Review by Squawkero
"Shy Guys commence."
Super Mario Bros. 2 was a game originally released for the NES in Japan. When the game came to the U.S., it was slightly tweaked for some reason that's still in the back of my mind. It was rather different than its predecessor in the fact that enemies couldn't be defeated simply by jumping. Instead, you had to pull vegetables out of the ground to chuck at your foes. It was an idea that strayed away from its original roots. But it also marked the introduction of the Shy Guys! Some liked it, some didn't. At least Super Mario Bros. 3 recovered the original methods for those who opposed the second one. Super Mario Bros. 2 was also released for the Super SNES in a bundle game entitled ''Super Mario All-Stars''. It received highly-enhanced graphics all over the place, completely reliving the whole experience. Super Mario Bros. 2 has now been re-released on the GBA in a game called ''Super Mario Advance''. It was also the GBA's launch title.
Super Mario Bros. 2's storyline is unlike the normal Bowser-kidnaps-Peach plotline. Instead, the whole game takes place in Mario's dream. In his dream, he walks up a staircase into a strange world called ''Subcon'', a place inhabited by Shy Guys and vegetables. He immediately discovers that the imaginary land is being terrorized by Wart, a frog-like Bowser-wanna-be. He gathers Luigi, Peach, and Toad to help them save Subcon and its residents.
Gameplay is very unique compared to your standard Mario games. The thing I don't like about Super Mario Bros. 2's gameplay is not so much the fact that it strays away from its classic roots, but the fact of what it became or could have been. Still, it feels like classic platform game action at least. Now, most of you are probably used to the standard pounce-on-the-enemy's-head routine. However, this game has it different. Throughout the stages, you'll see little sprouts growing out of the ground. If you pluck them, you'll unearth a vegetable most of the time. These vegetables can be tossed at enemies to defeat them. Other times, you'll unearth bombs or potions. Bombs can be used to blast open passageways underground. But if you hold onto them for to long, they'll explode on you, causing your health to drop.
What I should have mentioned before is the ability to choose between four different characters: Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Peach. Mario has fairly average stats. Average speed, average jump, and average throwing distance. Luigi has a much longer jump than Mario, and can leap across far distances. However, his speed is abyssimal. Peach has the farthest leap of all, and can float for a matter of seconds. She has a weak throwing distance, though. Lastly there's Toad, who is the fastest character of them all, but a poor jumper.
Of course, various enemies will plague your adventure. This game was actually the debut of the Shy Guys. They weren't very bright then, and the same remains today. Other common enemies include Tweeters, Hoopsters, and Ninjis. You'll also face a boss at the end of each stage. Most of the time you'll face Birdo, who will spit eggs at you, which you must ride, catch, and throw back at her (or him, if you go by Nintendo's faulty manual). Other bosses do make appearances from time to time, though, like Clawgrip, Mouser, and Fryguy.
Speaking of health, you always have a certain number of hearts on the left side of the screen. These hearts mark your health. If you lose all your hearts, you die. Potions make magic doors appear, which you can enter to go into ''Sub-space''. In Sub-space, you can collect coins, gain extra hearts, or even enter a warp zone, depending on where you drop the potion! If you pick up a mushroom while in sub-space, an extra heart will be added to your heart meter! This will give you an extra hit or two. Learn the best places in each level to plant your potions. Coins can be used at the end of each stage to play the slot machine, which grants extra lives.
For the most part, the controls in this game are fairly smooth and simple. No super-complex button combos are required to execute fancy moves. It may be a little difficult to control Luigi's jump, but that requires getting accustomed to. Throwing vegetables is fairly simple, too. All you have to do is press the A button to pluck one out of the ground, and press the A button again to toss it at an enemy. Each character throws a different length, though. Smooth overall.
The graphics in Super Mario Advance are practically identical to the ones used in the Mario All-Stars version of Super Mario Bros. 2. The graphics are fairly bright and solid for the most part, what you'd typically expect from a Mario game. I was expecting some graphical tweaks, though, which unfortunately are absent. But at least it's still solid, even though the backgrounds get rather repetitive.
I've always thought the other two Super Mario Bros. 2 games had much catchier tunes than this one. Still, comparisons aside, the main ''outside'' theme is fairly catchy. But the underground theme, which is the second-most common tune, is something else to be desired. I'm still partial to the normal underground Mario theme. Nintendo decided to add character voices to the GBA version of this game. Mario sounds pretty good, Luigi sounds okay, but Toad and Peach have laryngitis. Toad screaming ''Lucky'' every time you collect a cherry is extremely annoying, and the same can be said for the others. What's worse is the fact they even gave the bosses voices! Birdo sounds...awful, and the other voices are SO unnecessary. Quite frankly, I think the game would have been much better off if they simply left out the voices altogether.
How long this game lasts really depends if you want to warp or not. If you do warp, you'll beat in instants. If you don't, it should take you a moderate amount of time. Nothing considerably hard, though. And even with the new Yoshi Egg feature, it won't last too long. In other words, don't warp or you'll totally ruin the game.
I was never too fond of this game to begin with, but hey, it's Mario! Super Mario Bros. 2 is probably my least-favorite Mario game of all time. But that's not saying much, as it still ain't half-bad. The vegetable thing just didn't work for me, but think about Super Mario Bros. 2 in this way - Without it, we wouldn't have the Shy Guys! This is a relatively good game if you've never played the original. Otherwise, it's nothing new.
Rent or buy? Buy this only if you haven't played the original. Otherwise, just skip it altogether, unless you're in a really nostalgic mood. The slight new additions just aren't enough to refresh this title.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 07/12/06
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