As Super Mario Sunshine turns 20 on July 19, 2022, Kate wants to say something about how the game could be a hit today, perhaps…
OK, LISTEN. Whenever I’m in decent company and mention that I enjoy Super Mario Sunshine – yes, in spite of his perseverance in collecting ten thousand blue coins, in spite of he is sometimes frustrated with the camera controls, and maybe even due to his goofy voice acting – everyone is trying to turn to me, monocles popping out of their faces, spitting wine all over the place like a faulty hose, and then all the women in corsets in the room are swooning in horror, and I have to pay their medical expenses for what they say something so terrible.
Do you know which game was added to Xbox Game Pass this week? A feat that usually means a game is popular or loved enough to warrant Microsoft shelling out money for it?
I mean come on! It’s just Super Mario Sunshine with less story! Put your monocles back on!
So here’s my thesis: Super Mario Sunshine was just born in the wrong era. It has captured what people seem to innately love – making sure something is very clean – and centered the gameplay around that, which has made a lot of people very angry, even though TikTok is currently full of low but satisfying labor videos like cleaning. swimming pool and installation of a thatched roof. I’m not kidding about either one or the other.
We love high-pressure cleaning just as much as we love peeling clear plastic off a new TV or putting a bubble-free screen protector on a phone. A clean slate brings great satisfaction. So, when Mario is tasked with cleaning up all the dirt on Delfino Island, even if he didn’t do it himself, it’s not all that different from the fantasy of absolute power that Power Wash Simulator offers!
People are drawn to job simulation games for a variety of reasons. Only recently have these games been reduced to their raw core, moving away from story-driven work games like Harvest Moon and Slime Rancher and more towards do-it-yourself games like House Flipper and Truck Simulator. This is zen. It’s relaxing. It seems strange, and perhaps it is. But you know what? I work at my desk all day. I can dream of a life where I not only go out, but also do laundry.
Mario never works. He is a plumber who never does plumbing; his main day to day activities seem to be mostly jumping and fighting, neither of which is really anything special. Work. Super Mario Sunshine not only gives him something to dofinally, but it requires him to do a good job. Sure, there’s combat, and to be honest, those parts are often a bit bad (usually because they involve a clever trick), but the slime-cleaning aspect never gets old.
I guess if Super Mario Sunshine comes out today (which seems to have happened with All-Stars), and may be if it offered a first-person FLUDD mode, people might appreciate it a little more. But apparently, twenty years ago, in 2002, the world just wasn’t ready for a cleaning game.
Do you disagree with me? Nothing, we can still be friends. Let’s discuss Super Mario Sunshine in the comments!