Super Mario Advance
Developer: Nintendo R&D2 | Publisher: Nintendo | Release Date: 2001 | Genre: Platformer | Website: n/a | Purchase: Amazon
Mario titles are always eagerly anticipated and if they are launch games even more so. I am sure that I was not the only one that was slightly disappointed when it became evident this title would be a remake of Super Mario Bros 2 on the Nintendo Entertainment System instead of a brand new adventure. They threw in the classic Arcade Mario Bros as well, but this isn’t the first time that we have seen remakes of either game.
If you have been a long-time Nintendo fan you will have played this game back in 1988 when it was first released for the NES. If not you had another chance to experience it in an updated form as part of Super Mario All Stars for the SNES. This means that the GBA outing is the third time this game has been released which makes it a rather odd choice for a highly anticipated launch title. It is great for people who missed the original or SNES remake, but for everyone else there isn’t much in the way of new things to make the game feel fresh again.
Super Mario Bros 2 was a bit of a dark horse in the series since originally it was not even a Super Mario game! The real sequel did not perform as expected, so the sprites in a Japanese game called Doki Doki Panic was hastily replaced by Mario and friends before being released by Nintendo America. This is why the game takes place in a dream world called Subcom, which Mario has to liberate from a baddie called Wort instead of his usual Princess saving shenanigans. Taking your pick from four different characters, including Luigi, Toad, Princess Peach and of course Mario, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, you have to traverse levels which now include vertical sections as well. Instead of killing enemies by jumping on their heads, the characters now have to pluck items like turnips from the ground and hurl it at their foes. Entertainingly enough, enemies can also be picked up and thrown at each other or into bottomless chasms. The health meter was another new addition and made the game slightly easier than the first one. The characters can enter doorways and caves (which often require a key to be found first) which along with the vertical sections makes for more sprawling levels.
For this remake, not much has changed and if you played the SNES version, you’ll experience some deja vu. After completing the game, you will be able to go back and attempt the Yoshi challenge, which involves eggs hidden on each level. Your reward, however, will be absolutely nothing. Some of the boss battles have also been swapped around, but chances are that you will not even notice this. The other changes are mostly cosmetic and the game looks better than ever. The music sounded pretty much the same to me, but the voice acting is obviously new. While it gives the characters some more personality, there can be no doubt that it does become annoying after a while. Toads’ voice in particular will sound like nails on a chalkboard after a few hours of playtime.
The Arcade version of Super Mario Bros has also been thrown in to sweeten the deal and the best part is that it is now playable against friends using a link cable. The visuals have also been spruced up, but I would have preferred that the screen remains static instead of scrolling up and down. In case you have missed out on this classic the gameplay is very simple. The game takes place in a sewer where you have to flip enemies that are streaming from the pipes onto their back and then kicking them off the stage for points. It is quite limited, but can be fun in multiplayer.
If you have never played Super Mario Bros 2 before then there is nothing stopping you from buying this game. It is a true classic in every sense of the word. If you have played and finished it multiple times then it is somewhat hard to recommend it apart for the nostalgia value. I enjoyed playing the game again, but would have loved to see something new even if it was just a few more levels. I hope that Nintendo will be a bit more innovative with future GBA titles.
*Review originally published in 2001.