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Super Mario Advance

Review By:  Siou Choy

Developer:   Nintendo
Publisher:   Nintendo
# of Players:   1-4 (Link Cable)
Genre:   Platformer
ESRB:   Everyone
Date Posted:   9-6-01

What could be better than one great Mario game? How about two of them? You get two games for the price of one in Super Mario Advance for the Game Boy Advance. Well, OK, they may not actually be "new", per se, but they sure look it. Super Mario Advance contains both Super Mario 2 (first released for the original 8 bit Nintendo system) and seminal arcade favorite Mario Bros. The graphics have been given a facelift and look unexpectedly sharp in comparison to the originals (I pulled them out and checked). However, the flipside is a not altogether beneficial shift towards darker tones (which seems to be a problem with the system itself, irrespective of the game in question).

In Super Mario 2 you get to play as either Mario, Luigi, Peach or Toad. Each character is unique and may be better suited for a particular level than another. To be more precise, Toad is the strongest of the four, Luigi jumps the highest, Peach floats in the air the longest and Mario is the best all around player. The fact that they all seem to be afflicted with bizarre and annoying pseudo-"Italian" accents is, of course, besides the point.

Here's the plot: Wart, an evil toad, has cast a spell on the land of dreams, and it's up to Mario and his friends to free the land for future corporate consumption. And it's a good thing that Wart is afraid of vegetables (then again, aren't we all), since they're the most common and easily available item in the game. You have to fight your way through twenty levels to defeat Wart and remove his curse on the land of dreams, by serving him up a nice chef salad.

One nice addition to SM2 is the much needed option to save your progress in the game, which eliminates the previous necessity of pausing the game and unplugging the video cable connecting the NES to the TV (while simultaneously leaving the power plugged in) so you can eat supper or let your parents watch the evening news.

Those who played Super Mario 2 during its original NES release will be glad to know that all the tricks and items are still in the same spots; though it seems that there are a lot more hearts and 1-ups scattered throughout the game, which makes things somewhat easier than they should be. You can easily beat the game and still have something in the realm of 40 men left!

The only thing I didn't like about the GBA version of SM2 was how the scrolling screen tends to get ahead of or behind you at times, which makes seeing what's going on just in front of you rather difficult. It seems to be incapable of holding a steady position or keeping you in the middle of the screen (as with older side scrollers).

As an unexpected bonus, a Yoshi Egg Hunt has been added to SM2. To open up the Yoshi Egg Hunt in Super Mario 2, all you have to do is beat the game. And the point of the Yoshi Egg Hunt? Good question. Ostensibly, the goal is to find the eggs, which are hidden in the subspace beneath every level. And this is one of the most irritating things about Super Mario 2. Why, you ask? Because you get nothing (zero, zip, zilch, null, goose egg) for completing the Yoshi Egg Hunt. I was hoping something would happen - possibly the option to play through the game as Yoshi, or opening another level or two; some small extra like that (you know, the sort of "hidden extra game" thing gamers get their jollies over). Instead you get (ready for this?)...a short animation with Yoshi. Otherwise? Congratulations, you are the proud recipient of...NOTHING.

In Mario Bros. (for all 2 of you out there who didn't know this already), it's up to you clear the sewers of assorted creatures that drop, crawl and fly out of the pipes someone presumably flushed them down (apparently this isn't New York, as there are no crocodiles among their number). To remove these little buggers, you have to knock them over (by hitting them from underneath) and then jump up top and kick them off the edge. Just to make things interesting, you have to contend with annoying, nastily timed fireball and freezy infestations (and as everybody knows, the freezies are those little Hershey Kisses with the silly facial expressions who turn whatever they touch, be it a platform or yourself, into ice) as well as the various creatures. As you might expect, the number of creatures, fireballs, freezies and general difficulty increase somewhat dramatically as you progress further in the game.

The graphics have been updated in Mario Bros. as well. The creatures look nicer and for the first time, there actually appears to be a sewer motif in place of the plain black background older gamers would be familiar with. Even so, the cute animations that show you how to beat each new monster (as found in arcades), omitted in the NES version, have similarly been left out of the GBA port. While this may not be a necessary part of the game, it remains something of a loss aesthetically, and something I'm sure the developers could have included without any major drain on memory, given the GBA's more powerful processors.

If you've got a few friends and a link cable you can play the Mario Bros. "Battle Mode". Essentially, this is a free for all, with everyone trying to collect five coins first (while simultaneously preventing the other players from getting them) - in other words, it's a training tool to prepare our youth to enter corporate America. Removing competition is done by picking other players up and throwing them at enemies. This is a fun addition, since (and let's face it, now) who hasn't always wanted to beat up on that irritating second player hogging up your space (and stealing your rewards)?

Highs:

  • Come on, we're talking about the original Mario Bros. and Super Mario 2 on one cartridge. How can you go wrong?
  • Nice, beefed up graphics
  • Plenty of lunch money wasting replay value, just like an old style arcade game. But without wasting the lunch money (well, okay, they want 1000 quarters up front, so it evens out).
  • The addition of the save (nice touch)!

Lows:

  • The Yoshi Egg Hunt sucks.
  • Unsynchronized screen scroll (in SM2) makes the game overly difficult and disorienting

Final Verdict:

Super Mario 2 and Mario Bros are great games in the first place, and to have them together on one cartridge is a gamer's dream come true.

The Yoshi Egg Hunt might have been a nice idea...if there was any purpose to playing it, that is. (Final verdict? Skip it.)

All told, if you're one of the 10 kids in the known universe who's never played either Super Mario 2 or Mario Bros. before, here's your opportunity. Don't pass it up.

Overall Score: 8.8

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