Review by darthjulian

"Excellent port of Mario´s most dubious adventure"

The American "Super Mario Bros. 2" for the NES certainly has become Mario´s most controversial Jump & Run adventure to date due to its unusual gameplay and design as well as the simple fact that it is not even a real Mario game per say, and I am sure that nearly everyone has heard the story: Nintendo thought that the original Japanese "Super Mario Bros. 2" (practically a simple rehash of the first Super Mario Bros.) was too difficult for western gamers, but since "Super Mario Bros." proved itself to be an immensely successful title in the US and Europe as well, Nintendo did not want to miss the chance of milking the Mario cash cow with a sequel, so instead of releasing "Super Mario Bros. 2" in the US and Europe, they simply took one of their easier Japan-only games for the Famicom Disk System called "Yume Koujou Doki Doki Panic", replaced the four main characters with the well known Mario protagonists, and hence the "false" Mario game was born - later released in Japan as "Super Mario Bros. USA" again. Opinions on this title are still mixed after all these years, and while it was the least beloved Mario Jump & Run ever, that did not stop Nintendo from porting the game over to their new Game Boy Advance handheld as a launch title in order to boost sales with a prominent title.

The basic gameplay in "Super Mario Advance: Super Mario Bros. 2" has not changed from the formula of the original NES game. Just like in the good old days, you can choose one of the 4 main characters before each level, these 4 being Mario himself, Luigi, Princess Toadstool/Princess Peach and Toad. Each of them has his or her own advantages and disadvantages, like Luigi being able to jump higher and over a greater distance than the others, or Peach even having the ability to float for a few seconds after a jump. This has already been a nice touch to the original game, as it does not force you to play through the game with one character only, and trying to exploit each character´s abilities even adds some minimal strategy to the game. The level design itself remains pretty much the same as on the NES, with only a few new very small bonus rooms having been added to some of the levels, but they´re not exactly worth mentioning, so as a whole, most locations are still pretty creative and nicely designed. Nintendo also included a nice treat for collectors and level explorers, namely the Yoshi eggs and the golden coins you can find in each level, and they´re admittedly well hidden at times and will provide veterans of the original with a reason to play through the game once again in order to search for these new features. Perhaps the biggest new twist in terms of gameplay might be the inclusion of a revamped version of "Mario Bros.", the arcade classic, featuring improved visuals and a kick-ass two-player mode that will certainly keep you and your friends hooked for quite some time, and I applaud Nintendo for this great decision of spicing this port up with some multiplayer fun, as this feature adds a lot of replay value to the entire package. The main game, the port of "Super Mario Bros. 2", though, remains a well playable Jump & Run with a lot of interesting features, character abilities and secrets, and even though the controls do not seem to be as perfect as in the "normal" Mario platfortmers, "Super Mario Advance" still remains an excellent Jump & Run gameplay wise.

Naturally, Nintendo also made an overhaul of the former 8-Bit NES visuals in order to show off the graphical capabilities of the Game Boy Advance, and the game does a good job at that. Characters and levels now feature far more crisp colors that are easily on par with the "Super Mario All-Stars" version of the game, and in some ways, it looks even better than on the SNES. There are some new animations for some of the characters, and the amount of detail that can be seen in their sprites and especially in the background of each level is really neat and far above what we´ve originally seen on the NES. Some of the enemies have also been redone slightly, for example by having a new design or simply being bigger than the original sprites. All in all, the visuals in "Super Mario Advance" are colorful, vibrant and pretty, and simply easy on the eyes. It might not look as good as some of the later GBA games, but as a first generation title, it does a very good job.

The compositions in "Super Mario Advance" remain the same as in the original NES game, with the only difference being that they sound far better coming from the GBA sound chip, and they are clearer and easier on the ears. Most of the musical pieces are pretty good and fir the overall atmosphere of the game, even though they are rather untypical for a Mario game, honestly. The biggest change in the sound department definitely is the addition of voices for the characters, even though there are only a few voice clips every now and then. They are okay, albeit not great, but that´s not the point in a Jump & Run, and at the very least they do not annoy you will playing.

I would have certainly preferred a new Mario Jump & Run for the GBA at the beginning of the console´s life cycle, no doubt, but nevertheless, "Super Mario Advance" is an excellent port of "Super Mario Bros. 2", with more than enough parts of the game having been revamped in order to appeal to a newer generation and to live up to the GBA´s capabilities, and the inclusion of "Mario Bros." is simply brilliant. If you´ve never played "Super Mario Bros. 2" before, then this game definitely is worth a buy, no matter whether it is one of the weaker Mario games or not. The fact that even if it´s not in the same league as the classic Mario classics it still gets such a great rating is just another proof for the sheer brilliance of the Super Mario franchise.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/13/06

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