"Have Mario, will travel!"

''Praise the gods of gaming for the GBA! I finally got one for a high price, but considering the availability around the Spokane area, it was quite worth it! The first game I decided to get with it... Casltevania: Circle of the Moon. However, at the pace I was going on that game, I didn't want to totally finish it right away! I wanted to save it for my trip in a few weeks to Canada. So, I decided, ''Maybe I need a different GBA game to keep me company until I'm well on my trip.'' So, I decided to get Super Mario Advance. Thankfully, my local BX stocked it at a much cheaper price than most any place else in this area (heheh... $10 cheaper!). Well, I finally realized this is two immortal (okay, so I'm pushing the adjective envelope on that one, but...) classics in the form of Super Mario Bros. 2 and Mario Bros. Classic! Woohoo! Not only is this keeping me somewhat busy (this and a few other games), but they'll make good travel games.''

...That was me more than a year ago. Wow, I almost got a stomachache reading that! As you could tell, I was struggling for an angle to start this game out with. I could create a new intro, yes, but why bother?

The main game we're talking about here, though, is Super Mario Bros. 2. The one featured here is the American sequel to the arcade and console classic (it was titled Doki-Doki Panic in Japan, and didn't even feature Mario characters). Away from the Mushroom Kingdom, in the Dream World, everything has totally gone straight to hell. An evil toad king named Wart has imprisoned the denizens of the dreamy country. It's now up to Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad to stop this amphibious monster and save the Dream World. I think we can say something totally positive here, and it's the same thing that can be said for Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. The leading lady of the series has not been kidnapped and you don't have to save her! Imagine that! Peach was actually able to step outside for long enough to not get kidnapped.

For those who haven't played SMB2, here's how it goes. There are no blocks to destroy or fireflowers to give you firepower. Instead, you must uproot vegetables and throw them at your enemies. You can also pick up your enemies and throw them at each other. Sometimes, when you uproot a vegetable you'll get something special such as extra energy, a huge enemy, a even a POW block. If you're lucky, you can find the magic potion which can teleport you to an alternate world in which you can find a mushroom to up your maximum energy by one. While in that world, if you uproot plants you can get coins which you can use at the end of each level to gain extra lives on a slot machine.

As you can tell by reading that, the gameplay is a breath of fresh air from all the other Mario games. It isn't about squashing Goombas or the use of a narcotics reference to make you bigger. It's all about grabbing and throwing. This also makes for some great difficulty later in the game, as you must grab and throw at nearly perfect times, especially when fighting bosses.

The game gives you a choice as to who you wish to play as: Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad. Each has different strengths and weaknesses. Mario is well rounded in all. He's fairly powerful, can jump high, and run fast. Luigi is mainly a jumper, but too powerful, but is fairly speedy. Toad is extremely powerful and fast, but lacks in the jumping department. Peach really sucks in all departments, but she can float for a few seconds, and believe me, that is very helpful. This usage of different characters is something we really don't see in Mario games anymore, and haven't seen since this one. It's too bad Nintendo shows no interest to insert it into another Mario game, because this aspect alone added quite a bit of depth to this game. Some levels were clearly easier to play with certain characters, while others were nearly impossible to play with certain characters. For instance, there are levels in which you must pull up layers of sand to go lower down. Doing this with Peach can take forever and make the level incredibly hard. Doing this with Toad, however, who is the strongest of the group and the quickest lifter, makes doing this almost effortless. However, should you take toad into a level that has really huge pitfalls, he's pretty much screwed unless you can find away around it. Peach, of course, would work dandily for such a level.

The GBA version actually has detailed backgrounds unlike the NES version. Of course, the graphics are more up to date. Not to demean the NES version's graphics at all, just thinking in present reference of graphical capability. There's also huge coins you can collect. Each level has five of them and if you collect all of the coins in the game... Well, I'm not sure exactly what happens, I still have yet to find out myself. There's also a couple new bosses, it would seem (at least I think it's a couple, I've only bumped into one so far). There's quite a bit of advancements for you to check out. When you've finished the game and have gotten all the special MARIO coins, you can initiate Yoshi Challenge. This allows you to re-explore the game in search of Yoshi's eggs. The Yoshi Challenge is just that, a challenge. As it stands right now (as of the recreation of this review) I've only found about half of the eggs.

Graphically, Super Mario Advance displays a lively color pallet, gorgeous scenery, and great design. Each of the themed worlds will show you this. In some of them, you have a brilliant blue sky with beautiful backgrounds. In others, you have a darker atmosphere, usually accompanied by large dungeons or caves. The enemy designs are also quite unique. Instead of the usual platform enemies that you would see (vast assortments of different animals like turtles or bees), the enemies are mostly strange masked creatures of different types. Some are just basic masked menaces, others have cannons on their face, and others still have the ability to fly.

To accentuate the graphics, Nintendo also developed welcoming and heart-warming sounds. Most of the cuts on the soundtrack work incredibly well with the eclectic environments that the developers provided in the game. The brilliant sky mentioned before is also not surprisingly accompanied by wondrously adventurous music, while the deeper dungeons and caves have a mysterious sort of music. Even the sound effects, for the most part, boost the fun-loving spirit of the game. Picking up enemies makes a sort of silly little PLOP, while throwing them makes a whistling toss, like the kind you hear on the original Legend of Zelda when you obtain certain items (like the heart containers or the faeries). The only downside to the sound of the game happens to come in the form of the voices. While it's almost nice to actually hear voices in a Mario game, particularly one on a portable system, it's murder to hear the same voices drone out the same annoying phrases and words repeatedly. Selecting Toad and hearing his raspy, ''OKAY!'' is enough to drive a man nuts, but not nearly as nuts as hearing Peach give her pissy whine when she dies, saying, ''OHHHHH NOOO!''

The only other problem that arises in the game is the over-responsive nature of the controls. Whether this is an effect of the characters or just that Nintendo didn't feel like trying to get the proper control response down is somewhat of a mystery. The fact still remains that the game is somewhat hampered by these slight miscalculations. You'll find yourself going further over than you anticipated, usually overshooting a jump, or sometimes not stopping when you ''tell'' them to. The only cure for this is your favorite curse word, then you just have to tough it out and start over. Nothing real big.

Aside from the action that SMB2 provides, there is also the immortal arcade classic Mario Bros. The gameplay is exactly like the arcade. You play as Mario or Luigi running around in the sewers. Enemies come from the pipes and it's your mission to bump them from underneath them and kick them to hell while they're turned over. Do not make the same mistake I did as a seven-year-old and try to jump on them. After you've cleared out the enemies, another swarm of them will appear with new dangers and obstacles as you progress further and further. Aside from just the game itself, you can link up with a friend and play with them.

For those of us who remember SMB2 and Mario Bros. Classic fondly, this was a real treat. Two games for the price of one, both completely remade and remastered. Yes, SMB2 is remade, not just ported from Super Mario All-Stars. You get all the adventure and happy-go-lucky atmosphere, doubled up with a good challenge that Super Mario Bros. 2 brings to the table and the action and fast-paced suspense that Mario Bros. Classic has brought for generations. The duo together make great traveling companions, especially if you have someone else to compete against in Mario Bros. Classic. My whole-hearted recommendations to this pair of remakes.

FINAL JUDGMENT
Graphics: Well colorized and great detail 9/10
Sounds: Voices: Extra treat or punishment from God? You decide. Good music, by the way. Fits the game very well. 7/10
Controls: Have their over-responsiveness problems from time to time 7/10
Plot/Storyline: It's like my brother said, ''Why can't these damn maidens just save themselves?'' Thankfully, we don't have to put up with that in this Mario game. It's a bit different, maybe not mind-boggling, but definitely something good. 8/10
Gameplay: Keeps you busy 8/10
All Together: 8/10

Perks
*Great graphics
*Nice ''Get-Up-and-Go'' games!
*Good for traveling
*Multiplayer!
*Replay value

Downers
*No new games here
*The voices... THE VOICES!!
*Yoshi's Challenge can be incredibly frustrating
*Controls can mess you up quite a bit

Recommendations
Hardcore Mario fans, those who like platformers, and anyone looking for a nice travel game or time-killer should give this a nice check out. You may indeed like it. I've heard they even throw in a nice, challenging replay value, but that's only what I've heard. I'll have to find out for myself


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/29/01, Updated 09/20/03


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