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While some video games don't age well, playing through Nintendo's back catalogue is generally like drinking a fine vintage wine. Super Mario Advance is rather unique in that it's a re-release of a collection of remade NES games. Super Mario Advance's brightly coloured remakes of Super Mario Bros. 2 and Mario Bros. and their tried-and-true gameplay is as fun as always, even if overfamiliarity may sour them a little these days.

Super Mario Bros. 2 is the main attraction in Super Mario Advance, which is a curious choice given the game's odd place in the Mario canon. As you'll almost certainly already know. following the Japanese release of the original Super Mario Bros. 2 — later released as The Lost Levels — Nintendo executives feared it would be too difficult for Western audiences and decided to re-skin a different game, Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic, with Mario characters. A slower, more puzzle-oriented adventure, Super Mario Bros. 2 features large levels with hidden doors, secret areas, and verticality.

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You can choose to play as Mario, Luigi, Toad, or Princess Peach (renamed from Princess Toadstool, her NES name), and characters have the same basic move set of jumping, picking up enemies, and throwing items; yet each control slightly differently. Mario is the easiest character to play with, Luigi can jump slightly higher, Peach can jump the farthest and Toad is the most lightweight. These features should be familiar to anyone who's played a more modern Mario game — Super Mario 3D World uses the same principles — but it's interesting to see the origins of these distinct physical character traits. You'll also witness the (remastered) first appearance of recurring Mario enemies, such as Shy Guy and Birdo.

The game did undergo some modern updates for the GBA release. Nintendo added a point system, as well as several collectibles to find throughout each stage. Super Mario Bros. 2 is not a particularly difficult game, and with save states you should have no trouble completing it in a short amount of time. There are a few secrets to uncover, extending the experience, and playing through with each character feels slightly different.

The other included game in Super Mario Advance is a remake of the original Mario Bros. arcade/NES title. This simple game sees Mario and Luigi tasked with eliminating all enemies in a vertical stage. To do so, they first need to knock the enemy out of commission by hitting the platform they're on, knock them onto their back, then run into them.

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The intentionally floaty controls make this quite a challenge; Mario's jump is quite different than in subsequent follow-ups. There are also POW blocks that knock several enemies onto their backs at once, while each stage adds more enemy types, as well as hazards such as fireballs. Mario Bros. is a tough game, but it can be addictive and fans of the original or the NES Remix series should have no trouble jumping in. It's a neat addition and one that would reappear in subsequent entries in this Super Mario Advance series, but hardly a headliner.

Super Mario Advance's art style pops nicely on the handheld's screen. Sprites are large and colourful in both games and iconic tunes are remixed. There are also a few modern Mario sound effects sprinkled in, too. The game art style is nice to look at and the tunes are pleasant, but it's standard Nintendo fare and won't wow anyone.


Super Mario Advance contains two historic games attractively presented. The additions don't do enough to make it a "new" experience if you've played them both on NES, but the presentation and tweaks offer a welcome alternative. If the 8-bit presentation of the originals turns you off for some reason, or you aren't already schooled in classic Mario, this is a decent way to experience two intriguing entries that always stood apart in the mainline Mario canon.