Tag Archives: super mario sunshine

Community Post: The Duck’s Top 5 Mario Levels

Screenshot by Flickr User: JEAN-Louco por Animes e Mangas
Screenshot by Flickr User: JEAN-Louco por Animes e Mangas

United We Game’s February community posts continue, with today being the day the Duck will present you all with my entry on the topic of levels in the “Mario” series.  Gamer or not, pretty much everyone’s heard of Mario, and there’s a reason this squat plumber is so popular even after people have been playing his games for over three decades.  Because the games have something in them for everyone.  They have good, old platforming goodness through a wide variety of environments, an innocent charm that people of all ages can enjoy, challenge (and boy, can they be challenging), not to mention princesses to save and big Koopa Kings to toss.  There are so many “Mario” levels out there, and yet they still manage to find ways to do something new with each one and make them stand out from the rest.  So I decided for my post that I would list my top five “Mario” levels, and to make it fair, I am going to list my top level from each of my five main “Mario” games in order from least favorite to top favorite.  The games I considered for this post span 1991-2010, “Super Mario World”, “Super Mario 64”, “Super Mario Sunshine”, and the two “Super Mario Galaxy” games.

5. Okay, this first one is not strictly my favorite level from a particular game.  I chose it more because I have some good memories associated with this level that I can’t really claim to have with the others.  This level is Stand Tall on the 4 Pillars, which is found in Shifting Sand Land from “Super Mario 64”.  In this level, you go into the pyramid and fight the boss, called the Eyerock (consisting of two hands with an eye on each palm, a surprisingly common boss in games), for a star.  As I hinted at before, the level itself is not that exciting, but the last time I played this game was the very first time in about 10 years of owning it that I finally got 100%.  And this particular playthrough consisted of my very first time through this level.  Ever.  So, for one thing, getting to play an entirely new level in a game I had been trying to beat for a decade was pretty exciting, which is one cause for my fond memories of it.  The other reason is what took place while I was playing it.

I remember I was relaxing in my most comfortable chair one afternoon playing this game.  It was quite a peaceful time, and for some inexplicable reason, my cat, Alex, decided to jump onto the chair with me, which he had never done before and never did ever again.  The chair was much too small for the two of us, so he had to settle with largely laying on my lap, making it that much more fun to play the game.  And this happened to be during this very level, which was also a surprise, considering it was my first time through it and my first time ever seeing this boss.  And so I will forever have pleasant memories of playing this level one lazy afternoon with a comfy chair and a cat on my lap.

Video from Youtube user: MrGamingZone

4. My next favorite level comes from “Super Mario Galaxy”.  This level, despite not being a fan of the fiendish creature called the bee one bit, is Bee Mario Takes Flight, a level in the HoneyHive Galaxy.  And I just love it, for many reasons.  To start, it’s just such a cute level.  It’s so bright and colorful, with cute, cheery music.  And then there’s the bees.  Not just Bee Mario, but the regular bees in the level.  While most bees are terrifying and evil, these bees are just so darn adorable!  I’m not kidding you!  They are so cute!  They are plump and fluffy, and they make adorable sounds when you go up to them.  Honestly, it’s mainly the adorable bees that make me love this level, not just Bee Mario, even though he can be pretty useful, the way he can fly and climb around on certain surfaces.  But, I guess in the end, it’s really the adorable bees that make this level great.  This level and the bees that populate it are the bee’s knees.

Video from Youtube user: Overhazard

3. My next favorite level kind of bends the rules a bit.  This one comes from “Super Mario Galaxy 2”, and my favorite level from this game is, without a doubt, Return of the Whomp King from the Throwback Galaxy.  I’m kind of cheating here because, oh, my gosh, this is actually a level from “Super Mario 64”!  A bit ironic, as I honestly was not a huge fan of “Super Mario 64” (it was so darn hard, and that’s why it took me a decade or so to beat!), but this level was just so great because of the pure nostalgia.  This level is a replica of the second world from “Super Mario 64”, complete with the same delightful music and everything.  And it makes me happy because it was a world I actually liked from “Super Mario 64” (because, unlike most of the game, it was much easier).  Then, you get to fight some Whomps.  I like Whomps.  They look goofy.  (Even though we all know Thwomps are better.)

Video from Youtube user: omegaevolution

2. My second favorite level comes from “Super Mario World”, the Donut Ghost House.  I always liked the ghost houses.  They were creepy, with the spooky music and the dark interiors, not to mention all the ghosts (the big ones were so freaky!), and they were confusing, with all the doors and the strange order in which you had to go through them in order to escape, but that was what made them fun.  And I just love those old-fashioned Boos.  Adorable.  Except the ones that follow you when you look away.  That’s rather scary.  And so, since these levels were my favorites from the game, I just chose this one because it’s the first and because it’s the easiest.  Easy is good.

Video from Youtube user: BURTTtv

1. And my favorite “Mario” level, as you’d expect, comes from my favorite “Mario” game, “Super Mario Sunshine”, despite this one being the most different, but maybe that’s why I liked it.  I love this game, and I always loved Noki Bay most of all, a rather beautiful place with peaceful music and towering cliffs (which are, oh, so fun to climb), and I actually found the water to be even prettier when it was purple and polluted.  This level was so lovely and had such fun platforming that I always loved visiting it.  And as odd as it is, my favorite level in this place was Eely-Mouth’s Dentist, where you go underwater and clean the teeth of this giant eel.  The boss music in this game is quite awesome and epic (even when you’re playing dentist), and I just found it so darn satisfying cleaning up all those filthy teeth (except it was gross when some of them came out).  Maybe I’m a weirdo for getting such a rush from cleaning eel teeth, but I did, and that’s why I found this level to be awesome.

Video from Youtube user: Anon7906

Duck, Dentist of Eel Teeth

Community Post: The Levels Make the Plumber

Image by Flickr User: daveynin
Image by Flickr User: daveynin

Behold, the first of United We Game’s series of community posts on “Mario” levels, this one by Hatm0nster AKA Jacob, fellow administrator of United We Game!

Mario has been Nintendo’s flagship franchise since they first burst onto the scene with Super Mario Brothers for the NES (Or with the Donkey Kong arcade game if you want to get technical). It takes quite a bit to maintain that kind of staying power for more than 25 years, and we can rest assured that it’s not the portly plumber himself who’d the cause for the series overwhelming success. No, instead it’s always been Nintendo’s ingenious ability to consistently push the boundaries of level design as we know it. Nearly every main series entry has shown us new ways to explore the world with our mustachioed friend, and has left long-time fans with a lifetime’s worth of memorable locations that we can’t help but mentally revisit from time to time. The following are but just a few of my personal favorites.

Pachinko Machine (Super Mario Sunshine)

I’m not sure if that’s really the name or not, but that’s how I’ll always remember this one. It’s not a very popular level due to its stupid level of difficulty compared to the rest of Super Mario Sunshine, but for me that’s kind of the point. It took so many tries to beat this level the first time that I honestly couldn’t even give you a ballpark figure (it was A LOT.) but few things over the years have beaten the feeling of triumph of finally beating it after so many tries and so many failed strategies. Finally beating that stinking machine made all the frustration totally worth it and forever cemented the level as a favorite…as odd as that may sound. J

Luigi’s Purple Coins (Toy Time Galaxy – Super Mario Galaxy)

Finishing this level was actually one of those few things that beat the feeling of completing the Pachinko Machine level. It’s a challenge that, even though it’s stupidly hard, I heartily recommend that every Mario fan should at least attempt. This was the single hardest challenge I’ve ever faced in a Mario game. The challenge is simple, collect all the coins in the level. However, that simplicity comes with a catch: you are given just a little more than enough time to get them all, and you can never touch the same platform twice. It’s hard, unforgiving, frustrating in the utmost, but like the Pachinko Machine, the feeling of beating it is almost unmatched! It stretches your command of Mario’s abilities to their very limit and walking away victorious feels like earning your platformer mark of mastery! If you haven’t tried it, go do it now! You don’t know what you’re missing!

World 8 – First Tank (Super Mario Bros. 3)

My first experience with Mario was with Super Mario Brothers 3 (The All-Stars version on the SNES), and for the most part I found it pleasant and fun until one stormy afternoon when I warped myself to World 8, and wow. I was really young at the time, so going from bright and happy to what looked more or less like hell was kind of scary. And what’s more, the first level played differently. It wasn’t a regular stage, but an army procession filled with intimidating machines of war and projectile-death all over the place! I did beat it eventually, but that incredibly jarring transformation has stayed with me ever since. I suppose that’s why it’s a favorite, it turned everything about the tone of the game one its head and yet still built on the pre-established gameplay. It caught me off-guard, something that no other level has ever managed to do.

Castle 1 – (Super Mario World)

This was the level that hooked me into Super Mario World! Up until that point the game had offered up the usual platforming fare: jumping, swimming, quirky blocks, and power-ups, but then this castle comes along and suddenly I get to not only climb all over the screen but flip to the other side too?! It was just too incredible! Instead of jumping over enemies, I could climb behind them. Instead of jumping on their head, I could punch them off! What sorcery was this?! The mechanic wasn’t used much afterward, but I didn’t care, the simple fact that I could do something like that was just too exciting to write-off.

Bowser in the Dark World (Super Mario 64)

Everything about this level was, no is, perfect! This was the one that convinced me that Super Mario 64 was not only good, but special. It starts off by just dropping you into the thick of it. One second you’re looking at Peach’s face transforming into Bowser’s ugly mug, and the next you’re in a new level unlike anything else in the game before it and told to find your way out…if you can! The obstacles are daunting but just challenging enough to keep you cautious, the music drives you forward with purpose while simultaneously inspiring a sense of awe and wonder; There’s a secret star to be found, extra lives for those that dare attempt to retrieve them, and it’s all finished off with our first face to face with a 3D Bowser! I have played this level dozens of times over the years and it has never gotten old. All those incredible feelings from that first encounter still surface after dropping into it and have barely diminished. Is it the best Mario level ever made? Objectively, no. Probably not. But for me it’s the pinnacle. From feel, to design, to challenge, to tone, for me this level is flawless!

I could list so many more, but stopping there just feels right. The Mario games are just so chock-full of wonderful places that even some of the great ones wound getting forgotten. These were just the ones that left the biggest impression on me. What are yours? Are they all favorites because they were just wonderful to explore, or was it the rush of beating them that enabled them to rise through the ranks into favorites?

Top Songs from Super Mario Sunshine

“Super Mario Sunshine” has some nice music, most of which is soothing, island music.  While some isn’t.  So here are my top five favorite, with links to Youtube.

            5. “Mecha Bowser” is a fast song played when you fight Mecha Bowser, of course.  I especially like the beginning.

            4. “The Manta Storm” is played during the episode of the same name, where the ghostly manta comes to Sirena Beach.  It is fast, with a few strange-sounding parts, that fits well with a battle against a spectral sea creature.

            3. “Boss Battle” is the music that plays during most boss battles, like against Petey Piranha.  It is fast and fits battles well.  (My descriptions are getting lazy.)

            2. “Noki Bay” is played in the lovely Noki Bay, a bay surrounded by nearly vertical cliffs.  The music is fairly slow and very soothing.

            1. “Delfino Plaza” is a town by the sea and is the hub level of the game, from which you can get to all other worlds.  The music here is very pleasant and upbeat.

Super Mario Shineduck

More Good, Clean Fun With Mario

I recently played “Super Mario Sunshine” yet again.  In this game, Mario and Princess Peach go on vacation to Isle Delfino, but lo and behold, there is trouble.  Strange, goopy graffiti has been found all over the island, and the Shine Sprites have fled, causing much of the island to be covered in, well, not quite as much sunshine as usual.  Worse yet, Mario has been mistaken for the one who’s doing all the vandalizing, a character we later learn to be Shadow Mario.  (Even though Shadow Mario is all blue.  I guess the island’s resident Piantas aren’t too bright.)  So like usual, because Peach sure as heck isn’t going to get off her royal butt and do something for once, it’s up to Mario to clean the graffiti off the island and get the Shine Sprites back.

            Luckily, Mario has FLUDD to help him, a device that shoots water, has a hover nozzle for…hovering, and has various other features that you unlock later in the game, like the rocket nozzle.  This is very useful for cleaning up graffiti, hovering to places farther than Mario can jump normally, squirting enemies.  And for spraying people just to make them unhappy.

            As expected, the entire game takes place on Isle Delfino, and so all the levels are island-themed.  There’s the harbor, the beach, the fancy hotel.  I guess you can say there isn’t as much variety in this game’s levels as other “Mario” games, but I like it.  It’s relaxing.  Like a little vacation in a game.  I love running around on Gelato Beach (when those stupid Cataquacks leave me be).  Climbing around the cliffs of beautiful Noki Bay.  Looking at the sunset outside of Hotel Delfino, then going inside said hotel and sneaking into people’s rooms because Mario’s a bit of a peeping tom that way.  It’s just fun.

            Most of the time.  The game can also be quite difficult and frustrating.  Especially when it comes to these levels that are not island-themed, but are purely platformer-based.  There are these dreadful “secret” levels that take place in this big area of nothingness, and you have to cross all these platforms and stuff.  Without FLUDD.  It can be quite difficult and is the bane of my existence.  (Well, except for that one thing with Yoshi, which I’ll get to.)  And those areas just plain creep me out.

            My other problem is that I don’t like the story.  Sorry if I spoil some things, but it needs to be mentioned.  Needs to be.  Skip this paragraph if you don’t want spoilers.  There eventually is this thing where Bowser Jr. shows up and says that he kidnapped Peach because she’s his mom, and she seems to believe it.  Really, Peach?  I think you would know if you were the mother of one of Bowser’s kids.  You don’t just find out one day that you’re the mother of a giant turtle thing’s kid.  There are so many horrific events I won’t get into that she would certainly remember if that was the truth.  That scene was just plain silly.

            But, it certainly isn’t a bad game.  Stories have never been that great in “Mario” games.  Everything else in this game makes up for the strange story.  The game is a lot of fun.  It also has very nice graphics for the Cube, I think.  And that water.  Lovely.  And I want to live in Delfino Plaza.  It’s such a pleasant place.  And another thing is that I like how in different areas, you can see other locations.  Like you can see Ricco Harbor from Bianco Hills and such, and for some reason, I always like that in games.  I don’t know why, but I always have.  I guess it makes the locations feel more real when you can see where the places are in relation to each other.  I don’t know.  All I know is it pleases this bird.

            It’s also worth mentioning that Yoshi appears in the game later on, which is mostly fun.  You have to bring the right fruit to the Yoshi egg to make him hatch, and then Mario can sit on poor Yoshi to his heart’s content.  And then you can go around making Yoshi squirt fruit juice out of his mouth, which is rather bizarre, unsanitary, and a bit ill-mannered.  And when the juice is orange, it’s a bit gross….  While I like using Yoshi, one thing is quite annoying.  Yoshi can’t go in the water, which can be a problem when the game takes place on an island in the middle of the sea.  This resulted in what I believe to be the worst Shine Sprite in the game ever.  It was in Delfino Plaza.  Yoshi had to wait for these boats, then, ride it to the next boat, but Yoshi’s jumping isn’t good, so you can guess what happened.  It filled me with rage like no other Shine Sprite ever did.

            But, despite that one Shine Sprite and those creepy “secret” areas, I like this game very much.  In fact, I think I like it the most of all my “Super Mario” games (not including “Paper Mario”).  I didn’t realize how much I really like this game until now.  For one thing, I like that FLUDD’s hover nozzle kind of gives you more control over Mario’s jumping.  You don’t have to be so perfect because that hover ability lets you still reach safety if you jump a little wrong.  I’ve always been bad with Mario’s jumping, but FLUDD gives you a bit more security.  You make me feel safe, FLUDD.

            And another thing.  I like that the locations are…normal.  Y’know, worlds in “Super Mario 64” were strange.  That big lava place.  That area where you change the water level.  They often weren’t like normal places.  “Super Mario Galaxy” was really weird.  All kinds of floating, random places.  Some levels were normal, most were weird.  “Super Mario Sunshine” has a town, a beach, an amusement park.  Normal.  I can’t even describe the levels of “64” or “Galaxy” in one word because they were, not normal.  I don’t know if the duck makes sense, but I like that about this game.  It makes this game stand out from the others for me.

            But, anyway, I like this game a lot.  Other than the story, it’s great.  And it’s a challenge, which is nice.  I would like to mention that I was able to get all 120 Shine Sprites a couple of times.  I almost didn’t make it this time.  I searched everywhere for one final Blue Coin (ten buys you a Shine Sprite).  I searched for hours, then, finally found it hidden in the sands of Gelato Beach.  I celebrated when I found the thing.  Victory for the duck!  I deserve some baklava!  Now somebody make me some!

Super Mario Duckshine

Silly Game Glitches

Occasionally, funny things happen in video games…that weren’t supposed to happen.  Or sometimes, you see things you weren’t supposed to see.  For example, look up in Hyrule Field in Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and you can see seams in the sky.  Or look very close at some plants in Final Fantasy XIII, and what’s that, they’re 2-D?!

            But, back to the things that aren’t even supposed to happen.  I’m talking about glitches.  The funny ones, though.  I had fun making my list on how I think too much into video games, so I’d thought I’d make a glitch list.  A glist.

            1. There’s one thing I’ve seen several times in The Lord of the Rings: Twin Towers (for the GameCube, if that makes a difference).  There’s this one level where you defend this gate (Helm’s Deep: Breached Wall), and a bunch of Uruk-Hai with bombs on their backs are running up to do destruction.  Sometimes, they float a bit off the ground as they run at you.  It is weird.

            2. This one is just hilarious.  Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams can be a glitchy game.  Sometimes, you can do something wrong and you can’t continued through the level.  That’s not funny.  But, what is funny was when I messed with one of the squirrels in a level early on.  Wetstone Lake, I believe.  There’s a squirrel near a beehive, after a cut scene, and I smacked it (because squirrels can be mean in that game), and it ran and then stopped and just stood there with its body up vertically behind its head.  Its left eye got big and started twitching, and it lost all but one leg.  That leg got long and started wiggling around.  Then, I scared the squirrel with something else, and it ran back to the hive (and I don’t remember if I hit it again), but it got stuck in the air, looking like it was flying, while that left eye twitched again.  It was pretty darn hilarious, but also creepy.

            3. There was this funny, but deadly glitch in Rayman 2 once.  Rayman was swimming along, and he went to jump out of the water, but he kept swimming…in the air.  He swam in the air for a short time before I realized he was running out of air, so I tried to return him to the water to attempt to leave it correctly, so he could breathe again.  But, alas, he drowned in the air.  Poor thing.

            4. Another Rayman 2 glitch, and this one happened early on in the game.  Rayman was walking by one of those powder keg dispensers.  There’s a hole in the wall (no, not where “the men can see it all”) covered by a flap, and a keg rolls through if you blow up the one you already have.  Well, I suppose he was walking too close to the wall, because he fell through the dispenser into nothingness and died.

            5. There was another time I went through the floor.  In Super Mario Sunshine, in the first level, Bianco Hills, there’s a waterwheel.  One day I was feeling impatient and wanted to get the other side of it without having to go around the wall or climb over it.  It was turning away from me, and I found that with correct timing, Mario can slide under it.  One day, my timing was off, and a paddle of the wheel pushed Mario through the floor.  He was stuck there, and I think I had to restart to escape.

            6. There was another funny thing in the same level of Super Mario Sunshine.  It was with those orange enemies with the pink flowers on their heads.  You can knock them into walls and squish them, and I did this, and it hit this wall and made the sound that it usually makes, but instead of disappearing, it just stayed there, stuck to the wall, making the same sound over and over again.  It sounded just as loud no matter where I went in the area, so I had to leave just to get it to stop.

            7. This next glitch only happened the first time I played Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for the GameCube.  During cut scenes, sometimes the characters would turn in different directions when they were talking to each other.  They’d be turning to the side, sometimes they’d have their back to the person they were talking to.  It was weird, and it’s never happened since.

            8. Another glitch was in Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly.  I don’t even know why I still have that game.  Anyway, sometimes, in the farm world (the second one, I think), the ground disappears, and you’re just running around on nothingness.  Everything else also just floats there as if there was a ground.  The barns, scarecrows, the wheat.  It’s quite silly.

            9. Another thing happened in that same Spyro game once in the first world.  I had Spyro run up to something that is slightly off the ground, and he was supposed to jump onto it, but instead, he got stuck under it, I guess, or at least, right next to it, and kept running and running.  I couldn’t pause and leave the level, but luckily, he eventually stopped.  Dope.

            10. And this one’s not quite a glitch, but it made me angrier than all of them.  Oh, the rage!  The utter…rage!  But, no amount of fury could ease the lugubrious state of affairs that was this mistake that the creators of the game, by some astounding miracle, managed to miss.  And that is the sad fact that much of the passwords in Croc 2 didn’t work.  I would play and play, get a password, as the game wouldn’t just, I don’t know, have save files.  Then, I’d stop, and when I came back, the password wouldn’t work.  Why, oh, why?!  I finally started recording the passwords quite often, keeping a long list of them, and when I returned to the game, I’d go down the list until I found one that worked.  It was so annoying!  I finally just sold it to a game store.  Have fun with it!

            So, there’s my list.  Surprisingly, I really don’t get glitches very often.  Very, very rarely.  And yet…  That shows you how much I play, I guess.  And these things seem to happen less and less as technology improves.  And usually, the better the game, the less glitches you’ll see.  You can tell which games had more love put into them.  Not that the above didn’t have love.  Just, not as much as they could have.  How sad.

Not Usually a Glitchy Duck