There are some games that never ever get old. They simply remain a fun and fresh experience every single time you revisit them. Super Mario Bros. 3 is just such a game. After it's previous incarnations on the NES and SNES, the game is in portable form for the first time on Nintendo's Game Boy Advance. Not only does it come with the SNES Mario All Stars version of Super Mario Bros. 3, but it also comes with a feature that allows you to add new levels and demos to the game. But said feature isn't very convenient. I'll explain that later. To start with, the main feature of this cart is the full Super Mario Bros. 3 game in all it's glory. It's actually the SNES version that was released as part of the "Super Mario All-Stars" compilation package that was released back in 1993. This means that the graphics have been updated and fleshed out much more than those in the original NES version of the game. Also, some voice samples have been added specifically for this new version of the game, although they really don't fit in here at all. Mario 3 is essentially one of the greatest platformers ever released. You basically progress merely by heading from the left side of the stage to the right side. Occasionally you'll run into a fortress stage where you have to defeat a mini-boss or an airship stage at the end of every world where you have to defeat one of Bowser's Koopa Kids, but other than that there's not much deviation from the main goal of just going from one side of the stage to the other. But that's all completely negated by the game's absolutely flawless stage design. Every single object and enemy and hole in the ground is placed with the utmost precision. Once you play through most of these stages, you actually begin to subconsciously memorize them. Every level of this game is a classic in it's own right, and the pure consistency of the game is amazing. But then there are the extra features that can be added by virtue of Nintendo's new card-scanning device, the e-reader. First of all, you have the option of adding a limitless number of power-ups to your in game stock by scanning a power-card over and over again. And you can also watch demos of Mario racing through various stages at super-fast speeds. But the most interesting feature is the ability to add new stages to the regular game. You can't play them as part of the regular game, but rather access them through a special map screen that can be found on the save menu on Mario 3's title screen. Most of these stages contain elements that come from other games in the Mario Series. For example, you'll find the vegetables that can be lifted and tossed from Super Mario Bros. 2. You'll also find the Chargin’' Chuck enemies from Super Mario World. And to top it off, these stages manage to reach the level of greatness that can be found in the original Mario 3 levels. But there's one major problem: you have to use the e-reader peripheral to access any of this content. That's a big problem when you consider that the e-reader and the cards cost extra money. And on top of that, you need a second GBA to link up with yours so that you can scan the data on one Game Boy and transfer it to the second. So you either have to find a friend who's willing to spend the time to transfer all that stuff to your game, or you need to have two GBA's. It's really not worth it all unless you're a huge Mario fan or you want to see everything there is to see in this game. But thankfully none of this really takes away from the game if you ignore it. The main game still makes it well worth a purchase. And, on top of all that, this game includes the same version of Mario Bros. that came with every other game in the Mario Advance series. This game isn't bad or anything, in fact it's quite fun, but chances are that if you played any of the other Mario Advance games you're probably tired of it by now. It's worth playing, but it's not really a major bonus or anything anymore. Graphically, this game looks great. Mario's world is perfectly brought to life in the vibrant landscapes and cartoony enemies that populate the scenery. Everything looks absolutely wonderful. There's almost nothing more to say besides that. It's worth noting that the graphics are, as mentioned before, the ones that came from the SNES version of Super Mario 3. That means that not only were the main graphics and characters given an update, but there are also new backgrounds that were added to each stage. This all gives the game a much more colorful and vibrant look than it had on the NES. Sound wise, all of the songs from the original game are here and sound just as good as they did back in the days of the 8-bit generation. There's no real problem with any of the music or sound effects in this game. With one notable exception. In an attempt to either modernize or simply add a bit more life to the game (as if that was necessary), voice samples were added to this game. The problem with this is that they just don't fit into a game that originally had no speech in it. This isn't really a major problem or anything, but it's just sort of a wee bit of a nuisance. So overall, this is an excellent game. A must-buy for the Game Boy. Don't let the utter inconvenience of the e-reader function make you think that this game isn't worth picking up. That's a very small part of the game overall. This is still one of the absolute best platformers available on the GBA, or on any other system. You should definitely get it.
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