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Friday, May 26, 2023

The Super Mario Advance Releases are the Superior Versions of Those Games

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Same applies for the Donkey Kong Country Game Boy Advance games, though those aren't in the news.

This week, Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscribers (and associated Family Group free-riders) now have access to Super Mario Advance, Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2, and Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3. This is on top of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 being available since Game Boy Advance titles have been available since three months ago.

Fundamentally, this is the third time you can play Super Mario Bros. 2 across Nintendo Switch Online emulators. The first is on NES as Super Mario Bros. 2, the second is on SNES as part of Super Mario All-Stars, and now here is the third as Super Mario Advance on the GBA. Super Mario Advance is undoubtedly the best version of it, and it is also the greatest-changed of all four Super Mario Advance titles.

All of the Super Mario Advance games have improved sound effects and voice effects, and there is better spritework put into them. (But not that much better—my sprites are still bad, for example) Super Mario Advance now has five Ace Coins scattered in all twenty of its levels, meaning there are one-hundred collectible Ace Coins. This greatly benefits the timer-less exploration experience that differentiates Super Mario Bros. 2 from Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, and brings Super Mario Bros. 2 closer to the masterpiece exploration sidescroller experience of Yoshi's Island (or Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3). It also disincentivises skipping parts of some levels with Luigi's massive Jump stat by bringing alternate reasons to play besides level completion—collection.

Super Mario All-Stars Super Mario Advance Bros. 2 World 1-2 Phanto key skip fourth Ace Coin
Top: Super Mario All-Stars version of Super Mario Bros. 2 in World 1-2.
Bottom: Super Mario Advance at the same location.
In both, you can skip the whole Phanto Key and door and end up at the top part, but doing so in Super Mario Advance will stop you from getting 1-2's third Ace Coin.
(You can skip it with Toad too, but it's way easier with a better Jump stat, especially in future levels.)

Ah, I guess it'd be dishonest if I didn't mention that Super Mario World has had five Dragon Coins in its levels ever since its first release. But Super Mario World isn't really an exploration-based game because of its level timers, and it's also true that Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2 expands on Dragon Coins compared to its SNES counterpart by having a reward for collecting them all, and it also expanded the number to collect by putting them in levels that didn't have them before, including my castle. As for Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, it gets Advance Coins in World-e, which contain 38 levels not accessible in the other versions of Super Mario Bros. 3.

Super Mario Advance World 2-3 third Ace Coin fall down pit Nintendo Switch Online rewind
Unfortunately, not all of the new collectibles are put in good places.
For example, in 2-3 of Super Mario Advance, you have your choice of falling down one of the two paths. But you cannot reverse your decision.
One of the level's Ace Coins is only on one of the pits. If you fall down the other pit, you'll have to try again...
(Or use a save state or the Nintendo Switch Online emulator's rewind function. No shame in doing that.
You can see the steps on the bottom with the rewind.)

It's also a fact that Super Mario Advance, as well as Super Mario Advance 2, are easier than their original counterparts. Extra hearts are EVERYWHERE in Super Mario Advance where they did not exist before, so the game is very forgiving in terms of your health. In Super Mario World, those plumbers remain Super upon getting hit in Fire Flower or Cape form as opposed to becoming very small. The control scheme is also better in Super Mario Advance 2 and Super Mario Advance 3, mainly because I prefer GBA controls (A to jump and B to run) over SNES controls (B to jump but A confirms options or advances dialogue, and Y runs).

But at least Yoshi's Island is more difficult with the addition of the six Secret levels that are all quite complicated and elaborate: Exercise in the Skies (World 1-Secret), Mystery of the Castle? (World 2-Secret), Go! Go! Morphing! (World 3-Secret), Fight Toadies w/ Toadies (World 4-Secret), Items are fun! (World 5-Secret), and the Endless World of Yoshis (World 6-Secret). Secret 4 and Secret 5 are particularly fun, but these levels will very much test your mastery of the amazing Yoshi's Island mechanics.

It's true that the GBA remasters all have brighter colours, and I don't have an issue with that (I prefer it, actually). It's also true that the SNES has superior sound quality than the GBA in terms of the OST. I don't mind that much, either. I do, however, like when, say, the GBA version of Donkey Kong Country 2 varies up the sound effects to make them more fitting compared to its SNES counterpart. Compare SNES (where Kutlass shares its death sound with Kritter) and then GBA (where Kutlass gets its own sound) for Kutlass:

I think the sounds being more fitting is a good trade for the aural quality being a little lower, and that applies to the Super Mario Advance games just like the Donkey Kong Country games. Plus, generally more content. I liked when GBA games went on the Virtual Console in prior generations, and I like when GBA games are available on Nintendo Switch Online in this generation, even if it's the definitive version of games you can already play.

Ludwig thinks everyone should at least play Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3, since he holds that game on a tall pedestal and considers it to be one of the best games of all time, and what 2D exploration-focused side-scrollers should aspire to be. It also tells you the origin story of the conflict between those plumbers and Koopa Kingdom, and that Kamek did nothing wrong.

Ludwig significantly expanded upon the relationship between Super Mario Advance and Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3 here.


  1. I had trouble with quite a few stages of Yoshis Island Ds, but those try-not-to-fall-off-into-the-pits-of-death stages usually throw a lot of people for a loop. Suffice to say I don't think I'll be playing those secret stages in Yoshis Island Advance, but it is nice to have the option.

    1. Yoshi's Island is waaay better designed than Yoshi's Island DS.

      And if all else fails, just rewind. <.<

    2. Sometimes i might, but then sometimes i end up doing that too much and i don't really focus or enjoy the game. There are some games, however, that it is practically mandatory. At least if you want to make good use of your time and don't want to spend it repeating the same stage over and over and over and over and over again.

    3. You really really shouldn't....but i will admit that I've done it at the health refill spots. And those later on star stages, ouch!

    4. I have a documented pro-cheating stance in single-player games.

      It's to the point where I'm actually somewhat concerned that I'm making myself a worse gamer, because how will I deal with challenges in non-rewindable games if I keep abusing rewind?

    5. Sometimes I’ll be playing modern games and make such a big mistake I pause to rewind…and realize that I can’t. Sometimes it’s not really a big deal, other times I decide to take a break before the rage consumes me.

    6. This might be correlated to me mostly playing RPGs and adventure games, which you could save-scum. >.>


  2. As someone that got to experience most of classic games first through the GBA port, I certainly loved them then, but once I'd gotten a chance to experience the originals my favor would shift to the old. The quality of life improvements and extra modes, collectables, and better save features, yes are superior on the later ports, but the sound and visuals and huge for me and I think they look and sound awful on GBA to be frank. Voice clips are also annoying.

    Yoshi's Island is the best yoshi game though, 100% agree on that.

    1. I guess if you dislike the voice clips, then that's a good reason to prefer the SNES versions. But I actually do like them. Somehow. ^.^;

      I also don't get wot's so bad about the saturated colours on the GBA games, though I'm also someone who tends to adjust brightness settings to go up.


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