When it comes to Super Mario Sunshine, the modding scene has made huge strides in the last few years. With Super Mario Sunburn having revolutionised it a few years ago and Super Mario Solarshine looking like an incredible remake of a familiar classic, it’s on par with the Super Mario Galaxy and New Super Mario Bros Wii scenes in terms of sheer ambition and promise.
And the subject of today’s interview only continues that trend! Developed by the same folks as Super Mario Sunburn and crammed full of amazing custom content like new playable characters, enemies and mechanics, Super Mario Eclipse is an incredible game that looks to be one of the best projects we’ve seen for any game at all.
So today, we’re gonna talk to the team behind it, and see what amazing things are in store in this stunning Super Mario Sunshine mod.
As a wise plumber once said, let’s a go!
Well, you know the drill, let’s have some personal background first. Who are you guys?
JoshuaMK: Hello, I’m Joshua. People online know me as JoshuaMK (Joshua Mario Kart :P), and I’m just an ambitious dude who likes to solve problems and make cool things. I find video games to be the greatest form of entertainment available, so naturally much of my time goes into that area of my life.
Epicwade: I’m currently a college student (studying Computer Aided Design) with about 2 semesters left until graduation. I enjoy spending time with friends and making custom stages. I also have Autism and Dyslexia, but that doesn’t stop me.
Arie: Hello, I’m Arie. I’m a musician that influences stuff from the GameCube, Wii, DS and 3DS era and puts on a twist or two. I’m known for doing research in the Mario Kart Community and researching samples that Nintendo uses.
Tempo: Ayyo, I’m Tempo, older brother to JoshuaMK. We’ve been at this together for several years now. While he’s the smart, technical one, I’m more skilled in creative endeavours, with my main hobbies being comprised of art, comics, amateur 3D modelling, and game research.
UncleMeat: Sup. I’m Nate. I’m the lead stage manager of Eclipse. I quality check and make Sunshine stages and ports for Mario Eclipse. I am also the creator of Mario Solarshine. I am not well known for anything other than some 3D art pieces I’ve made over the years with my 10 years of Blender experience.
How did you get into gaming?
JoshuaMK: From my best memory, when I was around 6 years old, we got a GameCube that came with Mario Party 7, but that’s very easily just malformed childhood memories caused by my love of Mario Party 7 growing up. We also got some other awesome games for the GameCube, such as Super Mario Sunshine, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Mario Kart Double Dash. Soon after this, we also got a Gameboy Advance SP with Mario Kart Super Circuit, Lego Star Wars, and Super Mario Advance 4, just to name a few.
Epicwade: I had a leapster so I was a gamer from day one. No genre captures my attention as much as 3D platformers do. The first game I really sunk my teeth into was SM64DS, then I got Sunshine and Galaxy later for Birthdays/Holiday gifts after that.
Arie: I got into gaming from my mom playing stuff on her PS2 and by the time I was 4-5ish. I was learning how to play Mario Kart Wii and New Super Mario Bros Wii. I was highly obsessive with my Wii growing up and I adored listening to the OSTs and learning the game’s mechanics.
Tempo: Sharing a childhood with Josh, I grew up with the exact same games, although we got our first GameCube (which was indeed that Mario Party 7 bundle) when he was just 3. I was 5, but our young impressionable minds were captivated by what games we had at the time. One of the earliest games we got (that same Christmas? I can’t remember) was Sonic Mega Collection. That speedy blue guy reeled me in from day one, and I’ve been wrapped up in this part of society ever since.
UncleMeat: I don’t really have any game in particular that got me into gaming. But the most memorable ones I would say growing up were Nintendo and Xbox. Mario and Halo were the top games for me.
What about the Mario series in particular?
JoshuaMK: The Mario franchise carries many iconic characters and concepts that stand out from competing third-parties. As a kid growing up, Mario games were always a great choice when I had my turn on the GameCube.
Epicwade: I’ve always preferred games that are warm and inviting, so it’s no wonder a game like Sunshine catches my attention. The movement mechanics of 3D Marios are just really satisfying as well.
Arie: It was an enjoyable experience diving into after a long day of school and I wanted to invest more time into characters I loved. It didn’t really matter what genre Mario was in, Mario’s games are at its core made to be simplistic and make memories.
Tempo: Boy-howdy, if I tried to explain all the reasons why Mario hooked me, we’d be here all day. Suffice to say, I simply can’t get enough of Mr. Jumpman, and Super Mario Sunshine was the 8th wonder of the world in my childhood eyes. It certainly left an impression on me, as I’m sure you can tell.
UncleMeat: The Mario series has a very interesting history that’s fun to learn about. The games are also just fun. I have never played a bad Mario game. Everyone is a unique adventure that is visually appealing and also challenging at the same time.
What games are you playing at the moment?
JoshuaMK: I don’t play games very often now, but when I do it’s usually multiplayer with the dev team. Recent games were Hat in Time, Phasmophobia, and Minecraft.
Epicwade: Sonic Frontiers, Pikmin 2, Luigi’s Mansion 2, and Psychonauts.
Arie: Right now, I’m playing Splatoon 3 and getting myself into competitive.
Tempo: Too many! I’ve got a backlog of hundreds of games I want to experience at least once, and many are simply sitting on my shelf collecting dust, heh. But recently, I beat Sonic Frontiers, and knocked Curious George for Gamecube off of my bucket list (I’m a huge sucker for obscure movie licensed games- “diamond in the rough” and all that).
UncleMeat: Currently playing Zelda Link’s Awakening, Spiderman Remastered, Bowsers Fury, and Sonic Frontiers like everyone else.
What do you think of Super Mario Sunshine as a game in general?
JoshuaMK: Super Mario Sunshine is a very unique and inspiring game, with a style that pops and some of the best music Mario games have seen. The game can be challenging at times, and the physics aren’t always on point, but I think overall the game makes up for those things in its presentation. It should also be mentioned that many of the bugs add replay value to the game and are well enjoyed by players even now.
Epicwade: As my little inside joke goes with the rest of the team: “It’s a perfect game with no flaws, all bugs were actually intentional, and the dev time was only so short because the game was done ahead of schedule”. Generally, I think sunshine’s strong suit is in its movement and worldbuilding. I feel no Mario game has surpassed Super Mario Sunshine on those qualities.
Tempo: What can I say that Sunshine enthusiasts haven’t already? The game has a gorgeous art style that pops and is uniquely its own to this day, plenty of world building and hilarious characters to interact with, quick, snappy 3D movement that’ll make even Sonic the Hedgehog blush, and so many great secrets and fun things to find that’ll keep you entertained for hours. I’ve got plenty of my own nostalgic reasons for why I adore this game so much, but it really is a solid time all around.
Onto game development now! How did you first get involved in making video games?
JoshuaMK: I haven’t necessarily made any games yet, but I do know how games are made! That counts right?? Anyways, I first started making changes to games at least, when I wanted to add anti-gravity to Mario Kart Wii (This didn’t happen, but I learned a lot).
Epicwade: When I was a kid my dad never gave me the save card for the GameCube. I didn’t even know Noki Bay existed for the longest time. When I saw glimpses of it online, I wondered if there were any other stages I completely missed. Turns out Sunshine doesn’t have a lot so the answer was “want more than 8 stages? Go make them yourself then.”
Tempo: Once Josh picked up coding, I realized there were so many things we could do to all of our old favourite games, and a particular gimmick in Sunshine piqued my interest as our first stop. Things snowballed from there, and the rest is history (or present-day news, the mod is still in development lol). But now with my art skills vastly improved, both of our game development capabilities ever growing, and a multimedia series sitting comfortably in my metaphorical back pocket, we’re looking to develop our first indie game once Eclipse is done.
UncleMeat: I just recently kinda got into it. I am not a game developer by far. I have a hard time coming up with original maps unfortunately. But I’m really only able to do what I do from my prior Blender knowledge. I made many 3D art pieces starting in 2013 when I first started using Blender. So all those years help plenty with making new Sunshine/Galaxy models.
What about video game modding in particular?
JoshuaMK: Modding came about when I got curious and wanted to change Mario Kart Wii as mentioned above. I probably would have stuck around that game if it weren’t for Tempo/Rhythm getting me to make a Gecko code for Super Mario Sunshine.
Epicwade: I probably never would have gotten into modding if Super Mario Sunshine wasn’t such a mixed bag. When your favourite game has some obvious flaws, you can’t help but want them fixed, so that’s what I did.
Tempo: Video games hold a particular kind of magic and wistfulness when you’re a kid, and they naturally cause you to ask questions. “What’s over there?” “I wonder what would happen if I did this instead?” Realizing I had the power to answer those kinds of questions was a no brainer move for me, I think.
How about Super Mario Sunshine? What made you decide to mod this game?
JoshuaMK: I was getting a bit bored modding Mario Kart Wii, and Tempo/Rhythm had recently started to mod Super Mario Sunshine. He asked me to make a Gecko code that would allow the darkness to be modified, and once I did the idea of Super Mario Eclipse sprung!
Epicwade: Super Mario Sunshine has a lot of potential that was just missing due to being rushed, such as questionable progression structure choices, and only about half as many worlds to explore. While JoshuaMK and I have addressed the progression structure with Sunburn, we hope to impress players with Super Mario Eclipse to make up for that missing second half of sunshine. It’s an underdog and a mess of a game but a damn loveable mess.
Tempo: As Josh mentioned, there’s a unique lighting filter over the game’s main hub that always fascinated me as a kid. It’s entirely absent from other levels, so we began investigating to see if we could bring it over to all the locations and help build immersion within the game world. And now look at us!
Did you ever mod any other Mario games beforehand, like Super Mario 64, Galaxy or Odyssey?
JoshuaMK: Only Mario Kart Wii, which I actively modded for about 1 year.
Epicwade: I tried making custom levels for sunshine but got stumped initially, so I spent 2 years on a Super Mario 64 mod telling myself it was practice for making a Super Mario Sunshine mod when I’m older and smarter. I guess that strategy worked pretty well.
Still, Super Mario Sunburn was where the team started here, and it was a huge step forward for Mario Sunshine hacks. So what inspired you guys to create that mod?
JoshuaMK: When I saw EpicWade’s Super Mario Sunburn WIP, I had ideas for how I wanted to further improve the work he had already created. Thus, I got in contact and the rest was history.
Epicwade: I always liked the way Super Mario 64 handled progression, and upon finally getting my own save card, I realized that Sunshine didn’t follow in its predecessor’s footsteps. I spent about 1½ years editing each level to play more like Super Mario 64, and after that Josh became involved on the coding end.
One of the most interesting aspects was the interconnected levels system. How was that coded?
Epicwade: Super Mario Sunshine handles loading zones like any other object in the stage. With this in mind I simply placed the loading trigger object in the right spot, set the level ID, and it just works. With Super Mario Sunshine’s sense of worldbuilding, it’s the perfect Mario game to make open ended.
Tempo: We desire to take things a step further and build entirely unique passages from one locale to another into the worlds themselves, such as a river flowing downstream or a steep canyon pass.
What about the whole ‘any mission can be completed at any time’ setup? That’s insanely cool to see in Sunshine, but it certainly doesn’t seem like something that must have been easy to set up…
JoshuaMK: It’s about as hard as you’d think it to be. Sadly, Nintendo did a lot of hard-coding in the game, which is a shame since the scene structure is very dynamic. With this in mind, many hoops had to be jumped through for things to work right, and even now in Super Mario Sunburn, there are still certain things that couldn’t be ported to each mission properly, and a few bugs lying around.
Epicwade: Documentation on modding the game is scarce even now. I used the Wayback Machine to dig up some old text tutorials on defunct modding websites and a few YouTube videos to learn how to operate the years old level editor. It’s not user friendly and pretty confusing. Like the idiot I am, I felt too shy to ask for help in the community discord back then so I just did trial and error until things didn’t crash. Eventually I recognized some patterns but sunshine is incredibly hard-coded and jank so it feels random at first. Long story short to get every mission accessible in a single mission you just have to do a whole lot of tedious copying and pasting from one level into the next 1½ years’ worth of copying to be exact.
It’s also neat to see shines not kick you out of stages too. What went into getting that mechanic working here?
JoshuaMK: When the player collects a Shine, they don’t actually leave the stage. What actually occurs is just a simple white pane that fades in, and the game freezes certain aspects of the stage. With this in mind, I simply blocked the game from doing the fade and such with a little bit of code. Now the Shine Sprites only boot you out when they have certain flags.
Either way, onto Eclipse now. What inspired you to work on this game?
JoshuaMK: When I finished the darkness modifier Gecko code for Tempo/Rhythm, we both quickly thought of many ideas for how we could mod Super Mario Sunshine to be much better beyond the scope of Super Mario Sunburn, with the most important thing being that the darkness affects other areas of Isle Delfino!
Epicwade: While I was able to fix most of the issues plaguing the original game with sunburn it still had a small level count. Only way to fix that is to get your hands dirty and make stuff from the ground up. Custom scripting for timed missions, goop maps, creating fully custom assets, working around the janky collision detection, rendering issues, and the hardware’s memory limit were all factors that need to be accounted for in new levels compared to repurposed ones.
Tempo: Once Josh and I realized what was within our realm of possibility with this game, we reached out to the community to learn more. Very quickly, I discovered the wonderful world of level creation. Finally, my passion for creating and designing awe-inspiring worlds was within my reach, so I quickly got to work learning how to insert my ideas into the game. But something peculiar happened. I was building full worlds, Josh was reverse engineering the undesirable aspects of the game, and here comes this new guy Wade sharing his knowledge of the game and offering to help. Why, it almost sounds like a development team forming…
UncleMeat: I for one came in a bit late in the game, about a year ago. I have been following this project probably since it started. But I was never a big Discord user or knew any of the team members. Then one day I just decided to message the Eclipse team asking if they needed any stages or models. Showing them my previous work with Blender, they were very impressed and had me join. Never was I so excited to be included in such a project. I only ever wished because I really didn’t think I was anything to the “big dogs”. But now I’m the mods lead stage manager and those “big dogs” are now like family to me and have taught me everything I know about Sunshine modding.
And what’s the general goal for it? Based on what we’ve seen, it seems to be a mix of a beta restoration, expansion and bug fix all in one…
JoshuaMK: The biggest goal of Super Mario Eclipse is to make the game better, as obvious as that may be. Everything that we do is a step towards this goal. Beta restorations are a great way to captivate players with things that could have been, expanding the game with more Shines and stages is a direct way of increasing playtime, and bug fixes allow us to provide players with more ambitious stage design. All of these things together are how we hope to provide all players with an amazing experience.
Epicwade: Super Mario Eclipse is sorta an everything mod. What people on the team are interested in making and what fits the direction we’re going in is included. Generally, we hope to include beta restorations, fully original levels and all of the nice improvements from Super Mario Sunburn to boot. The Super Mario Sunshine hacking community is rather small so we may not be making progress as quickly as other communities/teams out there but we are constantly in private Discord calls working on the mod.
Tempo: I’ve been known to bite off a bit more than I can chew, and that kinda led to where we are now. I just had so many ideas and great things I wanted to give to the community as gifts of sorts, that I wound up jamming all my ideas into one project. It was a mess at first, but we’ve got a definitive roadmap laid out and are ever diligently chipping away at that end goal.
One of the coolest things about Eclipse is that the new levels have been integrated very well into the layout of Isle Delfino, with the likes of the Pianta Pit under Pianta Village being a highlight. How did you come up with these interesting stage ideas?
JoshuaMK: Some things come from our intuition and imagination, but others come from the development of Super Mario Sunshine itself. A beta layout of the debug level select shows quite a few world names that don’t exist in the final game. So we are taking creative liberties on these names to populate Isle Delfino with new interesting areas that might have been in the game before.
Epicwade: Pianta Pit and other levels that exist as expansions of Isle Delfino have been mostly handled by Tempo/Rhythm. As for my portion of the mod, my levels are all accessible from sailing the seas on the Daisy cruiser to reach other islands. I hope to achieve a mix of more abstract Super Mario 64 style levels and more grounded Super Mario Sunshine style levels. I’ve contextualized a few of these more abstract levels to make sense in the world of sunshine. For example, one stage takes place in Mario’s subconscious and another inside a haunted slot machine stolen from the casino basement. While many of the stages going into the mod are just what we personally want to see in sunshine, we do take community feedback. For instance, I realized there was a large lack of slide type levels in Sunshine compared to Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy. That’s when someone on the Super Mario Eclipse Discord server suggested that a waterpark would make for a great slide level.
Tempo: I try not to toot my own horn, but I’ve been very creatively inclined. Pianta Pit seemed like a natural addition to the island and the dev team unanimously agreed to work on it. The visual design and layout are all my inner machinations coming to light, with only a line of NPC dialogue about “wild beasts” in the pit being our in-game inspiration. I wanted a laid back, creeping remix of the main Pianta Village music for the stage to reflect the loneliness of the wilderness below, and I feel our musicians did a fantastic job setting the tone. Don’t you?
What levels are your favourites so far and why?
JoshuaMK: I really like how Pianta Pit has been coming along. I definitely think it has the potential to be the majority favourite due to how atmospheric and explorative it is, although Mario’s Dream is probably my second favourite so far. It’s a very creative spin on Mario Kart Arcade GP 2’s Rainbow Coaster, remixed into a playable level that has great visuals and dreamy music.
Epicwade: That’s such a hard question to answer. I’d say Mario’s Dream is my favourite. The first mission you do some balloon popping similar to the rollercoaster missions in Pinna Park however this time you’re on your feet and given a rocket nozzle. The colours of the level and the particle effects make it look very pretty as well. My second favourite Is probably the vaporwave island. Vaporwave focuses on a custom nozzle swapping collision so you constantly switch between rocket and turbo on the fly and it makes for some really fun platforming.
Tempo: I have to pick only one? Gosh, there are so many… Pianta Pit turned out drop dead gorgeous in my opinion, with the luminescent mushrooms and shafts of sunlight creating an otherworldly atmosphere, and Erto Rock being based on my local flea market and the scrapped Delfino Trains creating a fun, exploratory stage. And even still, there are so many more I can’t wait to get started on that are gonna be so cool! I’ve got a stage based on one of my original ideas called Starglow Road in early development that I think will win a lot of people over. It’ll be somewhat smaller, but if we can all pull it off, I think the visuals alone will blow even Pianta Pit out of the water.
UncleMeat: That’s easy for me, it would be Dolpic Town. That’s if I had to pick one. I’m a sucker to anything beta related and you can’t get any more beta than the plaza that started it all. The stages following Dolpic Town would be Spaceworld Bianco and E3 Delfino Plaza.
Any that you think need a bit of rethinking?
JoshuaMK: The process of stage design is almost always under rethinking, that’s how delivering quality content under limited hardware goes. Oftentimes, we just come up with a better idea than what we had before, and when it comes to revising content due to limitations, solutions are usually simple. Overall, I’d say we are able to pull through on most ideas.
Epicwade: Right now, we have nominated Uncle Meat as our stage design quality control so everything must go past him before we make things public. One big point of annoyance for people who played the current Super Mario Eclipse demo was the custom tornado object. While the stage design itself was for the most part good the tornado object was hard for players to control. We have since reworked the object to allow for better air movement and slower falling speed. When people playtest and give feedback, we are quick to adjust things behind the scenes.
Tempo: I love this question. It’s important while working on a project to shoot for the stars, but also to keep reasonable expectations and realize that it’s ok if you don’t make it on your first try. There are constantly revisions being made to every stage we work on. Erto Rock was supposed to have a full video showcase available already, but due to a last-minute decision from the entire team, the stage is currently undergoing a massive visual overhaul and bug fixing. Likewise, I can’t even count how many stages began development for the mod that have now been completely canned entirely. It’s critical to be able to take a step back and realize that some things just aren’t working, so remove it from the equation and focus on making things better. It certainly stings for a while seeing the work go to waste, but we want nothing more than the absolute best for the community, and we’re doing our darndest to deliver on that.
Interestingly, it seems Shadow Mario and II Piantissimo are both playable in this game too. How did you make that happen?
JoshuaMK: Thankfully, Shadow Mario and II Piantissimo have extremely similar proportions to Mario in Super Mario Sunshine, which simplifies many things. They also are specializations of the player in game, which means they are largely designed for what we need as it is. Unfortunately, due to the limitations of our tools, we have to rely on a hack I made to actually get them to load. It’s a sticky situation but it seems to not affect anything visible to the user, so we are clear in that regard. As for making other characters, a process for that has been established, although not well documented. To tie things up, loading each model is fairly trivial to implement in code, and I’ve also got a system in place to have NPCs address the name of the character dynamically.
Epicwade: Custom character models are really finicky in sunshine. There’s basically only one person active in the entire community who knows how to make console compatible characters and that’s GamerSubZero, a Mortal Kombat/Smash Bros modder. He recently became a dad so he usually has his hands tied but he checks in periodically to see the progress and make bug fixes on his custom characters.
Tempo: I don’t actually create the custom characters, but you better believe that testing them thoroughly is a very important part of stage design. Each character plays differently and sports unique abilities, so there are somethings one character can do that another one can’t. If we’re not designing our new stages with this in mind, then it can become a frustrating problem for the player, as they’ll find they can’t play as their favourite character very much because they keep needing a different one to progress through the game.
Does that mean the story will change significantly to account for it? Like Bowser Jr turning against his father?
JoshuaMK: The core of the game’s story is to stop Bowser, which is still in place. The same can be said for the objective of cleaning up Isle Delfino. The details of how that plays out aren’t safe from our creative vision, and so many things will be revised to fit the content of Super Mario Eclipse. The movies seen in game are currently removed as they consume a tremendous amount of space on the game disc, which we need for custom content. Consequently, such storytelling will be more difficult, but we are working closely with Uncle Meat to come up with a solution for that.
Epicwade: We have some ideas for a prologue where you play as Shadow Mario spreading goop before Mario arrives at the island. I believe at a point in time we had some really ambitious ideas on how they would tie into the plot but I think we’re moving in the direction of most characters just being fun unlockable extras as things progress.
Tempo: The new characters won’t change the story too much, but I’d buckle up if I were an unsuspecting player, because once Bowser is defeated, we’ve got so much more in store for the players to discover. I’d wager most people are going to forget they even fought Bowser in the first place!
How is Luigi going to work here? It was an awesome surprise seeing him playable in the recent trailers!
JoshuaMK: He will play much like he has in other Mario games. Higher jumping, slippery movement, etc. It’s been in the talks of giving him his Poltergust 3000 from Luigi’s Mansion, which he could use to suck up goop and enemies.
Any other new characters planned? There was some talk about Wario on the Discord server…
JoshuaMK: We like to keep track of potential in our Discord server, that way if we choose to expand the content, we know who can help. That being said, it’s unlikely Wario will be in the mod, as I’d like to keep the set of characters more focused. Dry Bones is one we have developed but I think he will be released alongside the mod somehow rather than as a part of the mod itself.
Epicwade: Really anything that is high quality and console compatible we might include in the mod. We have also thrown ideas around such as Peach, and a blue Pianta.
Tempo: I really want to see Peach come into the mod. It may take a bit of finagling to get her to work properly, but with her signature floating ability, she’d certainly be a top pick for players everywhere. We’ve also got some ideas for bonus characters, such as Dry Bones. He’s weak and not very fast, but he’s very resilient to damage!
Are there any new enemies or items (like FLUDD nozzles) in this game?
JoshuaMK: New enemies are a high priority, as they make a mod interesting for the player, and can help set an environment. We are also considering adding Sol Coins from the Spaceworld trailer as a form of currency for perks, such as custom outfits for Mario.
Epicwade: As far as I am aware I made the first custom enemy for sunshine about a month ago for the casino level. I modified the Boo colour scheme and collision so that when you spray him, he spawns in a bouncy platform. We haven’t made new nozzles yet but we have added new features and revamped existing nozzles. Turbo nozzle now takes the analog trigger into account for water pressure allowing for greater speed and control over the turbo nozzle. Brace came up with the hover burst after thinking about what would happen if you applied the shotgun spray function of the spray nozzle and applied it to hover. These additions to the gameplay have become so natural for me that I find myself trying to pull off these moves in regular sunshine.
Tempo: Who doesn’t love a fun new enemy? I haven’t planned around any as I’m mostly a stage designer, but I’m sure I could come up with some interesting concepts if the given stage calls for it. I’m already brainstorming even now, haha. As for nozzles, I’ll throw out a bone and say yes, we have plans for 3 potential new nozzles, but I can’t say what they are currently as we’re unsure if we can get them performing at 100% reliability just yet.
What about new bosses? Are those possible in Super Mario Sunshine mods yet?
JoshuaMK: New bosses are very possible in Super Mario Sunshine, and efforts have been put in place to develop them. Cyrus (a fellow programmer of this mod) has a working variation of Petey Piranha which uses fire elements to fight, and I’ve personally made a POC showcase of a flying boss that ground-pounds to knock you off your feet, This boss also leaves behind a trail of goop when it rolls around.
Epicwade: Our team currently is lacking an animation guy but that won’t stop us. Cyrus Flaming Petey Piranha boss fight. He rains lava goop, breathes fire and has homing goop printing tornados. More remixed old bosses than fully new ones.
Tempo: Technically speaking, anything is possible with enough time and effort. However, I like to keep myself in check and confirm that bosses will likely be our biggest hurdle. We’ve made incredible progress, and even have them defeatable and spawning shines for the player to collect, but the ideas we have that the story calls for are incredibly ambitious, so we’re going to put in all the effort we have to see them all to fruition.
Will the mysterious scrapped train system from the Mario Sunshine beta be present in Eclipse?
Tempo: I certainly hope so! Erto rock will be the island’s main train depot, and we want to have a fast travel system unlocked there which lets you quickly move to any of the island’s 4 planned stations. Just one of the many shortcuts you’ll be able to discover to help you get across the new, open, Isle Delfino that much quicker!
How’s the soundtrack here? What new songs are being added to Super Mario Eclipse?
JoshuaMK: The soundtrack of Super Mario Eclipse intends to iterate upon that of Super Mario Sunshine. We want players to feel like they are somewhere new, and thus the songs themselves share an atmosphere between that of Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy. This makes them sound like they belong while also having a unique flavour that the original OST doesn’t have itself. We also are currently approaching music playback differently, as we are currently streaming the audio directly which enhances the quality compared to its sequenced counterpart.
Arie: The soundtrack of Super Mario Eclipse is supposed to sound like “what would Nintendo use during 2003- 2006”. So, my vision of Super Mario Eclipse is trying to be the sequel to Super Mario Sunshine we never got and predates Super Mario Galaxy’s OST. So, I did some digging and purchased the keyboard used in Super Mario Galaxy 1 and many games after, and we’re using it for a good chunk of the OST. Besides, using some live recordings of Guitar and Bass. Since this mod is the first full game mod of sunshine… I wanted to make this OST something to look up to and something unforgettable for many years to come!
Tempo: The big thing for Super Mario Eclipse is to embrace the GameCube era of Mario. We’ve got a ton of different genres in here, all while trying to keep things relatively grounded in this timeframe. For example, Erto Rock’s main theme is an entirely original composition in an adventurous style, based off of the cheery spirit of Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour. Listen to Cheep Cheep Falls and see what I mean.
Any that you’re particularly proud of?
JoshuaMK: Although I’m not a part of the music development, I am very proud of the musicians we have for producing some of the best Mario style music I’ve heard. I’m confident that many tracks in this mod will be a welcome surprise.
Epicwade: The hotel Lacrima, and Mario’s Dream themes are my favourite so far.
Arie: I am proud of the music and the musicians who contributed to this mod. They produced absolutely stellar pieces of music and I’m proud of the sound design for this game because it gives me tons of freedom to do what I think “sounds like Mario”. I know that is subjective to others but this OST is gonna be impactful to the Super Mario Sunshine community and speaking of sound design… I have an almost completed track of Mario’s Dream, which was composed by ddumpy. Here’s the track:
Tempo: I’m no composer, but while designing stages I tend to get a particular sound in my head, so I pass that onto the composers and not once have they disappointed yet! Even though it’s just a remix, I’m a huge sucker for Pianta Pit’s theme. I regularly listen to it on loop while working haha. If I had to go with original compositions though, Erto Rock and Hotel Lacrima get me pumped every time.
Another major part of Super Mario Sunshine are the voiced cutscenes, which have received a… mixed reception to say the least. Is Super Mario Eclipse going to improve these or add new ones?
JoshuaMK: As stated before, these cutscenes are currently cut out entirely. As the mod progresses and we have a better understanding of what disc space we will have to spare, we may add some custom cutscenes to help convey the enhanced story. Either way, we are also investigating the idea of doing in-game cutscenes, which will be key in helping provide the story to the player.
Epicwade: UncleMeat is making custom animations for Super Mario Solarshine so if we do custom cutscenes we’ll probably ask him. I think Tempo/Rhythm had some ideas for some cutscenes.
Tempo: We’re actually removing those cutscenes entirely. They won’t make sense with the new story, so for the mutual benefit of everyone involved and to save over half of the disc space, they’re going out the window. The in-game cameras are incredibly versatile, and I’ve been writing for almost 15 years now, so even though there likely won’t be any animated cutscenes, rest assured I am devoted to delivering a fun, exciting adventure to everyone that will truly feel like Super Mario Sunshine expanded.
Could any of the original voice actors return? Obviously, Martinet would be unlikely, but the others don’t exactly work at Nintendo anymore…
JoshuaMK: Although we aren’t working with any currently, I’m not opposed to working with them if the mod calls for it. Currently though, it isn’t a concern we have.
Epicwade: No one on the team has reached out as far as I’m aware but I suppose that’s a good idea.
Tempo: Hm. Hadn’t really thought about it before, but frankly I’m not exactly on board with that. It’d be neat, sure, but I imagine that’s gotta be one of the fastest ways to get struck by the Nintendo Ninjas. And if we can avoid that, I’d like to whenever possible.
Either way, there’s a fair few other awesome Sunshine mods in development at this time too, like Super Mario Solarshine. Do you have any favourites from the community you want to highlight?
JoshuaMK: Super Mario Arcade 2 is a very creative Super Mario Sunshine mod. It takes objects in the game and turns them into fun and dynamic secret course styled stages. There is also Super Mario Solarshine, which is being developed by Uncle Meat, a member of this team. As some may know, it’s a mod of Super Mario Sunshine that ports some Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 stages (plus extra stuff) into the game. It also changes the UI elements and even animations!
Epicwade: Josh is currently working on a Super Mario Sunshine randomizer for me. I am very fond of randomizers, and to see one working in Super Mario Sunshine is amazing. TheAzack9 is working on making a polished version of the current split screen so look forward to that as well.
Tempo: There are many mods cropping up right and left ever since Eclipse went viral, as well as plenty of older classics. Sunburn, Arcade 2, Solarshine, as well as a few others in silent development as we speak. I think there’s been a few multiplayer mods too, Super Mario Eclipse’s bonus mirror mode got spun off into its own thing, and there’s even a randomizer on the way!
Do you ever worry that Nintendo could try and shut down the project?
JoshuaMK: Not at all. Although the DMCA culture is very loud, the reality is almost all mods end up just fine. I have no plans to shy away from the goal we have set due to the looming fear of getting a DMCA, and we should be safe anyway from a legal standpoint.
Epicwade: We released Sunburn only 4 months before 3D-Allstars came out on switch and nothing happened. If there was ever a reason for them to take down my remaster of the game it would have been then. It’s also worth mentioning that Eclipse is protected under fair use law since modding is a form of transformative media.
Tempo: To my very limited knowledge, we are doing everything completely within our legal rights. I’ve gone on record stating that I’m not afraid of the Nintendo Ninjas (even to the point that large online gaming news sites were reporting on my statement, go figure), but that doesn’t mean I’m not trying to avoid them. You don’t have to be afraid of a speeding car, but that doesn’t mean you’ll go and stand in front of it right? We obviously don’t want to push our luck, so Eclipse is purely non-profit and we refuse to distribute any official Nintendo assets through Sunshine’s files. Those have to be sourced by the individual with legal copies of the game. Even still, if Nintendo comes after us, there are other ways we can complete the project, so rest assured that we’re doing everything in our power to deliver this project to the loving community.
Either way, it’s amazing to see how well the community has responded to this project, with coverage from loads of big YouTubers and gaming sites being a key highlight. How does it feel knowing so many people like your work?
JoshuaMK: It’s a mixed bag. One part of me feels validated and euphoric from the success we saw, and the other half is stressed by the need to provide for such a large audience. I try not to overthink it, and to continue working on my own accord.
Epicwade: Sometimes when I’m having a particularly bad day it’s nice to know that I’ve made a difference in people’s lives, even if it is just a silly game. When watching someone on Twitch fail the same jump 10 times and criticizing your level, dropping a “Hello streamer, I made this level!” makes for some great entertainment.
Tempo: It’s cliche, but I’m not in this for the fame. I’ve heard some detractors say that Eclipse is nothing more than a springboard for our indie projects, and while it is true that a future following will likely be a by-product of that, we are all creating Eclipse purely out of passion. I just want to see people smile. With the short demo that we released, tuning in to people’s streams and watching them smile, laugh, and have a good time literally helped me keep going during a very dark time in my life. You all are the reason we do this. We’re forever grateful for sticking through it all with us.
UncleMeat: Feels good man.
What other ideas do you have for mods and games after Eclipse, assuming it goes well?
JoshuaMK: After Super Mario Eclipse, I’m going to start developing indie games! I think it’s a perfect evolution of my current skill set and routine. Also, many of the members of the current team share similar plans for the future, so you might see some of this team making a real game in the future.
Epicwade: I’m currently learning a bit of Unreal Engine 5 and seeing how it goes. I’ve had a few really creative ideas but our team will get there when we get there. I’ve also wanted to give Super Mario Galaxy the Super Mario Sunburn treatment since I have a love hate relationship with that game.
Tempo: I toyed around with the idea of creating a Super Mario 3D Land/World style mod for Sunshine after Eclipse, but with my current trajectory, I’d rather work on my own projects going forward. I have an idea for a 3D platformer called Sugar Bugs… let’s see if it becomes a reality! However, I’m not done with fan projects entirely- as of this interview, I’m a stage designer for a Sonic fan game called Sonic DVD, a spiritual successor to Sonic CD. It looks promising so far, so keep an eye out for that!
Finally, what advice would you have to give someone wanting to get into Super Mario Sunshine modding, or perhaps game development as a whole?
JoshuaMK: If you are making anything in general, take how long you expect it to take, and multiply that by 4. That’s how long it will realistically take you. It gets stressful if you expect to hit a deadline that is closer than you originally thought. On a brighter side, modding is fun! It also helps you grasp the concepts of game development, as it’s like editing a premade Unity/Unreal Engine project and tweaking things to see what changes, and to understand how everything works together.
Epicwade: If you want to get into custom stage development for Super Mario Sunshine, totally check my channel out. I made a 4-hour long tutorial which is uploaded there. It’s kinda hot garbage but it’s kinda the best option currently since all other tutorials are either really outdated or lost on the Wayback Machine. I also have an archive of many dev streams where you can see me creating levels in real time to reference how stuff is done. And don’t be afraid to ask for help, as there is not a lot of documentation so it’s all word of mouth and trial and error.
Tempo: Modding Sunshine is a blast some days and tough as nails on others, but it has given me incredible insight into the joys and woes of game development. Everything that I’m learning for this experience is pushing me ahead towards a beautiful and bright future in the media industry. Most game companies look down on it, but I believe game modding should be a necessary first step into game design courses. When you know how your favourite games work, seeing how they were put together to make that can be unbelievably insightful. If I had to recommend anything, watch video tutorials from people like Masahiro Sakurai, research game prototypes and development archives, and crack open your favourite games and see what makes them tick! It’s a long road for sure, but an incredibly fulfilling one, basically becoming the master of your own creation.
Thanks guys! There’s some good advice there from all of you.
And we agree 100% with all of it. Game development definitely takes a long time, and it’s usually far more complex than you may initially expect. Trust us, we know that all too well. We started work on a Mario mod in 2013 or so, and it’s still nowhere near done.
It’s definitely a grind for sure!
As for the tutorial… that’s going to be very useful for would be Mario modders too. You can find a link to it here, and we’ve also embedded it in the article below:
Finally, Tempo’s advice for watching tutorials is good too. There’s some amazing stuff you can learn online, whether through videos by Masahiro Sakurai or from personal experience based on modding all kinds of games.
Because as you rightfully said, game development is something you learn through experience, and any way you can get that experience is worth celebrating.
Regardless, thanks for the interview, guys! It was amazing speaking to you today, and we learnt a ton of amazing info about Super Mario Sunshine and its mods too.
Still, what did you think of the interview? Did you enjoy learning about Super Mario Eclipse and the world of Super Mario Sunshine as a whole? What aspects are you most excited about when it comes to this amazing ROM hack?
Leave your thoughts on the matter in the comments below, on social media, or on our Discord server today!