I've finally put away my SUPER MARIO ADVANCE cart and I must say, this was the most fun I've had in a while. SUPER MARIO ADVANCE takes the SUPER MARIO ALL STARS version of SUPER MARIO BROS. 2 and combines it with a slightly updated version of the original Mario Bros. to make one enjoyable package.
If you're unfamiliar with MARIO BROS. 2, let me give you a quick background. When SUPER MARIO 2 hit Japan, NCL figured that the game would be too difficult for American audiences and re-tooled a different game to include the Mario characters and then released it to the US as MARIO 2. Instead of the traditional breaking bricks and jumping on enemies' heads, the player can now grab items from the ground, pick up enemies and use bombs. The game also allows you to pick from Mario, Luigi, Princess, or Toad, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The game was originally was based in an Arabian world which explains the flying carpets, pyramids and ostriches.
MARIO BROS. 2 essentially remains true to the original, which is certainly not a bad thing. I'm sure you'll hear me state this in many of my GBA reviews, but these older games are harder! I think it has to do with the developers spending more time on the gameplay rather than graphics. The classic MARIO 2 is still a blast to play and it was pretty cool to go running across the backs of whales again, or steal the mask's keys. The retro gamer in me was very pleased with MARIO ADVANCE.
Now MARIO 2 may seem hard, but if you keep playing through the classic MARIO BROS. you'll quickly learn the meaning of 'hard'. The early stages are simple enough, but when you have crabs, jumpers, and fireballs all flying around the stage and one hit kill you, well, you learn how to move. I played more of it than SUPER MARIO 2. The classic edition of Mario has you hitting turtles, flys, and crabs from below so that you can kick them off the stage. The game is an arcade game and quickly goes from easy to frantic. Mastering this one isn't easy, but is very rewarding and fun if you have the time.
As of press time, we were unable to attempt the multiplayer mode as we have only one unit.
The Game Boy Advance is capable of some pretty awesome graphics and MARIO ADVANCE pulls off the Super Nintendo look perfectly. There are tons of bright, varied colors and it's definitely eye-candy. This isn't the best I've seen (Iridion 3D, Pitfall and Tony Hawk 2 look incredible) but it's still pretty. I still can't believe this is all on a handheld.
I'm going to start every sound section of a GBA review with 'invest in a good pair of earphones'. In fact, all our reviews of GBA products will be conducted with earphones. The GBA speaker sucks. But with earphones, the game sounds awesome. Not quite as good as it could if it were on the SNES, but still great. It's still bleeps and bloops, but they're good bleeps and bloops.
While it is unfortunate that Nintendo couldn't get a brand new Mario game for the system, MARIO ADVANCE is built for success by combining two classics into one game. This will probably be the top-selling launch title for the GBA and with good reason. It's an awesome additional to any Mario fan's library. If you like the Mario games at all, you must own MARIO ADVANCE.
Platform:Game Boy Advance
USBR Rating: Everyone
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Fun Factor: A-
Reviewer's Wild Card: A