Having Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World exist on the same Virtual Console as the original Super Mario World is like having two legit copies of the Mona Lisa hanging in the Louvre: each is fundamentally a masterpiece, and any attempt to compare the two is mostly going to come down to nitpicking about the way each is framed and whether you prefer one stroke of the brush over another.
While both games possess the same core of spectacular platforming, smooth (and remappable!) controls, and fun-to-find secrets that make Dinosaur Land still such a joy to return to, Super Mario Advance 2 throws in a handful of tweaks. Perhaps the most prominent of these is providing Luigi with his own set of characteristics; no longer just a palette swap, the green bro performs his familiar fluttery jump at the cost of moving a little slower than Mario. He has a couple other quirks as well. Hit a multi-coin ? box with Luigi and you won't have to repeat your strikes - the coins all vomit out at once for you to collect. Yoshi's behaviour also changes when Luigi's the rider: instead of instantly swallowing an enemy, he'll hold onto it and chuck it up as a mangled clump of pixels that can hit other baddies. Both are fun extras that make Luigi a joy to switch to, even if you're not keen on how he jumps.
Further changes seek to make the experience just a tad more convenient. Whereas different-coloured Yoshis and their various powers could be found only in a later area in the original (many of you know what that is), the remake lets them pop up in normal stages after you first encounter them. For completionists, a results screen can be pulled up with a tap of the Select button to see which levels have had all their 5 special Dragon Coins collected; not that finding them all does anything all that special but, you know… completionism! Also, in what might be controversial for some, getting hit while having a Cape Feather or Fire Flower will not instantly make you small as in the original, but take you down to “Super" size instead.
Alas, even with its largely nice additions, Super Mario Advance 2 does take a step back in a couple ways. The sound quality in the remake can be a mixed bag. While tunes can sound a little more robust in places, they can also sound disappointingly tinny in others. It was also seen fit to pepper the brothers' actions with voice clips, which can come off as somewhat annoying and unnecessary. At least Yoshi keeps his original vacuum-sounding pipes. The graphics also seem just a little bit lighter than the original, although the game still looks good as a whole and the Virtual Console option to smooth the textures works well, too.
The biggest downside of Super Mario Advance 2, though, is the lack of multiplayer. If you enjoy some 2-player Koopa-bustin', you just won't get it with this Virtual Console version. And although the game comes with the original Mario Bros. as a bonus, the joy seems barely half there as a single player-only escapade.
If it comes down to choosing either Super Mario World or Super Mario Advance 2, it's hard to believe you won't come up a winner either way. The remake is a faithful rendition of the timeless original where it counts most, and where it strays can either be seen as handy little improvements or minor inferiorities. It truly comes down to personal tastes. If forced to choose, the original gains the edge in this opinion due to a more consistent sound quality, 2-player capabilities and pure, stubborn nostalgia. However, if you've already played the original a ton and want to take on something a little bit different - or finally feel up to nabbing all those pesky Dragon Coins -then the GBA option is a stellar choice.