GBA Review: Super Mario Advance
Review by: Hairball (hairball@sm128c.com)

Game Info

 System: Game Boy Advance
 ESRB: Everyone
 Genre: Platform
 # of Players: 1-4
 Size: 32 Megabits
 Developer: Nintendo
 Publisher: Nintendo

 Game Save: Yes
 Multi-Pak Link: Yes
 Single-Pak Link: Yes

 Release Date:
 US: Jun 11, 2001
 EU: Jun 22, 2001

Screenshots:

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Final Score:
7.5/10

Reviewed on: June 16, 2001

The Game Boy Advance is the third Game Boy system in 5 years, when the original Game Boy was out for 6 years. Does this tell you something? Anyways, so they've been saying all this cool stuff about the new Game Boy Advance, like its new wider screen, faster processor, more memory, 32 bit, etc.

Of course, with a new system launch, there needed to be many launch titles. The GBA had that, and of course, fans would be expecting a Mario game as well, but this isn't really a new game, it's just "more of the same", it includes the US Super Mario Bros. 2 and the original Mario Bros. arcade game. Both of these games were already part of Super Mario All-Stars for the Super NES. So much for "advancing" to the 21st century.

The feature game of Super Mario Advance is Super Mario Bros. 2, the strange Mario adventure, where you must dig out veggies and throw them at your enemies. Mario's basically in a "dreamland" called Subcon defeat Wart, who really hates vegetables. You can use any of the 4 characters, Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad on your journey. Each of them have their own special ability. Mario's the all-even guy, Luigi can jump the highest, Peach can float in the air for a little while, and Toad can dig out vegetables really, really fast.

While most of the game is the same, there are some new things exclusive to the GBA version. For example, there are giant vegetables and giant enemies, giant powerups, and more special vases, to make the game more fun. And another thing, the SMB2 in SMA is much easier since you get hearts all the time, but on the SNES, you don't get hearts for killing 2 or more enemies at once, and there aren't as many hearts around the game area. But besides that, there's not much that has been changed. The familiarities of Shy Guys, Pokeys, Birdo, and Wart, remain unchanged from the original game.

The Mario Bros. arcade game however is more like a free-for-all where you just hit and stomp your enemies. It's quite fun for a quick game, you can even play with your friends, by linking up with other Game Boy Advance systems. One neat thing about the GBA is that you can have linked-play with only one game pak. Though, there are limited functions, it's still a great innovation. You can still link with one game on each system for more options and levels.

The graphics in Super Mario Advance are great for a portable system. The style of the game setup in the SMB2 part of the game is fairly similar to the way the game was ported to the SNES. In fact, it looks very similar, the game sprites are virtually identical to their SNES counterparts. But while we may be thrilled about the quality of the graphics in Super Mario Advance, when compared to games like Rayman Advance, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, it doesn't really look that good.

There are more vibrant backgrounds, which adds a lot of "cool" factor to it. Another neat thing that was added to this new SMB2 is vases with spinning platforms, it's pretty cool, and it moves around pretty smoothly. And usually there are some goodies in there too...

Super Mario Advance has pretty good sound effects, like the voices and music. Mario and his crew are always saying stuff like "Thank you" when you get a heart, "Lucky" when you get a cherry, "Just what I needed" when you get a 1-Up and "Mamma Mia", when you die, and other lines similar to those mentioned. Perhaps it's just another way for Nintendo to show off the powerful GBA hardware. All 4 characters say the same lines over and over and over, so it gets rather annoying after awhile. Even the enemies speak, when you approach Birdo, she says "This is far as you go", right before the battle.

The background music is pretty well done, it sounds really nice even on the mono GBA speaker, with stereo headphones on, you'll be laughing. Most of the music is just classical Mario music, and will bring back nostalgic memories. It's very neat, and the music changes depending on the theme.

It's very easy to play Super Mario Advance. The main buttons you use are the A and B buttons, use B to pick up veggies, and hold it down to run, and use A to jump. SMA has very easy play for a very classic Mario adventure.

The camera problems are occasionally annoying. For example, you have to press the L button to look up, or down, but it doesn't really help. Sometimes what you can't see is in front or behind, so it could lead to running into an enemy without even knowing. It's not big of a deal, but these problems should be dealt with in future Mario games or ports on GBA.

Super Mario Bros. 2 won't take you long to beat for the first time, there are a few "bonuses" that just make the game a little more fun. For example, in each level there are 5 red coins to collect, which serves no purpose at all. And there's also the Yoshi Challenge, which opens up after you defeat Wart, in that mode you try to find the 2 Yoshi eggs hidden in each level in the Subspace. It's really hard since you only have one life to do it in, if you die, you have to start all over. Although you get basically nothing for completing these tasks, it's still fun if you have nothing better to do.

You can also play the Mario Bros. arcade game. In that part of Super Mario Advance you can play by yourself or with up to 3 other people with the GBA systems. Although the arcade game is fairly simple, it's still quite fun to play, if you want to move back to the "traditional" Mario game style.

Final Comments

Super Mario Advance is a great game, but if you have already played SMB2 to death, you won't find this very interesting, so it's more of a game for new players who haven't played SMB2. But if Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World were ported first, this would be a whole different story, since these two games are centuries ahead of SMB2. But still, nothing beats having a brand new title. Although Nintendo tried to add some new things into SMA, it's still lacking, and more or less unoriginal. The Game Boy Advance really needs a new Mario game, instead of ports from over 10 years ago, so maybe Nintendo will wake up and face the music.

-- Hairball (hairball@sm128c.com)

Bottom Line: Super Mario Advance would've been a lot better if the game ported was something else other than Super Mario Bros. 2.