Some late impressions of the early part of the Japanese version.
After the introduction and landing on the island, the first thing that happens is picking up Fludd, the water-spraying backpack. The puddle of paint on the runway once cleared reveals the first shine. Even though you’re already cleaning up, the island police don’t like it and Mario is put behind bars with only his new tool for company. I actually like Fludd’s voice. It sounds like it’s really trying to make an effort not to speak in monotone, and use a more expressive voice. And it understands Mario’s predicament, which makes all the difference. FLUDD CARES!
There is so much that can be done with the backpack, least of all spraying a path of water and watching Mario's reflection as he runs in it. It adds a new dimension to the game and really eases moving upwards. There is a real mixture of jumping that does or doesn’t require the backpack, which allows for not getting too used to having it as a back up if you miss a jump, as you will have to do without it sometimes.
So Mario is stuck cleaning up after his graffiti splattering, Shine-inhibiting enemy and cannot leave the Island until he is finished. After a quick detour rescuing the Princess, when Mario’s watery twin just picks up her up and runs off, the Shine collecting begins.
The levels are large, and completely different areas can be seen in the distance, although you cannot reach them because of invisible walls. Each area is packed full of platforms. Lots of platforms require precise jumping to great heights. The levels reach very high and often require balancing on spaces with a very small area. That means a great many falls before reaching the top. The difficulty of this game is one of the best aspects; it makes for a satisfying experience. If one Shine is too annoying to find, there are always others to try for, or a blue coin hunt on an easier level.
Each level seems to look better than the next, and this is especially true of the last two levels which are set in the evening. The colours and lighting are a surprise at first but definitely a refreshing change from all the daylight. The sky fills with orange and deeper shades than before, and the reflection on the sea is also a nice change.
I’ve had the game for just over a week, but I’m not even close to completing it. I’ll take my time to find all the secrets that are hiding so well.