Super Mario Advance Hands-On

The Game Boy Advance version of Super Mario Bros. 2 has finally hit the Japanese market, and we've got hands-on with the import version of the game.

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As previously reported, Super Mario Advance is essentially to Super Mario Bros. 2 as Super Mario Bros. DX is to the original Super Mario Bros. Here, the second game in the Super Mario Bros. series for the NES gets the upgrade treatment, with additional features, a few level and design tweaks, and a much-improved graphical facelift.

Like the original game, players can pick from four characters, each with ratings in speed, jumping ability, and lifting power. Luigi can jump the highest, Toad can carry heavy loads without slowing down, and Princess Peach can hover for a limited amount of time. Finally, Mario is, as he should be, the average guy, doing well in all categories but excelling in none. Players will be able to choose a character before each stage, and this will give them the ability to adjust their styles from level to level. The most notable change is the addition of gigantic items and enemies. Players will occasionally come across a huge shyguy, which makes a large weapon once they've picked him up. They'll also encounter giant POW blocks, which bounce three times before disappearing. While we haven't completed the game yet, so far most of the levels are identical to their NES counterparts, though a few liberties have been taken here and there. Even the warp vases are intact.

The game's multiplayer mode takes a cue from the original Mario Bros. arcade game, originally released way back in 1983. Classic mode plays like the original game, though a second POW block has been added to the area between the two top platforms. Battle mode is a fight for coins--either the first player to collect four coins or the last player standing wins. Battles progress through multiple stages, one of which contains a fire-breathing Bowser.

The game's graphics have improved, with added animations used on superjumps. The game's soundtrack has been given a boost and is similar to the version included in the SNES collection, Super Mario All-Stars. Also, the developer has added lots of voice to the game--almost too much. Characters grunt when picking up objects, squeal in pain when hit, and spit out short phrases like "That's just what I needed" when picking up health or using a key. Boss characters also speak a bit upon introduction and when defeated.

Between the already-strong gameplay of Super Mario 2 and the incredibly fun multiplayer modes, Super Mario Advance looks to be a winner. The US version of the game is scheduled to launch alongside the GBA on June 11.

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