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Occasionally there's frustration at the slow roll-out of Virtual Console games, sometimes with good reason, but there are also occasions where Nintendo goes the extra mile and does far more than simply spruce up a ROM. In the case of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, which is now on the Wii U Virtual Console in North America (and Japan), Nintendo has included some enjoyable extras.

As was confirmed before its arrival in North America this week, this version of the game has special e-Reader levels included, all of which are playable right from the start by accessing them in the file select area. In the original Game Boy Advance days these levels could only be unlocked by scanning the relevant cards with the e-Reader, a fiddly, expensive but ultimately cool process. There were also cards that unlocked special item buffs and demonstration videos of levels, though those aren't included in the VC release.

A lot of the level card content is there, though, including levels that weren't even distributed outside of Japan back in the day. For those that didn't collect and import all the cards at the time that means this download provides the first legitimate opportunity to play some of the levels; they're stages that are - in some cases - quite imaginative, too, remixing and messing around with the core game's conventions.

Over on Reddit a user called Phil_Bond has listed the 38 levels included in the e-Reader section. Intriguingly the original version of the game apparently didn't even support data for that many e-Reader levels, so that's another area that Nintendo's tweaked. The levels in bold never came to North America as cards in the past, so they're new content to all but the most eager importers.

STAR CARDS (remakes of Super Mario Bros 1 stages):

  • 01 Classic World 1-1
  • 02 Classic World 1-2
  • 03 Classic World 1-3
  • 04 Classic World 1-4
  • 05 Classic World 2-2

MUSHROOM CARDS (original stages not found anywhere else, often featuring game mechanics not native to SMB3)

  • 01 Wild Ride in the Sky
  • 02 Slidin' the Slopes
  • 03 Vegetable Volley
  • 04 Doors o' Plenty
  • 05 Bombarded by Bob-Ombs
  • 06 Magical Note Blocks
  • 07 The ol' Switcheroo
  • 08 Piped Full of Plants
  • 09 Swinging Bars of Doom
  • 10 Para Beetle Challenge
  • 11 A Musical Trek
  • 12 Armored Airship
  • 13 Ice Dungeon
  • 14 A Sky-High Adventure
  • 15 Sea to Sky
  • 16 It's a Shoe-In
  • 17 Slip Slidin' Away
  • 18 Ice Cubed
  • 19 Puzzling Pipe Maze
  • 20 A Towering Tour
  • 21 Castle Dash
  • 22 Rich with Ropes
  • 23 Vexing Doors
  • 24 Caped Escape
  • 25 Ground Work
  • 26 An Aqueous Adventure
  • 27 Bowser's Last Stand
  • 28 Koopaling Confusion
  • 29 Bowser's Airship 1
  • 30 Bowser's Airship 2

PR CARDS (more original stages, originally distributed exclusively through special events, or in special editions of the game)

  • PR Airship's Revenge
  • PR No Time to Dawdle
  • PR Treacherous Halls

That's a lot of extra levels, which certainly makes this download a little more tempting.

We're working on a review, in any case, but if you're in North America and have picked this up (or are planning to) let us know what you think of the e-Reader content.