Genre: 2D Platformer
Game System: Game Boy Advance, Wii U
If you know anything about video games at all you probably know about Super Mario Bros.Nintendo’s famous platformer franchise with the most minimal story ever has become so popular that at one point the main character, Mario, was more recognizable by American children than Mickey Mouse. But if you ask huge fans of both Super Mario and classic video games in general what their favorite video games are, there’s a good chance they’ll mention Super Mario Bros. 3, and for good reason. Super Mario Bros. 3 took what made the original Super Mario Bros. so great and added to it and improved on it. Of course when Nintendo started remaking the classic Super Mario games to play on the Game Boy Advance they had to include this fan favorite, but they didn’t just throw the original game onto a GBA cartridge and call it a day. They added a few new things as well, and even some new things were added thirteen years later in the Virtual Console re-release. While I will of course be talking about the features carried from the original, the main focus of this article will be the new content.
The most basic new addition included is a remake of the 1983 arcade game Mario Bros, which was also included in the other three Super Mario Advance games. The only major difference that I can find between the original and this version is the audio and graphics, where it was given new 32-bit sprites and music, as well as Mario actually talking sometimes! That doesn’t even happen in the one game where everybody but Mario talks. Some of the changes even make things less confusing, like changing the turtle enemies to have spikes on their back so nobody confuses them for the turtles you can safely jump on in the main game. The goal of this game is to defeat all the enemies in one level by hitting them from underneath and then kicking them while they’re stunned. Simple gameplay, but still fun and I’m glad it was included.
The biggest selling point for this remake is the E-Reader levels. The Game Boy Advance had an attachment called the E-Reader which let you scan cards which would either have entire games on them or new content in existing games. This game had special levels unlocked through these cards! The bad news is only twelve of these cards ever came out anywhere other than Japan, and 26 of them were left overseas. The good news is the new re-release for the Wii U Virtual Console added in all of them by default, no extra money required! It would’ve made sense to have the extra levels locked behind payed DLC or amiibo cards to better simulate the original idea, but honestly would anyone really want that compared to this? Though maybe they could still do that with some of the other e-card based functions in the game that they didn’t add in, like the switch cards that change some aspects of how the main game works for more variety or the extra power-up items.
The e-reader levels themselves combine a ton of elements from Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros. 2, the other Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and the other Super Mario Advance games into a collection of courses that are unlike anything seen before or since in the franchise. They even introduce some new concepts, some of which went on to become staples of the franchise, like hidden coins that unlock special content and the Boomerang item. Some of these levels can get pretty crazy. One level has you racing to get to the goal with a 60-second time limit. Another level has you pulling things out of the ground that could be vegetables you use as weapons, they could be coins, or they could be mushrooms that poison you. Five of the levels are just taken straight from the original Super Mario Bros. (which really puts into perspective how different the two games are, having to play one game’s levels in the other game’s physics engine.) They are definitely a welcome addition and a good reason to get this remake.
This game puts two great games, one of which is considered by many to be the greatest game of all time, into an updated package while also adding lots of new content to keep things fresh even after all these years. All in all I give this game 9 E-Reader cards out of 10.