One night, Mario had a mysterious dream. He dreamed he was climbing a long stairway that led up and up to a closed door. When he reached the top and opened the door, he found himself gazing out at a world he had never seen, stretching out to the horizon. Then he heard a voice say, “This is Subcon, the land of dreams. The evil toad, Wart, has used his magic to lay a curse upon the land. Please defeat Wart and free us from his spell. Oh - and remember that Wart hates vegetables. Hurry! We need your help!” And then a bolt of lightning suddenly split the sky, and Mario woke up to find himself on the floor. He had fallen out of bed! A few days later, Mario and his friends hiked to some nearby mountains for a picnic. Upon reaching their picnic spot, they looked around and found a small cave. When they entered the cave, they were amazed to discover the land Mario had seen in his dream stretching out before them.
--From the GBA Super Mario Advance instruction manual.
Now as the first Mario title for the Gameboy Advance, Super Mario Advance is probably the first game most people who owned the system had played. This game is, in essence, a remake of Super Mario Bros. 2. Now while most Mario fanatics know of this classic being remade in the SNES collection known as Super Mario All-Stars, this collection stands on its own quite well.
Graphics are what you'll notice right off the bat; examples being some of the enemies appearing bigger and the scenery looking more vibrant and colorful. Sound has also been updated; along with music enhancements, digital voice acting has been given to the characters, my personal favorite being Charles Martinet being the voice of Mario himself.
While most gamers feel like Super Mario Bros. 2 wasn't the most fitting for a first title in the Super Mario Advance series, it's very much worth playing through.
Those who have played the original Super Mario Bros. 2 will immediately feel at home with this game.
At the beginning of the game, you are given your choice of four different characters to play as, Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Princess Peach, marking the first in a rare number of times when she isn't the damsel in distress and plays a more vital role in the series. Each character plays differently: Mario is the well rounded character, Luigi trades in power and speed for a greater jump range, Toad's jump isn't very strong but his power and speed make up for it, and Princess Peach's air glide makes up for her physical faults.
You are given a total of seven worlds to explore in Super Mario Advance. Now, if you haven't played the original Super Mario Bros. 2 before, you might be disappointed to see that you can't easily just jump on your enemies to defeat them. Instead, you have to defeat them with means of your arms. By this, you have to pluck out plants from the ground and you'll see them nearly sprouting from the ground. You then hurl them at the enemy to knock them out. You can also jump on top of your enemies and pick them up to use them as projectiles in absence of plants.
Starting this game, you are given only two units of health. However, retrieving life isn't that difficult and is much easier if you've been familiar with the original Super Mario Bros. 2. Growth hearts can either be found floating about in levels or you'll pluck them out as you would the plants. You can also extend your health by another unit if you uproot a red potion. Slapping it down afterwards causes a red door to appear. This doors leads to a subspace, a darker, mirrored version of the level you're currently in. If you see a Subspace Mushroom, picking it up will give you an extra unit of life. As well, uprooting the plants in the subspace awards you with coins you can use later on.
Boss battles occur much more frequently than they do in the other Mario games. At the end of each level, you are met with a pink, head bow wearing bird creature by the name of Birdo. There are a few variations of this enemy but the strategy to defeat her remains the same; wait until she spits eggs out at you, jump on them, pick them up and hurl them right back at her. The later Birdos spit out fireballs on occasion and, much later on, just fireballs without any eggs at all! So you'll have to improvise in order to defeat her. Every few levels or so, you meet up with a major boss at the end. These unique villains require a sharper strategy than with the Birdos.
While regular Mushrooms and Fire Flowers are absent from this game, there are weapons which will you come across every now and again. Some examples are the POW Block which will kill all on-screen enemies upon impact, the Bombs which kills off any nearby enemies after its short detonation and the legendary Invincibility Star that grants you brief invulnerability to enemies and hazards but requires five cherries to be collected.
One of the things exclusive to Super Mario Advance are the Ace Coins scattered about each level. There are five per level. While collecting each and every one isn't mandatory to finish the game, they give you an extra live. They also grant you a 100% game clear on the screen.
Another exclusive is the Yoshi's Challenge. This is unlocked after you defeat Wart and beat the game. The object of Yoshi's Challenge is to find the two eggs that are hidden in the subspace of each level. The challenge begins there but continues with something more; if you die, you will lose any eggs you've collected in the level so the challenge will help sharpen your skills as well as complete the challenge. A few tips for this challenge would be to collect the Subspace Mushrooms for extra health and take your time looking over the levels.
Every Super Mario Advance title comes with an extra game, a modified version of the arcade classic, Mario Bros. This is a game that has the ability to be linked between players, up to four. Wave after wave of levels, the object is to knock all of the enemies off of the screen. These come from the pipes and require you to jump and hit the floor above them to knock them on their backs or upside down. This gives you an open shot to take them out.
|B Button||Pluck Out Vegetable; Run (Hold)|
|L Button||Move Screen Up/Down|
|R Button||Run (Hold)|
|Start Button||Pause Game|
|Select Button||Move Cursor (Menu)|
|To enable sleep mode and to "conserve energy", hit Select and R at the same time while in play. To deactivate sleep mode, hit Select and L at the same time.|