Super Mario World
As if the increasing amounts of SNES ports to the Gameboy Advance weren’t enough, yet another port comes to the GBA. Super Mario Advance 2, a port of the wonderful Super Mario World, is new from Nintendo. The game was originally created in the early 1990’s, but here today, in 2002; did the port job keep the original magic?
Super Mario World involves Mario and a Super World, or Super Mario and a world. I’m not really certain. Anyhow, Mario, the Princess, and the utterly useless Luigi are going to Dinosaur Island, when Bowser comes along and ruins the party. Now it is up to Mario and the incredibly pathetic Luigi to travel this mysterious world in order to save the Princess and engage in menage a trois when they rescue her. Along the way, Mario discovers that he can enslave the current population of friendly stupid Dinosaurs and use their power to destroy Bowser and his minions.
So Mario is wandering around, minding his own business I suppose, when a group of gentle turtles comes flying at him. Having spent years in therapy for trauma stemming from events in the 1980’s, Mario jumps on a turtle, causing the poor being to go flying out of his shell. Mario then picks up the shell and throws it at the swarm. The turtles hop over him, safely trying to get to the beach where they can safely lay their eggs. Mario however is hoping for the extinction of these rare and marvelous beasts, flying turtles, and stomps them all.
Now that the swarm of gentle beasts has been relinquished, Mario soon finds a strange block floating in the middle of nowhere attached to nothing. So of course he jumps into the air, slamming his head against it. Out of course, pops a mushroom! By running into this magic mushroom, Mario grows twice his normal size. Mario moves on, killing hundreds of Gomba’s and turtles. He then goes to the next land, which is very similar to the last. He comes across yet another floating box, and this time an egg pops out and a dinosaur that calls himself Yoshi hatches from it. And of course, Mario jumps onto this beast of burden. Lacking the common sense to fight back, the green being runs forward at the speed of a sick donkey. Mario forces the being to lunge and jump onto enemies, and jumps onto Yoshi should he fall off. This shocking amount of animal cruelty is supposed to be comical I believe. Occasionally however, Mario does feed Yoshi fruit off of bushes, but mind you he doesn’t clean it and makes Yoshi get it himself.
Mario completes the area by going through a gigantic bar and getting all sorts of strange points for it. He now has 100 and he goes to a special ”Bonus” game where he can earn special mushrooms in a tic-tac-toe game. With this special mushroom, he can die and come back to life! How great is that! Mario continues traveling the land, and soon he encounters a strange feather. Suddenly, he has a cape, and he can fly high into the sky, taking the air from all the birds that may wish to fly in it.
As Mario wanders the land, he leaves a trail of tears behind him. Entire communities destroyed, races near extinct now struggling to pick up pieces of a forgotten past: and what do you think that our ”hero” thinks about? Of course, not the Princess whom he loves, but the gold of his fallen foes. The fallen foes of Mario have dropped their gold in dangerous places after seeing the greed of Mario, hoping that he will plummet to his death. Little do they know that Mario has the ability to save his progress anywhere and he has the ability to continue, an skill that allows him to come back to life, even after death.
Occasionally, Mario needs time to rest and count up his magic coins, and calls upon his slender brother Luigi to complete an area for him. Luigi has noodle-legs and the power to fly higher and jump farther than his brother. However it appears that this world was best suit for Mario, and Luigi has a very difficult time navigating this world and spends most of his time getting killed.
Super Mario World is basically just a larger, prettier game than the earlier Mario Bros. games on the NES. The port that Nintendo did is very good; there is no slowdown and only a few issues that occur. One of these issues would be that the GBA screen is too small. Often levels are in caves, and you can’t see from the roof of the cavern to the floor. Often you jump, and a bird will fly down and hit you and you will die. This also occurs in castles, but to a lesser extent.
Mario travels the land of Dinosaur Island in search for the Princess. He moves from world to world, from Yoshi Island to the Valley of Bowser, collecting coins and utilizing feathers (for flight Mario), flowers (for fire-power) and mushrooms (for bigger Mario) to help him complete his task. One of the biggest gameplay additions is Yoshi, a horse-like dinosaur that allows Mario to travel around. Yoshi also allows Mario to take a hit from enemies.
Depending on which kind of item used, Mario gains an ability and protection. For example, if Mario has only one item he can take just one hit, however if he has the cape and a Yoshi he can take up to 4 hits before he dies. It’s a very important thing to keep track of. Fortunately, if you have enough skill, you eventually get a whole area where you fight nothing and you can get lives, a Yoshi, and all the capes and firepower you need.
Super Mario World is by no means an ugly game, but it is a bit dated. I’m not comparing it to Xbox graphics, but the GBA can handle more than Super Mario World demands. The graphics are straight out of the SNES.
The loading times are practically non-existent, which is a great thing. That’s what a cartridge is supposed to do. The worlds are fairly large, and the later levels will take you a few tries. The castles that you have to go through in each world are fairly challenging, but most bosses are repetitive.
Mario moves pretty fast, and side-scrolling action on the screen can become hectic. One of the most annoying things in the game is the enemies that you encounter that are really small, and when they get behind objects in levels that allow that. Your just running along and you die, for no apparent reason until you figure out that there was something behind that tree. Fortunately the control is simple, and most of the time you can easily maneuver yourself out of hectic situations.
Well, maybe it’s not that bad. But the sound is very…ghetto. Sadly, the original music was not preserved in its original form, and it was modified for the GBA. Some of the music is has too bass in it, other music is tinny, and some is just utterly annoying. Some of the music is quiet, some of it loud, and in some levels there is two songs playing at once creating a hodgepodge of music. Oh well. Sound effects themselves are practically non-existent, except for a few hop noises, a pop noise or two and a spin noise.
I know my review has been pretty harsh, but my score isn’t. The game is very addictive, and the gameplay is quite fun. Though it can get repetitive, there are over 90 levels, all with unique quirks that will keep you busy for hours. The GBA changes really don’t help much with the gameplay (the inclusion of Luigi is pointless) but still the system the game is running on really doesn’t matter when the game is this good.