From the Super Mario Wiki
“And now, we shall race to that flag!”
Il Piantissimo is a human disguised as a Pianta that the player must race in Super Mario Sunshine, similar to Koopa the Quick races in Super Mario 64. He can be raced in the 5th levels of Gelato Beach and Noki Bay, and in the second level of Pianta Village.
Piantissimo is very overconfident, and finds himself much superior to others. According to various locals at Pianta Village, he is considered a rogue, a creep, and not related to the Piantas. This could show that due to his attitude, he is left alone and barely challenged, adding to his superior personality with no one to go against it.
When Mario races against Il Piantissimo, the two must head to a flag that represents the finish line. If Mario wins, he gets a Shine Sprite, then completing the mission. However, Mario will lose a life if Il Piantissimo finishes first. Also, if the player replays a completed Il Piantissimo episode, Il Piantissimo will be more difficult to beat, as he will finish the course with the player's previous time. However, Il Piantissimo cannot use any tactics involving FLUDD.
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