Mario and Bowser is arguably the best protagonist/antagonist relationship the video gaming world has ever seen. I mean, a good Bowser fight is always a stable in a Mario game and yet seeing the giant Koopa king never seems to get old. Whether it be dropping him in a pool of lava, or blasting him into outer space, there’s just something about defeating Bowser that we all love.
That is unless you’ve played Super Mario Sunshine.
Super Mario Sunshine was released in 2002 and has really made a name for itself as one of the most pioneering Mario games out there, winning acclaim for its design and visuals along the way. It was a fairly light-hearted game that never strayed too far from the core features that made it so much fun, which is fairly well represented right from the bosses we meet to the plotline that drives the story forward.
However, this all changes when we encounter the game’s actual final boss: Bowser and Bowser Jr. Meeting Bowser Jr for the first time in the Mario universe, the little Koopa has apparently been told by his dad that our dearest Princess Peach is actually his mother and that Mario is stopping them from being together. Bowser Jr attempts to keep Mario locked away long enough to kidnap Peach, but is pursued by the Italian plumber to the Corona mountains in the Kooper Kingdom.
With the exception of Super Mario 64, this is our first battle with the Kooper King which really heightens the sense of occasion, and therefore heightens the disappointment when it actually comes to the fight. With the tricky magma level behind you, Mario ascends into the heavens where he finds Peach, Bowser and Bowser Jr all in a green-looking hot tub. For some reason, Bowser and Bowser Jr can both talk, which is more than a little unsettling and worth a place on a list of rubbish boss fights alone.
Bowser will naturally attempt to breathe fire at the player whilst Bowser Jr will launch projectiles throughout the fight, both of which will cause some amount of pain to the player’s health. However, for the most part, both of these threats are fairly easily avoided and won’t leave anyone sweating from the adrenaline. To progress through the fight the player must run around the hot tub and ground pound these circles on the edge of the pool; completing this five times will completely destroy Bowser’s perfect vacation and send him, Mario, Bowser Jr, and Peach back down to the Delfino beach.
And that is literally it. You can’t help but feel a little bit short-changed after such a short and easy final boss, particularly when you think about how challenging and long-winded banishing Bowser can be in some of Mario’s other adventures. It’s not even like Super Mario Sunshine is that easy of a game either…
We’re treated to one final cutscene of all our characters staring longingly at the sinking sun on the horizon and the game closes with the credits rolling over a series of photos of our heroes enjoying the rest of their holiday. So whilst this boss fight doesn’t let down the game enough to dent its place as a classic in the video gaming world, you can only imagine how much more acclaim it would have reached had our final battle with the Kooper king been something to actually relish.