Super Mario Advance
First things first, let me air my disappointment that Nintendo have decided against creating a wholly original new game to kick-off Mario’s GBA career; instead rehashing two of the original Super Mario Bros. games that appeared on the Super Nintendo console, as Super Mario All-Stars. What the new handheld really deserved was a brand new outing for the world’s most famous plumber, tailored to the systems strengths, and modern audiences tastes.
Of course the new Game Boy isn’t as powerful as the N64, so a true-3d adventure would still have been out of the question; though id’s Doom conversion proved that an illusionary 3d environment could be created with great success, and perhaps Nintendo would have done well to create a similar compromise for Mario. Anyway…
Gripes regarding originality aside then, Super Mario Advance is still a very fun and highly addictive game, especially for those who won’t have played the original games the first time round (or those of us who still remember those halcyon days when having a super Nintendo system was really cool, and Bob Hoskins donned a moustache for what was, perhaps his most er… fulfilling role, as the fat plumber who slips through a blocked sink into another dimension. Why no Oscar nomination there, eh?). Moreover, it serves as an excellent introduction to GBA gaming; showing off the system’s rich colourful visuals, and more powerful sound/music capabilities.
What you have in this package is essentially two gaming experiences: the single-player game of Super Mario Bros 2, and a multiplayer option in a remake of the original Mario Bros. The single-player game is much the same as it was when available on the SNES, with a few alterations from the original for the GBA, all of which amount to a slightly easier experience, as objects (such as hearts) are more readily available. The greater proliferation of the bizarre and well-animated bad guys makes for a less haphazard approach to progressing through levels, taking away some of the pace of other versions, but all in all the game is a highly addictive (or is that frustrating?) one – if not to the taste of all.
It is in the crazed multiplayer mode however, that the game really comes to life, and it is in this that the best of Super Mario Advance can be found; with up to four linked Game Boy’s supported. This makes for an incredibly fast and original brand of play; coupled with some nice and varied graphics. Bit useless if your mates don’t have one I suppose, though.
In conclusion, then, fans of Mario will enjoy this, albeit uninspired new edition for the GBA. It is not however, among the best available for the fledgling hand-held, nor is it as good as some of Mario’s previous outings. Fun, as ever, but by no means perfect.