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The Most Frustrating Bosses In Super Mario Sunshine

Most of the mainline games in the "Mario" franchise are pretty approachable. The "Super Mario" series has changed a lot through the years, especially as it went from 2D to 3D, but the core gameplay features have just about always remained the same. Normally what separates each major "Mario" game is its aesthetic — for example, "Super Mario Odyssey" was directly inspired by the movement systems and gameplay of "Super Mario 64" — but graphics on the Switch are far, far better. One game stands out amongst its contemporary 3D "Mario" platformers as perhaps the weirdest of the bunch, if not the entire series: "Super Mario Sunshine." 

It was included in the disappointing "Super Mario 3D All-Stars" alongside "Super Mario 64" and "Mario Galaxy." Comparing "Super Mario 64" to "Super Mario Sunshine" reveals just how different — and how similar — this new generation of Mario was at the time. Perhaps most notably, it gave him water-based movement skills with F.L.U.D.D, but there was a lot about the game that fans didn't expect — for better and for worse. One of these things that made "Sunshine" so divisive in the community was the frustrating nature of a number of bosses.

There are tricks to avoid the annoying parts of some of the "Super Mario Sunshine" bosses, like being able to beat Gooper Blooper without ripping any of its legs off. But some of the most difficult bosses can't be cheesed at all, and getting past them to nab that Shine Sprite and continue the game is a challenge much easier said than done. 

Phantamanta was visually cool but frustratingly tedious

Sirena Beach unlocks after players complete the fourth level of the game, Pinna Park, which features the boss fight with Mecha Bowser on the rollercoaster — which many players agree is the best boss fight in "Super Mario Sunshine." The beach is home to the Hotel Delfino, but when Mario enters the level for the first time he finds out that it's gone. To make matters worse, it won't reappear until the beach is cleared of goop. According to the manager of the Hotel Delfino, the Hotel itself was swallowed in the goop by a shadowy manta ray that came from the ocean.

The Phantamanta is a gigantic entity that glides over the surface of the ground, but not in the physical, material way that might allow Mario to ground pound it. Instead, it appears as if it were part of the texture of the ground, a pink manta ray-shaped blob that slides around the ground and transposes its form onto any surface it comes across. Visually, it's an awesome boss. Getting rid of it, on the other hand, is not so awesome.

To defeat Phantamanta, players have to spray it with F.L.U.D.D. to split it apart into smaller mantas. Eventually, the fragments get too small and disappear. Because the Phantamanta is a huge boss, and because it constantly moves, it's a huge hassle to track down each and every fragment. Even though players thought it was frustrating, Phantamanta came back in "Splatoon 3" as Big Man, a boss that almost certainly references this "Super Mario Sunshine" icon.

Gelato Beach's Wiggler just won't cooperate

Phantamanta is an annoying boss, but with the right approach — the hover nozzle for F.L.U.D.D. — it can be made relatively trivial. That's not true for the Wiggler boss on Gelato Beach, who is part of two separate but equally annoying episodes of the level. Both of these parts are actually back to back, a blessing and a curse because it's a longer initial time investment for the payoff of never having to deal with this guy ever again. 

The first part of the Wiggler boss fight is the second episode of Gelato Beach, in which Mario must flip a bunch of Plungelos off of a series of mirrors that surround a central tower. Atop the tower is an enormous Wiggler sleeping on top of a Shrine Sprite, but it won't come down until Mario uses these mirrors to reflect light at it. The mirrors have physics, and lean based on where players and Plungelos are. To flip a Plungelo, Mario has to lure one to the edge and ground pound the opposite side — it's way harder in practice than it sounds on paper.

The second part of the Wiggler fight is more traditional, but no less frustrating. Here, players flip the Wiggler by spraying Plungelos buried under the sand a few seconds ahead of time, but it's tough to coordinate — after it's flipped, Mario has to ground pound a specific segment. If there's ever a "Super Mario Sunshine" sequel, there's a good chance that Wiggler will come back for a third time.

Why did Mario have to wash the eel's teeth in Noki Noki Bay, anyway?

"Super Mario Sunshine" is a weird game, perhaps the most bizarre in the entire series, but even this part stood out as being particularly strange. In Noki Noki Bay — a place that hosts one of gaming's most notorious unsolved mysteries — an eel named Eely Mouth needs its teeth washed. The Noki Noki Bay is nearly totally polluted thanks to this thing's halitosis, and it's up to Mario to wash its teeth with the hover nozzle while navigating its sunken domain.

It is certainly a neat boss fight — when else in "Mario" do players get to go to the deep ocean and give dental hygiene to a multi-faced, possibly multi-gendered eel? But that doesn't make it very fun. Mario wears an air helmet in this episode, but he still loses health and players must collect coins spread throughout the vast area to keep it topped up. 

Using the hover nozzle makes Mario lift up as well as clean Eely Mouth's teeth, and the underwater movement feels too fast and too janky at the same time, making it difficult to get Mario in the right position when the eel opens its mouth. It is often cited by players as a fun, but annoying, boss fight — but at least the movement isn't as bad as in the Lily Pad Ride secret, generally considered the hardest Shine Sprite to get in "Super Mario Sunshine."

The Sand Bird isn't technically a boss, but it might as well be

Wiggler takes up two consecutive episodes of Gelato Beach, but even after getting past that, the worst is yet to come. In fact, it's the very next episode.

Episode four of Gelato Beach is called The Sand Bird Is Born, and in it players are guided to a secret area to collect red coins while they ride a relaxing Sand Bird through the sky. It sounds nice, but anyone who's played "Super Mario Sunshine" knows it's not what it seems. The episode starts inside the egg revealed by defeating the wiggler, and it's annoying to have to run through all of Gelato Beach to get back after a GAME OVER. The familiar music comes in as the camera pans over the Sand Bird majestically soaring through the sky, and then it cuts to the player standing atop it. 

The red coins are spread over the Sand Bird's body, and if it flew straight it would be a walk in the park. Instead, it flips a full 90 degrees twice during its flight path, requiring players to think and move preemptively to avoid being thrown off. As if all of that wasn't bad enough, sand blocks start collapsing if Mario stands on it for too long, and the Sand Bird doesn't even have all eight Red Coins. The eighth is atop the middle tower, and players have to jump and hover perfectly to avoid certain death. The Sand Bird isn't a boss Mario fights, and can't be counted as a "real" boss — though it might as well be one.