Review by Mega

"Welcome to VH1’s “Behind the Moustache!”"

Welcome, my friends! It is I, Mega, host of the new series on VH1 entitled “Behind the Moustache!” We don’t just cover music anymore; we are branching out and trying to grab hold of the younger age group by doing specials about video games, the first of which we are dedicating to the man in the overalls, the man in the red cap, MARIO!

We need to do these specials, of course, because the kids today are into this hip, punk crap, not the good, awesome music like Zeppelin, Tom Petty, or Pink Floyd! Instead of -lowering ourselves to do specials on talent-less hacks like Brittany Spears and N’ SYNC, we decided on something that most of the entire world loves that goes by the little name of video games.

Why do I hate the new bands? I hate them because kids mock and follow their every damn move! I swear, those N’SYNC pretty boys can go out on stage dressed up like leprechauns, and I promise you that Irish kids will become what’s hip! And you know what is worse? These blondes, buxom bombshells that should be going for a hot, sexy TV host like me will instead pick up an old, wrinkly Irish man because some punks dressed up like them! It makes me so damn mad! Mad enough to kill!!!

The audience looks at Mega funny. Mega adjusts his tie and clears his throat.

I am sorry. I haven’t been taking my pills. Let’s get on with the show, shall we?

Mega walks to a large TV screen, and a picture of Mario appears on the screen.

For the first episode of this series, we will focus on the newly released Super Mario Advance 2, for Game Boy Advance. This is hardly a sequel though. It is simply a pretty straight port of the wonderful Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo. Do you hear me complaining, though? The SMW for Super Nintendo was an instant hit among fans, and was a system seller. Many fans even claimed it to be Nintendo’s greatest hit. It pretty much set the standard for the rest of Mario’s adventure, and rightfully so. Luckily, Nintendo decided to just add a few new bells and whistles to an already awesome game, and it turns out to be damn fine. Of course, no port survives without some faults, and SMA2 is no exception.

The story, written by the masterminds who wrote “Waterworld” and “Glitter”, has Mario, Luigi, and the sultry Princess Peach landing on Dinosaur Island for a much-needed vacation. Mario and Luigi decide to fly around and about with their capes on, and leave the sexy Peach to start up a picnic. When they return, they find that Peach is gone! They immediately assume Bowser is behind this, and go off to rescue her. Just as they start, they come across a friendly green dinosaur named Yoshi, who tells them that Bowser has stolen his friends and trapped them in eggs. Mario and Luigi, feeling sorry for the green dinosaur, decide to help him out along the way.

SMW was a triumph for Nintendo. It was truly excellent! Playing as Mario, you would travel around Dinosaur Island, stomping bad guys, collecting coins and power ups, and rescuing Yoshi’s friends until you finally came to Bowser’s castle. Of course, Mario had help. When Mario found an egg, Yoshi would hatch out of it and Mario would be able to jump on his back and use him to gobble up bad guys. Also, Mario had the classic Fire Flower, that when grabbed, allowed him to shoot fireballs. Also returning was the Star Man, which gave Mario invincibility when grabbed.

But what would the plumber be without new powers? The Feather also made its debut in SMW. The Feather, when grabbed, gave Mario a special cape that allowed him to fly if he gained enough speed. The P-Balloon was one of the more interesting items. When grabbed, it turned Mario into a balloon and gave him the power to float for a small amount of time. The power ups were all balanced nicely, and none were actually better than the other power ups.

SMW really raised the bar for video games in gameplay, length, and secrets. The thing that amazed most gamers, though, was just how damn huge the game was! Packed with 96 levels and tons of other secrets, this game was one of the largest games ever released at the time. These levels and secrets weren’t simple: you’ll be spending a very large amount of time trying to beat the game and collect all the secrets. Add the fact that the challenge level was very steep, and you had yourself a large, challenging game.

Mega walks over to another screen, and trips on a wire on the way, and stumbles to the floor. He quickly gets up, dusts himself off, and acts like nothing happened. As he approaches the screen, a map of Dinosaur Island appears on it.

SMW was a truly beautiful piece of art. It showcased Mario in various and beautifully colored landscapes that ranged from an island made entirely out of Chocolate to an underground world filled with bugs. Even the levels inside these worlds were very different to one another. One level might have you going through a haunted, spooky ghost house, and the next might have you holding on for dear life on top of a raft made out of skulls on a raging lava river. Sometimes you might have Mario floating through the air after he grabbed a P-Balloon, or even swimming through a fish infested wasteland. Everything in this game felt original and fun. Even bopping Koopa Troopas on their heads offered a new, exciting feeling that the Super Mario Brothers for the NES never had!

The environments were the bright, perky, and colorful environments we have come to expect from the plump plumber. Mario himself looked superb, as well as the bountiful cast of enemies he had to face. Such humorous animations such as Mario’s death were cute, and the little scenes that showed him destroying a castle filled you with a sense of satisfaction. The map shined with little details like faces on trees, as well as fish that jumped out of the water. When you would complete a level, you’d see a path open and form, leading you to your next level. The paths are sometimes ingeniously hidden, and sometimes the hidden ones will offer you a glimpse of a world you haven’t been too yet.

Mega smiles at the audience, and walks towards them, looking down and adjusting his tie. He promptly walks straight into a hanging microphone. The audience laughs, and Mega chuckles.

Musically, the game rose above the rest. With happy, perky tunes and enjoyable and entertaining sound effects, it was a joy to listen to. Mario’s jumps made a humorous “BOING” sound, and the sound of him spinning in the air after doing a spin jump sounds remarkably good. Yoshi’s gulps and yelps sound cute, and the evil laughs of the Boo Buddies will make you shiver. Strangely, though, most of the tunes in the levels sound remarkably similar to one another. Luckily enough, the tunes were pleasant to listen to and didn’t become a tedious affair.

Mario moved with confidence, and you could control him as easily as could be. The SNES controller was perfect to use with the game, and the perfect controls remained the same even after the game was ported to the Game Boy Advance.

Mega returns onstage and plops down in a chair is placed next to a statue of Mario

The Game Boy Advance Port is perfect… almost perfect, that is. Some of the sound effects and background music comes off as absurdly high pitched and a tad annoying. The challenge level is also toned down, due to the addition of another brother to the game.

Yes, you heard me right! Luigi can be chosen throughout the game! As you progress through the map screen, Luigi follows you around. A simple tap of the R button on the map screen has Luigi switching places with Mario, and getting set to adventure out in a level. Unique to Luigi is his floating jump that he had in the smash hit, Super Mario Brothers 2. In fact, Luigi moves almost exactly like he did in the NES smash. The challenge level is lowered due to the fact that Luigi can make most of the jumps that you had trouble with when you used Mario.

Also included in the port is the original Mario Brothers game, which was an arcade classic. This game is sure to become a staple of the Super Mario Advance ports to come, but do I mind? No! This game is a pleasant time waster, and while nowhere as deep as Super Mario World is, it still offers a challenge and mindless fun.

Mega gets up, dusts himself off, and returns to the screen that had Mario on it.

Now, my friends, we come to the end of the show. But is it really the end? Nintendo will milk the cash cow by sending us more Super Mario Advances because they know we will buy them. Who could resist portable versions of Mario’s greatest hits? I know I can’t!

So remember, my friends, if you sink is clogged, if your house has been taken over by mushrooms from hell, or if you simply want to hear amazing stories of giant turtles, call the man with the red hat…

MARIO!

The audience claps, and the curtains close.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/27/02, Updated 05/27/02


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