Review by Ice-Tiger

"One of the most addictive games I've ever played."

For a long time there has been a certain stigma attached to the original Super Mario Bros. 2 (or Super Mario USA), in that many people have thought of it as the weakest link in the chain of great Mario games. I was of this opinion too, although I found the original quite good fun, I never bothered to finish it. Now it has been remade with some enhancement for the launch of the spiffy new Gamely Advance, I decided to give it another chance and I'm really glad that I did. It's a great game, sure it's a little different from all the other games in the Mario canon but that's what makes it stand out. I'll explain why…

Graphics: This was the first game I tried out on my new GBA and I wasn't really sure what to expect - SNES quality visuals at best? I was very surprised and impressed with what I discovered, crisp, clear graphics with bright colours and some new graphical tricks like extra large enemies and vegetables. It's a very good showcase for Nintendo's new machine, even if it's not the best looking game of the launch line-up (Raman for it's lushness or Tony Hawk's for it's technical brilliance come to mind for that honour).

Sound: What did I hear upon starting up the game for the first game? Speech! Clear speech too, and quite a wide range of different phrases. I know quite a few people have found the different Soundbites rather annoying after I while but I really like them, and some of them are really funny. ''What a tasty treat!'' and the ''Ta-da-da-da!'' when Mario picks up a mushroom are favourites of mine. The only voice I couldn't stand was Toad, who sounds really demented, and put me off using him in the game.

Gameplay: Aha, here's where Super Mario Bros. 2 is really different from the rest of the series. The origins of this game come from another Nintendo platformer called Doki Doki Panic that sold more than the Japanese Mario 2 (later released as the Lost Levels elsewhere). They decided to take this game and change the characters into the Mario gang for USA and European release. What is so different is that instead of simply jumping on enemies heads, you have to pick them up and throw them instead. Alternatively you can pull up vegetables from the ground and use them as missiles instead. Sometimes you pull up a potion that can be used to create a door to the dark world, where coins and power up mushrooms can be found. The coins in this game aren't simply for collecting however, they give you a chance to win lives on the fruit machine at the end of each stage. The dark world also hides Yoshi eggs in the bonus challenge mode after the regular game is completed. Bosses are quite easy in the game, but at least they require a different approach than simply jumping on them a few times - usually, you have to use their weapons against them (such as eggs or bombs). All in all, the level design is just as good as other Mario games and there's plenty of secrets. It sure is addictive too, I'm glad I gave it another chance.

Lifespan: The initial game is rather easy due to Nintendo making life hearts a bit to abundant throughout the game, but it's still great fun. An element of extra challenge is presented by ACE coins, which weren't in the original NES or SNES versions, and also the Yoshi challenge which opens up when you finish the game. Here, you have to locate two Yoshi eggs on each level and not die (quite tricky on the later stages). These add a little bit to the life of the game but you get very little for your troubles, unlike the range of bonus features found in Super Mario Bros. DX. Come on Nintendo, get with it - when you make the next Mario Advance game give us something worth unlocking!

Also included in the cartridge is the original Mario Bros. game, but this is really for multiplayer purposes. On your own it can grow pretty repetitive, but linked with 2-3 other people it's hectic and fun.

Overall: Even though the game is pretty short and there's not a lot of hidden extras, there's still a fair amount to see and do in Super Mario Advance and it's enjoyable enough to come back to and complete again. This is one of the best games in the launch line-up if you ask me and a must buy for all Mario fans. If the rumours are true, Nintendo are planning to convert the other classic Mario games, such as Super Mario Bros. 3 are Super Mario World. I can't wait!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/06/01, Updated 07/06/01

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