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Super Mario Advance

Review By:  Chris Lee

Developer:   Nintendo
Publisher:   Nintendo
# of Players:   1-4 (Link Cable)
Genre:   Platformer
ESRB:   Everyone
Date Posted:   6-26-01

If only I could play the classic Mario Bros. theme song for all to hear. Instead I'll have to hum it to myself. I can't explain it but there was just something about a Mario Bros. game being released on a new Nintendo handheld that makes me feel good. I mean, it's one of the signs of the coming of the Cube, like wonderful foreshadowing. The great thing about Super Mario Advance is that it's not just Super Mario Bros. 2 for the NES, it's Super Mario Bros. 2 and the ORIGINAL Mario Bros. from "back in the day". The one that you and friends no doubt played as relentlessly as my friends and I did. Well let's get down to business.

Let's start with the original Mario Bros., now this is before Super Mario Bros. when the brothers were no different than the colors on their overalls. In Mario Bros. you controlled either Mario or Luigi in a quest to up-end and dispose of pesky sewer creatures. This is when the brothers were just humble plumbers who had yet to venture to the Mushroom Kingdom so the backstory was basically that these two fat little plumbers were trying to clear the pipes of vermin. The way you had to accomplish this was to get on a platform beneath each pest and jar the floor beneath it with the now legendary brick busting head smash move, a.k.a. jumping in Mario's world. You'd knock each creature on it's back and then run and kick it out of the sewer. As you progressed the creatures, creatures strength and speed would change to almost a frenzy. Well, not much has changed at all in the way of gameplay, it's still just as addicting as it always was and I found myself immediately reminiscing over the many hours of my youth devoted to that game. As expected the graphics are actually better than it's previous incarnation and it seems to move smoother as well and really, shouldn't it on your new 2001 Nintendo Brand Gameboy Advanced Handheld System? It's a great game that serves as a great bonus and distraction in this package.

Now to the real meat of the cartridge and where you'll more than likely spend most of your time. Super Mario Bros. 2, the sequel to the most influential platform game of all time. As with most Nintendo franchises the next title in the series switches things up in a way that it's still your favorite characters and world but the gameplay is new and innovative. The story begins that one night as Mario was sleeping he had a dream that he was climbing up a stairway that led to a door. When he opened the door he saw a world that he had never seen before. And a voice said unto him (no, not that voice......I don't think) "This is Subcon, the land of dreams. The evil toad Wart, has used his magic to lay a curse upon the land. Please defeat Wart and free us from his spell. Oh and remember Wart hates vegetables (personally I think he was evil because he wasn't regular, ya know, no leafy greens and all). Hurry and save us!". And with that a lightning bolt hit and Mario found himself on the floor, he had a dream. A few days later Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad were all off having a picnic and they found a small cave. Upon entering the cave they saw the world that Mario had dreamed about stretched out in front of them and thus the adventure begins. You have to admit folks, that's the most intricate plot you've ever heard for a Mario Bros. game right? Haha.

This time around jumping on an enemies head doesn't do anything but give you a better view of your surroundings. Instead of hopping on your enemies heads and dispatching them you have to use objects in the world to hurl at foes. You see in SMB2 you have to uproot items and even enemies, hoist them up over your head and do your best Roger Clemens impression. I'll get back to that in a minute. Let's talk about the new moves Mario and company have. Firstly each character has their own attributes and abilities. Mario as usual is well balanced in speed, jump, and power where as Luigi is slower but can jump MUCH higher than his spotlight hogging bro. Then you have Peach who is the weakest of the group, but has the ability to float if you hold the jump button for a few seconds. And finally Toad is slower and jumps lower than the rest, but is much stronger than anyone else. You'll have to utilize each characters specialties to complete the game. Each person can jump, super jump, running jump, duck, climb, and pull up and throw objects.

The majority of what you'll have to do to progress through the game is pulling up grass......what is this, Harvest Moon? Hehe, well actually pulling up the "grass" reveals many standard series items as well as new ones. You'll find koopa shells, bombs, coins and POW blocks among other things bout your main weapon will be vegetables. Throwing a turnip or two upside someone's head is the only way to rid yourself of the evil inhabitants of Subcon. Subcon consists of seven worlds and 20 areas to explore, there are gates between each area where Birdo will sometimes be guarding the gates. At the end of each area you'll have to face a mini-boss until you finally get to the end to face Wart. I'll save all the secrets and cool stuff for you to figure out for yourself, but needless to say Super Mario Bros. 2 is still a thoroughly enjoyable game.  If you missed it the first time around, you'd do well to see this piece of Mario and Nintendo history.

Oh yes there is one more thing they've included on this pak. A little feature called battle mode. Battle mode takes place within the confines of the original Mario Bros. The game rules are the same with the addition of 2 to 3 players. You'll all be competing against each other for coins, you'll have to try and knock each other out while avoiding enemies and scoring points in the form of coins. Everyone starts off as Super Mario and can only be hit once before they are defeated. The most a player can do to another is stun him effectively paralyzing him for a few seconds which leaves him vulnerable to enemy attack. You can also pick up other players and toss them at an enemy or into a trash can which renders them useless until they can get out of the can. If you voluntarily jump into the can you'll receive one of four items, a POW block, a koopa shell, a fish skeleton and an egg. Inside the egg you'll find 3 additional items, a coin, a heart or a starman. All items have their uses or in the case of the fish non-uses but the garbage can is the key to winning in multiplayer mode. There is also a co-op mode that you can play with 4 players in an attempt to clear the game.


  • Classic Mario Gameplay
  • Contains two classic titles
  • Great multiplayer


  • May be too nostalgic for some

Final Verdict:

What they did with the multi-player is phenomenal, and myself and a few friends have already had tons of fun with it. Beyond that, the entire pak is entertaining and a worthy "flagship" title even though it's essentially a re-release of two moldy oldies. The Game Boy Advance has a great future in front of it, and I think it's a great start to begin where it all began. I recommend this game for anyone with a GBA.

Overall Score: 8.5

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