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Super Mario Advance (Game Boy Advance) artwork

Super Mario Advance (Game Boy Advance) review

"When Nintendo first announced the new portable console, Game Boy Advance, I knew they were going to launch a Mario game with it. It may have seemed like common sense, but let's think about it. Have you ever heard of a Nintendo console that's launched without a Mario game? It's never been done before (although I am almost positive the Gamecube is going to break this trend), so of course Nintendo was going to release a Mario launch game with the launch of the Game Boy Advance. There's only one sma..."

When Nintendo first announced the new portable console, Game Boy Advance, I knew they were going to launch a Mario game with it. It may have seemed like common sense, but let's think about it. Have you ever heard of a Nintendo console that's launched without a Mario game? It's never been done before (although I am almost positive the Gamecube is going to break this trend), so of course Nintendo was going to release a Mario launch game with the launch of the Game Boy Advance. There's only one small detail I didn't really expect, that ended up occuring, and I was pretty shocked.

You see, they did launch the Game Boy Advance with a Mario game, but guess what, it's not a totally new game! Instead, they brought back one of the old classics from the NES days. Sadly, they chose the worst one, but even the worst one of the bunch was still pretty damn good. Yes, Super Mario Advance is just a souped up version of.. Super Mario Brothers 2. Now, this really isn't a horrible thing, since I enjoyed playing Super Mario 2 back in the day, but even I couldn't really get into Super Mario Advance. The addition of the classic Mario Bros. game helped, but the fact remained at the end of the day that this game was really just Super Mario Brothers 2 with a paint job, and they somehow seemed to make it less fun to play.

The storyline was really innovative for its time, I thought. Not innovative in a epic tale of romance, love, and war, mind you, more innovative in the fact that it's a Mario game that doesn't have you trying to save the princess from Bowser. Hell, Bowser isn't even in the game. Yeah, this was definitely right up there with Mario World 2 as weirdest storylines in the Mario series. Basically, you have been summoned in a dream to save Dream World from the evil Wart. That's pretty much it. You are basically in a dream the entire game. It may sound weird, and it is, but let's face it, it's the most innovative storyline in the Mario series so far.

As some of you may already know, Super Mario 2 was the most unique Mario game of all time, mainly because it wasn't even originally a Mario game. The original Super Mario 2 got vetoed for American release, so Nintendo took a Japanese game, slapped Mario characters in it, and released it as Super Mario 2 in America. Needless to say, this plays a lot differently than any other Mario game out there. The only thing really that stayed the same from Mario 1 is the fact that this game is also a platformer. Otherwise, it's totally different. You go around hitting enemies with vegetables (you pick a vegetable up from the ground, and then hit an enemy with it).

You can also use stuff like bombs and keys to hit enemies. Moving around, this game plays a lot like Super Pitfall. Plenty of ladders, and vertical and horizontally scrolling stages are present. Some stages are quite large, as some will have yo going into several different tyes of areas. There is not a points system, and you get hit points, in the forms of hearts. If you collect enough cherries, you will soon see a heart floating up. Using the heart gets you a hit point back. In the secret areas (using a warp potion), you can get extra hit points by collecting mushrooms.

Also, in the secret area, you can pick up the vegtables to get coins, as opposed to vegetables. You can then use these coins as credits for the final stage mini game. Basically, at the end of each stage, you get to play a slot machine game to determine if you get any extra lives. The more coins you have, the more times you can play. You can get a lot of extra lives by matching up 3 of the same logo. Different combinations have different rewards, just like a real slot machine. I really enjoyed this aspect of the game, as it was fun to try to get different combinations.

As you start off the game, you get one of four characters to choose from: Mario, Toad, Luigi, and Peach. Yeah, the Princess is a selectable character. Each character has a different ability. Mario is average in all areas, Toad is good at picking up stuff, but a bad leaper, Luigi is a mad crazy jumper, and Princess can fly but is weak at picking up stuff. It leads to a certain amount of strategy, because each stage you can use a different character, and different characters are better suited for certsin stages.

The stages are really awesome, and there is certainly a nice variety of them. You get all the classic Mario series stages, like ice, and desert, but this time they are a tad more unique. For instance, in the ice stage, you can slip on the ice, and fall off the ledges. There are also whales, which blow out water out of their blowhole every once in a while. Stepping on the blowhole before the water comes out enables you to go on top of the water, acting as a platform to go to the next ledge. If you hit the water directly, you lose a hit point.

A lot of enemies are like that in this game. In the desert stage, there is a cactus like enemy which has several sections. Jumping on top of the cactus and pushing down enables you to pull off its head, which you can then throw at the rest of the body. You can also throw stuff at the cactus, and the area in which you hit it determines how much of the enemy dies. Let's say you throw it at the bottom of the cactus. The whole thing will be destroyed, but if you throw it in the upper section, only the top half will be destroyed. I really liked finding out how to kill the various enemies. It definitely added a little to the gameplay.

As you may expect, Nintendo added a lot to the game. The main addition is now you can find coins in each stage. Each stage houses a certain amount of Yoshi coins, and the more you get, the higher percentage of the game you complete. Yes, the game keeps track of how much percentage of the game you have completed, sort of like Donkey Kong Country. There is also a ''sort of'' world map in the game now. It basically looks like the warp zone screen in Super Mario Bros. 3. It would have been really cool to see a world map in the game, but it's not a major concern that it's not in there. Also, the enemies and everything are a lot larger now. Finally, you now can get points in the game, as opposed to the Nintendo version.

The addition of the classic Mario Bros. game was just what the game needed. For those of you that have never experienced this game (it's a mini game in Super Mario Brothers 3, in case you didn't know), it is a little arcade like game. You are on the bottom of the screen, and enemies start to come out of pipes on top of the screen. It is your job to use the platforms to get underneath the enemies, and then hit them, jumping up, using the platform. Basically, the enemy has to be on the platform directly above you when you jump, and then the enemy flips over. Hit the enemy, and the enemy dies. Clearing out all the enemies ends the stage. You can also use a POW box to kill all the enemies on screen. Sometimes, you get a special stage, which has you getting coins out of a pipe, but fireballs come out of it, as well. It's fun as hell.

I may have made this game sound really fun, but I am sad to say I just did not enjoy it as much as I expected to. Nintendo kind of tampered with the classic game feel of it, in my opinion. Super Mario All Stars was the perfect translation, as it was just as fun as the NES version. This one, however, is not. It's fun and all, but it's not up to par with what I expected. It just seemed like another average game as I played through it. Collecting all the coins was not as fun as I expected, and I just got bored a lot. I am sorry to say this, but Mario Advance is a disappointing game when I add it all up.

Controlling all the characters are a breeze, however, and may control even easier than the NES version. There is a lot of precision jumping in the game, so good control is a must. Fortunately, Nintendo came through in that regard. Each button has its own purpose, and the control setup is really nice. You can even change it to fit your own individual needs if you want. I was really impressed with the control in the game, as everything handled smoothly, in an effective control setup. What more could you and I possibly ask for?

Graphically, Super Mario Advance is top notch. It's basically a visual upgrade of Super Mario Bros. 2, but what an upgrade. The backgrounds are much more nicely designed. You can now make out more individual details, like the rocks in the background of a building, or the clouds floating in the sky as you make your way up the sky, using vines. The enemy designs are much improved, as some of the enemies are now larger than before. The vegetables were shocking to me when I first played this game. There is now a new larger vegetable, that has a lot of detail in it. Nintendo really did a solid job with the graphics here. I think it's one of the few things they managed to improve.

Music wise, the game could have benefitted from more tunes and less of the remixed stuff. I liked the classic Super Mario Bros. 2 music as much as the next guy, but I was getting a little sick of it by the time I played this game, so remixing some of the themes and leaving some of the original themes in the game was really not the brightest ideas. It will be good for people that have never played the game before (are there any?) but for veterans of the series, the music gets annoying quickly. Speaking of annoying, the voices in the game get annoying after about five minutes. Mario sounds like a little whiny kid, or my mom. Same difference. Really bad voices that get annoying. The rest of the sound effects are decent enough. The hitting enemies sound in the original game was taken out, though. That's not a good thing, that's a bad thing!

I dissed the game pretty bad a few paragraphs up, so what do you expect me to say the replay value of the game is? If you even feel like getting to 100 percent, you won't feel like playing it after you get to 100 percent. The replay value was horrible. I can't believe Nintendo made the game this boring. It just doesn't have the same feeling. About the only cool replay value of the game is playing multiplayer classic Mario Bros. mode. It's really fun to go against your friend and try to take him/her out in the game. However, the Super Mario Bros. 2 game is just plain boring. I was really disappointed with how little replay value the game had.

Mario games have never really been much of a challenge, and this game is no exception. About the most challenging aspect of it is trying not to fall asleep as you play through it. The bosses are pretty simple for the most part (besides the final boss, who is damn near impossible until you figure out how to beat him, which is easier said than done), and most of the stages are pretty basic in challenge. There were only a few tough stages, and most of them involved ice, whales, and keys. That should give you a hint as to where the challenge level of the game lies.

Overall, I don't care how good I made the game sound. It was fun, on Nintendo, and Super Nintendo. On Game Boy Advance, it's just not very good. The only reason to get this game is to play Mario Bros. on the road. Playing Super Mario Bros. 2 on the road could have turned out to be such a mega cool idea, but Nintendo just seemed to mess this game up in terms of replay value and fun factor. It's just not as fun as I thought it would be. Maybe they added too much, maybe they took away too much, maybe it's the small screen, who knows? All I know is that this game disappointed the hell out of me, so I'd advise renting before buying.

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Community review by psychopenguin (March 08, 2005)

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