Review by King Broccoli
"*Advances middle finger towards Mario*"
Super Mario Advance, a dual Mario game, has crashed onto the fledgling Game Boy Advance system with a moderate amount of style. This cartridge contains two old ''classics'', Super Mario Bros. 2 and the absolutely ancient Mario Bros. These two games meld together to make a gaming experience that is at times endearing, but ultimately unfulfilling.
SUPER MARIO BROTHERS #2
Providing a very different experience from the easily recognizable Mario format, this title showed a rather large lapse in quality when compared with its predecessor and its follow-up. One facet of SMB2 that is reminiscent of its brothers is the poor quality and B-grade feel of the story. Apparently Mario has been having weird dreams about a land named Subcon and an evil ruler named Wart, one day whilst on a picnic with his friends he stumbles upon the location of his dreams. Now of course it's up to them to save the land and liberate them from that Wart fella'. What is to follow is sequence after sequence of vegetable throwing, mushroom eating rot. The game may be innovative and quirky but it doesn't stop the gaming experience from being a very painful one.
You can choose between four characters - Mario, Luigi, Toad and the Princess. Each member of this motley crew has different characteristics; Luigi can jump high, Toad is fast and strong, and the Princess can hover for a few seconds (Mario is of course the average Joe). Each one has times when they're perfect for the situation and each one will prove to be completely rubbish in a certain section. Now what they've got to do is make it through twenty levels, six stages of three and one of two. At the end of each individual level you'll go up against Birdo, a freaky egg-spitting kind of dinosaur thing. This ugly thing will send a barrage of eggs at you, and you've got to catch them and throw them back at.…it. Unfortunately this laborious scheme of catch and throw is implemented for a number of the main boss fights, and the rest of them have you throwing your own blocks at them. This action provides some boss fights that are surprisingly sub-par and don't provide the same kick that the Bowser family and their various scuffles do.
If all of this isn't bad enough, the rest of the game places a great focus on throwing things around. Vegetables can be picked up and thrown at enemies, enemies can be picked up and chucked at enemies, and most of your health needs will also stem from the ground. And it's highly likely that you're going to need a lot of health considering some of the situations that are thrown at you. As early as halfway through the game it's not an uncommon occurrence to be completely overwhelmed by the number and positions of the baddies. You'll have all of these baddies - little ones that shoot, bombs that explode, snakes jumping out of the sand, enormous cacti slowly pursuing you...you'll find yourself being bombarded from all side by an assortment of these foes and all you have to defend yourself with is vegetables!
The levels have the usual jumping on and off platforms, destroying enemies and the like but with a few twists thrown in there. Ladders can be climbed up and down, vases contain special rooms and power-ups, eggs and flying enemies have to sometimes be used to travel through the level, and there are even some magic potions! By throwing it a door will appear, in here you can find mushrooms, coins and even the occasional warp zones. Generally the designs of the levels are pretty dull, you'll be running along some pretty basic terrain and trying to dodge demonic hordes. The vertical levels offer something different, but are ruined by poor visibility of the surrounding screens and a decidedly dodgy method of scrolling.
With some amount of luck and approximately 50 lives (these can be gained rather easily and cheaply) any old hack can make it through to the end. It's a rather hard game, but rather easy to finish. If you're going to make a tough game then one would think that it would be a hard slog right through to the end, but Mario 2 miraculously evades that situation. This leads one to believe that it could be a testament to the lack of variety in the levels and the shortish length of the entire game. Essentially, if you've played one level then you've gone a long way to playing them all. You generally appear to be in the same situations only with thrice the amount of ninjaks to cope with. I always felt that an innovative game should be innovative for a little bit more for the first two worlds, but maybe that's just me.
In an attempt to liven things up a little bit there is a slot machine thrown into the fray. Coins can be reaped during a level and then used to bet on more lives at the end of it. Winning the necessary amount of lives on this debacle is a difficult thing to do, making the whole thing simply a glorified reaction-timing waste of time. To liven things up even more there are five coins in each level, the reward is too minimal by far to make this coin chasing a worthwhile cause. The final act of livening up comes in the form of ''YOSHI'S CHALLENGE''. Once you've finished the game you have the opportunity to go back to any level you want and search around for two of Yoshi's eggs. This act of bravado gives you a new title screen and will leave you wondering why you even bothered with repeating all of that claptrap. These little ploys to make the game appear more exciting than it really is fail miserably I'm afraid.
Now the graphics of the game don't really appear to do anything extraordinary. They have the same usual bright Mario charm, but the visuals probably could have been sharpened up a fair bit. The backgrounds that you move about in are fairly bland and really fail to capture the imagination. To make matters worse the same one is kept for the majority of the game, usually only changing when an indoor scene takes place. The lead characters are their usual cute selves, running along with their legs pumping to the fullest looking adorable the whole time throughout. Unfortunately the same can't be said for the enemy characters, most are too dark, too small and too boring overall. This mob of ragtag foes show little sign of imagination and do their part to round out a rather lackluster graphics section.
The sound section is just as difficult to put up with! The tunes used as background music would have to be considered far too generic and not upbeat enough to make entertaining listening. All the usual happy little Mario style melodies just don't have the impact of old and just make you want to turn down the volume. The sound effects are even worse, especially the voices and noises made by the characters. You're always jumping about all over the place and pulling things out of the ground, and it appears that every little action you do has an accompanying grunt from your cast member. All of these members have got very high-pitched, ear-grating voices and you're going to get sick of them very quickly. The other sound effects are the usual bleeps and bloops and do nothing for me; they'll just ensure that the sound goes down a lot quicker!
As a whole SMB2 comes across as a big waste of time. Everything you do tends to come across as a pointless task, and the puny rewards you get for the larger tasks are bordering on ludicrous. The opening stages are fun enough, but after that the game really falls into a lapse, gets very boring and doesn't do anything to correct this slide for the whole game. Most people will stick around to finish the game, but most would be hard pressed to muster the energy for repeat attempts. SMB2 is certainly not the brightest moment in the illustrious Mario series but it is the quirkiest. If only the quirks and kinks could be traded in for some more palpable gameplay. If only.
MARIO BROS. (THE REALLY OLD ARCADE KIND OF VERSION)
This is essentially where it all began; the return of Mario Bros. finally gives our main man the chance to show people that he actually is a pretty good plumber! We've seen Mario make brief sweeps through some sewers, but this display of top class plumbing really reminds us of where his true skills lie. The entire premise of the game is a simple one - all kinds of creepy crawlies emerge out of two pipes at the top of a stage (each stage has three storeys), all you have to do to finish a particular stage or phase is to get rid of them all.
To take a baddie completely out of the picture you just hit the pipe that it's walking on; this will knock the meanie flat on his back and just ripe for knocking off the screen. Just to make things tougher some of the enemies will take two hits to knock out, some will jump and require some kind of timing to flatten and if there's only one left then they'll increase in speed thus becoming tougher targets. Coming out of the pipes you might just see a little raindrop thing, he will make a level of terrain slippery; couple him with the fireball on the top level and other obstacles that randomly show up and you've got yourself some trouble. As you move further into the stages you encounter increasingly lethal combinations of all of these elements until you're being completely overwhelmed by huge numbers of enemies and other obstacles.
To help your cause there is a POW block nice and centralized. Hitting this will cause great vibrations and will upturn all the enemies currently on the stage. After each few phases there is also a ''collect the coins'' mini-game that rewards you with extra lives and a lot of score. These are the few advantages that come your way in otherwise dangerous terrain.
The two-player game is a thing of beauty if you can organize one. Frantic races to the POW block, numerous head jumpings and mad dashes for points make it a supreme game for up to four players. It can be extremely tiring racing through all of these phases on your own, but throw in another mate and it becomes a great thrill. It's just far too old, simple and repetitive to make it a top-class one-player game.
The graphics of the game are of course very basic. The background of the game is completely black, and the pipes and such have simple patterns and are absolutely nothing in terms of complexity. The enemies scuttle around with lovely little animations, but once again have nothing in ways of imagination or outrageous designs. The sound is equally ancient; background music is not a factor of any kind here, and the few sound effects that are included sound about as old as my grandma. Nobody should have really expected anything from the audio/video sections and their simplicity does nothing to the overall Mario Bros. gaming experience.
Overall, Mario Bros. is a game with a very limited range of appeal. It's okay for a few tries and to grab a high score, but it won't be long before you won't even consider having a crack at this particular Mario game. It's a handy little time waster, but is useless if you want to consider it as anything else. A nice, albeit brief, glimpse into the esteemed past of gaming.
When taking the Super Mario Advance cartridge as a whole it's best to just look at it as SMB2 with a nifty little bonus game tacked on the end. Unless you've got a GBA toting friend tucked away somewhere then Mario Bros. is not going to hold your attention for nearly long enough. In fact this is a recurring them throughout the entire title; there is very little here to provide you with some long-term satisfaction. Both of these are titles that you can and will tire of very quickly. There are some nostalgia fuelled moments of enjoyment that can be garnered from these titles, but they're fleeting and you'll soon be left wallowing in a sea of boredom. Probably not one of the better GBA titles you can get, it just won't last the distance that is required of it.
- Well, you do get two games
- And it's great for all those Mario fanatics
- And that multiplayer action in Mario Bros. is simply unbeatable
NOT SO GOOD POINTS
- A lifespan that is way too short
- Audio/video components not quite up to scratch
- A challenge that is just towards too hard
SUPER MARIO BROS. 2 - 5/10
MARIO BROS. - 2/10
OVERALL SCORE - 4/10
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 10/04/01, Updated 10/04/01
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