I love top 10 lists, and I love Super Mario Sunshine, so I've been watching a lot of people's top 10 hardest Shine Sprite videos recently. While they were enjoyable, I found myself disagreeing with some of their choices. So, I decided to do my own! This is really just a top 5 list, though, because while I could find 5 other Shines that I found difficult to do, I didn't have as much to say about them as these 5. So, without further ado, here are the five Shine Sprites that I considered to be the hardest to get in my playthrough:
5. The Runaway Ferris Wheel
I don't usually get angry at video games, but this level made me angry. Not because the platforming was too difficult -- it wasn't easy, but had I been unencumbered I'm sure I would have found it a welcome challenge. No, the problem is that the camera refuses to allow you to play this level. No matter what you do, no matter how high up the back of the Ferris wheel you get, the camera will be fighting you the entire time, trying to rotate around to the front of the structure. The problem with this is that you are then completely blocked from view. This can happen at any moment, and falling all the way back down to the beginning of the section just because the camera randomly swiveled away is completely infuriating. Regardless of how difficult or easy the actual level is ignoring the camera, the camera is part of gameplay and here is treating itself as a game mechanic.
4. Pachinko Game
A cute secret level based off of a pachinko machine, how fun! Well, fun may be a tough word for this level. It finds its way into most people's lists, and for good reason: you have very little control here. You have to collect 8 red coins, three of which are in the pachinko ball launcher, and the other 5 of which are located in the small slots that the pachinko ball would fall into. The Shine Sprite itself then spawns in a center slot. You have to launch yourself into the machine and try to manipulate yourself into the slots to collect the coins. If you don't fall into any of the slots, you fall out of the bottom of the machine and die. What's worse is that the physics are very wonky here. If you entered the level using the rocket nozzle, good luck correcting any accidental movement. Even if you entered with the hover nozzle, it's not going to help you too much. There's a surprising amount of randomness with this level.
3. The Watermelon Festival
This level is pretty simple in concept. Roll the biggest watermelon to the cabana. There are only three watermelons on the map, and it's not too difficult to tell which one is the largest. The problem is that it's extremely fragile. Pushing it into a wall causes it to pop. Touching an enemy (of which there are Many in between where the watermelon spawns and the cabana) causes it to pop. Sometimes just leaving it alone causes it to pop. And you have to roll it down the beach, and across the zig-zagging boardwalk to the cabana. This level requires a lot of patience, because any imprecise movement can lead the watermelon to certain doom. A lot of the time, even precise movement can be augmented by enemies doing unpredictable things. It's tough and actually requires a lot of skill.
2. Lily Pad Ride
This level is a legend. Let's break it down. To even get to it, you have to go down a pipe on an island in the east of Delfino Plaza. However, the pipe has an undulating Forcefield on it, which Yoshi needs to vomit on so you can get through. This wouldn't be too bad but Yoshi dies when it touches water. So, the way to get to the pipe is to take the sewer to the island in the west, eat a fruit off the tree so Yoshi doesn't die of hunger, take a boat from there to the metal platform in the south, eat the banana sitting there so Yoshi doesn't die, and then take a boat from there to the island in the east. It takes forever when done properly, and I didn't do it properly, because I didn't realize that Yoshi could enter the sewer.
Then, when you get down the pipe, you're faced with a dirty river that kills you on contact and a disintegrating lily pad you get to ride on. There's also 8 red coins for you to collect, which is pretty difficult considering that you propel the lily pad with F.L.U.D.D. while the river current carries you quickly to the end. Miss a single coin, and you've got to start over. There's a 1UP halfway through which is difficult to collect, and there are tiny walls on the sides of the river that you could walk on to return to the start -- provided that you survive the failed attempt down the river. This level truly deserves its inclusion in this list, and would have received the number 1 spot had it not been for the fact that I only ever had to do the whole Yoshi journey once. I had no idea what awaited me through that pipe, but was lucky enough to enter with some ~12 lives because I had been doing 100 coin Shines. It was a huge challenge, but I managed to succeed on my very last life.
1. Yoshi’s Fruit Adventure
What the heck is wrong with this level. It makes absolutely no sense. The only indication whatsoever that the game gives you as to how to complete this level is the scene at the start showing you the fruit tanks. There's also a Yoshi nearby that always wants a durian, so, sure, get a durian from the tanks and feed it to Yoshi. This is easier said than done given that the durians often bounce off the other dispensed fruit and just land in the ocean. This is because the durian is the one fruit that you cannot pick up -- and this Yoshi will accept nothing else. All you can do is kick it over, which is difficult because it's incredibly bouncy, clears massive distances in a single kick, and fades out of existence way too soon.
When you do manage to get Yoshi, what do you do next? Well, obviously you go over to the leaping fish next to the fish market and vomit on them to turn them into platforms. Of course. This mechanic is never used elsewhere in the game, and it's not even hinted at as existing, so why would you think to use it or think that the leaping fish were important? So, let's say you've done this, and ridden the platform to the first metal platform. You can turn some more fish into platforms and make more and more risky jumps to get up to some higher platforms. Yoshi's physics are not in your favor here, and you will often slip, fall, and land in the water. This kills the Yoshi. I spent so much time doing this that I actually got kind of good at getting Yoshi up to the second highest platform. I had to keep taking breaks because of how frustrating it was that a single missed jump would require you to do the whole durian thing again. It's not Lily Pad Ride levels of setup time, but still. The times I did manage to get up to the second highest set of platforms, I could not even imagine a way to get to the highest one, where the Forcefield protecting the Shine Sprite was.
The worst thing is that most of this was not even necessary. After the first fish platform, you can make a jump over to a little grass ledge with a tree on it that has hanging coconuts. If Yoshi eats a coconut, it changes color, and now its juice vomit will cause the fish to turn into platforms that rise instead of moving to the side. Knowing this, it's actually quite easy to get up to the highest platform, but seriously what the heck. There is no way in the world to figure this out. I actually had to look it up -- one of the only Shines I needed help on. This Shine does not appear on most people's lists, probably because there are levels that are technically harder to do, but I think the difficulty of figuring out what to do should be factored in.