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The game that sold the SNES.
Super Mario Advance 2 (GBA)
Member Name: illogicology
Super Mario Advance 2 (GBA)
Advantages: Excellent platforming gameplay, great designs and graphics.
Disadvantages: Might be tricky to get hold of now.
Super Mario Advance 2, like it's predecessor is a port of a classic Super Mario Bros. game with slight enhancements for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance console. Unlike it's predecessor however, Nintendo have taken the sensible route and ported over a game that people like. Super Mario Advance 2 is a port of the massive seller Super Mario World for the original Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The original is one of the finest games in the Mario series and this port does nothing to change that.
Unlike the disappointing Super Mario Bros. 2 which the original Super Mario Advance took as it's basis, Super Mario World lends itself perfectly to handheld gaming. This outing finds Mario exploring the aptly named Dinosaur Land. If you can't figure out the defining characteristic of Dinosaur Land then allow me to elaborate, it's inhabited by dinosaurs. Not that many dinosaurs mind you, but some. In particular there is one little dinosaur named Yoshi, already equipped with a saddle and big shoes that Mario can ride around on. What follows is a sequence of incredibly well designed platforming levels that challenge and entertain the player in a manner far superior to any other game I've ever played. I really like Super Mario World. A few new ideas are introduced, a magic cape that let's you fly and twirl and a few new baddies to overcome but it's pretty typical Mario style by now. This is probably when the 2D series hit its peak, the also excellent Yoshi's Island would continue at this level but the series went in a whole new 3D direction after. I can only imagine further 2D games wouldn't have lived up to this brilliant level of quality.
Graphically this is a beautiful game; the first Mario game into the 16-bit era and the developers really seem to be making the most of it. Use of colour is strong and bold but the level designers don't let themselves get carried away. Instead each level feels like time and effort was put into making it look and feel consistent and impressive. It's a good advert for the power of the SNES and probably did a lot to sell it as a system. The Game Boy Advance maintains the quality of the visuals perfectly and it shows the best on this system too.
The Game Boy advance version doesn't change too much, controls are a bit swapped around to suit the 2 Button configuration but it's never awkward for it. This particular game really seems to suit a handheld format. An auto save system is worked in letting you hop in and out and while the game is by no means short, the levels seem to be relatively compact. It's very easy to work through it in manageable chunks and the overworld map has its own element of exploration to you can use to view and plan your progress.
The original Super Mario World is now available on the Wii's virtual console, unfortunately I play with a gamecube controller and whoever picked the button layout appears to have been totally incompetent. Playing the old Game Boy Advance version on my DS is a much smoother ride and the smaller screen actually does a lot for the twenty year old sprites.
If you're still carrying around a Game Boy Advance or have an original DS or DS Lite (no DSi or DS XL I'm afraid) then this is a great game to add to your collection. If you're planning on picking up any of the Super Mario Advance series, this is the one to get. Unfortunately Game Boy Advance cartridges are starting to get thin on the ground now, Amazon or eBay will be able to help but expect to pay somewhere around £10.
Summary: Seriously why does Yoshi hatch wearing shoes?