Iíll be honest, Iím not very comfortable reviewing games I
had a good time playing. Oops. Did I give away the ending?
I find I enjoy writing reviews so much more when I have something
to hate. This time, since I canít abuse the game, Iíll have to
settle for abusing the reader. Thatís whatís called
Ďdisplacementí. I obviously have a lot of anger that I am unable
to express and resolve with another source, so I find a substitution
at which to vent.
Yes, I enjoyed playing Super Mario Advance. And yes, I know that
itís just a rehash of a game older than most of you reading this,
and that it wasnít even a ĎMario gameí to begin with. More
than that, I am acutely aware that it comes with a second
rehashing Ė the original Mario Bros.Ė thatís only
slightly less annoying than guys who still listen to Motley Crue.
Shout at the Devil, baby.
But despite all these obstacles, and the fact that I already
bought this game a few years ago when it was called Super Mario
All-Stars, I am truly glad I own this one. You know why?
Because I can actually see it when I turn the thing on.
Unlike Castlevania: Circle of the Moon. Too bad for Castlevania
All right, so I also dig squat, cartoonish characters pulling up
fruit and masked creatures (what is that about anyway? Even
the birds wear masks...) and throwing them randomly about the
screen with nary a care in the world. Sue me. I also like to
occasionally try my hand at the slots as well, and Mario Advance has
got me covered even there.
If you need more reasons to pick this game up, you can just...oh
all right. So I guess the control should be mentioned, right? Do you
really care? Or more to the point, how often has a Mario game not
had near-perfect control?
Yes, I know itís not really a Mario game. Shut up.
The control is once again excellent. In fact, with the addition
of the shoulder buttons, you can now do some limited camera movement
more easily, and best of all, run faster while carrying something.
This bears explaining. Traditionally, the Ďruní function in
Mario games was accomplished by using one of the two available
buttons. In Mario 2, they added the ability to pick objects up,
thereby assigning a default function to the second button. You could
still run faster, but if you tried to do it while holding something,
the game decided you meant to throw the item, (that being the
primary function of the secondary button, as opposed to the
secondary function of the primary button, which, for the record, is nothing.
Duh. Have you played Mario games before?) and acted accordingly.
This generally meant that if you wanted to run while carrying
something, you needed to be running from the moment you picked said
For those of you with less detailed imaginations, Iíll spell that
out for you too. The reason they give you the option of running or
walking at all, is that there are many instances where the
precision afforded by slower movement is detrimental. Certain timed
jumps, for instance, or trying to land on a pillar only as wide as
your character. Having the added acceleration of Ďrunningí when
executing these maneuvers is usually problematic, if not fatal.
Therefore, being able to use another button to activate your
Ďruní, or to stop running for a period of time and then run
again, all without throwing an important item is wonderfully
useful. End of lesson.
Oh sure, it looks good too. But then, if every developer had a
decade to tweak their visuals, their titles would probably be easy
on the eyes too. However, since they did have ten years to hone the
look of this Mario game, (I know. Itís not really a Mario
game. Shut up.) so youíd think there would be some extra
frames of animation or more than one level of background scrolling.
Iím not asking for three dimensions and a technicolored dreamcoat
here, Iím just saying I donít think they put in any long
weekends on this one. So you see, itís all in the perspective.
When I first saw the game I was quite happy with the graphics. But
then, I had just played Pokťmon Blue on my Gameboy Color, so how
could I not be impressed? I didnít begin to think about it until
later. I still rate the graphics pretty high, but simply because the
only games that can currently outshine it are Tony Hawk 2 and
Castlevania. Well, Castlevania when you have the twin suns of
Tatooine as a light source. Suckers.
Thereís really not much I can tell you about the gameplay. You
run around colorful worlds standing on and dead-lifting various
enemies, vegetables, keys and the occasional bomb all in an effort
to solve some rather straightforward puzzles and defeat a handful of
bosses. Sadly, the boss encounters in this game donít hold a
candle to those found in Mario 3, much less Super Mario World, but
the game makes up for it with some decently challenging levels and
the option to choose from four characters. Iím sure you already
know this, but I have to mention it just to be sure; each character
has varying attributes, from the Princessís hovering ability
(sometimes the only way to reach off-screen secrets) to Luigiís
insane floating jumps. Different environments often lend themselves
to one set of abilities more than another, but never to such a
degree that you canít get by with someone else.
Before I wrap this up, I probably should bring up the second game
on the cartridge; Mario Bros. Wow, does it suck. Sure, the ability
to play it with three other people is nice, but thatís the least
they could do when the entire game is centered around flipping a
variety of shelled animals onto their backs and then kicking them.
Honestly, I didnít even like this game when it was new, so seeing
it again after all these years was actually repellent. If you think
about it though, it was a stupendously inventive way to increase the
quality of the other game. After playing Mario Bros. a few times,
the enhanced Super Mario 2 becomes almost a divine gift from
benevolent gods. You just canít beat the power of contrast.