By: Siou Choy
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).
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.
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
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.
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
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
- Come on,
we're talking about the original Mario Bros. and Super Mario 2
on one cartridge. How can you go wrong?
- Nice, beefed
- 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)!
- The Yoshi Egg
screen scroll (in SM2) makes the game overly difficult and
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