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One of the most frustrating episodes in Mario's storied career
on 1 December 2012
I've already reviewed "Super Mario Bros. 3" elsewhere, with both the 8-Bit NES version and the "Super Mario All-Stars" version. I don't want to spend a lot of time and space on "Super Mario Bros. 3" specifically, but instead focus on this port (which is based on the "Super Mario Allstars" version). We all know "Super Mario Bros. 3" is a classic title. So, let's dispense with the cursory introduction of "Super Mario Bros. 3". Basically, this is just a copy and paste job from a short blurb I wrote in my 2004 review of "Super Mario All-stars".
"SUPER MARIO BROTHERS 3: The best selling game ever released independently, SMB3 greatly expanded the Mario universe with the introduction of several new enemies, Bowser's children (who was the mother, I wonder? Godzilla's ex?), and introduced cool new suites for Mario to wear. The game play was more expansive than ever, with cool new secrets to discover and eight tremendously large worlds. This game laid the foundation for so many other plat-formers, especially SUPER MARIO WORLD. While SMB2 felt like a weird detour, SMB3 took Mario back to the atmosphere or the original game, taking it a thousand different directions, and coming up with one of the best games ever developed. Although there were a few tweaks for the ALL STARS release (some levels got a few more coins to make it easy to access game secrets), like the other games this is tremendously faithful to the original NES release. That alone makes this essential playing"
To further elaborate, there are a few cosmetic changes, but this is largely the All-stars port of "Super Mario Bros. 3" that we all know and adore. Ok, we all love SMB3? It's an eternal classic, etc, etc. Best game on the NES. Yada yada. Everyone on the same page? Good.
Now, let's get to the problems of "Super Mario Advance 4", and yes, there are problems. Well, one problem anyway. And it's a BIG problem. It's a little selling point called e-Reader compatibility. What's so great about e-Reader cards you ask? Well, I'm glad you asked.
e-Reader cards features new content than can be added to pre-existing games. In the case of "Super Mario Bros. 3", there were three specific types: Power-ups (which uploads specific items into Mario or Luigi's inventory list and can be used an unlimited amount of times), Demo Cards (which showed Mario speed-running, collecting enough coins to unlock a blue Toad House, or doing infinite 1-Up tricks - essentially, the hint videos of "New Super Mario Bros. Wii" six years before), and, wait for it . . . New Levels.
Yes, you read right. New levels. Yes, Nintendo made NEW LEVELS to "Super Mario Bros. 3", and a whole new world called, appropriately enough, "World-e". Note, these are not the 15 inaccesible levels embedded in the original NES "Super Mario Bros. 3" code. Nintendo released ten levels in Japan, the PAL reigion, and America, with two different series. Fantastic, eh? Awesome?
No, not really. In fact, as a Mario can you just feel cheated. Why? Well, for one, although Japan frequently gets exclusive content, Nintendo released a full TWENTY TWO additional new levels in Japan only, because (again, wait for it) . . . Nintendo discontinued the e-Card reader
So, what's frustrating here? Mainly, Nintendo made THIRTY THREE NEW LEVELS (which, to put in perspective, is over a third of the original game, as "Super Mario Bros. 3" has 88 levels total), plus five re-made levels in "Super Mario Bros. 3" style of "Super Mario Bros.". These were levels 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, and 2-1. Also, in homage to "Super Mario World" there are five new coloured switches which effect gameplay in different ways, but again only were released in Japan.
Although many think Boomerang Mario first appeared in "Super Mario 3D Land", actually he first appeared in these one-off levels on the e-Cards, but (with only one exception, "Slidin' the Slopes", where you can use a boomerang on that one level only, just like Goomba's Shoe on 5-3) no one outside of Japan got to play as Boomerang Mario. 2/3s of the e-cards appeared only in Japan.
Another problem with the e-Cards? In World-e, there are three mushroom houses, each featuring three specific mini-games. To unlock these mushroom houses, you must get Advance Coins found in the new levels (a precursor to the Star Coins of the "New Super Mario Bros." series). But here's the kicker. Outside of Japan, there's only enough coins to access ONE of these three mini-games, because there's not enough currency in the ten levels that Nintendo actually did release to unlock the other two.
In Europe, the gamers got screwed even worst than the Americans, with the e-Card functionality completely disabled, inaccessible through normal gameplay.
For Mario fans, this is beyond disappointing. Nintendo put so much effort into new content, and yet do to poor implementation the majority of gamers will not get to experience these fantastic levels. The e-reader was also a failure, so the cards weren't available for very long anyway. Had all this new content been released in the game proper, "Super Mario Advance 4" would be the definitive port of "Super Mario Bros. 3"; as it stands, there is only a vague sense of disappointment and incompletion for those who know about the new content.
These are the true Lost Levels in the Mario universe, still commercially unreleased and widely difficult to play legitimately. Note that the original "Super Mario Bros." had 32 levels. These lost levels are 32 in number, along with three bonus levels and five remade levels.
In the NES days that would be a full-length Mario title! Why oh why Nintendo????
Released Levels Outside of Japan:
1. Wild Ride in the Sky (Included with the game) (Japanese: Sky Athletics!)
2. Slidin' the Slopes (Series 1) (Japanese: A Slope Slide!?)
3. Vegetable Volley (Series 2) (Japanese: Bulldoze Your Way Through Vegetables!)
4. Doors o' Plenty (Series 1) (Japanese: Spinning Labyrinth in the Ghostly Mansion!)
5. Bombarded by Bob-ombs (Series 2) (Japanese: A Bomuhei Army!)
6. Magical Note Blocks (Series 1) (Japanese: Jump Upon the Musical Blocks!)
7. The ol' Switcheroo (Series 2) (Japanese: Gold Rush!!)
8. Piped Full of Plants (Series 1) (Japanese: Full of Pakkun Flowers)
9. Swinging Bars of Doom (Series 2) (Japanese: Slip Through the Firebars!)
10. Para Beetle Challenge (Series 2) (Japanese: Look Out For the Patametto)
Other: *01 Classic World 1-1 (Series 1)
Other: Airship's Revenge (Wal-Mart exclusive) (Japanese: Airship's Revenge! ())
Switches and Exclusive Levels:
1. Blue Switch (1-Up Mushrooms Become 3-Up Moons)
2. Yellow Switch (Gives Luigi his flutter jump in the main game.)
3. Green Switch (Slows down the timer.)
4. Cyan Switch (Quickly-filling P-Meter)
5. Red Switch (Replaces the enemies with harder ones and points received from killing enemies are doubled.)
M11 Onpu Burokku de Asurechikku! (Athletic with Note Blocks!)
M12 Hikosen wa Tomaranai! (The Airship's Unbearable!)
M13 Kori no Chika de Oawate! (Excitement Under the Ice!)
M14 Tanuki Sustu no Himitsu (The Tanuki Suit's Secret)
M15 Henshin Mario de Tsukisusume!! (Keep Going by Transforming Mario!!)
M16 GO!GO! Kutsu o Haite GO! GO! (With Boots On, GO! GO!)
M17 Ta-kun ni Ki o Tsukero (Be Careful of Bumpty)
M18 Kori no Toride (Ice Fortress)
M19 Sabaku no Paipu Meiro (Desert Pipe Labyrinth)
M20 To no Ue kara Kakenukero!! (Break Through the Top of the Tower!!)
M21 Toride o Kakenukero!! (Escape the Fortress!!)
M22 Ropu o Nobotte Asurechikku (Rope-climbing Athletics!)
M23 Obake Yashiki wa Nazo Darake! (The Ghostly Mansion of Mystery!)
M24 Manto de Ozora o Tobe (Fly the Skies on a Mantle!)
M25 Hotte! Hotte! Horimakure!! (Dig! Dig! Dig Through!!)
M26 Umi no Naka wa Kiken de Ippai! (The Ocean is Full of Danger!)
M27 Kakushi Kuppa Jo (Hidden Bowser's Castle)
M28 Kokuppa ni Damasareru na! (Don't Mess With the Koopalings!)
M29 Kuppa no Hikosen Zenpen (Koopa's Airship Part 1)
M30 Kuppa no Hikosen Kohen (Koopa's Airship Part 2)
Bonus: Charenji!! Togetoge Toride (Challenge! Togetoge Fortress)
Bonus: B Dasshu de Kakenukero! (Break Through With B-Dash!)
SMB Remake Classic World 1-2
SMB Remake Classic World 1-3
SMB Remake Classic World 1-4
SMB Remake Classic World 2-2
One of the most frustrating episodes in Mario's storied history