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Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3

Developer: Nintendo | Publisher: Nintendo
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 10/21/03 | Genre: Platform

Super Mario Bros. 3 is the best selling video game of all time. Well if you want to get technical, it's the best selling stand-alone game. The original Super Mario Bros. actually has the most copies sold, but it had the advantaged of being packed in with the Nintendo Entertainment System. Anyways, Mario 3 has finally arrived on the Game Boy Advance in the form of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3. Confusing titles aside, this is the fourth and probably last Mario remake for the Game Boy Advance (the original Super Mario Bros. was already remade for the Game Boy Color). Originally released on the Nintendo Entertainment System on 1990, it was one of the most anticipated games in history, thanks in large part to a movie called The Wizard and Mario's overwhelming popularity. After the strange, yet fun gameplay departure in Mario 2, Mario 3 brought the series back to its roots while introducing a lot of great new elements. The key addition was probably the new transformations Mario could acquire. Mario 3 is most gamers' favorite Mario game, followed closely by Super Mario World. In 1993, Nintendo released Super Mario All-Stars, a collection of past Mario games with updated graphics and sound for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. That is where we get Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 from. It uses the updated graphics and sound from the Super Nintendo, but of course, it features the same great level designs of the NES. This may be the best Mario Advance remake yet though, because Nintendo has also added all-new e-Reader support. How does the old gameplay hold up? Are the e-Reader features worthwhile? Read on and find out.

The graphics aren't amazing by any means, but they're not bad either. As I previously stated, Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 features the new graphics from Mario All-Stars, rather than the old NES graphics from the original. This means we get very colorful worlds with a lot of nice detail in the background. Multiple scrolling planes make the backgrounds reminiscent of those in Super Mario World. There are no fancy rotation or scaling effects, since the original game was not designed with any, but there are some new transparency effects for the water. Overall you get a nice, colorful and clean presentation, but it's not the most amazing thing on the GBA.

The sound is also from the Mario All-Star version rather than the NES original. The composition of the music is the same, but the sound quality is much better. It's the MIDI-type sound that you expect to hear from Super Nintendo games. Mario 3 features some of my favorite Mario music. Overall, the music is light hearted and silly, and it really makes me feel nostalgic. I don't know why, but Nintendo feels the need to add voices to Mario and Luigi when the original games had none. We should be used to this now, as each previous Mario Advance game has used the same voices. It's partly funny, partly annoying, but you get used to it. Mario and Luigi will proclaim something every time they get an item or die, such as 씨at's just what I needed!î ¯r ì?¡ma-mia! wish Nintendo had left them silent, but perhaps they felt that it was too odd to leave characters silent in this day and age. I don't know, but you get used to it easily.

The gameplay is untouched. Every level and enemy has the exact same design as the original, and that's a good thing, a very good thing. The game also controls exactly the same too. ë?§ jumps, 낧 runs and attacks (if Mario has the right suit). In the other Mario Advance games, they made Luigi control like he does in Mario 2. He could jump higher and he felt floatier. However, he only controls that way in the extra new levels (more on that later). In the main game, Mario and Luigi feel the same. Another key feature is the ability to save your game at any time. In the original game, players had to beat the entire game in one sitting because there was no save feature. Another fun feature is the ability to save replays. You can view a replay of a level you have just played, and you can save two replays in memory. This is useful if you want to show off your skills to a friend, or if you want to laugh at your mistakes.

Mario 3 is one of the greatest platformers ever. Of course the main reason is because of excellent level design. It still maintains the core concept of the Mario series (and almost any 2D platformer). Start from the left side of the level and get to the right side. Mario 3 is so excellent because of the variety of enemies and obstacles in between the beginning and end of each level. It introduced more variety than the two previous Mario games, and there are a lot of levels to see. The game is broken up into 8 worlds, with about 70 levels total. Each world has a theme like Water, Sky, Ice, and more. There's even a Giant World in which everything has been super-sized. You'll come across a large variety of enemies and obstacles. All have been cleverly arranged for fun and challenge. There are also a lot of secret areas to find. To help Mario out, in addition to the familiar Mushroom and Fire Flower, there are new suits he can where to give him even more special powers. The Raccoon Suit allows Mario to fly for a short period. The Frog Suit lets him swim faster. The Hammer Suit even allows Mario to throw hammers like one of the Hammer Bros. There are still yet other transformations.

When playing you can select to play as just Mario, or alternate between using Mario and Luigi. This is intended for two players, like in the original version. You just use one Game Boy Advance system and take turns as you try to progress through the worlds. This can actually be a lot of fun. A friend and I tried this with a Game Boy Player, and it was a pretty fun time of showing off our skills and laughing at each other's mistakes. Mario 3 is just like that. It's mostly a single player game, but it's silly and challenging at the same time. It's fun to play with a friend. The only thing missing are the battle mini-games from the original which occurred when both Mario and Luigi moved to the same space on the map. Of course, those mini-games are not possible since only one GBA system is used. Still it would have been nice if it was included as a link feature. Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 includes the same multiplayer Mario Bros. game that is included with all of the other Mario Advance games. The nice thing is that you can link up and play multiplayer with any other version of Mario Advance, but the bad thing of course, is that it is the same thing, rather than something new. It's a fun multiplayer game, but not a big attraction.

I'd say the thing that really adds value this game are the e-Reader features. Even for those who have already played Mario 3 before, this is still pretty neat. To learn about what the e-Reader is, check out our review. First I'd like to clear up some misconceptions about the e-Reader feature. Many people have actually been mad about the feature because they think that it is just a money-making gimmick. They believe that the e-Reader cards only unlock content that is already contained on the Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 cartridge. Well, that is not the case. There are three types of e-Reader cards that work with this game: Level, Item, and Demo cards. The most interesting are the Level cards. They upload new level data to your Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 cartridge and allow you to play new levels! Again, let me reiterate that the cards are not simply unlocking data that is already on the cartridge. All of the images and sound are in the cartridge, and the e-Reader card contains the data that tells the game how to put different pieces together to make new levels. These new levels even feature elements from other Mario games. So it's fun to see items, enemies and obstacles from different Mario games mixed together. Some levels are completely new, and some are remakes of other Mario levels, like those in Super Mario Bros. for example. Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3-e card packs are $6.00 a piece, but there's no collecting. There are currently two series out, and when you buy a pack, you get all cards in the series. The part that some people might have trouble with is actually transferring the data. Two Game Boy Advance systems are required: one to use the e-Reader with, and one to link to Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3. However, it shouldn't be too hard to use a friend's GBA or use a Game Boy Player. Then, after connect things properly, you scan a level card is uploaded to your cartridge. You can then play and save the new level to the cartridge memory. The cartridge can hold up to 32 different levels. It also maintains the high scores for the newly added levels. Nintendo could potentially release an infinite amount of new levels. If you exceed 32 Level cards, you can just replace ones you've already beaten with newer ones. Using the e-Reader, Nintendo made Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 infinitely expandable. That's pretty cool. As I mentioned there's also two other kinds of e-Reader cards that work with this game. Item cards give you certain power-ups to help you out when you're having trouble with a tough level. Demo cards play special animations that demonstrate special tricks or how to get by difficult areas. All in all, I think that the e-Reader features are pretty cool, and make this the best Mario Advance remake yet. The other Mario Advance games were simply ported versions of the old Mario games with the Mario Bros. battle game thrown in. With Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, they actually added some cool new features with the e-Reader./>

Playing Mario 3 again certainly brings back some fond memories. If you've played the game before, but you think you'd enjoy playing it again with the advantage of portability and a save function, then I'd recommend buying it. If you've never played this game before then I suggest that you buy it immediately. It should be required for all gamers. It's also great for young gamers who have never seen a Nintendo Entertainment System or heard of 8-bit games. If you've got a young person on your Christmas shopping list, you can't go wrong with this game. Basically, I believe that every one should play this game. It's a true classic. The incredible level design shows us how great gameplay stands the test of time. Mario 3 is over a decade old but I know that a new generation of young gamers will still enjoy it just as much as I did when I was eight. With the new e-Reader features that add completely new content to the game, people who have played Mario 3 before will have reason to pick it up again. It's not the best selling game of all time for nothing.

By Andrew Thivyanathan - 10/20/03

Screenshots for Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3

Jak II

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness