Those into gaming back in 1989 will surely remember just how significant Super Mario Bros. 3 was. It was one of, if not the most popular and successful game on NES for a reason: it was awesome. It not only brought back the true, classic Super Mario Bros. gameplay experience after a brief departure in the turnip-flinging design of Super Mario Bros. 2, but also elaborated on it with brand new design elements including several new Mario modes to complement the standard Super Mario and Fiery Mario power-ups, as well as . It was also an extreme challenge, one of the toughest and most rewarding on the system.
In 1993 Nintendo offered an enhanced version of Super Mario Bros. 3 on the Super NES in the much-loved Super Mario All-Stars compilation cartridge. The game was upgraded with more colors and a much improved soundtrack, but the gameplay remained untouched...a perfect reproduction, exactly as it was on the Nintendo Entertainment System, except for one important thing: cartridge save. As challenging as the original NES game was, the designers expected players, in true Super Mario fashion up to that point, to complete the quest all in one sitting. The cart save made all the difference; sure, it shortened the playtime since gamers didn't have to repeat levels to get to the last accessed world, but it was an absolute necessity on the player's sanity.
To continue the established Super Mario Advance series on the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo's brought back this excellent platformer to the portable world for Super Mario Advance 4. Finally. Even though they completely went out of order in the series. Since the game's based upon the SNES port released in Super Mario All-Stars, the Game Boy Advance looks, sounds, and plays almost exactly like the 16-bit conversion released more than a decade ago, and it's just as brilliant and fun a design as it was back on the NES. But thanks to some clever implementation of technology, Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 is most definitely the biggest and best game in the Super Mario Advance series, and just like the games that preceded it, it's an absolute must-have on the GBA.
* Super Mario Bros. 3 and Mario Bros. games
* Eight different worlds
* Cartridge save (Three slots, 32 Card-e levels, two level recordings)
* e-Reader support for future expandability
* Link cable support for four players (only in Mario Bros.)
* Only for Game Boy Advance
Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of those titles other videogame developers have attempted to mimic during the days on the NES and Super NES (and to a lesser extent, the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance), but it's Nintendo's attention to gameplay and innovation in level design that makes Super Mario Bros. 3 hard to beat. In every sense of the word. The game's foundation is based upon what Miyamoto's team created for the very first Super Mario Bros. game: eight worlds of several levels each, challenging players to get from start to finish unscathed by stomping creatures, growing big with mushrooms and flowers, and smashing bricks to score valuable coins. The design was then expanded outward with new elements. Super Mario Bros. 3 features a larger world map with more level challenges and unlockable treats and mini-games. There are new power-ups, including a raccoon suit that gives an offensive attack and a temporary ability of flight, as well as a frog suit that can give Mario better swimming techniques in underwater challenges.
One of the things that makes Super Mario Bros. 3 many gamers' favorites is the title's difficulty: the game is an incredible challenge. In comparison to Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario World, and Yoshi's Island, Super Mario Bros. 3 features the toughest bunch of level designs. The original designers must've known this, which is why they included the ability to store power-ups for future use. Players can score specific power-ups and keep them in a safe place until they need them, but they can only activate them before the start of any given round. It may initially seem like this element might give the player too much of an upper-hand during the game, but believe it when we say it: the game is hard, and you'll need as much of an advantage as you can get.
Keep in mind that, since the original game was created for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Mario Bros. 3 isn't meant to wow players visually. In fact, boss battles are a little underwhelming compared to Super Mario World and Yoshi's Island because the designers of that game utilized the more advanced hardware for those challenges. But the original designers of Super Mario Bros. 3 pushed the sprite hardware of the NES as far as it could go, which lead to very clever and challenging level creations...without impressive visual effects.
Like the past three Game Boy Advance Super Mario remakes, Super Mario 3 on the GBA features slight enhancements to the original game design. Most notably is the inclusion of Luigi and his own trademark way of moving through the level; Luigi is slightly slower than Mario with a higher arching jump that makes him a lot more challenging to play. At the start of the game players have the option of just controlling Mario, or playing the game flipflopping between Mario and Luigi between rounds. Mario and Luigi both have a voice during the action, from the "Lets-a Go" at the beginning to the "Oh, Mamamiya" during a death. Level designs have been left almost entirely alone, with the occasional change in enemy locations in one or two different challenges. And, it just wouldn't be a Super Mario Advance game without the inclusion of the Mario Bros. single and multiplayer mini-game. Though we've ragged on Nintendo for adding this game on the previous two Mario Advance titles, at this point we're just going to let it slide without any commentary.
But what makes Super Mario Advance 4 so good isn't just what's in the game...it's what's to come. Seeing as Nintendo has already brought the two Super Mario Bros. games that succeeded Super Mario Bros. 3 (that featured much more technical and gameplay innovations), a straightforward port of a game already released twice before might not have flown with the gaming public, so Nintendo went one step further: for the Game Boy Advance version, the development team implemented hooks for Nintendo's e-Reader peripheral. Through the use of a second Game Boy Advance system (either classic or GBA SP, or Game Boy Player), a link cable, and an e-Reader peripheral, players can scan specially created e-Reader cards and upload the embedded data into the cartridge. While it's a significant investment to put this function to use, it's an integral part of the Super Mario Advance 4 development and absolutely worth the effort involved.
There will be three different types of cards created for Super Mario Advance 4: Demo cards, Item cards, and Level cards. Demo cards are simply encoded with animation data that will play out specific scenarios automatically, showing gamers how to pull off particular tricks and moves. Item cards give players the opportunity to scan in useable power-ups whenever they need it; looking for a frog suit, music box, fire flower, or even a power mushroom? Find the card in a set and scan it in. The game's already a super challenge, and these power-up elements will definitely help players along the way.
But it's the Level cards that are the most significant of the bunch. On these Level cards will be an entirely unique level created specifically for that card. The data strip holds all the level information, and when uploaded to the game it pieces together that level using the existing elements within Super Mario Bros. 3, from platforms to question blocks to enemy locations. See, Nintendo can conceivably create an infinite amount of challenges through several different series of cards, either bought in stores or included for free in places like the company's own Nintendo Power magazine. The level card that's included in the box barely scratches the surface of what Nintendo plans with the feature, since these level cards can also activate gameplay elements not found in the actual Super Mario Bros. 3 game. Remember the turnip-throwing power of Super Mario Bros. 2 or the Cape power-up of Super Mario World? e-Reader levels can and will use these elements, plus new ones: in some levels, Mario can even wield the power of a boomerang used exclusively by one of the enemies in the main game. Nintendo will reportedly even create cards featuring levels from the original Super Mario Bros. game.
The Game Boy Advance cartridge even features an insane amount of storage space. Not only will it save as many as 32 scanned-in levels from the e-Reader and store three different player slots for the main Super Mario Bros. 3 adventure, it can also record two different player movies. These movies are simply controller and button recordings from a specific level, and players can save a particularly cool performance in a level to cartridge for future viewing. Nintendo poured an awful lot into what may be the last of the Super Mario Bros. remakes on the GBA.
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