SNES remakes are a common site on the GBA, so seeing the original Super Mario Bros. 2 and Mario Bros. is hardly surprising. While Nintendo decided to op out of making a whole new Mario game for the launch of the GBA, Super Mario Advance does do credit to the GBA itself by displaying the colourful 32-Bit graphics it can produce, and make Mario appear even more vibrant and wonderful.
Any self-respecting gamer know the plot for Mario is as simple as they come. Bowser kidnaps Peach and it's up to Mario to save her and finish off the over large dinosaur. Yet in Super Mario Advance Bowser has scampered off the scene and Peach is no longer the damsel in distress but another payer. This time around, Mario had a dream entailing him climbing a stairway up towards a closed door, as he opened the door; he discovered a world he had never seen before. A voice then boomed, telling him, the world was Subcon, the land of dreams that had been enslaved the evil Wart's magic, putting a curse on the land. Obviously it's Mario's job to free the land, using Wart's Achilles heel, the dreaded vegetable. Mario then fell out of bed and awoke baffled. The next day Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad hiked up into the mountains for a picnic. As they settled, they soon found a nearby cave. When they entered they found the land of Subcon before them.
What appears Nintendo's main aim for Super Mario Advance was to boast just how good the GameBoy Advance's visuals are, and they certainly achieved this. The shots are simply gorgeous, colourful and vibrant, they are truly beautiful. So pleasing to the eye and use such a board colour palette, the likes of which were uncommon to the handheld market. While the enemies are newly designed, the main character models are very reminiscent of the SNES Mario games of old, yet in more detail and much lusher colour. The animation of the characters too is very smooth and reek of the original game, even the usual slow jumps have been included. The levels themselves vary only slightly to sandy plain deserts, to the vast fields of green, and even to the usual cloudy hills, each as rich as the next. One problem with the level design themselves is, they involve more vertical ascents, meaning climbing ladders or vines, and when the camera pans upwards there is a slow disorientating scroll upwards, that can put you off the what is happening on screen. While In Mario Bros. the graphics are simply that of the SNES with a lick of added colour to give more depth and detail.
The theme music has been completely lifted from the original Super Mario bros. 2 with a little bit of tweaking in places to make it sound clearer on the Game Boy Advance. The sounds are all true to their SNES origins and help lift the game into a more Mario feel. Along with the original sound track new voice sounds have been added for the characters speeches, such as Mario's traditional "It's-a me Mario!", or Luigi's "Here I go!" At times their screams can become infuriating, since the quality is not of the greatest, but at other moment's they can raise a smile. While in Mario Bros. the retro soundtrack is exactly like from the SNES, even the jumping music has been added, just for good measure.
Being 2 games in one, Super Mario Bros. 2 focuses more on the one single player, while Mario Bros. allows for four player action. In Super Mario Bros. 2 you have the ability to play as Mario, Luigi, Peach or Toad, each with their own abilities and faults. For example Mario is the all rounder, Luigi can jump the highest, Toad does the most damage and Peach is pretty poor at everything. You can choose any character for any level and this lets you tackle levels using the character best suited, adding more strategy and tactics to the game. Unlike in previous Mario games, jumping on enemies head will not leave them dead. Instead this time whenever you come across a red sprout from the ground you need to press B to pull the turnip from the ground and then B again to hurl it at a near by enemy. Also if you do jump on the head of a enemy, pressing B will lift the enemy above your head, and you can then use him as a projectile. Unfortunately since you need a vegetable to kill an enemy you must avoid most enemies as best you can. However most enemies fly in with extreme speed, so quick reactions are must. And more than often you will find yourself having to replay levels and learn the movements needed to get by. Another problem is that sometimes you find yourself sliding about levels as once you break into a run it is hard to stop. You will also quickly learn that going in slowly is the way to stay alive. This trial and error method would be a real let down, if it wasn't for the fact that hearts have been added in the new version at regular intervals: either by pulling them out of the ground as sprouts or by finishing off the larger adversaries. While in Mario Bros. the action is focused around a single on screen stage, where the player must jump into a platform that holds en enemy, to over turn them. Then you need to kick into them to kill them and get a score. After killing off 5 enemies the next stage arrives and the game goes on till you loose your three lives. Single player the game is addictive, but can loose it's edge in places, yet in 4 player it's a real non stop treat.
With over 20 levels Super Mario Bros. 2 is quite a hard game to complete especially since the last few levels are very challenging. And even after you have completed the game, there two Yoshi eggs in each levels to find and seven coins in each to unlock a special mode. Plus the Mario Bros. multiplayer allows the game to achieve an even longer gaming life span. However for the lone player the game has little to come back after the main game is over and done with.
The gameplay is full of Mario style and a quick on the edge action that never stops, but the trail and error requirements do dampen the experience. However the platforming style is one that never fails to impress.
A full colour palette is used to display the pure excellence of the GBA's graphical power and display Mario in true Retro fashion. The All Stars graphics has been updated excellently, and it looks far superior over the SNES version.
The original SNES music does polish off the Mario feel, but the character voices can become rather irritating. Especially Toad, when he yells "Ok!" Fine, he isn't human, but not even the unknown screams that bad!
The 20 levels will keep you going for a while and the difficulty setting is tough to be sure, along with the multiplayer means this is a game that will be played for a while. Sadly without 4 players you may find yourself with nothing to do, when the end is reached. Although the original Super Mario Bros. is still addictive, even in single player.
Super Mario Advance is a honour to the SNES games that were, for its typical Mario style, sounds and appearance show just why the Italian Plumber is Nintendo's leading man. Even Mario Bros. brings us back to the traditional old Mario gameplay that is as addictive and enjoyable as ever. If your playing on your own, it will still take you a while to find everything Super Mario Advance has to offer.