in the face ’cept when she’s right ’bout to pounce on Luigi. I guess it’s s’posed to be ’cause her paws are right under her eyes as she’s creeping; but they’re right under her eyes just before pouncing, too.

But the idea o’ making you go back & re-explore past hotel floors, e’en making you go thru multiple floors, is a nice ’way to encourage a less linear exploration than the level’s proper gave you. If anything, I think the problem is that they only have to explore 1 or 2 other floors before it ends. I think this mechanic would’ve worked better if they made it postgame & had you explore most o’ the floors & made where you have to explore randomized. That way it’d feel like a sort o’ final exam wherein you have to treat the hotel as a whole as a level, rather than individual floors.

The final question is, ¿how does Luigi’s Mansion 3 compare to either o’ its predecessors? As mentioned, none o’ the Luigi’s Mansion games had good combat, & Luigi’s Mansion 3 a’least makes it less tedious while also offering a few mo’ options to add variety, too. & despite my long rant ’bout Luigi’s Mansion 3’s bosses, it probably still has generally better bosses than its predecessors. The original & Dark Moon, too, had Rareware bosses that were either tedious or forgetful. The only bosses worth caring ’bout were 2 bosses in Dark Moon: the Grouchy Possessor ( the spider ) & the final boss. If not for the cutscene problem, Hellen Gravely would be the best boss in the series, & if not her, the magicians on the 12th floor, Johnny Deepend, or Captain Fishhook would be. E’en with the unintuitive puzzle for the 2nd phase during the T. rex fight, it’s still mo’ interesting than any boss in the original & most from Dark Moon. It says something that tho Amadeus Wolfgeist is a generic Rareware boss, it’s still better in every way than the utterly forgetful & pointless piano boss in Dark Moon, the Harsh Possessor.

Most o’ the internet seems to agree that it’s better than the very controversial Dark Moon, but many still cling to the original for some vague magic that I have heard described in many games that basically just boils down to nostalgia. People seemed mixed on whether or not this game better matches the “dark atmosphere” o’ the original. They’re mixed ’cause the only special “dark atmosphere” o’ the original is made-up in their heads — probably memories from when they were young & had mo’ fragile sensibilities. Yes, it’s shocking that newer Luigi’s Mansion games are less scary now that you’re in your late 20s. The fact is that the original Luigi’s Mansion was just as goofy as the other 2. For instance, its final boss is the goofiest o’ them, involving King Boo dressing as Bowser, putting on Bowser’s head upside down & running round like a Looney Tunes character. & I don’t know what humans these nostalgic people know in real life, but “realistic” is not how I would describe the portrait ghosts o’ the original game. The only halfway creepy thing ’bout the original Luigi’s Mansion is the shadow glitch that appears during the blackout that makes it look like Luigi’s shadow is being hung from the rafters — & that was on accident. If one wants genuine horror, there are much better series to look than the 1 starring an italian plumber with a vacuum who acts like the video-game equivalent to Scooby Doo, including being barely able to talk.

Out o’ the way, Silent Hill: here’s the true king o’ horror.

Music is the 1 thing this game may do worse than its predecessors. It, ’long with Dark Moon’s, are definitely weaker than Totaka & Tanaka’s music in the original. While Dark Moon had a catchy main theme, ’twas remixed for every level, lending that game li’l musical variety. This game has the most musical variety in terms o’ styles, — ’nough to almost hide the fact that each level’s melody is round the same, just @ different tempos — but none o’ the melodies stand out as much to me, & the instruments, like Dark Moon’s, are mostly cliché stock haunted instruments, while the original’s music felt unique with its blend o’ horror instruments spiced with hip hop & techno. Still, there are a few highlights, such as the use o’ harmonica & banjos in “B2 Boilerworks” or the slight surf rock to Johnny Deepend’s theme, which a’least feels fresh for a Luigi’s Mansion game. I also like the weird strings in the Polterkitty boss fight, which is the closest this game comes to sounding as weird as the original. “F3 Hotel Shops” & the DJ Phantasmagloria battle themes were the catchiest to me.

The visuals are, ’course, much better than its predecessors from much weaker consoles. & surprisingly, that’s not just my tastes: I was surprised by how many people I saw online who said Luigi’s Mansion 3 before e’en Breath of the Wild when asked which game they thought looked best. I only have 1 caveat: I was always disappointed that the Switch didn’t replicate the 3DS’s 3D capabilites. Dark Moon & the 3DS remake o’ the original were the highlight games for the 3DS’s 3D, as it brought out the strangeness o’ those games’ art design e’en mo’.

Posted in Video Games

Boskeopolis Land: Let’s Code a Crappy 2D Platformer Like Millions o’ Other People on the Internet & Lose Interest & Give Up Only a Few Months In, Part LIV: Cometropolis

Cometropolis

This level started with just the idea o’ a neon palette, the implementation o’ which probably did take the bulk o’ the time I spent on this level. The “palette changes” as they seem to be in the actual game use completely different coding, bending this game’s flimsy ’scuse for a palette system e’en farther. Unlike ol’ consoles & computers, wherein changing palettes was much quicker than changing tiles that many ol’ games would cycle palettes to create the illusion o’ animation, changing the palette in this game requires regenerating textures, which is much slower than just animating tiles. Theoretically it’d be possible to do it rather quickly using shaders; howe’er, SDL doesn’t allow shaders, & it’s much too late in development to switch o’er to the much mo’ complex & much less intuitive OpenGL. What I did do to create the illusion o’ a cycling palette is take advantage o’ 2 caveats to this problem: 1. I can render a rectangle o’ any color that covers the whole screen in no time; 2. SDL allows me to apply the equivalent to Photoshop’s “multiply” blending mode to textures, which, when used with a white & black image makes whate’er is ’hind show through the white while still concealing what’s ’hind the black.1 Thus, I just set whate’er palette entries I want to show the shifting rainbow color ( which are dark gray & black ) to white while everything else is black.

I had originally planned to use the city theme for this palette, since I felt the city would look nice in neon, but since I had all 4 city slots filled, I ’stead considered making a space level, since that theme has the fewest slots filled & it would fit there, too. I think I played with the idea o’ focusing on dodging horizontally-moving sparks on wire or something; howe’er, none o’ this felt fun, so I shelved it for a while. I don’t remember where my mind went from there, but as some point I came up with the idea o’ dodging falling stars, — probably from the 1 memorable level from New Super Mario Bros., the 1 wherein lava rocks fall from the sky — & then decided to move “Sleet Streets” to the “domestic” theme ( since it’s mo’ ’bout homes than the city ) & make this a city level. Then, finally, I decided to make this a space level ’gain, despite keeping the city graphics, & would just say this was a city on ’nother planet. It’s not as if I haven’t been blending themes together & sticking them into whate’er slot was most convenient, & if any theme deserved to dip into other themes’ slots, it would be the city theme.

The falling stars are just a bit mo’ complicated than just randomly placing them round. To ensure the player could not outrun stars in either direction & that there was a steady supply, I made it so that every time it generated a falling star it not only placed it on the current screen, but also on the next & previous. & to decrease the chance so’ stars congregating in 1 area I made it so that it had to spawn the next star a few blocks ’way from where the last spawned.

Recording the time & gem scores were surprisingly smoothly. I made the time score somewhat lenient to make up for the delays falling stars can sometimes force on the player when they form walls. E’en then, I still couldn’t help myself from just running thru stars when I knew a heart was close ’head, which I try not to do, since I want these challenges to be possible without taking any hits. Shockingly, I was able to record the gem score on my 1st try, which I always found very hard to get during practice. Then ’gain, here you can see me moving as carefully as I can. I should point out that this will definitely replace “Stop & Go Space Station” as the 4th-cycle space level, pushing “Stop & Go Space Station” down to the 3rd cycle, as it is much mo’ difficult.

Learn mo’ ’bout this project @ boskeopolis-land.com.

“I will multiply thy bugs as the stars o’ the heaven…”.

Posted in Boskeopolis Land, Programming

Boskeopolis Land: Let’s Code a Crappy 2D Platformer Like Millions o’ Other People on the Internet & Lose Interest & Give Up Only a Few Months In, Part LIII: Don’t Touch Me, I’m a Real Live Wire

Don’t Touch Me, I’m a Real Live Wire

This level’s main gimmick, electric walls that could only be deactivated with switches in ’nother area, forcing the player to race from the switch to the electric walls, was originally going to be a space level, but I felt it would be better to use this mechanic to spice up an attic maze level idea I’d been toying with, since I feel exploring a maze just to find a keycane or collect a certain # o’ gems had already been done ’nough in this game. This gimmick also helps set this level apart from the attic levels in Cool Spot whence this level takes perhaps a bit too much inspiration otherwise.

I’m mixed on the size o’ this level. I insisted on constructing the maze so that all space is used for something, with no large chunks o’ solid wood ( which the Cool Spot levels also do ). While I feel like I did a rather good job o’ that, I do worry that the level might be too big. Then ’gain, a maze needs to be large ’nough to get lost in & have plenty o’ dead ends to offer any challenge, & players who know their way will be able to beat the level within less than a minute. Still, part o’ me can’t help feeling like some pieces — specially the lower left section — feel like filler that exists just to collect gems.

I like the proportions ’tween the pre-1st-wall & after-1st-wall sections, with the early section being much smaller & having fewer dead ends, acting as a subtle training wheels before the boost in trickiness for the 2nd half. This 2nd half immediately starts with 1-way sections down. If you fail to make it to the 2nd electric wall before the switch runs out, you have to go up a longer path round where you went do to fall back down to where the switches are.

If you’re wondering why there’s switch blocks right after the 1st electric wall with switches on either side, this was just a way to force players to reset the switch after the 1st electric wall. E’en with the warning telling you outright that the switches are timed, I can imagine players rushing & forgetting to reset the switch on their own, which will almost guarantee that the switch, which would be getting low just after passing the 1st electric wall, would turn off long before the player gets close to the 2nd electric wall, which felt too much like a frustrating gotcha to let stand.

The time score is so easy I was able to do it 1st try when recording. I intentionally made it less demanding, since players needed to remember the path they needed to take & ne’er take wrong turns to have a chance to make it in time. The gem score was much harder for me & required an embarrassing # o’ tries. As the video shows, this level has the largest gem score o’ any level so far, requiring 40,000₧, which is 400 individual gems. If you pay close attention to the video, you’ll see that there are many gems hidden ’hind the foreground pipes ( 1 o’ the many elements I ripped off from Cool Spot’s attic levels ). Howe’er, there are so many gems in this level, I doubt you need to collect any. I didn’t go too out o’ my way to collect them & e’en flub up collecting the large star formation o’ gems in the top area, falling down a 1-way area before collecting most o’ them. Howe’er, by that point I’d already reached the required 40,000₧.

I was planning on having this released in September, but was delayed by major programming renovations. Graphical layering glitches in this level, specially when someone dies, was the last straw for this game’s unbelievably naïve layering system inspired by Super Mario World under the mistaken belief that code aimed for a 90s game console would work well for modern computer architectures. This scheme used dumb boolean flags on all blocks & sprites & looping o’er all blocks & sprites twice ’tween map backgrounds & foregrounds, 1st blocks & then sprites without priority, & then blocks & then sprites with priority. To draw sprites ’bove the foreground, I resorted to some hacky virtual function that did nothing for the vast majority o’ sprites.

I completely o’erhauled all this, removing all traces o’ “priority” flags. I replaced this with 171 layers o’ lists o’ generic renderable objects, which can render blocks, sprites, or map layers, which are simply all looped o’er every frame. This allows blocks, sprites, & map layers to be on any layer & to be easily moved to any other layer.

To better fit this new mo’ generic system, I also o’erhauled how maps & level files are read: explicit “backgrounds” & “foregrounds” are replaced with generic “layers”, which can be set on any o’ the 17 layers ( tho to make it convenient for me, they default to the default “background” layer & their “layer” can be set to “foreground”, which will put it on the default “foreground” layer ). I also changed the map tile layers to use generic types like “Blocks”, “Texture”, “BlocksTexture”, “Tiles”, & “Fade”, followed by a # that represents which layer it should go on or the strings “BG”, “BG1”, “BG2”, “FG”, “FG1”, “FG2” to simply put it into those default layers so I don’t have to remember their #s. I also changed it so that the BlocksSystem has multiple blocks lists to accommodate this mo’ generic scheme. Since the priority flag is completely ignored now, blocks that should be drawn ’bove the player should be put on a 2nd “Blocks” layer set to “FG”. This new scheme also allows for mo’ opportunities for rendering optimizations. For instance, both block & tile layers ( tile layers are drawn but cannot be interacted with ) can be made textures, wherein they are all combined into a single texture, simplifying them into a single draw call @ the cost o’ not being able to be animated or affected by level events.

There are also some subtler changes I made. For instance, I fixed a glitch that may have seeped into earlier videos wherein the “GAME START” text on the title screen would randomly spread onto 1 or 2 lines. ’Ventually I found out this was caused by a mistake in the look-’head code for the autoline code that would read 1 character beyond the end o’ the list o’ characters, which would be random data. In hindsight, the fact that this clearly involved randomness should’ve clued me in that there was garbage data being read; for some reason, I was stuck for a while on the hypothesis o’ a rounding error in some division or float-to-int conversion. The fact that this only e’er seemed to affect the “GAME START” text & ne’er caused segmentation faults, despite this error technically occurring everywhere there is text, astounds me.

A mo’ noticeable change is that the diamond has been replaced by a spinning card ( I think I also fixed a bug that would cause already-collected cards to still appear when re-entering a level & would only disappear if the player went near them due to optimizations in the block-collision code ), which was a change I had planned for a while, but for some reason had trouble getting the animation right before. Someday I plan on implementing a way to view each level’s card from the o’erworld menu.

Learn mo’ ’bout Boskeopolis Land @ boskeopolis-land.com

Look @ this project’s eldritch code

Posted in Boskeopolis Land, Programming

On Super Mario 3D All-Stars ( & Why Gamers Are an Embarrassment to the Human Race )

Since I wrote 2 extensive posts analyzing the level design o’ Super Mario 64 & Super Mario Sunshine ( not planning on doing the Galaxy games, tho — & I wouldn’t be wasting money on this remake if I were, anyway, since I still have my Wii copies ), it makes sense that I would write ’bout this topic.

I have mixed feelings ’bout this remake remaster port cheap emulator & roms worse than what pirates offer. I remember I had 2nd thoughts while working on my analyses o’ Super Mario 64 & Super Mario Sunshine, since I had read the leaked rumors ’bout 3D Mario “remasters” earlier this year & wondered if I perhaps should’ve waited to play these remasters; howe’er, I was skeptical o’ these rumors @ the time & decided that it’d still be better to play thru the originals in their entirety & maybe after the “remasters” come out unwisely waste e’en more o’ my short time going o’er those & comparing & contrasting. Interestingly, I remember my skepticism was ’cause I doubted Nintendo could put out good remasters in such short time & thought that, @ best, the rumors would be that Nintendo would just release Virtual-Console-style ports — ’cept I expected them to be much cheaper. Since it turned out that I was right, it turned out my fears were unfounded & I, thankfully, ne’er have to play Super Mario Sunshine ’gain & deal with its dumb ass “challenges” o’ waiting on boats & ramming watermelons into walls for several minutes. On the other hand, it would’ve been nice to see Super Mario 64 fixed up, as it definitely needs it, & to see if Nintendo could make Super Mario Sunshine not a buggy, sloppy mess anymo’.

I’m probably the only person as mixed ’bout this release, as everyone else is either mindlessly excited or deeply troubled by the caveats that Nintendo pointlessly added to this release, like their scummy use o’ limited release to create “fear o’ missing out” & pressure gamers, who are notorious for their lack o’ self-control & wise financial practices ( but are oft well-paid, despite this incompetence ). I think the reason is that, as I’ve hinted or said outright in some o’ my analyses, I don’t think the 3D Mario games were all that great the begin with. Super Mario 64 was revolutionary for its time, but has aged poorly; Super Mario Sunshine is just flat-out badly designed & is such a mix o’ low ambition & sloppy, amateur mistakes in terms o’ bugs that it should make such a AAA company like Nintendo blush; & Super Mario Galaxy was essentially the McDonald’s o’ video games — good for a quick, mindless play, but derivative & quite sloppily-designed, as well. There are plenty o’ 3D platformers that are better than the latter 2, including Banjo-Kazooie, the original Spyro trilogy, &, hell, e’en Donkey Kong 64, which was a’least ambitious while being sloppy & incompetent, as opposed to Sunshine & Galaxy which were sloppy & incompetent while just copying Super Mario 64 & failing to understand what made that game work in the 1st place. Hell, e’en Super Mario 3D Land & Super Mario 3D World are better, since they a’least understood how to handle straightforward platforming correctly, while Super Mario Sunshine kind o’ butchered explorative platforming & Super Mario Galaxy couldn’t figure out whether it wanted to be an explorative or straightforward platformer & opted to half-heartedly do both @ the same time.1

The comparison to the Spyro trilogy is fitting, as those games received full remasters a year or so ago, all for $40, with some o’ the most gorgeous graphics there are so far. Now, granted, in my recent playthrus o’ the games I’ve found that these games haven’t aged super well, either, — I would probably rank them all lower than, say, Super Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie — & I felt bad ’bout buying this remake, as I feel I was just feeding this remake/rehashing obsession that is starving the artistic world o’ new ideas2. So you can imagine how Super Mario 3D All-Stars has crossed the line into definite no-buy. Still, it’s hard not to be embarrassed to see Nintendo, who were once the greatest game publisher in the world, get their asses kicked by some nobodies called “Games for Bob” & fucking Activision.

Some people may brag that this is a great business decision on Nintendo’s part, & they’re right; but Nintendo fans should realize that this great business decision, like many great business decisions, came @ the loss o’ Nintendo’s dignity & reputation. Perhaps Nintendo has no reason to care ’bout this, but people who invest so much o’ their life dedicated to this corporate god o’ theirs should, as the only thing mo’ pathetic than worshipping a faceless corporation is worshipping a faceless corporation that makes crap now. Granted, Nintendo’s been making crap for the past few decades, as one can see from modern Mario & Zelda games & pretty much every home console since the Super Nintendo, including the Switch, which is so bad, Nintendo was sued o’er its crappiness.

I should point out that, from what I’ve seen, the ports look worse to me than probably to others. While people try to give Nintendo the most pathetic o’ “you tried” trophies for their higher-resolution UI elements in Super Mario 64, while not improving any o’ the other textures, I think having a mix o’ high-resolution & low-resolution textures looks mo’ jarring & cheaper than just sticking to consistently low-resolution textures. I’m also very doubtful that Super Mario 64 will play well on the Switch. The Switch has o’er-sensitive control sticks that make slight nudges negligibly different from full yanks, making everything in every Switch game feel slippery. I don’t know why they would make them that way, as it renders useless the whole point o’ having control sticks with different levels o’ force you can apply, but the N64 & GameCube didn’t have this problem. The Wii-U control sticks were the same, & I played the Super Mario 64 Virtual Console port, which feels way too slippery ’cause o’ that, so I have li’l reason to expect different from the Switch’s version. Not to be that guy, but you truly have to play Super Mario 64 with the original N64 controller to make it not feel like ass. I still think buying a used N64 & Super Mario 64 would be a better deal than this remake, e’en if it comes close in price, since the other games aren’t worth much, anyway.

What makes this remake’s timing e’en worse is that it came out so soon after the unauthorized release o’ the disassembly o’ Super Mario 64 into C code ( made easier thanks to Nintendo’s incompetent failure to apply optimizations on their C compiler, which caused slowdown in areas, such as “Dire, Dire Docks”, where there wouldn’t be with the optimizations ) & the proliferation o’ ports ( including a PC port, which I regret not using when I made my analysis o’ Super Mario 64’s level design, as I could’ve had widescreen screenshots ) for just ’bout every system & mods — including the switch already. Nintendo fans had beaten Nintendo’s own port months ago. These ports have many extra mods, including texture upgrades, that you could only dream o’ getting in the “official” release.

This leads us to a particular anomaly: here we see superior versions o’ works made for free that are forced into the underground — effectively censored — ’cause they were not “officially” sanctioned by the “owner”, while only the mo’ imperfect product is legally allowed to be bought & used. ¿Does this not go gainst both our artistic & economic goals to encourage efficiency, to encourage the production o’ the best products? & yet here the law is outright preventing the best work o’ art from succeeding — trying to prevent it from existing. But someone well-versed in economics could easily find the answer: the cause is a monopoly — to be specific, a government-sanctioned monopoly known as “copyright”. ’Cause Nintendo owns the game, they don’t have to compete in making the best version; they only need to legally outlaw any competitors.

Thus, rather than creating an environment where works are refined to their best, most consumer-pleasing version, consumers are left with nothing but imperfect versions competing with each other, as the only way to compete with an imperfect work o’ art is not to refine it, as would be the rational way to make it better, but to make a completely different work that trades imperfections for other imperfections. This is also inefficient in that it forces people to “reinvent the wheel” & recreate art slightly different to avoid being struck down by the government rather than work on the parts that need to be improved. Hence why we have such absurd bootlegs like Yooka-Layley, rather than a new Banjo-Kazooie game. ’Course, programmers who are familiar with how open-source software would recognize this all too well: it’s the same reason why proprietary Windows & OSX users have to tolerate the quirks in those OSes while copyright-free Linux users can change anything they don’t like ’bout their OS or download from the variety o’ competing options.

’Course, pointing out the simple fact that, yes, copyright has elements that are simply bad for the world o’ art & the economy, would enrage ( which is odd, since it’s not as if we’re @ risk o’ the law changing, so they should be feeling very safe ) worshippers o’ their favorite corporate gods, who have produced much propaganda in defense o’ copyright, much o’ which is inaccurate3, but which has nontheless latched into people’s minds. This is probably ’cause the extreme version o’ copyright that currently exists in the US doesn’t have much to stand on, logically: e’en economists, who tend to be pro-ownership, can’t keep themselves from cynically calling it the “Mickey Mouse law”. After all, while one could maybe argue that if Nintendo didn’t hold a monopoly on a new game they make, they wouldn’t be able to make money & continue funding development o’ new games ( tho this makes one wonder how so much great open-source software was funded ), ¿will Nintendo fans be so delusional to argue that Nintendo could not produce games if they couldn’t keep gouging people for games they had already spent their money making decades ago? ¿Were artists not perfectly able to make a living creating art with only 14 years to profit off a work o’ art centuries ago? ¿Why do owners suddenly need mo’ than 90 years now?

Still, I’m less angry than some people, not only ’cause these games aren’t that good to begin with, but also ’cause Nintendo’s attempt to sell this game in a corrupt way is so self-defeating, I can only laugh, & that ungenerous part o’ me kind o’ thinks that the people who fall for it are so dumb, perhaps the world is better with them having less money. For instance, I might be mo’ horrified by Nintendo trying to exploit “fear o’ missing out” if we weren’t talking ’bout decades-ol’ games that people have already missed out on. & while Super Mario 64 was revolutionary for its time, Super Mario Sunshine & Galaxy’s impact on the industry is minimal. The only game I can think o’ that Sunshine influenced was some indie game called A Hat in Time, & the only game I can think o’ that Galaxy influenced were bootlegs, like the illustrious DuLuDuBi Star. The truth is, when these games came out the rest o’ the industry had far mo’ interesting games to pay attention to, like Grand Theft Auto, Halo, & Resident Evil in 2002 or… Actually, looking it up, it seems 2007 was a very dry year, as well as 2006. In hindsight, I’m no longer so sorry that my poverty made me miss out on the newest games in the late 2000s — it seems they were mostly crap, anyway. Anyway, I can bet almost anyone who hasn’t played these 2 games hasn’t played other games that are far mo’ significant & better.

In fact, I would go far ’nough to say that while Nintendo is gouging players for these half-assed ports o’ rather half-assed games, they slipped thru much better games for close-to-free ( well, so long as you’re already paying for Nintendo Online ): the original Super Mario All-Stars. My recent playthru o’ the 3D Mario games ( I played Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 round the end o’ 2017, so it wasn’t that long ago ), I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re not nearly as good as the classic 2D Mario games. While 64 hasn’t aged well & Sunshine & Galaxy weren’t that great when they 1st came out, the original Super Mario Bros. & Super Mario Bros. 3 are still excellent & make me remember after decades o’ mediocre Mario games how Mario came to fame in the 1st place.

Also, it’s not as if Nintendo’s the only company in the world to o’erprice outdated work simply ’cause it has a well-known brand’s face on it: Apple’s been gouging people on computers with outdated specs fore’er. I could e’en see someone who is rich ’nough that they can’t be bothered to care that they’re o’erpaying paying $60 to try these games. Hell, I wasted $50 on that new Zelda game wherein you just wander thru empty forests, fight the same generic fantasy monsters with sticks, & wait every few minutes for Link to catch his fucking breath ( I guess that’s where it got its name ); compared to that ol’ games that are a’least actual games & not inferior simulations o’ wandering thru the local forest looks pretty good.

What makes me truly feel bummed out ’bout this release is how excited everyone is ’bout it & how much it reveals how li’l standards & self-respect video game fans have — admittedly not a new epiphany, since “gamers” have been flaunting their cultural & general intellectual paucity ( as well as corporate servility ) for decades; I mean, we’re talking ’bout a demographic with such fragile egos that they feel the need to give themselves the label “gamers”, as opposed to fans o’ any other art medium, who don’t embarrass themselves so. Immediately after I had read ’bout the Nintendo Direct ( the only time I have e’er given a shit ’bout these corporate advertisements, since, as mentioned earlier, I had an actual interest in these remakes beforehand ), my YouTube recommendations — as recommended by the robotic equivalent o’ that friend 1000 IQ points lower than you who thinks quoting ol’ video games is funny & whom you wonder why you e’er associate with them in the 1st place — was inundated with the most embarrassing selection o’ videos o’ corporate fellatio ( if you want proof that capitalism has usurped Christianity as the dominant religion in the west for the moronic masses, just gaze ’pon the zeal o’ worship so many people cast ’pon their divine made-up legal entities — while these same hypocrites who demand that video games be respected as art have so li’l respect for the actual flesh-&-blood artists who did the actual work that they could probably ne’er name a single programmer if their lives depended on it ), accompanied by thumbnails with bearded young white male #13892 mugging the camera with some wacky expression.

’Cause I’m drunk & surly, I’m going to spend the rest o’ this article breaching online etiquette & make fun o’ these goons:

For instance, the 1st video I found was titled “Nintendo Just Won 2020 With their Mario 35th Anniversary Direct”, whate’er that’s s’posed to mean — I guess that Nintendo’s better than rival game development companies. Keep in mind that this is the same year Sony & Microsoft are releasing new consoles. I haven’t played a Sony console in decades & probably haven’t played a Microsoft console e’er4; but e’en I have to admit that if you think new consoles by Sony & Microsoft are less impressive than half-assed ports o’ ol’ games, you must have drunk the Nintendo Kool-Aid & have given up all independent, critical thought. Imagine how sad it would be that you think regurgitating out shit Nintendo made decades ago is the best thing o’ 2020. If I thought this rehash was 1 o’ the best things video games had to offer, I would just dislike video games, period.

& I don’t know why YouTube keeps recommending me videos o’ Grover from Sesame Street talking ’bout Mario games, but he’s apparently obsessed with Paper Mario. Well, now he’s talking ’bout Super Mario 3D All-Stars with a video titled “The Mariosplosion Was REAL”. The only explosion I saw was Nintendo shitting themselves in the pants, & then offering their fans to buy it for $60, which they gladly did — proof that Austrian-schoolers’ “mud pie” argument gainst the labor theory o’ value is backward, as only in a capitalist society could you succeed by selling people mud pies.

Amusingly, IGN, 1 o’ those sites who throws 10s like candy5, is being surprisingly nitpicky, with its title, “Super Mario 3D All-Stars: Mario 64 Speedruns Won’t Be Nearly As Fast”. O’ all the problems a remake could have, “speedrunners can’t exploit a glitch anymo’” is far down the list o’ relevance. Usually people praise companies for fixing bugs, not criticize them for failing to leave them in.

Perhaps the silliest video is the video by Nintendo’s own channel called “We Played Super Mario 3D All-Stars!”. No shit you played it, dipshits — you made it.

Our next video features a gamer dude so generic he’s wearing a Star Wars baseball cap. This as well as his very creating channel name, “Geeks + Gamers”, let’s you, fellow gamers &/or geeks know that he is, also, what you humans call “gamers” & “geeks”. He doesn’t show his face, howe’er, as he’s facepalming next to the title, “People Are Still Complaining About Nintendo Despite Super Mario 3D All Stars Announcement”. ¿Can you believe that the peasants have the audacity to criticize our great Lord & Savior Nintendo, e’en tho they gifted us with 3 games they already made decades ago ( 2 o’ which were ne’er that great, e’en for their time ), when they should be bowing down & giving themselves up to the sheer sacrifice Nintendo’s stockholders have done to sell fanboys 3 half-assed ports @ an inflated price that are worse than what fan hackers have made for free?

Gainst all good reasoning, I took the time to watch the video & had to laugh near the beginning when I heard him say that, “[T]ime has been very good to Super Mario Sunshine”. Yes, time has been good to that game where I just randomly clip thru floors, blue coins clip thru walls, Mario randomly spazzes out while on ledges, minigames handle failure in inconsistent ways, cutscenes have Mario in 2 places @ once & 1 cutscene has Peach with her own eyeballs as earrings, — & those are just the unquestionable bugs, much less the mo’ subjective sloppy level design — says man who has clearly only read other fawning praise o’ the game & has ne’er played it himself.

Pictured: game that time has been good to.

His whines are nothing mo’ than that Nintendo has made limited releases before, so that means it’s OK now. Give this man an A+ in philosophy. Personally, I couldn’t care ’less that this is limited release, since it’s not worth the price it costs @ any time. I would love to hear someone give a reason why it’s a good idea. Granted, as someone who has actually studied economics watched that Jim Sterling video where he complains ’bout this game’s limited release & knows such concepts as “false scarcity” & “FOMO”, I know all too well why it’s a good reason for Nintendo’s wallet & a bad reason for consumers — which is why smart consumers will avoid buying this garbage, thereby pressuring corrupt businesses like Nintendo to either stop being corrupt or go out o’ business. ’Course, pro-market economists are wrong that consumers in market economies are smart, so I expect to see plenty o’ idiots gladly throw their money ’way to corrupt corporations, thereby causing scam artists to flourish — ¡just like how these scummy YouTube channels thrive on their cheap clickbait titles! It’s like that joke from The Simpsons wherein Lisa does that experiment on a hamster & on Bart, but with Bart replaced with gamers: while the mouse learns to stop trying to eat the electrified cheese, gamers while go after that electrified muffin time & time ’gain.

& then we have a billion videos by GameXplain & Nintendo Prime. Nintendo Prime I am almost certain are paid shills, with their switch giveaways & pathetic jabs gainst Sony as if Nintendo Life are elementary schoolers still babbling that “Nintendo Does What Genesisn’t”.

Like “Gamers + Geeks” ( who, now that I think ’bout it, is probably also a shill, since certainly no genuine fan would be so generic ), or whate’er that clown called himself, the 1st video I found from them was 1 wherein they whine ’bout the existence o’ people who s’posedly don’t like this remake. Hilariously, the pinned comment o’ the video is Nintendo Prime admitting that they utterly fucked up understanding what the original Super Mario All-Stars was: they claim in the video that ’twas just ports o’ the original NES games, rather than remakes with totally new graphics &, in the case o’ Super Mario Bros., completely reprogrammed from the ground up ( not for artistic reasons, but ’cause Nintendo lost the original source code6 ).

But my favorite argument by Nintendo Life is in a comment farther below, wherein they demonstrate that they completely fail to understand what reviewing is:

However, that doesn’t change what this is, factually. It’s a collection pack, and it should be judged for what it actually is, rather than what you would rather wish it was. That’s where I have an impasse with some reviewers, they are knocking it for not being something else entirely rather than just judging it purely based on it being a collection pack.

Critiquing a work is nothing mo’ than comparing a work to what is expected o’ it & evaluating whether or not it has met or exceeded those expectations. If we take this argument to its logical conclusion, reviewers should just rank any work o’ art with the binary “good” for being what it is, while with this philosophy it’d be impossible to rank a work as “bad”, as “bad” would be defined as a work not being what it is, which is a paradox. “Yes, Bubsy 3D is ugly, sounds like the computer is constantly burping, & has cumbersome controls; but people need to respect Bubsy 3D as a game that is ugly, sounds like the computer is constantly burping, & has cumbersome controls, rather than judge is based on what it is not, a game that looks good, has music a sane human would find pleasing, & actually responds to your button presses in a way any reasonable person would expect”.

& most people I’ve seen do judge this game as a collection pack: they judge it as a bad example o’ 1 that’s beyond the normal market price o’ collections. They also judge it’s price as the outcome not o’ a fair market, but o’ false scarcity & monopolistic behavior.

’Course, we couldn’t have clickbait without a li’l bait-&-switch title that hints @ an audacious claim that is obviously wrong, & Nintendo Life dutifully delivers that with their “Super Mario Galaxy 2 Teased By Nintendo for 3D All-Stars”. In the top pinned comment, ’course, they admit that they think the chance o’ Galaxy 2 being released as DLC is “20%”. What formula they used to calculate that seemingly arbitrary chance is a mystery.

But the most horrifying video Nintendo Life unleashed on us is this 1 titled “That Mario Nintendo Direct Was Superb (If Predictable) – Super Mario 3D All Stars” showing bearded man with creepy jack-off face while the somewhat less horrifying Super Mario 64 Mario face with its crusty polygonal eyelids gazes @ the viewer like a banshee. All this surrounded by the big, bold text, “A SUPER MARIO DIRECT ACTUALLY HAPPENED”. ¡Holy shit! ¡A glorified advertisement… for a Mario game? ¡Such an event happens only in a blue moon!

GameXplain is a bit less clickbaitty ( just a li’l, tho ) & a li’l mo’ obsessive, offering dozens o’ videos obsessing o’er the different title screens & menus & the version differences for the opening cutscene in Super Mario Sunshine, which GameXplain themselves admit is pointless, since the Switch version is using a crappy, compressed video from Twitter that looks worse than the GameCube version ( also, spoilers: in the Switch version Mario is still in the clip o’ Bianco Hills they watch in the airplane, before they 1st take foot on Bianco Hills, just like those Superfriends episodes wherein Aquaman joins the others in going out to rescue Aquaman ).

They don’t offer any analysis, which would require some intelligence on their part, but just show every clip they can find. It’s 1 thing when fans obsess o’er footage from an upcoming game in development; but this is shit we’ve had for decades. & it doesn’t look any better. It’s the same shit. ¿What kind o’ neurotic fucking idiots get obsessed o’er ol’ shit being released with a few textures looking slightly less blurry?

That’s not to say that GameXplain doesn’t have clickbait, such as the blatantly false “Super Mario 3D All-Stars Go Beyond “Simple” Ports – Here’s the Evidence!”. People have already looked into the game & found that Super Mario 64 & Super Mario Sunshine are emulated ( Galaxy’s main code is recompiled to native Switch, but GPU & audio are emulated, for some reason ). This reminds me o’ when Polygon so slovenly asserted that the models in those new Pokémon games were totally not rips from the 3DS games ’cause the developers said so as if they were the New York Times parroting the US military, only for many hackers to actually compare the models & prove that the models are so similar that if they weren’t ripped, the developers wasted their time plagiarizing their own work. But one should ne’er let reality get in the way o’ one’s mindless worship o’ their favorite corporations.

As expected, this video has a huge pinned comment by GameXplain wherein they try to move the goal posts by redefining “emulated” as “not done by Nintendo”, making this an ad hoc argument, since the whole argument is whether Nintendo’s doing better than unofficial sources ( which GameXplain for some reason calls “public domain”, which is inaccurate, since they involve copyrighted material ). GameXplain actually shows mo’ ignorance regarding the “public domain” work than 3D All-Stars ( which is no surprise, since there’s no money in it for GameXplain to shill for nobody hackers ). For instance, they claim that Galaxy’s recompiled source code is something “you wouldn’t see in the public domain”, e’en tho recently hackers were able to disassemble Super Mario 64 into C code, allowing it to be recompiled into many different ports without any form o’ emulation — a case wherein, bizarrely, the hackers have mo’ resources than Nintendo themselves, since Nintendo did have to emulate it. GameXplain also claims that Nintendo was able to update textures from sources that only they had, which has 2 problems: looking @ the video, only a tiny minority o’ the textures are improved ( which, as I said, looks worse than if none o’ the textures were changed ), so they clearly didn’t keep most o’ them ( which is no surprise: the fact that Nintendo had to emulate Super Mario 64 implies that they lost its source code ). But this is also untrue as many o’ the textures were stock, which hackers have been able to find, such as the backdrop to “Wet-Dry World”, not to mention how fans have been able to make all-new custom high-definition textures for the whole game ( which, granted, are mixed in quality to the point o’ uncanny valley — that Peach, uh… needs a bit mo’ work ).

But these videos can’t compete with Metacritic in terms o’ gallons o’ jism being flung on you like Nickelodeon slime by so many “critics” stroking Nintendo’s long, hairy dick. Granted, now’s an unfair time to do this: the only reviews out are by critics given advance copies by Nintendo in return for giving Nintendo easy high scores — which is to say that none o’ these “critics” have any credibility, anyway. Luckily, Metacritic has no standards for whom they count as a “critic”, so we don’t have to miss out on the sugary cum.

For instance, Cubed3, a website I’ve ne’er heard o’ with such bad web design that I think it’s being run by a Russian who has ne’er played a video game before, starts by praising Nintendo for doing “the utterly expected”, as opposed to doing what was just expected. ¡This was utterly done! Unfortunately, if I complained ’bout every way this writer twisted the English language into the equivalent experience o’ eating scorpion tails, we would end up with a section longer than the review itself. Let me just point out that this wordsmith called the game the switch’s “rectangle of delight”. This is why critics should stick to just mentioning important elements in the game & analyzing how they effect the experience o’ the game — you know, what readers came for — rather than subject them to their shitty attempts @ poetry.

I must admit I almost missed how idiotic the opening line is: “Why are you looking at this? Go and play Super Mario 3D All-Stars now!”. This review came out before the game was released — your readers can’t play it yet. I don’t think you could find any better proof that this reviewer didn’t put an ounce o’ thought into what they were writing.

I’m most amazed that this review is only a few paragraphs, but still wastes its time saying the same things, such as asserting in as many ways you can that you should buy this game, while barely analyzing the game itself. This reviewer, who has apparently ne’er played any other game in the universe, is astounded that Nintendo put so much sweat & blood into making an opening FMV. No other video game has e’er accomplished such a feat. Clearly Super Mario 3D All-Stars is the real Schindler’s List o’ video games.

Also, this:

Menus are bright and filled with titbits [ sic ] that any information-hungry fan is going to lap up and appreciate every time they start up one of the three titles included. [ Emphasis mine ]

@ 1st I was going to make fun o’ how this reviewer apparently has ne’er heard o’ Mario Wiki or thinks their audience is too dumb to have heard o’ it ( considering what that audience is willing to read, that’s a fair assumption ); but then I noticed that typo & realized why Mario fans are so excited now. As they say, “sex sells”.

A lovely addition that nobody would hold against Nintendo leaving out of the package is the addition of each soundtrack.

Nobody would hold it gainst them ’cause you can find this music on YouTube & this is the stupidest way to deliver music to people. Nobody’s going to be lugging their fucking Switch round like a boom box just to hear Mario music. If Nintendo wanted to actually be useful, they would’ve just given buyers FLACs they could put on their phones or music players ( or hell, put it on Spotify — ¿why don’t game companies try to make a deal with streaming services so they can make extra money off their soundtracks rather than do nothing & watch as game fans just upload their music to YouTube for free? ) — you know, how real human beings listen to music.

After admitting that they got lost choosing ’mong the jungle o’ 3 whole games, — ¡that’s 1 mo’ than this reviewer has learned to count up to yet! — the reviewer offers a whole 2 paragraphs spewing cliches ’bout these games without a breath o’ real analysis. E’en then, this reviewer finds a way to waste words on irrelevant shit, like the SNES Super Mario All-Stars, ’cause this reviewer is truly hopeless @ formatting their thoughts & has ne’er graduated high school.

What’s funniest is that this reviewer goes so far in praising this remake that they outright contradict themselves in praising it, claiming that Super Mario 64 is “all represented here pixel perfectly”, when obviously it isn’t — ¡Nintendo improved some o’ the textures! Apparently this remake is so great that it has broken the laws o’ logic & is both improved & exactly the same.

’Course it wouldn’t be a bad review without getting basic facts wrong, — proof that this reviewer didn’t really play these games that are apparently God’s own golden vagina juice — claiming that in Super Mario 64 Mario “still relies on the standard hop, skip, and wahoo to get the job done”, when Mario can do many mo’ things, like punch, kick, dive, carry things, swim, grab chains & climb round them, fly… Also, Mario doesn’t skip in this game — tho if Nintendo did change it so that he did, I would bump my view o’ this remake a point or so higher.

Master these here and it becomes a lot simpler to grasp the level design and approaches for the rest of the journey through the Mario vault.

No it doesn’t, ’cause as anyone who has actually played these games knows, Super Mario 64’s level design is radically different from Sunshine’s & Galaxy’s — that’s why there are such strong arguments o’ Super Mario 64 vs. Galaxy, etc.

With its excellent level design, infinite replayability, and perfect soundtrack, it’s easy to get lost in Mario 64 for months and never want to leave.

“Infinite replayability” — that’s not ridiculous hyperbole by a reviewer with Nintendo’s cock so high up their throat it’s reaching their kidneys. This reviewer might as well claim that playing this game will cure blindness while they’re @ it. ¿& “perfect soundtrack”? Don’t get me wrong, the Bowser theme is 1 o’ the best Bowser themes e’er, & “Bob-Omb Battlefield” was such a good song that it’s e’en the best song in Galaxy 2; but we’re talking ’bout the same game with that obnoxious “Slider” song — ’cause I love my clock & rainbow castle levels sounding like a fucking hoedown.

& don’t bother going into any detail regarding said level design, since it’s not as if different people have different opinions regarding what makes certain level design bad or good — which is important to note, as despite what this reviewer thinks, Super Mario 64’s level design is actually controversial. No, I’ll just take your word for it, reviewers so unprofessional you didn’t e’en bother to get a security certificate for your website that is probably bloated with ad JavaShit.

Spoiler alert: it is.

Leave you must, however, in order to jump into one of the most unique7 platformers Mario has ever headlined…

This reviewer is talking ’bout Super Mario Sunshine, which those who have actually played it know is just Super Mario 64 but with a water pack. I can think o’ plenty o’ games with Mario in it mo’ exotic ( & just generally better ), such as Yoshi’s Island, Super Mario Bros. 2, Mario vs. Donkey Kong, Mario Pinball Land, Mario Party Advance. This is why I hate Sunshine fans: they’re like rock fans who think they’re super avant-garde ’cause they listen to Pink Floyd.

Nintendo, in its infinite wisdom, was always going to mix things up and this left many players a bit wary.

If you think Super Mario Sunshine “mixed things up”, you have clearly ne’er played a game other than Super Mario 64 & Super Mario Sunshine.

Yes, Nintendo ( a company, who are not real organisms, & thus cannot have thoughts @ all ) has “infinite wisdom” & has ne’er made a mistake — that’s why they got their asses kicked hard during the GameCube era, ’cause the people playing PlayStation 2 & Xbox were all thinking, “¡Whoa! ¡Mario with a water pack! ¡That’s too radical for me! ¡I’m going to stick with my dumb 1st-person shooter that radically redefined how 1st-person shooters play or that dumb car-theft game that redefined the open-world genre Super Mario 64 created & with which Super Mario Sunshine did nothing new”.

Having never taken the plunge first time round, owning a GameCube but getting a dungaree fix from Mario Kart: Double Dash instead, it is interesting to come at Sunshine with fresh eyes.

OK, ignoring the hilarious dangling participle implying that the abstract concept o’ “coming @” ( a very accurate malaprop — this reviewer is, indeed, cumming @ Sunshine ) Sunshine with fresh eyes played Mario Kart; ¡this person talks ’bout the history o’ Sunshine as if they’re an authority, & then admits that they didn’t e’en play it when it came out, e’en tho they had the perfect opportunity! ¿Why? Probably ’cause they didn’t want to waste their money, ’cause they knew back then deep down how crappy it was. But now that it’s hip to love the game, now they have to go out & pretend they love it like all the other drones.

Also, I tried looking up “dungaree fix” & Google just stared @ me in confusion & Duck Duck Go told me to Go Fuck Fuck myself. All I know is that dungarees are a type o’ pants.

Much like the popper trousers of the time, it now ranks as one of the biggest regrets missing out initially.

¿Why is the reviewer so obsessed with pants & can they keep their creepy fetish ’way from our discussion o’ Mario games?

It should never have been in doubt, going by the triple A standard of Nintendo, but Super Mario Sunshine is superb.

“Nintendo is defined as making good games, therefore this game that they made must be good. I have very independent thought”.

Tasked with cleaning the island of Delfino, using Mario’s new sprinkler-cum-best-friend, F.L.U.D.D., exploration is a delight.

I’m in awe @ what a mangled mess this attempt @ English was. I think my favorite part is that they call it “the island of Delfino”, rather than its actual official name.

F.L.U.D.D. brings with him a whole new traversal scheme and allows for what would easily have been the most innovative level design that had ever been seen at the time (more on how it was topped later).

Nintendo’s most innovative level design was when they put that blue coin in that random place in the water or when they put 4 blue coins on 4 underwater pillars that all look the same.

Also, your attempt @ a cliffhanger would work better if there wasn’t just 1 game left to talk ’bout. “Duh, clearly ’twas Mario Tennis for the GBC that tops it”.

After mo’ faux-poetic superlatives that do not offer concrete details & could easily be written ’bout any game, it’s so generic, which includes such amazing accomplishments as “platforming over multiple levels”, which no platformer has e’er had the technology & brilliance to achieve before this Citizen Kane o’ video gaming, the reviewer — hold on…

It all proves to be never frustrating

Not e’en Sunshine fans would say something so blatantly untrue.

and is frequently overshadowed by other outings for the digitally rendered Bob Hoskins

¿What the fuck is this s’posed to mean? ¿Does this reviewer think every other Mario game is just an adaptation to that crappy Super Mario Bros. movie? No wonder they have such a lofty view o’ Sunshine.

Interestingly, in the reviewer’s single-minded obsession to give nothing but praise for this remake, the reviewer starts bashing Galaxy 2:

The decision to leave out Super Mario Galaxy 2 was always going to raise a few eyebrows but, as mentioned, it’s arguably not as good – don’t worry, just move on.

( Note: this wasn’t mentioned before in this review ).

It’s “arguably” not as good, but we don’t need to actually bother arguing. Just move on, guys, & just accept what I say without question.

Nintendo has also taken the time to simplify the Wii controls and allow for easier planet-hopping by mapping the often-frustrating star spin to the Y button. The Joy-Con set is the control scheme of choice, however by utilising the gyroscope in the Pro Controller, Star Bit collecting mid-galaxy hop is just as comfortable with all control schemes.

So, using motion controls is frustrating, but the best way to control this game is… motion controls… but it’s just as comfortable using any control scheme.

Galaxy also has the esteemed honour of introducing easily the best female character to ever grace a Mario game, in the form of Rosalina.

Rosalina is a hurt-fic character who does jack shit ’cept warp me ’way from the level I want to go back into to collect mo’ stars so they can tell me some stupid bullshit I don’t care ’bout despite s’posedly being a god that would get you laughed out o’ any creative writing class. That’s much better than characters like Goombella or Bow, who have actual personalities & volition. Truly Nintendo’s bootleg Disney princess who does nothing is the apex o’ feminism.

By the way, I just noticed this reviewer is italicizing video game titles, something that most people don’t bother doing, tho it technically makes sense to, since that’s the recommended way to style book, movie, & TV show titles in pretty much every style guide I’ve e’er read & is what is usually taught in school. That this typo-ridden article that barely managed to accomplish coherent English sentences manages to get this pretentious detail right only confuses me mo’.

Nintendo is never going to be accused of not taking innovation to another level […]

Yes, they are: I do it all the time.

[…] but it’s here that sends the company into the outer atmosphere (excuse the pun… no, don’t actually – it was great!)

Go fuck yourself.

Every galaxy explored offers a unique challenge […]

Yes, that Bowser lava level is totally different from that other lava level.

with even groan-worthy additions like the Bee Mario Suit being used to good effect…

Wait, ¿why is the Bee Mario Suit o’ all things groan-worthy? ¿’Cause it’s annoying to use? ¿Then how is it used to good effect? By definition, if it’s groan-worthy, it has a bad effect, ’less you think groaning is — you know what, let’s just hurry up with this shit.

I am baffled that this 1 detail that I could not e’en bother to qualify as good or bad I was so apathetic to it is the 1 flaw in what is s’posedly an otherwise flawless gem. Not pachinko or those dumbass boat rides with Yoshi in Sunshine; not e’en the Spring Mario power-up, which e’en people who love Galaxy regard as uncontrollable.

After saying nothing o’ substance ’bout these 3 games they s’posedly love so much, the reviewer mentioned the “giant Goomba in the room” regarding the limited release:

In truth, if this was any other company then there is no way this would be accepted […]

That’s ’cause they people who like those companies actually have standards, unlike Nintendo fanboys, who would buy a jar o’ toenail clippings if Nintendo plastered Mario’s face on it.

[…] yet when you objectively look […]

You haven’t looked @ anything objectively, you twat.

[…] as well as really thinking about whether or not consumers are going to pick this up […]

“If it sells well, it’s good”. Most reviews are written with the goal o’ encouraging or discouraging sales, so this is some circular logic here.

It shouldn’t have happened […]

It shouldn’t have happened, but e’en people with “infinite wisdom” sometimes make mistakes.

[…] but anyone who has an interest in this collection is likely to pick it up as soon as it’s released

Imagine how stupid this argument is: anyone who is interested in games that were released decades ago will only be interested in buying them immediately after they’re re-released. I mean, sure, people have been interested in playing Super Mario 64 for 24 years; but after March 2021, nobody will e’er have any reason to want to play this game.

Just be sure to not get taken in by scammers looking to charge over-the-odds when expecting a shortage. There won’t be one.

& this has been proven to be false.

Sorry for how long that went on, but that was the worst review I have e’er read in my life — perhaps e’en worse than that review o’ a video game book wherein the reviewer just complained that the writer was fat & was sad that his grandparents died. It still astounds me that there exists… some creature as stupid as this writer. You may bring up some alt-righter who pretends the world is flat or something, but they have a cynical motive for that shit, & they actually oft do the best they can with what terrible material they decide to work with. ¿How can you do such a shitty job selling 3D Mario games? ¿Did Nintendo pay this guy? ¿Why? ¿Who would look @ this review & think it’s worth money? ¿Did this guy do this by his own volition? Then that means he was trying to be completely genuine, which means they are genuinely this stupid. ¿Was this a 12-year-ol’? ¿Why would a review by a 12-year-ol’ be on Metacritic? ¿& how would they have the sophistication to set up so many Google Ads? I genuinely have trouble believing a human like this exists & that this isn’t some social experiment I don’t comprehend.

It’s hard to top that review, but I must carry on. Our next target is a li’l mo’ professional: a newspaper called The Sydney Morning Herald.

Mario defined the rules for the era of 3D movement in games, just as he defined the rules for the previous era of 2D sidescrollers […]

Well, this is partly true: Super Mario 64 defined 3D platformers, but Sunshine & Galaxy didn’t define shit. By that point nobody gave a shit ’bout 3D platformers, & if they did, they probably took mo’ influence from Banjo-Kazooie & Rare’s games. & Grand Theft Auto III had taken leadership for open-world games a year before Sunshine came out & underwhelmed anyone who might expect a Mario game on the same level o’ quality.

[Y]ou might find them eccentric by today’s standards, but the charm, craft and imagination on display is timeless and undeniable.

If their timelessness is undeniable, then why do they look eccentric by today’s standard. This is basically a tone-deaf way o’ saying, “If you think these games haven’t aged well, fuck you, they have. So there”.

For the uninitiated, 1996’s Super Mario 64, 2002’s Super Mario Sunshine and 2007’s Super Mario Galaxy are the red-capped everyman’s first 3D adventures.

No they’re not. Technically, Super Mario 64 isn’t e’en, since Super Mario RPG was arguably 3D. Mario had many 3D “adventures” thruout the N64 era, before Sunshine came out.

In the next sentence, this professional newspaper makes a typo & spells “depsite” “despite”. Remember this next time newspapers try to brag ’bout how they’re so much better than blogs & deserve their bloated subscription fees.

Compared to the previous trainwreck, this review looks downright decent in comparison. It a’least gets the facts right, & e’en acknowledges the wonkiness in Sunshine & its rushed development & mentions the inclusion o’ elements from the obscure “Shindou” release in the Super Mario 64 port. ’Course, they could have just researched that; but it would’ve been a miracle if the previous reviewer had bothered to do any semblance o’ research. Granted, I’m confused how they could claim that Galaxy, which is probably the most repetitive o’ the trilogy, has much slower movement than Super Mario 64, & is bloated by e’en mo’ pointless, unskippable cutscenes than the others, “makes the previous games look slow and repetitive by comparison”. This game you have to 100% twice, but as a green character the 2nd time, just to complete & which expects players to do many missions a 2nd time, but with only 1 hit point the 2nd time, sure isn’t repetitive @ all.

But I think my favorite part o’ this review is the way they had to qualify their main thesis ( buried in the middle, for some reason ):

but as it stands these are the best officially available versions of three incredible games [ emphasis mine ].

E’en they can’t lie & pretend this remake hasn’t gotten its ass kicked by what fans have done.

Metro.uk.co demonstrated Newgrounds-level scoring dissonance, providing plenty o’ examples o’ how flawed this remake is while ranking it 10/10. 10/10 is “as important a cultural achievement as Citizen Kane or Ulysses”. I don’t like to insult people for liking things, but the socially-responsible part o’ me has to say that if you think Mario jumping round galaxies & collecting stars is as culturally important as Citizen Kane… well, you’re the reason nobody takes video games seriously as an art form. Their logic is that Super Mario Galaxy is so great that it by itself merits this collection a 10. Spoiler: they don’t go into any detail ’bout why this is the case, save that “the movement and controls are so crisp you can almost taste the salt and vinegar”, which doesn’t make any sense. What they don’t mention is that e’en speedrunners who constantly play Galaxy games admit that Galaxy’s controls are finicky & that the physics sometimes just outright bug out, like sometimes making you go down when you hold up.

This is in contrast to their claim that “every jump in Mario Sunshine feels like a leap of faith”, which e’en I think is hyperbole. I mean, you have a jetpack for most o’ the game: e’en if you miss a jump by an inch, just hover the rest o’ the way. O’ all the complains I had ’bout Sunshine, not being able to land on platforms was not 1 o’ them. Well, ’cept for rope on poles; but that’s just ’cause if you try to hover after you grab it, Mario does some dumbass spin-flip that serves no purpose. But that’s rare & is offset by the fact that these ropes have hit boxes so buggily generous that they just warp you on top if you get close to them.

’Course it wouldn’t be a wank-fest for Galaxy without mentioning “the patented Nintendo magic”, which is the elusive way to say, “I have irrational nostalgia for this game & have no critical reason to like it”. That’s cute if you’re just a normal person, but makes you unfit as a critic for a video game, where having critical thought & being able to actually analyze the game with concrete points is a necessity.

The closest they come to concrete examples is when they bring up rolling on a ball or a level assembling itself as you move round ( which isn’t a real gameplay gimmick, just a visual effect that’s distracting & detrimental to gameplay ), which they claim “other developers would make the basis of an entire game”. ’Cept, no, they wouldn’t, ’cause these gimmicks are lame. If they’re impressed by these, I can only imagine they would explode if they saw a game with actual creative gimmicks, like, say, Donkey Kong Country 2.

Also, this review gets some facts wrong. For instance, they claim that “That wasn’t organised in a couple of months from someone’s bedroom”, when, in fact, it has been proven that this game took only 6 months to develop.

I do have to give them credit for having spine ’nough to admit Sunshine was a shitty game.

in Mario Sunshine we rarely felt anything other than mild irritation and frustration.

In the game’s defense, I would personally add “amusement @ such bad design & programming”, but I think I just have that taste for crap that other people can’t tolerate ( as these reviews o’ bad reviews demonstrate ).

1 thing all these reviews have in common is that none o’ them actually try to prove their point with examples & are so scant with details that anyone who has ne’er played or seen these games would have no idea what kind o’ games these are. This is typical for game reviews. I remember when I considered trying out Witcher III, ’cause I heard ’twas s’posedly great, but could not find any information on what kind o’ game it is — including what its genre was ( my best guess is that it’s an RPG, which means it’s probably as fun as spending a whole day sitting by an ant hill & smashing my thumb down on each o’ the million ants that come out ). The only hint I received was that it seems to have some cliché fantasy schlock writing that would get you laughed out o’ a speculative fiction writing guild — which is to say, typical video game writing. All I’ve e’er been able to learn ’bout The Last of Us games is that its story involves people zombified by mushrooms ( basically, an idea ripped off from EarthBound, ’cept its writer was smart ’nough to realize that this is a silly idea unworthy o’ drama ). This plot you’d find in a cheap airport novel in literature is considered 1 o’ the best video games e’er written, as said by a gamer community whose idea o’ “literature” is Star Wars Expanded Universe novels. No one e’er says what the actual gameplay is. ¿I guess you shoot people? That’s ne’er been done in video games before. It’s amazing to think that video games have such huge artistic opportunities, & yet all anyone wants to do is make shooter & platformer games ’bout genre-fiction schlock or make VR shit so people can stare up anime girls’ skirts. ( Incidentally, Anime Girl VR is the next Casablanca o’ video games ).

I want to just point out that in my asides ’bout these games I have delivered mo’ concrete information ’bout these games than these reviews do. If I only knew Galaxy by what these reviewers say, I’d only know that it had “big bosses” & a woman character that some random person thinks is the best woman character written, but apparently doesn’t care ’nough ’bout them to give any details, including their fucking backstory & that this game looks beautiful in the opinion o’ the reviewers. Considering the # o’ game fans who think barren wastelands that look like everything got peed on are gorgeous next-level visuals, I wouldn’t e’en take this assertion for half a grain o’ salt.

Super Mario 3D All-Stars has already outsold all other games on Amazon, which is to say that despite gamers’ complaining, they still couldn’t keep themselves from buying it, e’en tho there’s millions o’ better games out there for cheaper, ’cause they’re just that stupid. Look forward to the 40th Mario anniversary when Nintendo sells a limited-edition disk o’ Donkey Kong that has stains on it ’cause the intern used it as a coaster for his drinks during the months before release. I can’t wait for the GameXplain videos detailing how these pixels are extra pixellated & are 2.8% mo’ saturated.

But ’cause you’ve suffered ’nough thru this longwinded article full o’ cyberbullying & soapboxing irrelevant political opinions ( ’less I cut those parts out — if so, pretend I ne’er brought it up ), I offer you some actually great YouTube videos I found on the subject:

SAY THE LINE, MARIO.

Here we have the best summary o’ Super Mario 3D All-Stars. Just look @ what amazing comedic timing there is, with the long drawn-out pause, just the right length, & then the switch movement @ the end. That’s slapstick worthy o’ classic Tom & Jerry.

Posted in Video Games, Yuppy Tripe

Boskeopolis Land: Let’s Code a Crappy 2D Platformer Like Millions o’ Other People on the Internet & Lose Interest & Give Up Only a Few Months In, Part LII: I Wanna Be Your Vacuum Cleaner

I Wanna Be Your Vacuum Cleaner

Accompanying music

I’d been toying with the idea o’ a “race ’head o’ the screen” type level ( distinguished from typical autoscroll levels by the ability to go as quickly ’head as you want, rather than locking you back & forcing you to wait, which I hate ) since near the beginning o’ this project. As that article shows, the original idea was a basic saw. Howe’er, not only is that idea cliché, ’twould also use a factory level, & I already have all 4 o’ that theme’s slots filled, while the new domestic theme has plenty o’ slots to fill.

Having decided this, I for some reason came up with the idea o’ a giant cat chasing you, but then realized that that would be far too difficult to animate, so I changed it to a vacuum, which I could just slide forward without any animation. & ’cause I was extra lazy & too unskilled an artist to draw a tolerable vacuum, I just used a photo o’ my vacuum. I actually like how it looks in all its sloppiness: it’s like the indie video game version o’ a B-movie monster — a B-video-game monster.

Ironically, I would then waste far too much time drawing & tinkering with all the other graphics, including the spinning fan, which the player will barely see, since they’re racing past it just to survive.

Beyond that, the trickiest task was pacing out the level. As I try to show in the video, I paced out the level just so that the player wouldn’t have to e’er stop, which is a philosophy I like to take with level design, inspired by Donkey Kong Country 2. That’s tricky to follow for this level, as the main challenge is s’posed to be holding the player back so they’re @ risk o’ being devoured by the vacuum. When I 1st designed the level, I designed it just like that, with jumps & falls tightly packed in horizontally so that the player couldn’t help but bonk into walls if they didn’t stop. Feeling that that was just annoying, I spread them out a bit, so that it’s possible to not bonk into walls while going straight forward, but in some cases ( such as the staircase midway thru the level ), it requires tight jumping, as there’s li’l space.

Part o’ me still worried that some parts may be unfair for those who aren’t familiar with the level, such as the optimal pattern o’ running under the 1st bouncing ball, jumping o’er the 2nd ball, & then holding the jump button just long ’nough that you can reach the top o’ the block just after & run under the 3rd bouncing ball. On the other hand, I didn’t originally design this setup this way, I just figured it out as I played this o’er 100 times in the process o’ testing & developing it, & I wouldn’t be surprised if a speedrunner could find a better way to beat the score. Indeed, tho this video shows 32 as the score requirement, I lowered it to 30 afterward, as it seems you’re almost guaranteed to get 32 if you’re not intentionally lagging ’hind. & yet I’m just as worried that this level may be too trivial to beat normally. It’s very rare that the vacuum has e’er been able to catch up to me when not intentionally letting it or going for the diamond. This & the fact that the attic level I’m working on may prove to be too complex for the 2nd level o’ the game, I may move this level down to the 1st cycle, rather than the 2nd cycle it’s in now.

I also feel like the diamond isn’t in the most creative place. Howe’er, I wanted to keep the whole level within the screen vertically, so that left nowhere to hide the diamond, other than past the keycane, which is a trick I already used for “Brier Flier”. Anyway, the ease o’ finding the diamond is balanced by how hard it is to grab it without the vacuum catching up to the player — tho this is balanced back by the fact that you don’t have to beat the level to keep the diamond, so you can just grab the diamond & let yourself die. Unfortunately, by balancing the vacuum’s speed to allow you just ’nough time to grab the diamond, this makes it easy to reach just the keycane before the vacuum catches up, as stated earlier. But maybe this all works better if I go ’head with making this the 2nd level.

Read this source code that should be vacuumed up
Learn mo’ ’bout this project @ boskeopolis-land.com

Posted in Boskeopolis Land, Programming

Great & Sucky Stages — Super Mario Bros. 2 ( US ) Levels from Worst to Best

Sandwiched ’tween 2 o’ the greatest video games o’ all time, it’s easy for Super Mario Bros. 2 to be forgotten. While many talk ’bout how Super Mario Bros. 2 is viewed a black sheep o’ the series, usually by people praising the game, unlike Super Mario Sunshine, I have rarely seen this sentiment 1st-hand. It did only sell 10 million copies, which while amazing for most games, was nearly half o’ what Super Mario Bros. 3 sold — tho that was also during a chip shortage.

What I can say for certain is that I ne’er liked this game as much as 1, 3, World, or e’en Lost Levels, but this is primarily due to Super Mario Bros. 2’s slower, awkward gameplay & mechanics & its wonky physics & controls. I still find it odd that people call Luigi’s slippery controls in Lost Levels unplayable, but have no problem with the fact that everyone is slippery in this game, specially Luigi. I ne’er liked how easy it is for characters to clip into blocks or how they bounce all round when they get hit.

Also, the decision to make your character shrink when you only have 1 hit point is idiotic, specially with the half-assed way they implemented it ( in the NES & SNES versions, a’least ): they don’t actually change your hitbox; they just make your graphic smaller, so it’s less representative — so it’s a lie. Making your character’s graphics non-representative o’ your hitbox is a cardinal sin o’ bad game design, & it’s shocking that an official Mario game would have such a thing. ¿Why’d they e’en need to shrink your character with 1 hitpoint? Despite the lazy repainting o’ Doki Doki Panic’s hearts to mushrooms, your health is still nothing like health in Super Mario Bros. — hell, despite the trouble they went to to make your character visually shrink, they didn’t bother to repaint your hit points on the side o’ the screen from diamonds ( & for some reason used hearts in the SNES & Game Boy Advance remakes ). Furthermo’, Super Mario 64 didn’t have mushrooms or growing & shrinking @ all, & that game was mo’ beloved than Super Mario Bros. 2, & Super Mario Bros. 2 was just after the 1st game to have the grow-&-shrink mechanic, making it probably the 1 game that most get ’way from the deviance to this “pattern”.

I also ne’er liked how the characters all feel like they have many weaknesses rather than a strength: all but Toad take way too long to pick up things, so that it’s very easy for Birdo to throw off cheap shots you’re vulnerable, unable to dodge as you’re character’s too busy slowly grabbing an egg for, like, a whole second, which is made worse by how slow Luigi & Peach fall, making them mo’ vulnerable while up in the air. Meanwhile, Toad is almost useless @ jumping & Mario is almost useless @ everything. Also, I always found it nonsensical that Toad runs fastest when holding something. Since jumping is still the most important element o’ this game, specially with skipping section, this means most players will probably prefer to stick with Luigi & Peach & just stomach the fact that they suck @ anything regarding throwing or digging & use Toad in the rare places where jumping is less important than throwing or digging. Thus, the game somehow manages to fail @ encouraging balanced use o’ characters while also making e’en the best characters feel crippled.

Most importantly, I always felt the whole Subcon health upgrade system, which, giving you extra health, played an integral part o’ how difficult the game was, was too much o’ a trial-&-error guessing game.

But Super Mario Bros. 2 had 2 strengths: it had memorable graphics & enemy designs & had catchy music. Moreo’er, tho, Super Mario Bros. 2 had underrated level designs that evolved from the 1st Super Mario Bros.’s linear left-to-right pattern to mo’ complex layouts that twisted in all kinds o’ shapes.

20. World 6-1

4 worlds after world 2, which already used the desert theme, we get yet ’nother desert level with the same litany o’ Cobrats & Pokeys. & unlike the other desert levels, which usually make the 2nd half be a cave with sand-digging, this level makes the 2nd half be a cave with… e’en mo’ Cobrats, but popping out o’ pots. I actually don’t know if I should be glad for this “twist” or find it worse.

Actually, I do know: it’s much worse — that 2nd cave involves a genius puzzle wherein you have to trial-&-error thru all 21 pots to find the 1 that has a key @ the bottom to unlock the door @ the end o’ the cave. E’en better: There are 4 pots with sand areas in them, but only 1 o’ these sand areas has the key @ the bottom, so you have to tediously dig thru each to see whether or not each has a key.

This level sucks & I’m baffled why any human would think it could be entertaining to play.

19. World 2-1

Desert levels in Super Mario Bros. 2 fall into what I will now call “Jolly Roger Bay Syndrome” harder than Jolly Roger Bay: it doesn’t truly matter that much which came 1st; the fact that all these levels feel similar brings them all down. & like “Jolly Roger Bay” makes it worse by having it apply to tedious water levels, Super Mario Bros. 2 makes it worse by applying this to desert levels with the sleep-inducing digging mechanic, which just involves rapidly pressing a button & maybe moving every so oft to make sure a Shy Guy doesn’t fall on you — all as a contrived way to make Toad feel mo’ useful, e’en tho he already has advantages when fighting bosses ( & just moving faster for speedrunners ), so these sand sections may actually make the game less balanced.

All 3 world 2 levels follow the same pattern more o’ less: 1st section is stretch o’ sandy outside area full o’ Cobrats & maybe Pokeys, followed by a cave section full o’ sand you have to dig thru. 2-1 has the least interesting sand pattern, being just a rectangle with a few holes with cherries in them. If you preserved your cherries well, you can time it so that the last cherry gives you a star & then rush thru the last stretch & kill Birdo with it. Other than that, there’s nothing else to say ’bout this level.

18. World 2-2

Same pattern as 2-1. This level’s outside area has mo’ intricate terrain that isn’t all flat, but it looks jankier & less natural. Sand just stops gainst a pot with cut-off round the pots edges.

The underground sand section in this level is mo’ interesting, with a branching path. Howe’er, 1 o’ the 2 paths just leads to a dead end. This section is notorious for possibly leading to a softlock if the player, for some reason, removes all the sand there so that they can’t get back up.

17. World 2-3

Similar pattern to 2-1, but with spawning Beezos in the outdoors section & just 1 Cobrat & Pokey each.

The underground section is also mo’ interesting. Rather than just digging down to the bottom o’ a sand pit, you dig to the bottom to grab a key & then race up to the locked door in the middle while avoiding Phanto. This sand patch also has a branching path, but both branches end together @ the same door.

There’s also a short non-sand section @ the start with a branching path. The right path is full o’ enemies, but gives you a POW block for your troubles, while the left path is just an empty hole. The Game Boy Advance remake uses this split to be cheap assholes & put an ace coin on the left, so if you happen to take the right path ( or miss the ace coin floating slightly to the left o’ the left path ), you have to kill yourself or restart the level.

16. World 6-3

This is the least uninteresting desert level that follows the “outside area with Cobrats & Pokeys followed by cave full o’ sand you have to dig up” pattern used for 4 o’ this game’s levels. Actually, while this level has sand you can dig up, there’s no reason to, ’less you’re desperate for cherries or bombs. Your main focus is 2 rock walls you need to blow up with bombs to continue. Not the most interesting challenge, considering you’ve already had to do this in previous levels.

If you want mo’ challenge, you can waste your time blowing up many mo’ rocky walls to get access to a mushroom or some coins, but it’s not worth the effort, not the least o’ which since not screwing yourself o’er is trial-&-error: there’s a 90% chance you’ll accidentally grab the potion, which is just an arbitrary grass in the middle o’ the main route forward, lost ’mong the bombs, which is long before you’re ready to get the mushroom ( or get mo’ than a few coins ), wasting it. E’en better, you can easily get yourself stuck in a lower area if you’re not careful, forcing you to commit suicide to continue.

The 2nd half o’ this level is a climb up to the top o’ a cloudy area to find a pyramid in the sky. While the pyramid in the sky is amusing, I guess, & I like the rare autumnal red vines, the challenge itself is just a mo’ bloated, less tricky version o’ 5-2’s vine section, despite coming a full world afterward. If they had made the section a bit mo’ relevant to the desert theme — a’least have Cobrats or Pokeys, ’stead — this section would be much stronger & feel less like just a generic section that could fit just as well as in any other level.

This level’s strongest element is the secret @ the beginning o’ the level: quick sand that goes under the left wall, which you can use to go under the wall to a secret door on the other side. This door takes you right to the pyramid in the sky @ the end o’ the level. Since, as I’ve written here, nothing you’ll skip is o’ any interest, this is the recommended route ’less you’re the kind o’ poor sap going for the ace coins or Yoshi eggs in the Game Boy Advance remake.

15. World 1-3

This level falls victim to introducing mechanics done better in later levels. It starts with logs falling down waterfalls, which are fun if not impressive jumping challenges, which are perhaps properly formidable in its simplest form for the 1st boss level — a great place for a slight difficulty spike.

After this we have a factory area that gives you a longer-form version o’ grabbing the key & dodging Phanto, introduced in 1-2. Howe’er, since you’re mainly falling downward with the key, it’s still easier than later varieties. The only problem is the last fall, which is blind: the left side can make you fall into spikes, & the only way to avoid that is to know ’head o’ time to avoid the left side.

Other than that cheap blind fall, tho, this is a solid level for where it is. Unfortunately, all other things being equal, the early, introductory levels usually end up being the least great levels.

14. World 3-1

Tho the 1st part is mostly just basic cloud jumps with enemies, the waterfall theme is refreshingly rare. The use o’ the Pidgit straight up the final part o’ the waterfall section builds on World 1-2’s challenge; while that 1 let you easily weave round the Beezos’ paths, here you have to weave ’tween their paths.

The next section builds on the challenge o’ the Pansers. Whereas 2-2 & 2-3 had them o’er flat land, here they are o’er short platforms o’er a pit. Granted, being fiery plant enemies, they don’t fit the sky as well as deserts. You can skip this section with a door past a wide gap if you’re playing as Peach ( Luigi might be able to reach it, too, with clever jumping ); but this section is so simple, you may not want to bother, specially since you need to bomb down a rock wall in the shortcut, anyway. Speedrunners don’t e’en bother taking this “shortcut”.

The mushrooms in this level are dickishly placed before their respective potions, & the 2nd mushroom isn’t worth the effort: you can’t climb out with the potion, leading the player to doubt the designers would put a mushroom outside o’ that li’l cave area, which means that e’en if the player knows where the mushroom is, they have to race up the ladder & onto the mushroom — making sure not to o’ershoot their drop & run right off into the pit — before Subcon kicks them out, leaving no extra time for grabbing coins. Worse, after this you need to climb up the ladder with the Panser back, hovering o’er you.

I’m not sure how to feel ’bout the secret @ the bottom o’ the waterfall, under the 1st platforms. While putting rewards down where players expect death is unintuitive, designwise, I guess it works as a consolation prize for those bad ’nough @ the game to fall down by accident.

13. World 1-2

Widely known as “the Pidget level”. Pidget is surprisingly underused in this game, & e’en mo’ surprising, this level may be the best use. This mechanic is e’en better since the game doesn’t tutorialize it: it just shows you a pit that’s obviously too large to jump past ( ’cept maybe with Toadstool — I’ve ne’er tried ) & a bird on a flying carpet & expects the player to fill in the squares themselves. I like how the Beezos seem a threat; but since you can freely fly anywhere, not really, since you can just fly o’er them. &, ’course, I can’t ignore the clever way this game lets you skip the whole underground section with careful use o’ the flying carpet.

The underground section introduces breaking rocky blocks with bombs to get thru. It’s just 2 walls, but they did still implement a shortcut: the main path actually involves going up a ladder round the 2nd rocky wall that doesn’t have any bombs in front o’ it & tediously blowing up all 3 rocky blocks to the right with the bombs up ’bove ( you can’t go down the ladder with bombs, so you can’t just break the bottom wall ) to drop back down below the rocky wall below. Howe’er, you could also just go back to an earlier part o’ the underground section, grab a bomb, & then race to the 2nd bottom rocky wall to break it & bypass the whole upper area.

12. World 5-3

This may be 1 o’ the most bizarre-looking levels in the original NES version, thanks to its bizarre palette with the lime grass & yellow dirt accompanied by eye-searingly red hills with dark blue borders. To be honest, it looks tacky, specially with the log platforms that blend in with them — some o’ which are missing their left face for some reason, leading to jarring cutoff. This is 1 o’ the few times I prefer the remakes making the palettes mo’ consistent with other levels. That said, I do like how the hills continue down into the underground area — e’en if they don’t quite line-up, technically.

This level introduced Bob-Omb-dropping Albatrosses, with rocky walls that said Bob-Ombs can break ’pon exploding, just like regular bombs, tho you have no reason to bother, since you can easily jump o’er them. This pattern continues to the end o’ the 1st area, where you have 2 rock walls that hide a secret mushroom you can just jump round to get to the next area, which starts with a lower section blocked by rocky walls you can skip, which only hold coins. Considering the game forces you to break rock walls with regular bombs as early as 1-2 ( or 3-2 if you skip that section using Pidgit — which takes mo’ forethought that skipping these rocky walls requires ), it’s odd that they don’t force you to use the Bob-Ombs anywhere in this level.

Inside the tree-hill thing has clever challenges timing dropping down block-clogged passageways while dodging the spinning Sparks, with 2 subtle shortcuts with a single-block space o’er the Shy Guy producing pots that a ducking character can slide thru with the right momentum. Then there’s a climb up short platform steps while dodging the fireballs o’ Pansers moving down the steps & a long outside area with the last Pidgit in the game & a bunch o’ short jumps with enemies.

This level goes on a bit too long & tapers off the rails o’ its theme @ the end. This level has a lot o’ good ideas, but some are wasted by making them pointless & many o’ them don’t belong together in a single level.

This level may have the most blatantly obvious warp secret in the game, with that pot right up there where you can clearly see it & a potion right next to it.

11. World 4-3

This level begins with the most iconic puzzle in Super Mario Bros. 2: a benign Birdo whose eggs you need to ride past the gaping hole right @ the start.

After that you have vertical versions o’ 4-1’s Flurry dodging challenges, going up, & then down, with half o’ the downward section requiring you to carry a key to the bottom.

The downward section also starts with a short challenge forcing you to ride a Shy Guy or Tweeter o’er spikes. It’s less memorable than 4-2’s cannon o’er spikes, but arguably trickier, specially in the Game Boy Advance remake, as you have to jump off the enemy before the long fall to reach an ace coin on a small alcove that in all other versions o’ this game has no purpose. You can skip 1 o’ these long sections with Luigi or Peach by jumping o’er a long gap ’tween the entrance & exit o’ the palace.

I don’t know why the crystal ball room is designed the way it is. It’s just a crystal ball followed by a small hole you have to try to fall into & the hawk entrance, but there’s a high-up place with a single Flurry & nothing else. Maybe it’s there to create the ( cheap, bullshit ) risk o’ the Flurry falling on your head as you move for the Hawk head, but it’ll probably fall off before you e’en reach the jump, & a dumb challenge e’en if it worked.

10. World 5-2

The 1st half is a clever layout o’ rising & falling Hoopsters you have to weave thru, followed by the most interesting vine-climbing section in the game, forcing the player to weave ’tween both Hoopsters & Snifits.

Then the level ends with a bullshit drop where you have to weave ’tween spikes you don’t have nearly ’nough time to move round before you see them, making this section trial-&-error. The floor @ the very bottom e’en has holes o’er bottomless pits. Also, the Game Boy Advance remake has an ace coin in a very unnatural place you’re almost certain to miss the 1st time, with no way back up but suicide or restarting the level.

Fighting Birdo in a waterfall area with hopping Trouters ’stead o’ in yet ’nother cave is refreshing, a’least.

9. World 1-1

This game’s 1st level is subtly clever, with both a variety o’ themes that don’t feel contrived — including a cave you enter & climb up to reach the top o’ a mountain, which ends @ a vine that you climb up as the mountains gradually end while the clouds come into play. The level has a U shape, entering from a door in the middle o’ the sky ( which is night in the original NES version, for some reason ) & dropping straight down, going straight right on a seemingly normal grassland, & then climbing up a sky area to the fight with Birdo in the clouds.

The level also subtly introduces mechanics, such as the hill that stands out near the otherwise flat beginning that hides the 1st potion, to the short log-rolling section you can skip if it’s too hard for you so soon, to the POW block just after, & then the cherries spread out that the player will likely collect & likely see the star appear. The level weaves them together into what feels like a normal level, rather than breaking them out into conspicuously separate areas like a modern game would do.

This level also provides 2 shortcuts for mo’ skilled players, such as a way to jump the mountain in the main room to skip the cave or the door in the cave hidden ’hind a rocky wall that requires timing a bomb throw before it to break the rocks, allowing the player to skip the whole 2nd half o’ the level.

8. World 4-1

This level introduces the ice theme unique to world 4, which starts by honing your skills dealing with slippery physics with a simply but challenging section wherein you jump from ice-block bridge to bridge, weaving ’tween Flurries who slip round back & forth, trying to follow you & oft o’ershooting their mark thanks to their low traction.

This is followed not by the typical Birdo fight, but by a long battlezone littered with Flurries & cannon-manning Shy Guys, who shoot you with fireballs as you try climbing up the high ice towers.

7. World 5-1

World 5 is to world 3 what world 6 is to world 3 in the original Super Mario Bros., with world 3 having a vague tropical waterfall & hill during the day & world 5 having the same theme, but @ night.

This level may have the cleverest use o’ the Panser, challenging you to cross both o’er & under it while dodging its fireballs.

Most o’ the level takes place in front o’ underground waterfalls wherein the player must hop ’cross falling logs & hopping Trouters, the only time this game requires the player to cross waterfalls in such precarious ways with no way round it.

Tho the mushroom halfway thru the section is just a plain platform just after the potion, the last mushroom is a clever puzzle that requires the player to hop up to the ceiling & grab the block to fall down so that the mushroom can fall down when you go into Subcon. Howe’er, this puzzle loses points for having 2 blocks up there, forcing the player to either risk going up & doing it ’gain for the other block or try 1 block & hope they guess correctly.

6. World 6-2

This level has the gimmick I ripped off in Boskeopolis Land’s “Dark Sahara”: ride on the heads o’ flying Albatrosses ’cross the pits far too large to jump o’er. Howe’er, this original version’s has a simpler layout, but still feels much harder thanks to Super Mario Bros. 2’s slippier controls. This gimmick is unique to this level; but since Albatrosses are enemies who have appeared in other levels, & riding enemies heads is something you’ve done many times, if only to pick them up, this gimmick feels like a natural variation to this game general mechanics.

This is the only desert level to take place @ night on the original NES version — tho 2-1 seems like it’s s’posed to be dusk with the stars in the sky. I’m not sure why they didn’t continue the day/night scheme from the 1st Super Mario Bros. that this game uses for world 5 vs. world 3 for world 6 vs. world 2.

This level’s birdo seems harder than it is, a green ( eggless ) Birdo in a cramped room with just 2 mushroom blocks. Howe’er, Birdo standing on a dais gives you an advantage in that you can just duck on the bottom floor as Birdo shoots fireballs ’bove your head while you wait for Birdo to pause & hop to get up & grab a block or throw a block you’re holding.

5. World 3-3

While many people complain ’bout 4-2, 3-3 is arguably worse & is definitely the largest difficulty spike in the game.

This level introduces bomb-dropping Albatosses, but there are only 2 o’ them o’er a flat plain, so there’s not much to say ’bout them. Perhaps it would’ve been better to keep them to the levels that use them mo’ thoroughly so that they would feel fresher in those levels.

The inside factory area is where the game just fucks you in every way. There are 3 doors, 2 o’ which are unlocked. The top door leads to the key, @ the top o’ a room you have to go up & down, full o’ pots that repeatedly generate Shy Guys. The other door leads to a room that seems to end in a dead end @ a tall cliff you can’t reach — that is, ’less you bring the Ninji from the bottom up to the top, wherein if you stand on his head & high-jump off @ the top o’ the Ninji’s jump, you’ll be able to bypass half the key room. That half you skip is full o’ clever arrangements o’ blocks & Sparks, but a pain in the ass to navigate.

Just after this shortcut is a door whence the key door’s area meets up with this room. What’s bizarre is that if you go thru that door trying to go farther up from the key room leads to ’nother dead end before a tall height gap before farther up in the level, which you can’t skip this time, making this dead end useless. You have to continue upward, which will re-meet with the key room higher up, past the key room’s dead end. ¿Confused? Imagine trying to play this.

E’en if you take the Ninji shortcut, you still have mo’ tricky Spark arrangements & possibly the hardest Panser challenge wherein you have to dodge 2 Panser’s fireballs while slowly climbing up a chain & then go side to side on chains, trying not to slip off with these chain’s wonky hit detection wherein you need to be right in the middle to be able to climb them.

This is certainly a cleverly constructed level, & I e’en quite like the strong castle aesthetics thruout the whole level. But there’s something questionable ’bout having possibly the hardest level in the game before the half-way mark.

4. World 4-2

The 2nd ice level evolves 4-1’s simple but challenging beginning with a simpler but e’en mo’ challenging — a notorious roadblock for players — mostly-flat icy bridge that throws Beezos @ you from every vertical position, forcing you to duck & jump with quick timing to weave ’tween them.

My only problem with this level is that your character’s dumb ducking high jump mechanic gets in the way: you’ll usually want to be ducking & sliding to keep higher-up Beezos from hitting you & only jump ( while still ducking to minimize the chances o’ a higher Beezo hitting you will still waiting to land back to ground ) before Beezos @ the very bottom; but ducking too long lengthens your jump height, which not only changes your jump height, but also keeps you in the air longer, where you’re vulnerable to Beezos with li’l you can do to control whether or not you get hit.

This section is followed by a unique area with whales as platforms, who spit water out o’ the blowhole, which you can use to reach the top section o’ the area. Their tails can also act as platforms & hold this area’s mushroom. While I love this unique theme, & can certainly understand the whale’s water hurting you if you hit it from the side, sometimes the water hurts you if it hits you from below if you don’t jump before it rises under you, which just feels arbitrary & cheap. Presumably, they programmed its hit detection with the same janky “¿is the player’s vertical speed greater than 0?” check that the original Super Mario Bros. uses for testing bonking enemies on the head.

The last section o’ this level requires you to jump on the cannon-manning Shy Guy, throw the Shy Guy off, & ride the cannon rightward past the spike pit. Don’t try riding past the spike pit with the Shy Guy still on, as it just goes back & forth & you’ll just get knocked off the cannon by the low-hanging ceiling thanks to the extra height the Shy Guy gives you.

While these 3 sections don’t fit seamlessly together, they do a’least all fit the ice theme. My only complaint is that I feel this level squanders a’least 2 great ideas for 1 level, when they could’ve replaced a superfluous desert level — or e’en just replace a superfluous desert world with an ice world, since it’s clear they had mo’ ideas for ice levels than desert levels.

3. World 3-2

This level has an intriguing path shape, with the main room having a unique o’erground/underground counterparts in the same area. The main path involves going to the far right or halfway thru the ’boveground area & then down to the far right o’ the top underground area & then go down e’en further, going down & up ladders as you make your way to the left end o’ the underground area. Howe’er, halfway thru the top underground area there’s a gap going leftward that Peach can float ’cross, skipping a whole room full o’ rocky walls you’d need to bomb thru.

My only complaint gainst this level is that the 2nd mushroom puzzle is bullshit trial-&-error gameplay. The mushroom is under 1 o’ the 2 rock-blocked alcoves, which is to be expected, but the area only gives you 1 bomb, so you need to guess & hope you’re lucky or look up the answer.

2. World 7-2

This level starts with a series o’ outside cloud platforms with an onslaught o’ column-helmed Snifits, who are far from the trickiest layout, but a fitting warm-up.

The bulk o’ this final level is a factory maze with branches here & there, most o’ which act simply as alternate routes to the same end, tho there are 2 that lead to rooms with mushrooms ( as well as bullshit bomb plants, which are surrounded by towers, making it pretty much impossible to throw it & not have it blow up in your face ). Other than that, the way the mushrooms are hidden within this giant maze is a fitting way to make players work for their extra hit points in this end-game level.

All o’ this level’s main rooms revolve round block & Spark arrangements — tho oddly, none are as challenging as the kind found mo’ than half the game ago in 3-3. Many o’ the rooms present li’l danger, such as the drop down the mushroom block bridges or, e’en odder, the chain climb wherein most o’ the climb you can go straight upward without the Sparks e’en e’er able to hit you. The long climb up conveyor belt platforms @ the end o’ the bottom path & the climb up the teal blocks on the upper path with the upside-down T block & Sparky formations can be tricky, tho. This early the developers had already figured out what is now known to every rom-hack developer: that marathons make for particularly challenging levels. Howe’er, 3-3 was already something o’ a marathon itself, & the tameness o’ these rooms dampens the danger o’ e’en redoing many sections. Unfortunately, many, like the room with the Sparks & mushroom blocks, are mo’ boring to have to redo than difficult.

The hardest part o’ the level is the Birdo on the conveyor belt near the end, holding a key needed to reach the end rather than a crystal ball, specially thanks to this game’s bullshit wherein eggs hurt you e’en after they’ve hit a wall & are falling offscreen.

But ’tween the locked door & Wart is a cleverly designed room with just a crystal ball & hawk face, ominously littered with 2 mushroom blocks & no enemies @ which you’d need to throw them — that is till the player runs into the infamous twist: the hawk face, rather than peacefully opening its mouth & letting you inside as it does on every other level, starts flying @ you in wavy patterns, forcing you to throw a mushroom block @ it 3 times to tame it & continue to Wart.

Unfortunately, Wart himself is mo’ tedious than challenging. While the bubbles he constantly spits out are easy to dodge, the speed @ which he spits them makes it hard to toss a vegetable into his mouth before he spits a bubble out & breaks the vegetable, which usually turns this battle into a stalemate, which is worsened by Wart’s bloated 6 hit points.

1. World 7-1

While this game has had cloud sections here & there, including the 1st level, 7-1 is the only level 100% dedicated to its cloudy theme.

The 1st main area is a shorter, less straightforward variation o’ 6-2’s gimmick, which requires the player to ride an Albatross o’er the left wall & past the large gap after it. While most players need to go all the way to the far right to where they can climb up on a hut’s roof to get high ’nough to reach the Albatrosses, Luigi can high-jump up to 1 right @ the start, skipping most o’ this section.

The next section involves a cloud maze full o’ pots that repeatedly generate Shy Guys that zigzags down to go under a tall pole — tho Luigi can just jump o’er the pole by jumping off the Snifit on the pole to the left o’ it.

The 3rd section involves climbing up cloud sections littered with circling Sparks, including 1 section that requires the player to stack Mushroom blocks while dodging Sparks if they’re not Luigi. This is slow & annoying, howe’er, so you should just play as Luigi.

This is followed by short ladder climbs guarded by Snifits & Hoopsters, — a less-developed but better-looking version o’ 5-2’s vine climb — which ends @ a hut @ the top.

Inside the hut is the least accommodating green/gray Birdo in the game, with just 1 mushroom block with which to throw all 3 o’ Birdo’s hits & tight space to grab it while Birdo shoots fireball after fireball @ you.

Posted in Great Stages, Sucky Stages, Video Games

Great & Sucky Stages — Super Mario Sunshine Levels from Worst to Best

Super Mario Sunshine’s gone thru an interesting reverse reputation change that Super Mario 64 has gone thru. While Super Mario 64 was universally beloved when it 1st came out, it has become a common punching bag for cries o’ “o’errated” by players nowadays for s’posedly being “outdated”1, Super Mario Sunshine was universally reviled as a dumb joke that gave Mario a water pack & made him clean up graffiti & made Bowser a sitcom dad during a period when Nintendo themselves were widely considered a joke with their GameCube compared to Sony & Microsoft, — so much that people feared Nintendo would go bankrupt — only for Sunshine to now be considered an underrated gem.

I must confess that I myself harbor nostalgia for Super Mario Sunshine, a game I once played every summer when I was in high school or college. I also admittedly started to see some o’ the flaws in Super Mario 64’s armor while analyzing its levels, which made me curious to see… ¿would I find that Sunshine’s design was, indeed, better?

Then I played Sunshine & realized it aged e’en worse. I was shocked as I played with fresh & careful eyes & saw so many sloppy decisions — the lazy blue coin placements, the incompetent handling o’ coins, the underdeveloped level structures that don’t take full advantage o’ their themes, the challenges so awfully constructed they in many cases must’ve been created thru pure spite & hatred o’ the player rather than accident, & the absolutely broken physics & controls. If I were to compare Sunshine to any game, it’d be to Donkey Kong 64, ’nother game that I held a lot o’ nostalgia for as a kid, but have grown to realize wasn’t well made for the same magnitude o’ terrible level design, terrible controls, terrible physics, & terrible programming. Indeed, just as Donkey Kong 64 was probably rushed to meet the Christmas season, looking into the development o’ Sunshine reveals that that game definitely wasn’t finished; & as my level analyses will reveal, there are many places in which this game simply was not playtested. ’Cept a’least Donkey Kong 64 had a rather ambitious design core with the multi-character gimmick2 & felt bigger & deeper, despite being on a mo’ primitive system. Super Mario Sunshine is a painfully simplistic game & yet they still fucked it up.

The only thing Sunshine succeeds @ is aesthetics, which is something Super Mario 64 failed @, being on a console so underpowered, it may as well not have e’en bothered 3D gaming, since it could ne’er do 3D graphics that didn’t look worse than the average Super Nintendo game. &, in its defense, it does show some good art direction, creating a variety o’ clever level theme combinations while making every level fit the o’erarching island theme. Super Mario 64 had no such theme to tie its levels down, & yet mainly stuck to tired themes like deserts, caves, volcanoes, snow mountains, & lots o’ mountains & general.

The only reason I’ve e’er read for why Sunshine is s’posedly great is that it’s water looks nice. This has, in fact, been regurgitated so oft in such a transparently derivative way that it feels like a jokey meme by now. ¿Who cares ’bout level design, controls, game physics, programming? All that matters is that your water looks nice. This isn’t out o’ the ordinary for gamers, who are now pumping up the upcoming Playstation 5 & Xbox Series X ( Microsoft continues to up the ante in creating stupider & stupider names for their consoles ) ’cause it can make generic cliffs look e’en mo’ realistically generic & can make their uncanny-valley human models have e’en mo’ detail to their uncanny valley.

Howe’er, I’m mo’ interested in level design than pretty water. & unfortunately, as we shall see, Sunshine doesn’t look nearly as pretty when we look ’neath the surface.

7. Bianco Hills

Those familiar with my tastes won’t be surprised to see this level here. 1st levels are rarely my favorites, & 1 o’ the main reasons is ’cause developers for some reason always insist on using the blandest level theme for their introduction. In the developers’ defense, they did attempt to spruce up the level with a li’l village & windmills all o’er the place, making the level not just a generic grassland. It’s certainly mo’ memorable than “Bob-omb Battlefied”. But compared to the other levels in this game, “Bianco Hills” falls far ’hind.

“Bianco Hills” is not just weaker than the rest in terms o’ aesthetics, but also in its mission challenges. “Road to the Big Windmill”, involves going a short path through a village without having to do anything in said village & up a short hill to fight yet ’nother Proto Piranha, which you’ve already fought 2 times before in the 1st few minutes o’ gameplay, for the shine. Compare that to Super Mario 64’s 1st intended star, which has you go through most o’ its 1st level, climb a much larger mountain, & fight a unique boss ( well, ’cept for the DS remake — but e’en that changes the boss so much that you need to use a different character ) — & that wasn’t e’en that great o’ a star.

What’s worse, the developers had a clearly better choice for the 1st shine: the 2nd shine, “Down with Petey Piranha!”. This is the 1st time you fight Petey, a boss far mo’ memorably & interesting — so popular that he’s a playable character in later Mario Kart games. Petey Piranha’s battle is similar to the Proto Piranha’s, anyway, — both require you to spray water in their mouths; Petey just requires you to also ground pound his belly button.

The repetitive nature o’ this level’s shines reveals that the developers couldn’t think o’ much to do with this level. You have 2 shines wherein you must defeat Petey Piranha. The 2nd fight, “Petey Piranha Strikes Back”, is quite different, gameplaywise, but is annoying & involves a lot o’ waiting, specially if Petey throws his pointless whirlwind attack. The Swoopin’ Stus that endlessly spawn from the goop & jump @ you while you’re trying to aim are particularly annoying here, as if you’re interrupted while spraying water into Petey’s mouth, he closes his mouth & rises into the air, forcing you to go thru ’nother cycle o’ knocking him down & dodging his pointless whirlwinds.

This 2nd battle is so hilariously pointless that the developers don’t e’en bother to make up a good reason for fighting him. Petey isn’t “striking back” @ all, but is simply sleeping on a far-off cliff. Mario’s the dick this time.

Getting up to the ledge beyond which he’s initially sleeping using a Chuckster works well as a stealth tutorial for Chuckster physics, tho, but the fenced area feels too detached from the level — conspicuously thrown into some hiding place clearly just for this shine, rather than feeling like it belongs organically to the level. Furthermo’, it’s easy to miss the Chuckster & jump to the cliff from higher up on the village rooftops. After all, the game ne’er indicates to you that 1 o’ the Piantas will fling you for no reason, & this isn’t an RPG, so many players wouldn’t e’en think to talk to every Pianta, much less hate themselves ’nough to engage in such tedious scouring. While giving the player an alternate route is great, this does weaken the use o’ the Chuckster as a tutorial. O well: the Chuckster had no relevance to the o’erarching challenge. The developers should’ve replaced 1 o’ this level’s many redundant shines with an easygoing shine dedicated to Chucksters so that the player could better practice for a later, harder shine. ( But we’ll get to that shine when we get to that level… )

You also have 2 red-coin collection shines, whose red-coin locations aren’t e’en that far from each other: “Red Coins of Windmill Village”’s are just round the village while “The Red Coins of the Lake”’s are round the lake just past the village. That the 2nd red coin mission is this levels’ 8th shine is particularly disappointing. Most levels’ 8th shines are memorable. Granted, they’re memorable to most people ’cause they’re frustrating — & maybe frustration wouldn’t be a good idea for the 1st level, e’en if this would technically be an optional shine you can do @ any time after playing all the other levels.

I think they could’ve improved this by making only 1 red-coin challenge, with maybe the red coins spread all o’er the level, — there are a a’least a few red coins in each challenge that aren’t exactly unique — & made 1 o’ the challenges simply reaching the top o’, say, the village, or the tightropes o’er the lake ( the village would probably be better, since you can’t reach it from somewhere else, while the lake tightrope can be reached from the top o’ the windmill ). A’least these shines’ names are mo’ accurate than the average star name in Super Mario 64.

The only other 2 shines, not including the Shadow Mario shine, which I need not discuss, since it’s just the basic mechanic as it works in every level, are secret FLUDD-less challenges, whose entrances are found in caves in the lake. The latter, “The Secret of the Dirty Lake”, is @ the end o’ a dangerously toxic lake, which is fair ’nough; but the 3rd shine, “The Hillside Cave Secret”’s, entrance is just a seemingly arbitrary cave opening up on some hill.

The secrets themselves are some o’ the strongest elements o’ the level, but not the strongest secrets in the game. Both involve simple moving & rotating platforms, presumably to warm you up. “The Hillside Cave Secret” does have maybe 1 subtly tricky jump ’tween spinning star platforms & “The Secret of the Dirty Lake”’s area has 1 surprisingly tricky required wall-jump off a parallel wall to get ’cross a gap otherwise too long to jump o’er. “The Secret of the Dirty Lake”’s challenge also introduces cubes that you have to ride while they rotate, which can be annoying, thanks to gravity physics as finicky as Super Mario 64 had. Fitting this level’s generic aesthetics, while later secrets have workshop, sandy, casino, & Yoshi egg visuals to make them stand out, these secrets have the same starry train-track backgrounds most o’ the secrets have & use the same general mechanical graphics — including the screw boxes, nails, & those white plastic cubes — all the other secrets use. They’re not ugly or unbearably generic; just not as cool as later secrets.

Since this level has 2 secrets, its 2 secret shines are simply red coin challenges in the 2 secret areas, bringing the # o’ red-coin collection shines to a disgusting 4 out o’ 10 in this level. 1 difference is that these red coin challenges have those infamous time limits that magically murder Mario if he doesn’t collect all red coins in time. Yeah, it’s hilariously stupid that Mario develops a spontaneous heart attack from red coin deficiency; but time limits looming o’er the artificial UI have been assassinating Mario since Donkey Kong. Then ’gain, Super Mario 64 arguably created a standard by ne’er killing Mario with things that wouldn’t kill a normal person; & in fact, usually opted not to kill him when any sane game would, such as when falling in a bottomless pit in a bonus sky level magically warps him to a random waterfall. I would honestly rather the game disappear Mario in an instant, like classic “The Good Life” kid, than cornfield him & make me just waste time getting back into the level like in the Johnny Bravo parody. Still, I wonder why they couldn’t just let Mario restart the task without killing him, as other games like the Spyro games would do. The fact that Sunshine’s developers made a Mario game that feels less polished than a Spyro game should make them feel embarrassed.

Now would be the best time to point out that these secret area bonus shines allow you to use FLUDD, taking ’way what made these secret areas special in the 1st place. The vast majority o’ the time, the red coin challenges are easier than the original FLUDD-less challenge, making them weak bonus shines. “The Hillside Cave Secret”’s red coin challenge, in particular, thanks to how small the area is, has red coins all thrown round the same area, with a red coin in each corner o’ the orange-block cluster & 3 on 3 rotating star platforms that aren’t e’en part o’ the main challenge — they’re so far ’way you need FLUUD to reach them & exist purely to put red coins on them. “The Secret of the Dirty Lake”’s red coin challenge does add some surprise challenge with the red coins floating o’er the moving flipping platforms, as you need to time getting them when a platform is near ’nough to them & not flipping o’er.

1 thing “Bianco Hills” does better than “Bob-omb Battlefield” from Super Mario 64 is make its 100-coin challenge less dickish. This is probably the only time Sunshine handles a 100-coin challenge better than Super Mario 64, & the 1 element “Bianco Hills” does better than most other levels. While “Bob-omb Battlefield” made it easy to get screwed out o’ getting the 100-coin star if you tried to go after it before unlocking the wing cap, “Bianco Hills” has no such requirements, & gives you so many coins that you’ll collect ’nough far ’fore you’ve run out. Why most o’ the other levels don’t work this way is a mystery to me.

“Bianco Hill”’s blue-coin placements aren’t great, tho. Probably the most interesting are the 1 on the cliff that Petey sleeps on in “Petey Piranha Strikes Back” that appears in later shines, wherein you have to jump ’cross moving cloud platforms to reach it & the 1 under the bridge that requires bouncing on power lines.

The rest are in places where you’ll find them in every level — washing off Piantas, cleaning graffiti, spraying a blue bird — or just lying round, such as a few just randomly in the water.

Then you get bullshit obscure locations, like spraying the middle o’ 1 palm tree out o’ many or spraying the spokes o’ 1 out o’ dozens o’ windmills.

Annoyingly, 2 blue coins require Yoshi to eat a bee hive or eat a blue butterfly, which means you can’t collect everything in “Bianco Hills” all @ the start. Since the game saves each blue coin separately, this isn’t too big a deal ( not ’less you’re trying to record footage o’ each level in single clumps… ). But I find it odd that they don’t just put a Yoshi egg in this level, e’en if you haven’t unlocked him in “Delfino Plaza”: this level has no problem giving you the useless turbo nozzle & rocket nozzle, e’en if you haven’t unlocked them in “Delfino Plaza” yet.

1 thing “Bianco Hills” does do better than every other level, tho: you can collect all 30 blue coins in the 8th shine. It is, sadly, the only 1.

6. Gelato Beach

Visually & thematically, “Gelato Beach” is weaker than every other level ’cept for “Bianco Hills”, being the most obvious theme to use for an island-based game. & while half its challenges are interesting & memorable, they’re marred by this game’s janky, buggy physics that make it frustrating & unfair. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was screwed o’er by mo’ than 10 physics bugs while playing thru this level ( tho, to be fair, there was maybe 1 or 2 that actually helped me, like when Mario just warped onto a tightrope I was trying to reach ). “Bianco Hills” bored me the most out o’ these levels; “Gelato Beach” pissed me off the most, when it wasn’t making me crack up laughing in disbelief @ how broken everything is. The other half o’ this level’s challenges are forgettable & thrown together.

This level does have 1 o’ the most interesting bosses in this game: “Mirror Madness! Tilt, Slam, Bam!”, a puzzle boss that requires you to ground pound the opposite side o’ tilted mirror platforms that Plungelos are on to fling them off completely & get them to stop messing with the mirrors so they can point @ the crystal ball in the center o’ the tower & melt the caterpillar resting on it, releasing a shine. It makes no sense whatsoe’er, but a’least it’s creative.

Right after that we get “Wiggler Ahoy! Full Steam Ahead!”. Those who have read my Super Mario 64 analysis will recall that that game had a late-game Wiggler boss that involved… jumping on it 3 times. Truly it put Dark Souls to shame with its brilliant boss design. This boss isn’t nearly that brilliant, but still makes use o’ the “Dune Buds” introduced in this level’s 1st shine to burst right under the Wiggler as it passes, knocking it o’er. Howe’er, somewhat like the “Eely-Mouth” boss in “Noki Bay”, while this boss in theory is interesting, in execution it’s annoying thanks to the poor hit detection on the Dune Buds that make it easy to miss the Wiggler e’en when it clearly should’ve hit them, forcing you to stand round waiting mo’. Worse, they path the Wiggler so that you have to use a Dune Bud surrounded by water to defeat the Wiggler, presumably for aesthetic reasons. The problem is that this makes it likely the Wiggler will be flung into the water where you outright can’t stomp its belly, wasting your time. I won’t lie: it sometimes made me wish for the simpler times o’ just jumping on them 3 times.

“The Sand Bird is Born” is legendary ( a’least as far as the French translation is concerned ), challenging you to stay on a bird composed o’ blocks that moves round, shifting the gravity under you, while collecting red coins. This arrangement is almost as simple as the red-coin puzzle from Super Mario 64’s “Lethal Lava Land”, with all the red coins right there on the bird & just 1 point when the bird slowly rotates, but is made much harder than its arrangement would seem thanks to Sunshine’s far worse physics than 64, including hit detection so bad it’s borderline broken & this game keeping Super Mario 64’s absolutist slope physics that make it so that once a slope goes past a certain threshold, it just acts effectively like a perfectly vertical wall, throwing you right off into the abyss. My 1st attempt recently ended with Mario just phasing right through the corner o’ the bird’s tail as it rotated.

This ’splains why this shine is rightfully reviled: since you’ll mostly die due to glitches, it’s not a fun challenge, just a tedious battle gainst this game’s bad programming. Once you adjust to this challenge’s nonsensical physics, tho, you’ll be guaranteed to ’ventually get it, which ’splains, on the other hand, why I read some super fans o’ this game wonder why people complain ’bout challenges like these so much. On the other hand, if this game’s physics weren’t so laughably bad ( say, if the rumored remaster fixes them ), this level’s arrangement would probably need to be tuned up a bit to make a bit mo’ challenging, as a game with decent physics would render this challenge too easy.

Only slightly less memorable, thanks to it being, technically, a bonus shine, is “The Watermelon Festival”, which challenges you to push a giant watermelon down a hill & thru a beach infested with Cataquacks, also known as the best Super Mario Sunshine enemy e’er, onto a narrow pier to win a contest & get a shine. Technically, that shine is the property o’ the Delfino government & that Pianta is peddling stolen goods & Mario should sick the police on him; but Mario knows it’s not wise to bring law enforcement into situations like these — that is if he doesn’t want to find himself buried in Pine Barrens. As annoying as the watermelon’s janky physics are that cause it to, for example, warp round things when not suddenly exploding just by lightly nudging walls on random occasions, — but not on other occasions — the main idea is a solid challenge, & I specially like the way they reward clever players who realize they can permanently destroy Cataquacks using the Dune Buds. I am annoyed @ the cheap way Cataquacks can combo you, tho.

This level’s worst shine is definitely “Red Coins in the Coral Reef”, which lazily throws all the red coins into a small lake, forcing you to endure Sunshine’s awkward swimming controls while trying to grab moving red coins — which can move into solid rock, making them literally impossible to collect till after they reemerge all the way on the other side.

Probably the most forgettable shine in this level is “Il Piantissimo’s Sand Sprint”, which is most players’ introduction to everyone’s favorite racist Piantaface Koopa the Quick ripoff, Il Piantissimo, challenging you to a race to the end for a shine with the threat o’ cold-blooded murder if you lose to him. Such is the law o’ omerta. E’en tho I got flubbed while trying to shortcut thru sloped terrain with its weird physics, I still beat him by minutes ’cause apparently Piantissimo stopped for a slurpee in the middle o’ the race.

This level starts with a FLUDD-less secret course, which does a good job o’ introducing Dune Buds by forcing you to find the 1 that unlocks the secret entrance. The secret course itself is a basic path o’ destructible sand blocks, ending in a mountain with the shine @ the top. This area couldn’t have taken mo’ than a few minutes to design, it’s so basic, but the sandy theme fits the level better than, say, “Bianco Hill”’s secret courses. While part o’ me finds it disappointingly easier than the secret courses in the previous 2 levels, I have to remember that this is this stage’s 1st shine & that the developers probably expected the player to play this before the 6th “Bianco Hills” or 4th “Ricco Harbor” shine.

This secret course’s red-coin challenge is similarly simple, with all red coins in obvious places, & is definitely easier than the already-easy main course, with FLUDD making the crumbling blocks e’en less a threat.

The final secret shine is hidden in a sandy staircase created by a Dune Bud, found by spraying 1 o’ its walls, revealing a shine picture. This is a bit too obscure & arbitrary for my taste, ’specially compared to the mo’ intuitive yellow bird in “Noki Bay”.

“Gelato Beach” has e’en worse blue coin positions than “Bianco Hills”, amazingly ’nough. There are 4 blue coins just in random places underwater, some o’ which move &, yes, go through solid ground, ’cause the developers thought that was very funny. They were wrong. Meanwhile, there are no blue coins, or e’en yellow coins, in the coral reef, ’cause using significant setpieces that an entire shine is dedicated to is so passe when you can just use empty filler area ’stead.

E’en lamer are the 4 places on the beach where you can magically reveal a shine by — ¿what else? — spraying water. It amazes me that as they were programming these in nobody stopped to think, { Maybe we don’t need 30 blue coins in every level }.

Continuing the rule o’ 4, we have 4 blue coins, each 1 on a single cloud you pass while riding the giant sand bird. None o’ them are challenging to reach; you just have to live ’long ’nough to access these clouds, which you have to do to complete “The Sand Bird is Born”, so you basically get 4 bonus blue coins for completing that shine. Meanwhile, that area has 4 towers in the distance that look like they may hide blue coins, but don’t, & I’m quite certain it’s impossible to reach them.

The best blue coin in this level is a blue Cataquack hiding in a palm tree during “The Watermelon Festival”, a reversal o’ earlier shines, when the blue Cataquacks are the dominant species & it’s a rare dangerous red Cataquack that gives you the blue coin. This blue coin is ruined, howe’er, but the fact that sometimes you can accidentally make it spawn inside a wall, making you leave & come back to try getting it ’gain.

The other is a blue coin hidden under the shack where you deliver the giant watermelon in “The Watermelon Festival”. If that doesn’t sound like a great blue coin position that’s ’cause the bar is very low in this level.

There’s also a swing with buggy jumping physics that are trying desperately to emulate a swinging jump, but just looks fake & feels bad on a palm tree with a blue coin in front o’ it. They went to the trouble o’ ( badly ) programming these special physics ’stead o’ fixing the broken physics they already implemented just for a blue coin or 2 ( I think this is in ’nother level, to no significance, too ). I know Super Mario 64 has a reputation for having jarringly weird level design, but as I discussed in my analyses, there was a logic to its levels’ constructions. Super Mario Sunshine legitimately has setpieces & general game design decisions that seem like they were made by people who had ne’er e’en seen a video game before.

God help you if you make the mistake o’ trying the 100-coin shine on the 8th shine, which is what most would probably try. It’s possible; it’s just super stupid. There’s barely any coins thruout the level. Whereas “weird” Super Mario 64 would scatter coins thruout its levels like levels made by normal human beings, “Gelato Beach” barely has any coins out in the open. What you do have are watermelons you can ram into walls for single coins. It seems you can do this infinitely, which would be hair-tearingly tedious, but relieving in contrast to Super Mario 64’s real risk o’ making you run out o’ coin opportunities just shy o’ 100 coins; howe’er, some coke-addled programmer decided that while you can explode watermelons for coins multiple times, you can only do it 10 times. After you squeeze 30 coins out o’ the 3 watermelons, you can collect most o’ the rest by bullying Cataquacks & spraying birds — ’cause that is what this game has reduced Mario to. I read you can also roll the smaller watermelons to the shack for coins, but I thankfully didn’t have to do that, as that sounds ’bout as fun as painting a house’s walls with just a single paintbrush hair.

The sad thing is that most people online recommend this shine for the 100-coin shine, which comes 2nd to the success o’ Animal Crossing: New Water Can Breaking Third Time Today as proof that gamers have no dignity or understanding o’ the value o’ time.

Honestly, this level is arguably much worse designed than “Bianco Hills”. It is only those few gems, like “Mirror Madness! Tilt, Slam, Bam!” & “The Watermelon Festival” ( janky physics notwithstanding ) & my preference for hilariously incompetent design o’er boring that I put this ’bove “Bianco Hills”.

5. Noki Bay

“Noki Bay” is a tricky level to rate. The strangest thing ’bout it is how it’s both strange & not particularly interesting @ the same time, being a mix o’ bizarre, mysterious cliff mazes & boring swimming challenges with big areas o’ water that could barely be described as designed. The aesthetics work the same way, being generic green grassland cliffs surrounded by surreal purple water & seashell spires with droning music that is both odd &, well, droning.

Its difficulty is similarly dualistic: its main shine challenges make this feel like a breather level ’tween “Pinna Park” & “Sirena Beach”; — e’en its 8th episode, which is usually a particularly tricky challenge in most levels, is a breather shine by this level’s standards — but its blue coins are some o’ the most obtuse & frustrating to collect.

“Uncork the Waterfall” is the general “get to the top o’ the stage” shine straight from the Super Mario 64 playbook — & we e’en get a mountain in a game that did a better job o’ not having half the levels surround mountains. Unfortunately, “Noki Bay”’s mountain is no “Tall, Tall Mountain”, being far smaller & having far less variety. While the weights tied to the pots that challenge you to spray water into the pots to move the platforms upward are clever from a design perspective, from a gameplay perspective you just stand there & spray straight @ a single pot. Worse, you can trivially skip these “puzzles” & just use wall jumps to get higher up, which you’ll want to do, since it’s much faster. The only other “challenge” this mountain offers is neon orange goop that you need to spray to make parts o’ the mountain sprout out from under them — ’cause apparently this goop was so heavy it pushed back thick mounds o’ concentrated rock. When all you’ve got in your game is a hammer, it makes sense that everything should be nails; but this challenge doesn’t e’en attempt to make its nails look like they should actually be nails.

@ the top o’ the stage you have to fight the same bomb-throwing mole boss as in “The Beach Cannon’s Secret” from “Pinna Park”, but this time you’re doing it so you can blow up the cork & release the waterfall. This version’s trickier than “Pinna Park”’s thanks to a gap ’tween the mole & the land you can walk on. Actually, as far as I can tell, the only way to throw Bob-Ombs @ the mole & make them reach is by doing a side-flip & throwing @ the top o’ your jump — requiring quite advanced acrobatics for a mandatory shine to beat the game, specially the 1st shine o’ the level. Nearly everything after this is a joke in comparison.

The most memorable shine in this stage is definitely “Eely-Mouth’s Dentist”, a boss that is both clever & obnoxiously slow & tedious, not helped by this boss closing its mouth & diving down so much, which basically makes you wait a long time for Mario to slowly float down to their new position or float round waiting for the idiot to open their mouth ’gain. Since you’re also slowly losing oxygen, this will also make it likely you’ll have to either try fiddling with the questionable hit boxes o’ the purple bubbles & spray them into oxygen bubbles or take a detour to grab coins to buy back oxygen, I guess — which means slowly floating o’er to a row o’ coins way off in the periphery & then floating back to the boss ( during which you’re sure to lose a point or 2 o’ oxygen ). I’m falling asleep just imagining it.

“The Boss of Tricky Ruins” is actually my favorite main shine in this stage. While the mountain o’ “Uncork the Waterfall” had you reveal passages by cleaning up neon goop magically holding back giant structures o’ rock, these ruins a’least add a bit mo’ plausibility by having sections shift by pressing down on weights with your water ( e’en if it doesn’t make sense that you can’t just push into them with your body ). Mo’ importantly, while that mountain was much less impressive than the kind o’ mountains in Super Mario 64, these ruinous mazes reminiscent o’ Super Mario 64’s red coin maze in “Rainbow Ride” are clearly the mo’ developed & interesting ( actually being a true maze that might stump someone with a triple-digit IQ helps ).

This shine’s only weak point is a 3rd fight gainst Gooper Blooper, which works just like the 2 in “Ricco Harbor”. Why they needed this, I don’t know, since you already do quite ’nough before it & all defeating the boss does is open an entryway to a cavern with the shine inside. ¿Why not just have the cavern open from the beginning & just have the challenge be climbing up to the cavern hole?

The 2nd most interesting shine is the uninterestingly-titled “The Shell’s Secret”, which has you climb the aforementioned seashell towers, using wire to cross from tower to tower. Admittedly, this entrance challenge is the same gimmick as “The Red Coins of the Lake” from “Bianco Hills”, but less challenging; but it’s the most challenging path to a secret in the game.

The secret course itself is 1 o’ the better 1s. While it doesn’t stand out as well as the courses in, say, “Pinna Park”, it’s the best straightforward challenge course, with clever jumps that require wall kicks, & is able to balance standard secret course elements to create a better variety than most secret courses.

The best actual shine is 1 o’ the few creative secret shines that isn’t just “hurry & collect red coins in a secret area before ultra-Progeria-suffering Mario dies of ol’ age @ the ripe ol’ age o’ 27” ( tho 1 o’ this level’s secret shine is, indeed, that ): a yellow bird @ the top o’ the ruins produces a secret shine if you spray it ’nough times with water.

Like “Bianco Hills”, this level has 2 red coin shines, 1 o’ which squanders the usually interesting 8th shine, which is insulting ’nough. While this level a’least spreads those red coins in distinct places, both shines require you to collect their red coins while using Super Mario Sunshine’s awkward spaceman swimming controls. It’s too bad, ’cause shrinking down into a bottle for a water level, as you do in the on-the-nose-named shine “Red Coins in a Bottle”, would actually be a cool level idea, thematically, if only they had any kind o’ challenge-based design to do anything with it rather than just an open room with red coins splayed round in the least interesting way possible.

Meanwhile, “The Red Coin Fish” doesn’t hide its red coins, but makes them partially living as part o’ a single-minded organism: a fish that flips round weirdly & then explodes, spreading its coins all o’er. It’s mo’ annoying than challenging: only a fool would go after the coins while they’re spreading off in the distance; just wait for them to coalesce back into the center & try to grab as many as you can while they’re all bunched together.

We also get a race with Shitty Koopa the Quick in “Il Piantissimo’s Surf Swim”. It takes him 40 whole seconds to get to the flag ’cause he takes the widest fucking swimming path e’er & probably stops @ Taco Bell for a meal partway thru, too. I bonked my face into walls & took probably the least efficient path any serious human being could take & still got round 20 seconds.

Something “Noki Bay” has that no other level has is that its sequence o’ shines sort o’ tells a story, something that might’ve made the forced sequence o’ shines in this game worthwhile if mo’ than 1 level did it. “Noki Bay” is the only level that remembers that this game is s’posed to be ’bout Mario cleaning up the environment & has a story arc o’ Mario trying to figure out how to clean the polluted bay, starting with deluging it with clean water from the cork ( which, unsurprisingly, doesn’t work ). Later, Mario blames Gooper Blooper & summarily tears off all Gooper’s limbs before he bothers to get any proof. As it turns out, Blooper was innocent ( & Mario truly does belong in Delfino prison now ) & that it’s the “Eely-Mouth’s” tooth decay from being busy playing too many MMORPGs to clean his teeth. & after that… this arc ends & we just get mo’ random shines.

“Noki Bay”’s a bit on the middle-ground when it comes to coin placement for the 100-coin shine. I’m not sure if it’s possible to get 100 coins in the lower shines, but a’least episode 8, where most would try, has plenty & they’re actually scattered round the cliff mazes & undersea section, rather than expecting you to grind watermelons & Bullet Bills. Howe’er, slowly falling & awkwardly sliding ( I love how Sunshine fans love to praise Sunshine for how beautiful its water is, but say nothing o’ how stiff & lifeless Mario looks while sliding round the ocean floor ) to collect coins ’long identical walls is far less interesting than, say, jumping ’long girders for coins in “Ricco Harbor”.

I have mixed feelings ’bout the blue coin placements. There’s a refreshing lack o’ blue coins gotten from spraying blue birds or eating blue butterflies ( I’m kind o’ annoyed that the 1 level that doesn’t demand I have Yoshi to get all the blue coins is after I collected Yoshi, tho — but whate’er ), & shockingly for such a water-focused level in such a water-focused game, there’s only 1 blue coin underwater in the main area — & it has coins pointing down to it, rather than just being in random empty places like in “Bianco Hills” — & 4 blue coins in the underwater area. Granted, those 4 are all on 4 identical columns surrounded by coins.

They do have some blue coins floating ’bove the water, for which the developers probably intended you to use the rental boats to sail o’er to them. I say “probably” ’cause you can easily collect them by just jumping under them & hovering a bit, & this is much faster & mo’ convenient than going thru the trouble o’ sailing a boat all the way o’er with the janky sailing physics. If this was the intention, this could act as a nice optional practice for when you’ll actually need to deal with these physics in “Corona Mountain”, & I certainly don’t mind that they make it optional. Howe’er, the boat’s so out o’ the way that for most people it probably doesn’t work that way. I know when I 1st played this game “Corona Mountain” was my 1st encounter with the boats, as I’d completely missed this boat in “Noki Bay” till my recent playthru.

The vast majority o’ blue coins are in the cliff mazes, some ’hind those weird hieroglyph squares & some ’hind random walls you need to spray without any indication.

There are also extra cliffs to the side o’ the weighed pot wheels, which are awkward to maneuver & also require you to spray walls with no indication that they do anything. As I tried this I kept running into a lovely bug wherein Mario would just have abrupt seizures & the only way to get him to move @ all was to drop him from the cliff, forcing me to climb back up. These seizures felt utterly random, tho I suspected they were caused by the rotation o’ the camera in some way.

The developers also threw in a bunch o’ gotcha traps wherein a Cuckoo bird shoots forward & flings Mario far ’way from certain holes, wasting the player’s time by making them climb all the way back up to where’er they were for the crime o’ not already predicting where developers may put random bullshit. It’s the kind o’ childish bullshit you expect from a rom hack & doesn’t belong in what is ( a’least attempting to be ) a serious, official game.

While it’s cool they hid blue coins in the shine room o’ “The Boss of Tricky Ruins”, expecting you to spray not just 1, but multiple pots for blue coins is questionable, specially since they have terrible hit detection & give you nothing most o’ the time you spray them.

The worst problem with “Noki Bay”’s blue coins is the arbitrary way this level restricts blue coins or nozzles needed to get certain blue coins in only certain shines. ¿Why can you get the rocket nozzle on episode 6 & not 8? If anything, you shouldn’t be able to get the rocket nozzle on episode 6 ’cause it breaks the challenge o’ climbing up the seashell towers by letting you just rocket a few steps up.

Honestly, I have mixed feelings ’bout “Noki Bay” in general. It was actually almost below “Gelato Beach” till I remembered that “Gelato Beach” is arguably e’en mo’ bland & far mo’ janky & terribly designed. “Noki Bay” has the cool cliff secrets & seashell towers, which balances out the boring water sections & red coin collection. Plus it didn’t piss me off as much as “Gelato Beach”.

4. Pinna Park

“Pinna Park” & “Ricco Harbor” were close, & I almost considered “Pinna Park” better than “Ricco Harbor”. But while “Pinna Park” has a mo’ exotic, interesting theme, its theme isn’t utilized to its full potential as well as “Ricco Harbor” uses its; & while “Pinna Park” has some excellent shines, like “The Runaway Ferris Wheel”, that’s balanced out by some o’ the worst shines in the game, like “Roller Coaster Balloons”. “Ricco Harbor”’s best shine isn’t quite as good as “The Runaway Ferris Wheel”, but its worst shine isn’t nearly as bad as “Roller Coaster Balloons”. Plus, “Ricco Harbor”’s music is banging, while “Pinna Park”’s music makes me want to bang my head gainst the wall so I can no longer hear it anymo’.

“Pinna Park” is a bit like “Dire, Dire Docks” in that it’s the middle level that plays a key role in story progression. For Super Mario 64, which didn’t have much o’ a story & had no twists whatsoe’er, “Dire, Dire Docks”’s 1st star acted as just a key required to reach the 2nd Bowser level, necessary for reaching the 3rd act, whereas the 1st shine in “Pinna Park” acts as the reveal to the twist that Baby Bowser is “Shadow Mario” & that Bowser is the one ’hind everything. Neither work well, howe’er: “Dire, Dire Docks” is 1 o’ the weakest levels in Super Mario 64 & its star is just a simple platforming challenge o’ crossing a timed bridge to reach the submarine, without any risk o’ death for failing; & forcing the player to collect this star to beat the game ruins Super Mario 64’s open-ended nature for no story payoff.

Super Mario Sunshine is a mo’ linear level that requires the player to get the 1st 7 shines o’ all levels to beat the game, anyway, so its open-ended nature had already been ruined from the beginning, & “Pinna Park”’s 1st shine, “Mecha-Bowser Appears!”, while far from the best boss in Super Mario Sunshine, — it’s, in fact, a janky mess whose main gimmick is screwing with your camera as you try to aim shots @ Bowser, which would be unfair if the boss wasn’t trivial, while constantly forcing you to waste time wasting rockets on nothing just so you can use your regular spray to destroy the incessant Bullet Bills & Mecha-Bowser’s firebreathing ( till you realize it’s better to just tank the hits & just hurry up & defeat Mecha-Bowser ) — is a’least mo’ than the most basic platforming challenge in the world.

The twist, like much o’ Super Mario Sunshine’s story ( which we have, thankfully, not had to talk ’bout much, since it’s otherwise irrelevant to level design ), is dumb, which is hurt e’en mo’ by this game’s embarrassingly bad acting that makes 4Kids anime dubs sound like Shakespearean plays. Worse, this game follows that inane trope wherein after beating the boss, the boss just leaves with the prize ( in this case a human being, Peach ) while the hero just stands round gawking like a moron, making the whole ordeal feel pointless. Also, ¿why can’t FLUDD tell what’s going on during the cutscene? ¿Can he not see? Thruout the game he constantly insults the player’s intelligence by saying what they could obviously see in front o’ them, ¿but now they randomly went blind for a cutscene?

“Pinna Park” also acts as a key by serving as the means for unlocking Yoshi, who is necessary for 100% every level & unlocking “Sirena Beach”. Choosing the amusement park level is an interesting choice ’mong a selection o’ levels in which none o’ their themes truly fit Yoshi. The developers make sure to fill the level with quite a bit o’ Yoshi theming, too, including making both secret courses have Yoshi’s Island style backdrops & Yoshi egg blocks, e’en “The Beach Cannon’s Secret”, which otherwise has nothing to do with Yoshi.

Howe’er, the shine that unlocks Yoshi, “The Wilted Sunflowers”, doesn’t have much to do with Yoshi: you magically make sunflowers happy by defeating Snooza Koopas, who have shells that look like Yoshi eggs, but otherwise have nothing to do with Yoshi eggs.

But my main qualms with “Pinna Park” are that it doesn’t use its amusement park theme to its full extent. A full 2 shines — the aforementioned “The Beach Cannon’s Secret” & “The Wilted Sunflowers” — take place completely outside o’ the park, on a beach not much different from “Gelato Beach”, the level the player has likely just played before this 1. This could be effective as a way to cock-tease the player by making them “earn” access to the amusement park if these were the 1st 2 shines, but the 1st shine does have you enter the amusement park, so it’s just a pointless diversion. Granted, this 1st shine & the 8th shine barely have you do anything in the park, anyway, so only half o’ the main shines have you do anything in the park. What kind o’ developers would look @ a level theme as beloved as an amusement park & think, { A whole level’s too much for this theme; let’s use mo’ generic beach }, is beyond me.

This leaves “The Yoshi-Go-Round’s Secret” & “The Runaway Ferris Wheel” as the strongest shines in this level. “The Yoshi-Go-Round’s Secret” challenges the player to wake Yoshi by bringing its desired fruit ( & on the off-chance that that fruit isn’t the pineapple or papaya, eat a nearby papaya, ’cause it needs to be an orange Yoshi ) & bring Yoshi o’er to the empty spot on the merry-go-round where a Yoshi has gone missing to magically warp Mario to a secret course. While this has a nice paint job to it, it’s effectively a simple fetch quest to the secret course. Still, probably 1 o’ the most interesting ways to get into a secret course.

The secret course itself is 1 o’ the strongest, starting with new spinning box platforms that become increasingly faster, then opening to the main course o’ circles o’ Yoshi egg blocks that alternate from clockwise & counterclockwise, & then ending with a tower o’ orange blocks. This course has a variety o’ setpieces without any feeling o’erused & feels tricky without feeling unfair.

“The Runaway Ferris Wheel”, which is not only the best shine in this level, but also 1 o’ the strongest shines in the whole game, has you take a back-end path to the top o’ the Ferris Wheel, which is now spinning way too fast for non-speedrunner players to use. This climb involves clever puzzles involving platforms that flip for a short period ’pon being sprayed & wire nets with Electrokoopas that knock you off if they hit you on the same side, but which can safely be knocked off themselves if kicked from ’hind. The shine ends with a bouncy wire common in Super Mario Sunshine, which you need to use to reach the top wire net, ’pon which sits a giant Electrokoopa apparently causing the Ferris Wheel to spin out o’ control. You knock them off to return the Ferris Wheel to regular speed & then ride up the Ferris Wheel to the top.

“Red Coins of the Pirate Ships” — whose name sees a return to that classic Super Mario 64 naming pattern o’ inaccurately implying that all the red coins are in a place where only ’bout 2 are — is a middleground shine. Rather than having you explore the whole level full o’ attractions for red coins, the challenge is, in fact, a straight path from the pirate ships to a path o’ wire netting. But it doesn’t e’en do linear paths all that well, breaking the principle o’ difficulty evolution: jumping ’long the rotating ships @ the start with their janky slope physics is the hardest part, while everything afterward is trivial.

The same can be said ’bout “The Beach Cannon’s Secret”, which takes place on the irrelevant beach area with a Monty Mole helmed cannon shooting Bullet Bills @ you. Much like in “Noki Bay”, you have to toss 3 Bob-ombs @ the Monty Mole to defeat them & gain access to the cannon. I would call this irrelevant to the level, but I guess the level entrance does involve a cannon that shoots you to the level.

The secret course itself focuses on disappearing & appearing blocks. Strangely, the 1st part is mo’ complex than the final stretch, which is just a straight path that just challenges you to keep diving forward to go down the blocks before they all disappear. In the middle they add variety with a few springs that don’t look like springs, which, in typical Sunshine fashion, are laid out in a simple pattern that would be trivial to do if not for Sunshine’s janky physics that cause Mario to go in strange directions after a bounce whose logic I still haven’t uncovered. Strangely, there’s a path straight past these bouncy platforms that doesn’t lead to the shine @ all. I think it leads to a 1-up — ’cause those are worth the long diversion.

The absolute worst shine in this level is “Roller Coaster Balloons”, which is some extreme Beaver Bother shit — e’en mo’ than the rings in Super Mario 64. “Roller Coaster Balloons” uses the same cheap rollercoaster mechanics as “Mecha-Bowser Appears!” with its camera screw & demands you to pop 18 Baby Bowser balloons within 3 laps or Mario will spontaneously die o’ a heart attack, kicking you out o’ the level & making you go back in & talk to the guy to try ’gain, ’stead o’ just letting you try ’gain right from failure like a well-developed game would do. Luckily, this challenge is so lenient that you’ll usually stumble ’pon victory within the 2nd try; but like the infamous “Beaver Bother” from Donkey Kong 64, it doesn’t feel earned any mo’ than the unfair losses do, since you have li’l control o’er your aim with the camera yanking it round, & just feels like the game randomly decided to make you win. It’s just boring & obnoxious & it sucks ass. Let us ne’er speak o’ its shittiness ’gain.

Since this level has 2 secret courses, both secret shines are red coin challenges. The “The Yoshi-Go-Round’s Secret” challenge does a good job o’ balancing red coin spread o’er the area & puts them in interesting places; but they oddly give that challenge a high time limit compared to most o’ the other secret course red coin challenges, which barely give you time. I made a lot o’ screw-ups when 1st trying this challenge & still had round half a minute left ’pon collecting the last red coin. Most o’ the red coins in “The Beach Cannon’s Secret” are in the 1st area with the vanishing blocks. Like most secret course challenges, FLUDD makes e’en collecting the red coins trivial as you can stay in the air ’bout as long as the blocks stay missing, which means you have to be truly not paying attention to let yourself fall into an empty hole — far less attention than you had to pay when doing this challenge FLUDD-less, as you’ve had to do before. The dead-end has no read coins, which makes it completely pointless in the whole game. I’m still not sure what’s down that path, since I’ve ne’er had a reason to explore. The Mario Wiki claims it has a Strollin’ Stu spawning wall. I think this game’s developers might’ve had a few too many drinks, ’cause that sounds like an e’en dumber thing to have @ the end o’ a path than a 1-up.

“Pinna Park” has, on average, much better blue coin placements than most levels. While it still has repetitious placements, like marks you have to spray, including timed pairs, or birds you have to spray or blue butterflies you have to eat with Yoshi, & has multiple blue coins you get by just spraying random parts o’ the beach, — tho, thankfully, only 2 — the ratio o’ these vs. interesting blue coins is far lower than in other levels, & there are no blue coins in random places in the water.

For instance, 1 unique blue coin challenge this level has are baskets that you need to lead Bullet Bills into the open, allowing you access to the blue coin. There are a lot o’ these, which can feel repetitious — but for Sunshine standards, that’s good, sadly.

This level also has some cleverly placed blue coins just out in the open, like 1 on a high platform that requires jumping onto the bottom o’ a pirate ship as its swinging all the way round.

Taking a page from Super Mario 64, there’s an attraction with rotating seashells that you can spray to open, revealing their contents, 1 o’ which hides a blue coin. The only downside is that this makes me imagine what much mo’ interesting blue coin locations they could’ve devised in attractions. They could’ve had an attraction wherein you have to throw something ( ¿a coconut or other grabbable fruit, perhaps? ) @ a target or stack o’ bottles to win a blue coin. Or you could have you ground pound a “Test Your Strength” machine. Hell, they could’ve made it so that spraying the merry go round makes it spin faster & that if it spins fast ’nough, a blue coin pops out.

“Pinna Park”’s 100-coin challenge is e’en dumber than “Gelato Beach”, which was pretty fucking dumb, so this 1’s really fucking dumb. I 1st tried episode 8, as most would expect, & after collecting round 64 coins on the beach area — which any reasonable person would expect to be ’nough — I ran out in the amusement park ’cause there are apparently fewer than 30 coins in the amusement park area. Once ’gain, they don’t scatter coins thruout the level like any sane collectathon would do, but hoard paltry coins ’hind a single timed switch, a few sprayable clams, & a few green birds. Looking this up on the internet, I found everyone recommend trying shine 2, wherein you’re s’posed to just spray Bullet Bills for infinite coins. Now, I could understand someone not liking the idea o’ exploring a whole level collecting many coins ( I disagree with the sentiment, but I can see it as something a reasonable human may have ); but if someone were to tell me they would prefer repetitive grinding to get 100 collectables, ’stead, as rude as it may be, I would honestly think there may be something wrong with their head. ¿What the fuck were the developers thinking?

While “Pinna Park” is far from the worst level in this game, it feels like the the 1 with the most wasted potential. An amusement park is full o’ opportunities, many o’ which the developers didn’t take in favor o’ mo’ beach bullshit. One could maybe ’scuse a level as bland as “Bianco Hills” for having forgettable, seemingly arbitrary blue coin placements due to just not having many notable areas; — you know, other than the fact that developers made a bland level with few notable areas @ all — but as I showed in the previous paragraph, this level had so much mo’ potential, & the fact that the developers didn’t take advantage o’ that potential while copy-pasting other blue coins multiple times wasn’t due to a lack o’ options, but simply due to laziness.

Thinking ’bout the potential blue coin ideas the developers didn’t take made me realize something that truly makes this level look bad: Banjo-Tooie had a much better amusement park level in “Witchyworld”, which stuck mo’ with its theme & had far mo’ creative ways to win its collectables. & I didn’t e’en like “Witchyworld” ’cause o’ all its fetch-quest, backtracking, shaggy-dog-story bullshit.

3. Pianta Village

“Pianta Village” has perhaps the most ambiguous level theme I’ve e’er seen. It’s called a “village”, but has no houses. If anything, the large plots o’ tall grass on the sides & the many trees & mushrooms scattered all round makes this level feel mo’ like a jungle level, just a jungle that has been mildly domesticated not so much with residential, but civic areas, such as the public bath with the saluting Pianta statue near the back, with paved paths all leading to it. It’s yet ’nother example o’ Sunshine’s strength @ twisting together traditional level themes to create something unique & shows yet ’gain Sunshine’s excellence when it comes to aesthetics, despite its gameplay flaws. ’Nother subtle touch is that the even episodes take place during the day while the odd episodes take place @ night — the only time one sees nighttime in this sun-focused game3.

Making this likely the final main level you unlock is an interesting decision in a game where none o’ the levels stand out as harder than the others, unlike Super Mario 64, where “Rainbow Ride” & “Tick Tock Clock” were a notable difficulty increase. It very well may be the hardest, specially with its infamous secret course challenge — tho that’s mo’ a hard-to-get-used-to gimmick, rather than an unambiguous evolution in challenge; some, particularly those who have practiced the gimmick thru repetitive play, may find “Noki Bay”’s secret course’s traditional tricky platforming to be mo’ challenging. “Secret of the Village Underside” requires the player to get Yoshi, & then hop from mushroom to mushroom below the village so they can spray the weird yellow material that looks like those hanging brushes @ automatic car washes, which can only be destroyed by Yoshi juice. Like many challenges in Super Mario Sunshine, these jumps are simple in theory, & the platform layout would be baby easy on a game with good controls; but in typical Sunshine fashion, Yoshi has janky, different physics wherein it’s hard to turn while in the air, so the developers needed to hold back level design to accommodate bad controls, rather than simply fix the bad controls. But like many Sunshine challenges, taking your time & stopping to aim Yoshi toward the next platform & then jumping straight for it, rather that trying to jump & turn while already in the air — which has a high chance o’ failing — will make this not so troublesome. It’s, ’course, much less fun than a platformer with good controls, but less frustrating.

The secret course itself — which is also notable in being the only secret course to have a nightly blue cast o’er it, fitting the fact that it’s the only secret course found @ night — revolves round the gimmick o’ “Chucksters”, Piantas who fling you backward. Like other gimmicks, such as the boat, Sunshine does a terrible job o’ giving the player practice, only introducing this gimmick elsewhere for a bonus shine in the hub world & during a part in “Bianco Hills”, both o’ which are easy to miss. This ’splains why this has a similar reputation o’ being frustration.

’Nother reason is, also typical o’ Sunshine, the gimmick, while sound in theory, is badly programmed & hard to control. The player needs to time when they talk to many Piantas so they fling you @ the right place, while also being @ a precise angle so they fling you @ the right angle. Messing up either will easily make you pass the target platform & fall into the abyss all round & die. Some Piantas move, so you need to time when you talk to them. ’Gain, this is all reasonably necessary to make this gimmick a challenge @ all, but is crippled by the unreasonbly picky hitboxes o’ the Piantas. You’d think being near them @ all would allow you to talk to them: you talk to them with “B”, which you technically don’t need for any other part o’ the course, so it’s not as if being mo’ lenient would intrude on the player’s playing. This means it’s easy to accidentally dive @ a Pianta, possibly flying straight off the platform or into the abyss, specially when quickly pressing the button to time a throw right when a Pianta gets into a position. Expecting the player to act quickly while also waiting to see when the game arbitrarily decides they can talk to a Pianta & shows the “B” icon is simply unreasonable & could’ve been fixed if the developers properly playtested this gimmick — or the whole game in general, truly.

This secret course’s secret red coin challenge is arguably the only 1 that’s harder than the original, FLUDD-less challenge, due to the ( moderately tight ) time limit making the itchier player mo’ likely to flub something up in this finicky gimmick that requires exact precision. Also, for once this secret challenge uses alternate routes not used by the main challenge for red coins, rather than having the same main path & only using the alternate routes for useless 1-ups that shouldn’t be in the game @ all ’cause making a game in 2001 with lives is stupid, specially when Donkey Kong 64 & Banjo-Tooie already showed they weren’t needed or useful in a collectathon platformer the previous year.

Possibly the 2nd hardest shine in this level is “The Goopy Inferno”, the only episode that takes ’way your FLUDD @ the very beginning & expects you to maneuver thru the main level, rather than a secret course, without FLUDD. The whole village is covered in fiery goop that spam-hits you till you’re dead, effectively making it instant-kill in most cases, ’less you luck out & the game fails to instant-kill you, since nothing in Sunshine is set in stone.

“The Goopy Inferno” reveals what an awkward bridge Sunshine is ’tween Super Mario 64 with its many ways to do tasks & Super Mario Galaxy with its insistence on doing tasks the way the gods intended. “The Goopy Inferno” has a clear method it wants you to take, — go round the perimeter & find the right hole that leads to a wire fence underground that takes you to a hole in the center o’ the level — but it’s terrible @ communicating it, to the point that I think my recent playthru was the 1st time I e’er did this shine the legit way. I actually forgot precisely how I’d do it as a kid, but I think it involved slowly walking ’long a narrow fence somewhere, which got me close ’nough to uncovered dirt to allow me to jump ’long safe areas to the center. Speedrunners, meanwhile, let the Wind Spirits hit them so they have temporary invincibility & use that to safely walk on the lava — not unlike what Mega Man can do on spikes — for long ’nough that they can reach safe land. Unlike Super Mario 64, whose alternate routes are usually intentional, or a’least natural, these are clear glitches in their janky, unintuitive glory; but the fact that so many people stumble ’pon these odd solutions shows how unintuitve the intended route is. & yet, while this doesn’t feel as clever as what Super Mario 64 oft did, it still feels better than Galaxy’s utter lack o’ options & paint-by-#s design. Plus, exploring the wire fences below the level mixes the fun o’ exploring twisting paths with the tension o’ avoiding being knocked off by enemies.

The 3rd trickiest shine may be “Fluff Festival Coin Hunt”, which uses “Pianta Village”’s 8th episode for quite a memorable red-coin challenge — probably e’en better than “Sirena Beach”’s ( not the least ’cause it doesn’t have an arbitrary timer ). This episode does a great job o’ hiding red coins in places where they’re tricky to find, but not unintuitive. Yes, a reasonable person would check under a conspicuous stack o’ crates, under the fruit tree, or all ’long the tree tops & on the wire platforms ’neath the village. What helps is how wide-open “Pianta Village” is, with plenty o’ places to hide things.

Finding all the red coins is only part o’ the challenge, tho: the shine appears on clouds far in the distance, requiring the player to grab onto dandelions blowing back & forth in the wind to reach it. Unfortunately, this gimmick is only used here, with no practice beforehand, &, you guessed it, is janky & doesn’t work well. Their hit boxes are questionable: you’ll dive @ dandelions many times & go right thru them when trying to grab them. Also, be careful aiming in a direction while preparing to jump off: holding right on the control stick can make you fall off & into the abyss, forcing you to collect all 8 red coins ’gain. Normal games would have made down or B make you fall off, while relegating right or left to simply adjusting your aim; but as we’ve seen, Sunshine is not a normal game.

1 o’ the coolest secret shines in the game challenges you to reach the highest point o’ “Pianta Village”, a platform on the tallest tree, & spray the sun itself to reveal a shine image, which gives you a shine for some reason. ( Granted, this is, ’gain, weird, since this game wherein you’re s’posed to clean graffiti is now asking you to add graffiti yourself to the sun itself, which can’t have good ecological consequences. )

“Pianta Village” loses quite a bit o’ points for the rest o’ its shines, which are rather weak. “Piantas in Need”, for instance, is a weaker version o’ “Scrubbing Sirena Beach”, not only ’cause daytime “Pianta Village” isn’t nearly as nice to look @ as “Sirena Beach”’s sunset beach. “Pianta Village” lazily double-dips by making 8 out o’ 10 o’ the villagers give you blue coins if you talk to them after cleaning them — which means if you didn’t think to talk to them, you’ll have to do 80% o’ this shine’s challenge ’gain. “Scrubbing Sirena Beach” has 2 characters you need to clean ( 2 mo’ are also on “The Manta Storm”, for some reason, for a total o’ 4 ) for blue coins. “Scrubbing Sirena Beach” has better variety & doesn’t squander as many blue coins on double-dipping.

“Pianta Village” also has 2 shines that are basically cooling down Chain Chomps & moving them into water sources, which would be a creative gimmick if done once. Episode 1, “Chain Chomplets Unchained”, is the better o’ the 2, allowing you to yank back the Chain Chomplets’ tails & fling them into water, while also threatening you with their lava trails. Neither o’ these are hard compared to the challenges you’ve likely already faced in “Noki Bay” or face in other episodes o’ this very level, but the 1st iteration is strangely harder than the 2nd. “Chain Chomp’s Bath” requires you to slowly pull back a Chain Chomp by its chain, while routinely cooling it back down after it heats itself up ’gain. Anyone can easily pull this off; it just requires patience & holding down in a single direction for long periods.

One might expect that in the last main level everyone’s favorite racist Piantaface-wearing racer who threatens to murder Mario if he doesn’t beat him in a race would offer the slightest semblance o’ a challenge. If so, one will be very disappointed.

The developers use coins in inane ways in “Pianta Village” just as much as every other level. I, for some reason, tried “The Goopy Inferno”, for the 100-coin shine, ’cause it seemed like “Fluff Festival Coin Hunt” had fewer coins ( tho in hindsight, I think that was usually where I got it as a kid ). I wouldn’t have to make these calculations if the developers just put coins all o’er the level on every episode, rather than have some episodes have the underground area full o’ coins & the trees have nothing, while others have the trees full o’ coins but nothing underground. Just have coins everywhere, for fuck’s sake. After quenching every fire & getting all the coins I could out o’ the lava-pooping Coo Coo’s, I had maybe 97 coins & searched desperately for scraps, only to find out you can make a whole ring o’ coins appear by ground pounding the center o’ the bath. I think I only thought to do that cause I may have read ’bout that in an ol’ strategy guide years ago & it clung to my mind ’cause o’ how nonsensical it is. I always thought while playing Super Mario 64, { This would be much funner if I had to do obscure bullshit to find 100 coins in a level }. No, in reality, I thought, { They probably couldn’t fuck up 100-coin challenges any worse }, & to my surprise, Sunshine’s developers took up my challenge.

“Pianta Village”’s blue-coin placements are average quality: not as good as “Sirena Beach” or “Pinna Park”’s, but not as bad as “Bianco Hills” or “Gelato Beach”’s. As I mentioned, a full 8 out o’ 30 are from cleaning Piantas in “Piantas in Need”. We also have the obligatory ( well, ’cept in “Sirena Beach”, which was actually creative ’bout its blue-coin placements ) blue bird, blue butterflies, timed triangle paint, M’s, & a whopping 2 beehives you have to spray down & eat all bees with Yoshi. ¿Is that exciting, or what?

Then we have obscure bullshit, like ground-pounding the statue’s nose or spraying a random sign.

Honestly, the only good blue coin is the 1 you get by spraying the moon on night-time levels. Yeah, it may be obscure, too, but a’least the moon is much mo’ notable than a fucking sign or some statue’s nose.

2. Ricco Harbor

“Ricco Harbor” is a solidly-designed level with a refreshingly uncommon level theme. The developers weaved together setpieces that fulfill all the main criteria for a good level: smoothly coming together in a way that feels like a real cohesive environment, rather than a scattering o’ independent challenges with no interrelation ( the Galaxy method ); having both a variety while also all feeling relevant to the o’erarching harbor theme; & having these setpieces serve as interesting challenges in & o’ themselves.

This level’s most prominent & memorable landmark is the web o’ girders with hooks & wire nets high up to explore, which is mainly used for “The Caged Shine Sprite” ( albeit most o’ this area can, in classic Super Mario 64 fashion, be skipped with clever use o’ the rocket nozzle below the cage ), & 1 o’ the most interesting implementations o’ the ubiquitous 7th shine Shadow Mario battle ( tho with the least interesting title, “Shadow Mario Revisited” ).

Below & beyond the girders is a harbor bay full o’ boats, which makes a great obstacle course for the unfortunately blandly-titled “Red Coins on the Water” while riding on a Blooper. Showing no mercy on the player, this game not only saddles the player with ’nother patented red-coin death timer, but also demands the player collect the shine that appears while still on the Blooper, with the very-real risk o’ smacking into 1 o’ the main walls & dying instantly round the harbor where it appears.

& yet, this is probably easier than the 2nd shine, “Blooper Surfing Safari”, which introduces blooper surfing in a subterranean area entered through a sewer tunnel in the harbor wall. Here you’re forced to race round a winding track using a Blooper that’s not good @ turning & beat an unspecified time limit. Luckily, there are shortcuts found by jumping o’er walls that would otherwise make you sharply turn round them ( or, mo’ accurately if you chose the fastest purple Blooper, will make you ram into a wall & die ) that make the time limit easy to break; unluckily, whether or not you can jump is finicky. If you don’t beat the time limit, which is very much possible if you use the slowest Blooper & don’t take shortcuts, the Pianta automatically ejects you from the level, but doesn’t kill you. It’s a jarring break from this game’s pattern. ¿Why couldn’t the programmers figure out how to just let you retry a challenge after failing without throwing you out o’ the level, like a normal game?

In possibly the lamest secret shine in the game, you get a secret shine for beating “Blooper Surfing Safari” a 2nd time… but 5 seconds faster. Chances are you’ll beat 40 seconds the 1st time, so it’s basically just doing the same thing twice. What blatant filler.

The other major landmark is the lighthouse, which holds the entrance to the secret course for “The Secret of Ricco Tower”. I only wish they bothered to make getting to the entrance an actual challenge beyond just jumping from the top o’ a nearby ship directly to the top platform.

The secret course itself is probably the most generic ’mong them, with just a bunch o’ those janky rotating peg blocks & a few rotating screw platforms in the middle for the barest o’ variety.

The only thing to note ’bout this secret course’s red-coin challenge is the admittedly well-hidden red coins @ the top o’ the walls in the middle break platform — tho I would’ve preferred they didn’t double-dip 2 red coins here. It fits well with the timing o’ the rotating screws: when I 1st played through this area, during which I missed these red coins, trying to go fast, I was annoyed @ how the stage seems to make you wait for the screws to rotate to the middle so that you can reach the red coin in the middle. But if you wall-jump up the walls to get their red coin, but the time you make it back down the screws will have rotated to the middle, right where you need them.

The least relevant areas o’ this level are the small marketplace @ the northmost end & some helicopter landing pad off to the side o’ it. These areas are used for the 2 Gooper Blooper fights they, for some reason, saddle you with. Both battles are basically the same: stomp on the Blooper’s front appendages & pull them back till you rip them off so they can’t smack you with them, & then clean their face off & grab their nose to snap them ’way. I’m glad they a’least made the boss only have 2 phases. It’s an interesting boss ( with a surprisingly gruesome means o’ battling them ) that’s only marred by the fact that they use it multiple times. Unlike “Noki Bay”, Gooper Blooper is actually responsible for making the harbor bay oily, & their defeat leads the bay to become clean ’gain.

The marketplace is also used for the least relevant shine in the level, “Yoshi’s Fruit Adventure”, which challenges the player to get a Yoshi, spray fruit @ hopping fish to turn them into moving platforms, & ride them to the shine in a cage locked ’hind that strange moving yellow goop that reminds me o’ those weird sponges they have @ the car wash that can only be destroyed with Yoshi juice. “Yoshi’s Fruit Adventure” is 1 o’ the notoriously hard 8th shines in the game, but strangely, I didn’t find it very hard @ all & was able to beat it 1st try on my recent attempt.

The most frustrating, & ridiculous, part is unleashing Yoshi in the 1st place. You need to get Yoshi a durian & kick it o’er to his egg. The durian’s kick physics feel arbitrary, with sometimes attempts to be as light as possible with my movement kicking it clear ’cross the market while other times I was able to just hold forward & keep kicking it in short bursts. But the worst part is that you have to alternate ground pounding buttons @ the top o’ 2 towers to release fruit & some jackoff developer thought it’d be great if it randomly spit out a fruit, 1 out o’ 4 o’ which is actually relevant. E’en better, sometimes when you release a durian it’ll go flying off into the water, destroying it, specially if there’s other fruit in its way, which means you need to drop down & fling the useless fruit to get it out o’ the way. There’s no compelling challenge to any o’ this: it just wastes your time & you have no control o’er any o’ it.

Thankfully, after so many levels with dumbass 100-coin challenges, “Ricco Harbor” has a decent implementation, with coins actually scattered round the level & plenty to reach the goal ( a’least in episode 8, the 1 most would try, tho it seems as if all would likely have 100 coins, too ). It’s sad that I would need to praise this level for accomplishing something Super Mario 64 always accomplished, but those are the rock-bottom standards Super Mario Sunshine has left me with.

“Ricco Harbor” also has some o’ the most interesting blue coin placements with probably the least repetition in all the levels, ’cept maybe “Sirena Beach”’s. The worst blue coins are probably the 1 you find by spraying a random part o’ a random wall to make 1 o’ those blue shine marks appear ( which makes no sense: ¿you’re rewarded for creating graffiti, the thing you’re s’posed to be getting rid o’? ) & yet ’nother blue coin you get by just eating blue butterflies with Yoshi — & the latter isn’t e’en bad, just used in every level.

The rest o’ the blue coins are spread evenly thruout the level: up on the girders, round the towers you climb with Yoshi, & round the marketplace & ships all o’er the bay. There are e’en some clever blue coins, like 1 you get for spraying a fan to raise a yellow submarine ( tho the yellow cage before it is pointless &, bizarrely, only appears on the 1st shine despite having nothing to do with that episode’s challenge ). These blue coins were e’en able to turn repetition in a clever hint: you get blue coins for killing 2 Klambers on the wire net in 1 o’ the ships by knocking them off while hanging on; howe’er, there is also a Klamber on a non-wire wall. Apparently, you can spray them & slide o’er them while they’re stunned, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that, since they’re stunned for maybe a second, & it sounds glitchy in any case; most players would probably try getting Yoshi & eating it, which is much easier.

My only problem with “Ricco Harbor”’s blue coins is that I feel like they could’ve all been available on episode 8, if not all episodes. In particular, the developers for some reason made 1 blue coin floating o’er the bay near the entrance to the Blooper race only obtainable on episode 2, e’en tho there’s ’nother blue coin floating o’er the bay that is available on any episode.

Finally, the way this level handles nozzles is unintuitive as hell. There is 1 turbo nozzle ( virtually necessary to get 1 o’ the graffiti race blue coins if you’re not a speedrunner ) box on a rooftop that was always a “hologram” on every episode, e’en after unlocking the turbo nozzle in Isle Delfino. Finally, I had to look it up online & found out you need to collect a specific nozzle box hidden in a ship to make them all appear in full.

1. Sirena Beach

“Sirena Beach” is Super Mario 64’s lackluster “Big Boo’s Haunt” done well, which is the only time Sunshine bests 64 on such a large scale. The tropical hotel theme mixed with the haunted house theme transforms a tradition Mario theme into something unique, while offering far mo’ variety in challenges than fighting Boos for 3 stars.

While fans always love to heap praise on “Noki Bay”’s visuals, it’s nowhere close to as good-looking as “Sirena Beach”’s orange & purple dark sunset beach & plaza.

Unlike “Pinna Park”, “Sirena Beach” pulls off its cock-tease, closing off the hotel for the 1st shine, “The Manta Storm”. As a kid I always hated this shine ’cause I found it hard once the mantas are split off into many & begin chasing you & it came in ’tween me & exploring the hotel, & sadly many adults concur with this same sloppy “hard, therefore bad” argument. Howe’er, e’en as a kid I was able to figure out a safe, albeit slow, way to pick the mantas off from under a hut, while the older & mo’ capable version o’ me was able to blast them off easily while going on the offense. Unlike most other bosses whose gimmicks, howe’er clever they may be, were slow & boring, this boss manages to match a clever gimmick with compelling gameplay, allowing the player to choose how whether to go slowly & carefully or quickly & aggressively. I think I now consider this 1 o’ the best bosses in the game, save maybe the Plungelos in “Gelato Beach”’s “Mirror Madness! Tilt, Slam, Bam!”, which I ding a few points from for being a bit too simple & trivial to beat.

The 2nd episode, “The Hotel Lobby’s Secret”, gives a li’l taste o’ the hotel, but only opening ’nough thru the pink Boos infesting the hotel to climb up the top o’ the pillar to enter the boo statue’s mouth, developing the cock-tease a bit mo’.

Unfortunately, the secret course itself is forgettable & feels like it belongs on the cutting room floor o’ “Gelato Beach”, involving the same straight paths o’ sand blocks. With both the path o’ sand blocks below the main path & the whole inside o’ the weird block formation afterward, which are both a complete waste o’ time for the main shine, you’d think the obligatory red-coin secret shine would force you to explore these areas for red coins. Well, there is 1 red coin right @ the bottom o’ the weird block formation, but absolutely no red coins down that 2nd sand-block path, making that part o’ the level utterly pointless, ’cept that there might be a 1-up down there that only a fool would risk a life & wasted time for. Unfortunately, e’en the best level o’ the game isn’t safe from a bit o’ thoughtless level design.

But the main shine o’ attention is the 3rd episode, “Mysterious Hotel Delfino”, which challenges you to explore a 3D maze o’ rooms, going door to door or up & down floors from the 1st floor to the ceiling vents, starting from secret passageways in the bathroom stalls, trying to find the secret entrance into the blocked-off pool room. The path is twisted ’nough to get my interest without going on too long, & the developers interspersed the path with clever ways to get from room to room, like having the player spray posters to reveal holes ’hind them they can jump thru.

As an extra twist, to get past the Boos blocking all paths in the vents, you need to grab a pineapple hidden in 1 room & bring it to the Yoshi on the 1st floor so you can eat the Boos. My only problem is that sometimes while exploring with Yoshi you can end up stuck in a room with no way to go thru a door back out while on Yoshi, so you have to abandon Yoshi; & since you need Yoshi & the Yoshi egg won’t spawn while Yoshi’s still round, you’ll have to kill Yoshi. Make sure you don’t leave Yoshi round where a pineapple spawns ( as the pineapple room is easy to get stuck in ) or it’ll ne’er die & you’ll be waiting fore’er.

Episode 4 & 5 focus on the hotel casino, with “The Secret of Casino Delfino” forcing you to spray slot machines till they show triple 7s, 1 in which you can change each square individually & 1 in which all squares spin in sync, followed by an obnoxious grid wherein you have to spray each individual piece & hope that it spins with the picture-side out & hope you don’t undo progress on ’nother square from the residue o’ your spray. It feels random, which I guess is how casinos work; but that doesn’t make it a compelling challenge in any way. Finally, you will be able to enter a pipe to the secret course.

Thankfully, this secret course is mo’ interesting than “The Hotel Lobby’s Secret”’s. Aesthetically, a sunset casts its light o’er everything, which helps this secret course stand out from all the others. It begins with a board with weird white cubes sliding round, threatening to shove you off or squish you. Howe’er, you can just flip jump onto 1 & jump ’mong the tops o’ cubes for an easy way thru. I would also advise moving the camera straight ’bove so you can actually see. Sadly, the course gradually tapers off from here, leading to wooden blocks that move out & in, & then the dozenth spinning wooden block with pegs you’ve encountered as the finale.

The absolutely worst part o’ this level is that you have to do all the tedious slots & that spinning tile puzzle yet ’gain to try the 2nd red-coin secret shine. ¿Why don’t they just let you go into the pipe on later episodes? You’ll still have to do this tedious nonsense the 1st time you beat the secret course, since you can’t do episodes out o’ order, but you won’t have to for the repeat, which is only fair.

“King Boo Down Below” has you ground pound a conspicuous purple tile on the roulette wheel to make it drop down to a fight with King Boo. As cool & clever as this boss is, it falls victim not only to a bit o’ Rareware stop-&-go tedium, but also to luck: every time you spray King Boo, he spins the slots under him & will only release the fruit you need to hit him if he gets 3 pineapples. Anything else will waste your time cleaning up what garbage he throws @ you. Since King Boo can’t hurt you directly, only send mooks after you, there’s no chance o’ you dying, so the only “challenge” this boss offers is wasting time.

Episode 6, “Scrubbing Sirena Beach”, challenges you to clean the beach & a few beachgoers within a certain time limit. They give you plenty o’ time & are very lenient — I still had plenty o’ conspicuous goop when the game said I was done. Still, it’s slightly mo’ compelling o’ a challenge than “Pianta Village”’s, has a bit mo’ variety than just spraying 10 Piantas, & looks nicer. Having 1 mo’ challenge take place outside also adds variety after 4 shines indoors, & does so in a much mo’ effective way than “Pinna Park” — not the least o’ which ’cause the outside area isn’t just yet ’nother beach with a few plain grass & flower beds, but has an elaborate yard with stone walkways, mini ponds, lit torches, huts, & flower gardens.

The ubiquitous Shadow Mario chase episode 7, “Shadow Mario Checks In”, sugars stuff up with Boos posing as Shadow Mario. Since they’re clearly a whiter shade, they’re not convincing. Unfortunately, this shine reveals a major problem with this level’s camera when you’re on the stairs, making it slower & e’en mo’ tedious to try aiming your sprays @ Shadow Mario while chasing him up & down.

Episode 8, “Red Coins in the Hotel”, while not as hard as “Gelato Beach”’s “The Watermelon Festival” or “Ricco Harbor”’s “Yoshi’s Fruit Adventure”, perfectly wraps up this level with a red-coin collection challenge thruout the the maze o’ rooms. I could’ve gone without the time limit, which feels like trial-&-error, tho.

Once ’gain Super Mario Sunshine sabotages a 100-coin shine by being needlessly stingy with coins. “Sirena Beach” is better ’bout spreading its coins round the hotel, but I was still barely able to find 100 coins on episode 8 & couldn’t find ’nough on episode 3 ( tho IGN seems to claim that you can ). Some may call this “challenge”, but making it so easy to get screwed out o’ 100 coins & have to start o’er is tedious, not challenging, specially when most o’ the coins are gotten by spraying dozens o’ torches & doors. You can also get 100 coins by going into episode 4 & just grinding for triple coins on the slots. Since I had ’nough grinding for coins in “Gelato Beach” & “Pinna Park”, I passed.

“Sirena Beach”, thanks to being such a large, complex level, has the greatest variety o’ blue coins. It has so few copypasted blue coins that it’s 1 o’ the few wherein having 30 blue coins was reasonable & didn’t feel like overt padding.

The only problematic blue coins are the 1s where you have to spray the ceiling light — which, to be fair, I guess is a notable landmark — & some random flowerbed & random bookcase — which isn’t notable & all. There’s also a blue coin way off in the tides out from the beach — but a’least there’s only 1, & it’s in the corner, as if it’s trying to hide, so it doesn’t feel as arbitrary as the underwater blue coins in “Bianco Hills”.

You also have to spray a few torches out o’ many to get some blue coins, but you’ll probably do that to get coins, anyway. You also get blue coins for ground pounding ( or sometimes just jumping ) under certain slot machine levers, which is actually clever.

I feel like you’d also need to be paying close attention to find the “M” graffiti mark in the casino, which only appears on episode 5, which feels like a particularly rude form o’ Sunshine’s infamous blue-coin episode limits.

While not bad in theory, the timed triangle & X blue coins are made a bit unfair by the screwy camera. You literally can’t see the blue coin that spawns on the 2nd floor ’cause it isn’t loaded, showing just a black void ceiling. Serious developers would’ve looked @ this conspicuous visual glitch & not kept these here, but Sunshine’s developers clearly didn’t give a fuck when they were making this game. ’Cause the camera forces itself in a weird angle as you go up the stairs, you basically have to get the blue coins blind while going up, ’less you’re able to quickly rotate the camera while moving & diving forward, which requires either tremendous dexterity or 3 hands.

Most o’ the rest o’ the blue coins are spread throughout the hotel rooms & vents. I think my favorite 2 blue coins are the 1 on the roof ’hind the hotel & the 1 you get for spraying a blank portrait, revealing a shine picture.

Most o’ this level analysis was description rather than analysis, ’cause there wasn’t much to rant ’bout, save the same kind o’ problems every level has. This is o’erall a solid level with a few instances o’ very clever design.

Honorable Dishonorable Mentions

Corona Mountain

[ Insert obligatory topical reference to coronavirus that will date this post. ]

Ah, the infamous. This is a widely reviled level ’mong e’en fans who love Sunshine. Something you could definitely say ’bout the level is that there’s not much to it. You jump from fire platform to spike platform, quickly spraying out the fire platforms ( or just hovering o’er them & hoping you’re high ’nough to not get hit by the flames — which, with this game’s wonky hit detection, is ne’er a guarantee ) before the spikes spring back up. It’s also a severely linear level for a game that was still rather open. Still, the quick platforming is rather fun for a game wherein platforming was rarely fun.

Despite being simple & linear, the level isn’t very coherent, with 3 completely independent sections. After the simple platforming ’tween spike & fire platforms, we have the infamous boat section. You have to spray your water ’hind the boat to make it go forward, & spray to the sides to rotate whiche’er end you’re nearest, which means if you’re smart you’ll stay on 1 clear end, so turning isn’t a surprise, as the game gets confused as to where you want to rotate it when trying to rotate it from the center. Honestly, the boat’s not hard to navigate if you’re not charging forward. Despite all the struggles I had with many things I didn’t expect to struggle with thruout my playthru o’ this game, I didn’t crash this boat once. That said, the game doesn’t prepare you for this boat much, ’less you happened to use the fully optional boat out o’ the way in “Noki Bay”, nor does it ’splain how the boat works, so players will likely die a few times just trying to figure out how this gimmick works, & have to redo the previous section each time. This is why you don’t mix completely different gimmicks into the same level, dumb shits.

Also, there are blue coins near the end, which you’ll want to use the boat to get — tho, ’cause blue coins save when you collect them, you could always just dive @ them without the boat & take the death. For some reason, they waste a full 3rd o’ Delfino Plaza’s 30 blue coins in this 1 area. That’s right — this game expects you to collect 10 blue coins in just this small circle round the last platform o’ “Corona Mountain”. If that doesn’t convince me the developers o’ this game were as lazy as they could be ’bout blue-coin placement, I don’t know what you’d consider lazy placement.

Far worse is final section, wherein you have to take the rocket nozzle & rocket up a bunch o’ moving cloud platforms. Now, after 2 very tricky sections, e’en for this point in the game, ¿why do they end with a trivial section that not only “challenges” you to do simple versions o’ much harder challenges you must have done before — ¡as far back as “Bianco Hills”! — without e’en the threat o’ death for missing — you just land on the ground & take damage?

People also widely pan the final boss for being too easy & having a sitcom dad voice: you just rocket up & ground pound 4 corners while avoiding Bullet Bills & fire. Or don’t, ’cause you can easily tank most hits. Actually, tho I surprisingly aced the boat section 1st try, I died, like, 4 times trying this boss. The 1st time I ran out o’ water & couldn’t get any mo’ ’cause Bowser would ne’er give me blue Bullet Bills & I committed suicide; ’nother time I fell thru the crumbling floor, ’cause ’course hit boxes don’t always work; ’nother time I launched straight upward o’er the red mark on an outer platform & when I fell back down I was magically far forward & off the platform, leading me ground-pounding in utter bemusement to my death. By this point I had become numb to the terribleness.

This level’s the apex o’ mediocre — specially if you compare it to Super Mario 64’s excellent final Bowser level, which did a lot better job o’ being a linear challenge level without being boring.

Super Slide

I love how Super Mario Sunshine’s development team didn’t have anyone there to say, <Hey, guys, maybe we should only include actually designed levels, & not a few thrown-together setpieces we left in the corner>. I also love how they start by making it seem as if you should avoid the far left with a big gaping hole, only for the level to require a sharp left turn after that that you can’t make. What you need to do is aim straight for that gaping hole, which you can jump o’er. After that there’s, like, 1 mo’ relatively easy turn & a thin slope, & then the level’s o’er.

This level is found on a random pipe on a hill in a series o’ hills off the coast o’ “Gelato Beach”’s entrance. Honestly, the arrangement o’ these hills took mo’ thought than the level itself.

Red Coin Field

You have to collect 8 red coins in a field full o’ large grass that makes it hard to see — ’cept you can just move the camera ’bove you, making things much easier to see. You basically just defeat all the enemies, including this game’s only red bird, break some random watermelon block in some random place, fall into 1 o’ the many holes with a red coin hidden in it, & spray some guy running round on fire for hours & hope you don’t run out o’ water, ’cause there’s no way to refill your water. ’Cause the developers hate you & are laughing @ you for being dumb ’nough to play their game, they put a fire, which you’d think gives you a red coin for spraying it out, but it actually does nothing but waste your scarce water.

You find this stage by crossing a series o’ palm trees growing out o’ the wall spreading out from the cannon entrance to “Pinna Park”.

Pachinko Game

Ah, yes, e’en mo’ infamous than Coronavirus Mountain. & for good reason: this level is absolute shit. While other levels sometimes give you annoying bugs, this whole level is a bug & is exhibit A in my proof that this game wasn’t bugtested.

The gimmick is that you jump onto a bouncing platform & up a tunnel ( which has 3 red coins, since they couldn’t e’en find mo’ than 5 places to hide red coins in the machine itself ) & try to aim yourself with the hover nozzle o’er a slot with a red coin while invisible walls & magical, unintuitive physics push you round for no reason. If you play this level ’nough you may develop an inkling for how these alien physics work as well as my unending sympathy that you spent so much o’ your precious time playing shit & not an actually good game. You can’t see the slots under you, so this is effectively “Blind Jumps, the Level”. If you don’t land in a slot, you go toward the bottom, where you’re destined for death.

I’ve heard some say that this was a good concept, just badly implemented, but no, this could ne’er be good. @ its best, if this level were designed in a way that was fair & controllable, it’d be negligibly easy, since aiming for big slots is a simple task, which is what most Mario games probably would’ve done. For some reason, Sunshine preferred unfair hard o’er negligibly easy, so they hacked together invisible walls & made you aim for slots you can’t see to manufacture fake difficulty. So ’stead o’ a pointless trifle most would forget, we get possibly the most infamously bad level in all Mario games. ¿Is this black mark better than being completely ignored for eternity like, say, the average Super Mario Galaxy level ( or that dumbass “Super Slide”, which wasn’t e’en “super” in the slightest )? You decide.

Lily Pad Ride

This secret level’s infamous not ’cause o’ the level itself, but its inane method for reaching it. You have to get Yoshi, jump onto a boat, spend minutes standing round doing nothing, jump onto an island, eat fruit to avoid letting Yoshi die o’ dehydration, wait for minutes doing nothing till ’nother boat arrives, jump onto that boat, ride it for minutes doing nothing, jump onto a platform with bananas lying there for no reason, — ’cause bananas regularly grow on metal platforms with nobody on them — wait for minutes doing nothing for a 3rd boat to arrive, jump onto it, & then ride it for minutes doing nothing before jumping onto a final island to spray ’way that stupid yellow slime covering a pipe with Yoshi’s fruit. This is mo’ like a parody than a real challenge. ¿Did Beat Takeshi disguise himself as a developer & manage to get himself hired by Nintendo & sneak this shit into the game? Only someone who truly despised their audience would develop something like this. I couldn’t e’en stay mad @ the developers after this: if after this, you still continue to play Super Mario Sunshine, you’re the one who has the mental problems.

Pictured: exciting gameplay that people actually try to claim is better than Super Mario 64.

The course itself requires you to ride a lily pad o’er deathly toxic water & hope the lily pad passes by red coins in a way that makes it physically possible to grab them. You can try to control the lily pad with your spray, but since the lily pad moves so fast with such strong momentum, these sprays are slight suggestions. If you do reach the end without collecting all red coins, there are 3 options:

1. You can kill yourself ( in real life, too, which you may want to do if you’re wasting your summer playing this game & typing up a novella ’bout how unbearably bad it is ’stead o’ doing something productive with your life ).

2. You can jump into a pipe some asshole developer laughing his ass off put in that sends you back to the beginning o’ Delfino Plaza, which means you have to wait on those 3 boats with Yoshi ’gain. If this does not convince you that this game’s developers actively despise their audience, & perhaps all o’ humanity, you pretend e’en a glass half full is full. If you do fall for this troll & jump into the pipe, my recommended remedy is to shut the GameCube off & throw the game disc into moving traffic. Luckily, I played this game before, so I didn’t. Just remember that I played this game a few times as a kid, so as frustrated as I am, imagine how much mo’ pissed off some poor newbie who didn’t already know ’bout this troll job & actually fell for it would feel.

3. You can take the “Walk o’ Shame” ’cross the very thin winding path ’long the edge o’ the level back to the start, where ’nother lily pad will be.

Turbo Track

Compared to all the other secret levels, this 1’s excellent simply by being functional. You charge forward with the turbo nozzle & jump… a li’l before the edge, ’cause there’s a weird delay & if you try to jump right before the edge you’ll just fall off. ¿Did I say “functional”? I meant “halfway functional”, which is the best we should expect from this game. Hopefully, when you land on the final platform you don’t land past the shine & can jump immediately ’pon landing to grab the shine, as that last platform is so small there’s no chance you’ll be able to stop on it before falling off from the gradually-decreasing momentum. It’s also likely you may only hit the front edge o’ the final platform & grab the edge, stopping you immediately, which is usually what happens to me. It’s a pleasant surprise that the game is lenient & doesn’t just bonk me off, like most games would.

You find this level by breaking thru a door with the turbo nozzle — the 1 ’tween the 2 cops who apparently don’t care that you’re going round destroying property. [ Insert obligatory topical reference ’bout George Floyd riots that will date — O, ¿who am I kidding? White cops killing black people for no reason is as timeless as death ( specially for black people ) & tax loopholes ].

Delfino Airstrip

It’s cool they let you return to the intro level & give you an extra shine to get, tho I wish they’d done mo’ with it than yet ’nother red-coin collection shine ( ¿is this what Sunshine fans call being mo’ oddball than Super Mario 64? ¿Exacerbating its worst vices? ). O well, a’least you get to use the turbo nozzle for collecting red coins.

They could’ve a’least taken some o’ the 10 blue coins all round the end o’ “Corona Mountain” & added some mo’ to this area. I think all this area has is a blue coin in an ice cube you melt by spraying with water.

Delfino Plaza

& last but definitely not least, ’cause unlike Super Mario 64, whose hub actually had contenders, “Delfino Plaza” is the only non-main area that isn’t @ best underwhelming in Super Mario Sunshine.

But we must credit Sunshine here: “Delfino Plaza” is a contender gainst Super Mario 64’s hub, & possibly better ( & it’s certainly better than Galaxy’s joke o’ a hub & Galaxy 2’s lazy map screen that’s e’en mo’ primitive than that found in Super Mario Bros. 34 ). While “Peach’s Castle” had some interesting stars, like grabbing MIPS, specially the DS remake, which had that secret white room in the mirror room, most o’ them were gotten in secret areas or just by talking to 3 Toads in random rooms. Sunshine does o’eruse the “wash thing — whether it be 2 bells or the shine on the gate” or “find shine picture in the sand”, & while its crate-breaking minigame isn’t particularly interesting, it’s something.

Howe’er, “Delfino Plaza” does have the cleverest use o’ Chuckster, who throws you into a broken window for a small fee so you can break into that building & collect the shine inside.

Plus, we have some interesting blue-coin challenges, such as getting the fruit into villagers’ baskets, specially kicking the durian ’cross the river. My only problem with these are that the programmers stupidly made it so that you have to talk to the villagers before giving them fruit counts. If you put fruit into their basket before you talk to them, the fruit disappears, but it doesn’t count toward anything. Also, I think it would’ve worked better if they kept them to just 1 fruit, since requiring 3 is just repetitive. If spraying a random M or finding a blue coin in a random place underwater is worth getting a blue coin, I don’t see how just kicking 1 durian into a villager’s basket or e’en just throwing a coconut in a villager’s basket is too easy.

I do feel many o’ “Delfino Plaza”’s oddball blue coins or shines would be better if they were actually unique. I remember when I was a kid I was always fond o’ finding the blue coin by spraying the blue bird on the rooftops; but now that I’ve learned that that same mechanic is in almost every level, I can only shrug in boredom. Perhaps the developers should’ve taken a page from Super Mario Bros. 3 with its Kuribo’s Shoe & realized that weird gimmicks are better when they’re rare, as their freshness is what makes them interesting, & they can’t stay fresh after the dozenth iteration.

Also, the golden bird, which falls into this same problem, adds pointless padding by putting the shine it spawns all the way on the hill islands near “Gelato Beach”’s entrance. This doesn’t add any challenge; it just forces you to slowly swim o’er to that area. ¿What was the point?

I do feel like the level entrances aren’t as memorable or interesting as Super Mario 64’s. “Sirena Beach”’s, which requires you to eat the giant pineapple, is the most interesting; but then once you’ve done that, it’s just a pipe you jump into. Similarly, I like the way “Pianta Village” “requires” you to unlock the rocket nozzle to reach it — or not, if you’re clever with your jumping. Howe’er, almost all the rest are just M’s or a cannon you jump into, & “Noki Bay”’s is just a rehash o’ Super Mario 64’s entrance to the wing cap stage. None o’ these entrances have any way to change how the stage works based on how you enter, like “Tick Tock Clock”’s, “Wet-Dry World”’s, or “Tiny-Huge Island”’s.

Honestly, I still think “Peach’s Castle” is better. “Peach’s Castle” pushes its hub with many secrets, while still staying concise, specially in the DS remake. Nothing in it felt like padding, ’cept for the Toad stars, & nothing felt missing. “Delfino Plaza” looks concise compared to the kind o’ bloated monstrosities modern video games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild subjects the player to, but still has some setpieces that could’ve been exploited mo’, like the underwater hole near “Pinna Park”’s entrance, which holds a useless 1-up mushroom ( competent developers would’ve put a blue coin there & taken 1 o’ the — let me remind you ’gain — 10 blue coins round the end o’ “Corona Mountain” ). On the other end, I feel there were many mo’ opportunities for hiding blue coins that were missed — they could’ve put many mo’ hiding places in the buildings — & the level entrances were just underwhelming in comparison. It’s still a great hub, tho, — specially by the low standards Sunshine set with most o’ its other levels — & the fact that it comes very close to “Peach ‘s Castle” says something.

Posted in Great Stages, Sucky Stages, Video Games