Review: Super Mario Advance (Game Boy Advance)

In this review, we jump to the game Super Mario Advance. We find out how well this Game boy Advance adventure game plays.

This game was released in 2001 and was a launch title for the Game Boy Advance.

Typically, Nintendo launch titles are Super Mario Brothers games. They are also typically original titles. Examples of this include Super Mario 64 for the N64 and Super Mario Bros for the NES. So, imagine our surprise when we turned on Super Mario Advance only to find a repackaging of previously existing games. In this case, this game features a remake of the original Mario Bros and Super Mario Bros 2. So, while we were disappointed in not seeing any completely original game here, we went ahead and gave each game a try anyway.

Mario Bros. follows a very similar layout as the original arcade classic. You have three levels and enemies pop out from the pipes along the top and eventually work their way down to the bottom two pipes. Should they make it, they’ll enter the pipes and re-emerge at the top. The way you defeat these enemies is to hit the floor underneath them to flip them over. You then run to them and kick them off the platform.

In the original, you do have a “POW” block in the bottom middle of the area. In this game, you get a second “POW” block at the top between the two pipes. The effect is pretty much exactly like the original – it causes a quake that knocks the enemies on their backs all at once.

Other similarities include the three types of enemies, the final baddie turning color and moving faster, bonus levels, and a phase level system where every level gradually becomes more difficult until you lose all of your lives and continues.

The differences in gameplay are small, but present. Mario seems to be a bit more nimble in this game. this allows you to pull off more close calls and faster moves. Another new feature, unless I didn’t advance enough in previous versions, is the inclusion of icicles that fall from the tops of platforms. Bonus levels also gradually get harder until all the platforms become invisible – making it harder to obtain all the coins before the time is up.

Graphically, in spite of the necessity for some small amounts of scrolling, I thought this game was definitely an improvement. The backgrounds gradually change. This made for some more visual interest and improved the overall gameplay.

The audio was similar to what you heard in the original game. The music was pretty good and the sound effects weren’t bad. So, a pretty decent job there. the voice acting wasn’t bad either and thought it added a little charm to the game.

So, overall, I thought this particular game was pretty good. There were small adjustments to the gameplay which made things interesting. The graphics were pretty good and the audio remained classic, but good.

After playing the original Mario Bros, I got some pretty high hopes for Super Mario Bros 2. I was sorely mistaken.

While you do still get the four main characters previously featured in this game, you got a strange rating system of how powerful or how fast they are. Not sure about how that played into things, but since I didn’t need it in the original, I’m not sure how much I needed it in this game.

You get a full chart of the levels available in the game instead of simply what is in the world in question. It’s possible to get a star upon completion, though I’m not entirely sure what triggers that. In any case, every level you complete shows up green after.

You also can obtain large coins. Apparently, the more coins you get, the bigger the completion percentage you obtain. So, if you want to go for 100% completion, apparently, you should never warp ahead.

The levels themselves were reworked. You get a mix of familiar areas as well as areas that are redone. I’m not entirely sure why the levels needed to be re-worked, but apparently the developers decided that the levels needed to be reworked.

Also new are super-sized enemies and items. It is possible to find a super sized POW block which, when thrown, bounces a few times and initiates multiple earthquakes (which defeats all enemies on screen). You can also obtain giant objects found in the numerous plants. It apparently makes it easier to hit multiple enemies. Unfortunately, it takes longer to pull up. So, hope you don’t find one as an enemy is approaching.

Free lives can now be found in bubbles. It requires you to throw three objects at it before you can pick up that free life.

With so much thrown at this game, you can sense the developers were trying to add a bunch of stuff to an otherwise very solid game. The end result was a big mess that was not that fun to play. In the process of beefing up this game, the simplicity that helped make the original great ended up getting lost in the shuffle. As a result, you end up with mediocre gameplay in this case.

Graphically, this game almost seemed like it tried too hard. There were scores that float up after defeating enemies. This isn’t such a big deal, but if you were going for a combo kill, you’ll notice that the numbers get gradually bigger and more distracting. I get that there was an attempt to add flash, but it got to be a bit too much. To add to the problems, the white doors were sometimes obscured by the background. In world 4, you had white doors over top of very light blue and white backgrounds. I, at one point, thought there was no way out of a particular area until I realized that, in the light blue and white ice crystals was a door. I think a small border around the door would have been nice, but there was nothing to help it differentiate from the background. So, I thought the graphics was a miss.

The audio was what really wrecked the game for me. While the music wasn’t bad, it was the voice acting that really drove me insane here. I played Peach for her unique jumping ability. Her voice wasn’t bad at first, but as you get hit, gain free lives, find health, and unlock doors, her voice made me want to jam a screw driver through my temples in an effort to make it stop. It was so bad, I lost the will to keep playing. I didn’t even bother playing other characters because I just wanted the experience to stop. It was bad enough that it wrecked the highlights of this game (however few they were).

So, overall, this was a painful experience in two ways. It was a painful experience in that it was such a bad game. It was also painful in that a classic was wrecked after so much stuff was added to it. I couldn’t complete it because I just didn’t want to. The sooner the experience ended, the better.

So, with the entire package, this was a huge disappointment. I was expecting an interesting unique experience. I ended up with the repackaging of previously existing games. the original Super Mario Bros wasn’t bad. The tweaks made things interesting, but the similarities really helped keep a sense of familiarity. The other game ended up being more of a torturous experience with the Peach voice samples. So, in the end, I thought this was a missed opportunity.

furthest point in game:
Original Super Mario Bros: Phase 28
Super Mario Bros 2: Level 4-3

General gameplay:
Mario Bros: 18/25
Super Mario Bros 2: 11/25

Average: 15/20

Replay value:
Mario Bros: 7/10
Super Mario Bros 2: 2/10

Average: 5/10

Mario Bros: 8/10
Super Mario Bros 2: 4/10

Average: 6/10

Mario Bros: 3/5
Super Mario Bros 2: 1/5

Average: 2/5

Overall rating: 56%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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