Super Mario Advance Review
Posted by Brad Long
Super Mario Bros. 2: Ultimate Edition
It was certainly an odd choice of launch title way back in 2001 when the Game Boy Advance was released, with Nintendo choosing to launch it with a remake of a NES game that wasn't originally even intended to be a Mario game in the first place, with the original Mario Bros. tacked on. Nonetheless, people who clamoured for a GBA back in the day more than likely picked it up anyway, and luckily enough for them it was a solid enough title with just enough extras thrown in to keep things fresh.
The main mode of focus with SMA is the remake of Super Mario Bros. 2, a solid platformer in its day, and it still stands the test of time as an ultimately fun experience. The controls are simple, and extremely responsive. We have a hard time trying to find any fault with them. Just about anybody can pick the title up and be running, jumping and throwing turnips around in no time.
"Turnips!?" We hear the four of you who haven't played this game yet say. Yes, turnips: Mario throws turnips. Originally this game wasn't intended to be a Mario game at all back in its NES days, as it was originally released in Japan as Yume Koujou: Doki Doki Panic (roughly translated to "Dream Factory: Heart Pounding Panic), a tie-in game with Fuji Television to promote Yume Koujou '87, whatever that was. Without this title being changed to a Mario game in the Western world, Mario would never have met Shy-Guys, Ninjis and Birdos; he may never have learned to pick up a Koopa shell, and his gang of Luigi, Toad and Peach may never have reached the mainstream popularity they did after the game's release. What a different world that would have been!
But back to the turnips. The main focus of gameplay here is a pick-up and throw mechanic, completely picking up and throwing the original Super Mario Bros. gameplay right out the window. Mario and the gang can pretty much pick up anything that isn't spiky or sparkly, be it turnips in the ground, Koopa shells and of course your enemies. Hurling these items at your foes is the main way to dispatch them, apart from the very fun practice of finding a bottomless pit to hurl them into.
Graphics-wise, this game is mostly based on the work found in the Super Mario All-Stars collection, with many subtle improvements thrown in. Backgrounds move a lot more, enemies have scaling effects, you'll find giant turnips, and we get introduced to RoBirdo (Roberto, anyone?) a replacement boss for a Birdo in World 3. Everything is clear as day, with the only confusion you may find is the amount of space on-screen compared to its television counterparts: you'll find the screen jumps up and down a lot more as there's not as much room vertically as there originally was, but most should deal with it ok.
The decision to add voice has us split down the middle, though. On the one hand, Mario, Luigi and the Princess sound fantastic while Toad sounds like a pubescent boy with a brick lodged in his throat. On the other hand, they don't shut up the entire game, as some points it borders on the ridiculous, with Mario yelling "Eeee-yah!, woo-hoo! Thank you! Tha-tha-thank you! Ooooh a crystal!" in the space of seven seconds. Thankfully the voices themselves are crystal clear, an achievement for a GBA title.
But by far the biggest addition to Super Mario Bros. 2 is the Yoshi Challenge, similar to the one found in Super Mario Bros. DX on the Game Boy Color. Here you go back through all the levels again in search of Yoshi Eggs, they are all found with the same potions you use in-game to find mushrooms. The Yoshi Challenge menu will offer you a quick screenshot of where in the level to find it; some clues are really obscure and will take you a while to click on to where it's showing you, which is always nice as you don't want to be spoonfed in modes like this. It's a fun little side-challenge on top of an already excellent game.
Now, to the other game: Mario Bros. Super Mario Advance gives this game a glossy coating as well, and while it may not have received anywhere near as much love as the other title, there's not really much to say about the single player mode: other than a couple of enemies being changed to spinies and such, it hasn't changed. It's fun to play multiplayer, of which you can now play up to four people with just the one cart, and that's just awesome. To win you must either collect five coins before everyone else, or be the last man standing. Everyone now starts the game as Super Mario, so each player can cop one hit before dying, and it's always fun to pick on the little guy! Another addition is the trash can: if you pick up an opponent and go near the can, its lid will flip up and you can throw him in, trapping him inside for a few seconds while you go rounding up coins for yourself. There's a catch however: the person in the can will emerge with an item, five of which will help him, and one that won't. It's a gamble to throw someone in the bin, as much as it's a gamble throwing yourself in the bin, but that's the beauty of multiplayer modes like this.
Super Mario Advance is two games from the 80's thrown together, but these two games have found themselves a new home and a makeover done well enough to give older gamers another reason to have a crack at it, and younger gamers who haven't had the pleasure of playing these classics a reason to see what all the fuss was about. Super Mario Advance might not have been the brand new Mario adventure everyone wanted back in the Game Boy Advance launch (and it never got an original Mario adventure, either), but its a worthy addition to anyone's Game Boy Advance collection.