Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 (Japanese Import)

Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 (Japanese Import)

Written by Cyril Lachel on 8/21/2003 for GBA  

Few games have shaped their respective genre as much as Super Mario Bros. 3, but of course you already knew that, after all, it is the best selling video game of all time, and was even in a Hollywood movie. Now on the Game Boy Advance, those gamers who were too young, or suffering from amnesia, will be able to discover what the entire world was captivated by no less than a dozen years ago.

These days not every company is able to repackage their early hits and parlay them into top selling Game Boy Advance games, yet Nintendo has managed to do just that three times already. Whether this is a blatant cash cow, or a just great way of keeping old games available, the one thing you can’t debate is the quality of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3. This is the best Mario Advance game yet, and will be nearly impossible to top.

Of course, I’ll confess, I’m coming from an extremely biased point of view when I write this. Here is a game I played to death when it first came out, a game that I have many strong memories of, a game that I would enjoy even if I were blind. But it’s been a few years, games have changed, my outlook on life has changed, and I’ve been given the opportunity to determine if the game still holds up in the days when 2D platformers are nothing more than distant memories.

Super Mario Bros. 3 is split up into eight unique levels, each taking you to completely different parts of the Mushroom Worlds. While one world may be completely underwater, another is far above the surface in the clouds. There are your inevitable cliché moments, including a world filled with ice; but there are a few genuine surprises, like a world where everything except Mario has been enlarged to enormous proportions.

These worlds both look cool and offer completely different challenges. As you progress through the levels you will find yourself running into brand new enemies, even in the latter half of the game. Super Mario Bros. 3 never let’s you take anything for granted, and even seems to take pleasure in its own craftsmanship. The levels are full of secret nooks and crannies, and there is no way you would be able to see everything by simply playing through the game once.While a lot of these levels brought back fond memories of my youth, it wasn’t until I started tinkering with the various costumes that I had a full-blown case of nostalgia. You have to hand it to Nintendo, when it came to power-ups; there are few games that offer more than Super Mario Bros. 3. Besides you basic fireball flower, Mario can pick up a raccoon suit (that helps him fly), a frog suit (that helps him swim), a Hammer Brothers suit (that allows you to throw hammers), and the very weird Tanooki suit (which allows you to turn into a statue, for some strange reason). He is also able to jump on heads, throw blocks of ice, and even fit himself into a nice big shoe.

In the 13 years since Super Mario Bros. 3, our favorite plumber has donned many suits, but none of them have been as inventive as those in this game. I would have enjoyed using a raccoon suit in one of the two 3D Mario adventures, or going around throwing hammers with your Hammer Brothers suit. That’s not to take anything away from those games, but there’s no question in my mind that the third Mario outing was the most ingenious.

The fact that Super Mario Bros. 3 still feels fresh is a testament to its rock solid design. Not every 2D game can pull of a feet like this, as has been demonstrated by a number of iffy GameBoy Advance remakes over the years. But Super Mario Bros. 3 seems to fit in with modern day platformers, even though it’s well over a decade old. It’s no wonder it’s the best selling video game of all time.

Of course, this is not the first time Super Mario Bros. 3 has been remade. Years ago Nintendo seized on an opportunity to package all of their 2D Mario games in one Super NES game called Super Mario All-Stars. Each of these games was giving a graphics overhaul, not to mention upgraded sound, and slightly tweaked controls.

For the most part the Game Boy Advance version looks exactly like this Super NES redux. Outside of a few cropping issues, and a brand new heads up display, you’d never know this wasn’t the game that came packaged with Super Mario All-Stars. While this might not sound like a compliment at first, after spending some time traveling through the Mushroom Worlds and you will find that Nintendo really is giving you the best version of the game.

But that’s not to say they couldn’t have made some improvements to the title. For example, it would have been nice to revisit beaten levels to collect power-ups and extra guys, like you are able to do in Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2. You are able to play through any level once you’ve unseated Bowser and the game is over, but it would have been handy while planning the siege of his castle.One aspect of Super Mario Bros. 3 that has not withstood the test of time is the game’s length. From my distant memories, the game seemed extremely long, and I expected it to take a good weekend to work my way through. But to my amazement, I was all the way through the eight worlds in only a matter of hours. I had simply forgotten how short most 2D gamers were in that era, and it helped me to appreciate, however slightly, the grandeur of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine.

As you traverse the various world maps you have the ability to pull out your Nintendo E-Reader and scanning in various power-ups and extra goodies. At least, that’s the hope. As of this writing I was unable to locate any worthwhile cards to scan into Super Mario Bros. 3, and it all seems like a good idea that has yet to be fully realized. If Nintendo delivers on its plans, though, Mario fans will be able to add new suits, levels, and more, which would greatly add to the replay value.

There really are no other extras to speak of, unless you count the inclusion of Mario Brothers. Gamers who own any one of the other three Mario Advance games will already be familiar with this Mario Brothers game, so chances are most people won’t even pay attention. This would have been a great time for Nintendo to add the updated version of the original Super Mario Brothers, or perhaps what was Super Mario Brothers 2 in Japan. Simply adding the same mini-game four times in a row feels more like an insult than an extra.

There’s a part of me that wants to embrace this version of Super Mario Bros. 3 with open arms, and another part of me that feels a bit betrayed that Nintendo didn’t do more with this classic. It’s still the great game that it always ways, and that’s why it’s so easy to recommend, but for once I would like to be here reviewing a 2D Mario game I haven’t played before.
Comparison of GBA version and the classic SNES version
GBA VersionSuper NES Version
It’s a perfect port of a perfect game, but is that really enough to impress gamers so many years later?

Rating: 8.9 Class Leading

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

It's questionable how accurate this is, but this is all that's known about Cyril Lachel: A struggling writer by trade, Cyril has been living off a diet of bad games, and a highly suspect amount of propaganda. Highly cynical, Cyril has taken to question what companies say and do, falling ever further into a form of delusional madness. With the help of quality games, and some greener pastures on the horizon, this back-to-basics newsman has returned to provide news so early in the morning that only insomniacs are awake.
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