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Super Mario Advance

Review By:  Adrian V.

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

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.

Ready?

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 fans. Suckers.

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 item up.

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.

Highs:

  • Excellent control.
  • Huge Nostalgia factor that isnít destroyed, since the game is still good. The exact opposite of the effect found when playing old Atari games.
  • Excellent visuals, if not the best to be found. Colorful and cartoonish.

Lows:

  • Horrible extra game included. Playing it with friends is only remotely entertaining because you get to inflict the same pain you experienced while playing it on them. Misery truly does love company.
  • Still the same old Mario 2.
  • Voice samples get real old, real fast.

Final Verdict:

In the end, all you really want to know is if you should buy it, right? Well, I personally felt that the second game was one of the best in the series (Mario purists can go choke themselves) so was not disappointed in this game at all. Is it worth the $40 to relive a slightly enhanced classic? Not really. Especially with Tony Hawk 2 out there and Super Mario Kart Advance on the horizon. But if you have the cash to burn, I highly recommend it as a second purchase.

Overall Score: 8.3

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