Super Mario Advance
Reviewed by Jana Rossi
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2006-04-05 GBA Action/Platform E (Everyone) Nintendo

Editor's note:
Jana was the winner of our Nintendo DS Super Princess Peach contest. This is her entry. Congratulations Jana!

Everyone loves an Italian boy, and Mario is no exception. When the original Game Boy Advance was released, I saw an ad for Super Mario Advance thought to myself, "I gotta have one". My mom worked at Target at the time, and told me about a special about a Super Mario Advance bundle pack for about $70. As I thought this could be an awesome Christmas present, it turned out that Target never actually received ANY of these bundles they had listed in their ads (thanks a lot). So, I later got a separate GBA and then much later Super Mario Advance on an Ebay auction. When I got Super Mario Advance, I was glad I finally had a GBA game to play on it instead of Mario Land II. Of course it was an "old" game by now, but I had high hopes for it. So I got some double AAs and plugged it in.

Super Mario Advance actually consists of two video games: the first is an enhanced version of the NES Super Mario Bros. 2, and the second is a revamped version of the classic Mario Bros.

As I first started playing I thought that this was exactly the same as the older versions with better graphics. However, there are a few surprises that make it different from the originals. While most of the sprites from the game are taken straight from Super Mario All-Stars, there are new characters and hidden areas not found in the previous versions. Perhaps the most impressive aspect was that the game characters actually TALKED, which at the time wasn't common in handheld consoles.

Mario Bros pits Mario off in the sewer, where he has to stop a neverending army of Spinys, crabs and flies pouring out of the surrounding pipes. It can also be played in a multiplayer mode which lets up to four people play together.

Super Mario 2 takes place in World of Subcon, where the evil frog king Wart has imprisoned its people and has taken over the kingdom using his Dream Machine. It is up to Mario and his friends to free the subcons and overthrow Wart.

Selectable heroes are Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Princess Peach (finally in a role where she doesn't have to be rescued). Each hero has their own characteristics, with varying running speeds, jumping abilities and strength. Mario is the best overall character, with average range in all abilities. Luigi is slower to pull veggies from the ground but can jump the highest, thus reaching places the others can't. Toad, although fast and strong is a bad jumper, but unlike his friends, he isn't affected by the weight of items he carries. Peach is the weakest in strength (pulling veggies takes a while with her), but she can float in the air while jumping (just hold down the A button).

There are tons of enemies to stop you in your tracks, including Shy Guys, Snifits and Birdos. Your main weapons to beat them? Veggies. Lots of veggies, just pull them from the ground and fling. In SMA, there is a score system, and various combos and domino effects help you to get more points and extra lives. Oversized POW blocks are also fun to use, fling them and they'll smash every enemy in sight.

After beating Wart, I thought that the game was at its end. However, if you collect all the Mario Coins in the game, a special Yoshi Challenge is available. This mode sends you to find hidden Yoshi eggs throughout the levels. However, upon finding all the Yoshi eggs, the only difference in the ending is that a bouncing "Perfect" sign appears to tell say you've completed the game.

Through its improved graphics, real voice acting and classic game play, Nintendo has done better this time around, and Super Mario Advance isn't just a re-release of a prior game. It is a vast improvement over those ghastly "Classics Series", which cost $20 for the exact same game you could buy used for the NES for 99 cents. I recommend this game especially if you don't have Mario All-Stars, because the NES Super Mario games pale in comparison to the Super Mario Advance series.

So that's about it for this game review, and in the meantime, I'm ordering Italian.