Super Mario World is the fourth game in the Super Mario Bros. series. The game was originally released on the Super Nintendo a decade ago, serving as a pack-in for the system. In many ways, the game is merely a refinement and expansion of the concepts introduced to the series in Super Mario Bros. 3. Still, the game served as an excellent way to usher in Nintendo's new system. Now, Nintendo is cashing in on its past successes by delivering a version of its amazing platformer for the Game Boy Advance. The game holds up fabulously, and the slight modifications that Nintendo has made to the game for its handheld release make it even better.
As usual, Princess Toadstool has been kidnapped by the evil Bowser. You, as one of the Mario brothers, must fight your way through level after level of side-scrolling action to catch up with Bowser and rescue the princess. New to the Game Boy Advance version is the ability to choose Luigi at will from the world screen. Much like in Super Mario Bros. 2, Luigi jumps higher and is generally floatier than Mario. Other new tidbits include a great status screen that lets you know which levels you've finished and which secret exits you've found. The ability to see which secret exits you haven't found yet is invaluable and makes you wonder why it wasn't in the SNES original. The game's portable nature means that people will be playing in shorter spurts, and the ability to save at will has been added. The previous version of the game let you save only after completing castle or ghost house levels. The original game introduced some of the most amazing level design ever created, in a platformer or otherwise, and the Game Boy Advance version mirrors the SNES game extremely well. Some levels are extremely straightforward, while others have hidden exits that require you to look hard at every area. Some levels, like ghost houses, are more puzzlelike in nature and require you to think to find the exit. Each world culminates in a boss fight of the "jump on the boss' head three times" variety.
Like the first Mario game for the GBA, Mario Advance 2 has a link cable multiplayer component. Unfortunately, it's identical to the first game's multiplayer--a four-player battle rendition of the original Mario Bros. Make no mistake, the multiplayer mode is pretty fun for two or more players, but it would have been nice to see something different this time around.
In much the same way that the gameplay mirrors the original game's, the graphics and sound in Super Mario World are also very close. While you don't see quite as much of the level on the GBA's screen when compared to the SNES game, this doesn't get in the way of the gameplay--nor does it create a huge number of blind jumps or other problems. The game is bright and colorful throughout, with nice, cartoony character design. The soundtrack has been "enhanced" in much the same way that Super Mario Bros. 2 was when it came to the GBA as Super Mario Advance, meaning that Mario and Luigi come with a handful of voice samples that are fine at first but get pretty annoying after a few hours. The rest of the game's sound and music are pretty accurate, but there are a few differences. For instance, the bongo drums that play along with the level music whenever you're on a Yoshi sound far tinnier than they used to.
Super Mario World is one of the greatest games ever made. The Game Boy Advance version adds a handful of amenities to cater a little bit more to the portable crowd, but these changes serve only to enhance an already extraordinary game. New multiplayer options would have been nice, but in the end, this is a game that no Game Boy Advance library should be without.