Throughout this article I’ll mainly refer to these remakes by their original names, since those are easier to identify than just #s, & writing out both each time would be tedious. For reference, here are the full names o’ each remake (parentheses are my own notes):
- Super Mario Advance (Super Mario Bros. 2)
- Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2
- Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3
- Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
Don’t ask me why they randomly switched the order o’ terms ‘tween Advance 3 & Advance 4, or why they don’t e’en mention in the game title @ all that the 1st 1 is Super Mario Bros. 2.
What I remember from the Super Mario Advance remakes:
They were babied down in terms o’ difficulty
Which was ‘specially egregious for Super Mario World, since that game already was easy. I think this became less prevalent later in the series, though your character still reverts to their big form when hit as anything better than big in Super Mario Bros. 3. I don’t think they babied Yoshi’s Island @ all, though–just an extra midpoint in 1 level, I think. Then ‘gain, I barely played that 1, so maybe I just don’t remember anything.
I was ne’er good @ Super Mario Bros. 2, nor have I played it much nor remember much ’bout it, so I only just noticed this recently, but they truly baby that game down, filling it with hearts, 1-ups, & giant enemies that act as infinite repositories for hearts. It seems that checkpoints are mo’ plentiful, too.
Their controls always felt mo’ waggly to me than the originals
I don’t think this was just ’cause I used Luigi or ’cause I mainly used an emulator, since the waggliness applied just as much to Mario or Yoshi in Yoshi’s Island, & they still feel waggly in VBA-RR, which was made to be frame-consistent for speedruns, nor do, say, the remakes o’ the Donkey Kong Country games have such waggliness.
The graphics & music were worse than the SNES versions
This was the most infamous aspect. Apparently Nintendo’s solution to the original Game Boy Advance’s lack o’ lighting was to make their games look so bad that you wouldn’t want to look @ them. ‘Course, when later models that did have backlit lighting came out, these games looked like whitewashed messes. Great future planning.
Super Mario Bros. 3 was an exception in terms o’ graphics, since the newer models were already out by then. However, all GBA models had inferior sound capabilities to the SNES, & so they all had shoddy sound.
Super Mario Bros. 2 had 5 red A coins in every level. Collecting all o’ them in every level & beating every level, I think, unlocked some mode where you have to find a Yoshi egg in every level, & completing that probably just got you a star on your title screen or something.
Super Mario World actually cared whether you collected all o’ the dragon coins in every level & added some spiffy level menu that made moving round the map mo’ convenient.
Yoshi’s Island added a new level to every world, all o’ which were unlocked after beating the game.
Other than giving players the ability to replay any level or world they want after beating the game, adding some spify world-selection map, & actually caring whether the player beats every level, Super Mario Bros. 3 only gave extra content in the form o’ e-reader cards that nobody bought ’cause nobody bought the e-reader & Nintendo didn’t e’en release all o’ the cards outside o’ Japan ’cause nobody bought the e-reader—what was essentially a clunky, quaint form o’ DLC.
Note: totally not from an anally-retentive perfect save file downloaded off the internet.
I remember @ the time I 1st played Super Mario Advance 1 that I was actually disappointed by how much less bonus content it had compared to the Game Boy Color Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, which was the logical comparison (after all, that was the 1st Super Mario Bros. game & this following remake was the 2nd1). While Deluxe had a photo album with pictures you’d unlock for doing various things (killing each Bowser with fireballs, killing each type o’ enemy, & such); a “Challenge Mode” giving medals for each level for collecting 5 red coins, finding a hidden Yoshi egg, & getting a certain score in every level; a mode for racing Boo in various levels; & a (shitty) remake o’ Lost Levels, Super Mario Advance 1 only had the red coin & Yoshi egg part.
Hilariously awful voice acting
This is ‘specially the case for Super Mario Bros. 2. Just listen to these gems o’ Oscar-worthy performances. For some reason somebody @ Nintendo decided that their games became funner when Mario & Luigi constantly spout words & grunts (Luigi for some reason channels Donkey Kong when he gets hit in Super Mario Bros. 2) as you play. They were wrong—’less their concept o’ “fun” is being driven mad by the constant “¡LUCKY! ¡LUCKY! ¡LUCKY!” spouted every time you collect a cherry.
That Mario Bros. remake in every entry
E’en Yoshi’s Island, which doesn’t e’en let you play as Luigi.
The voice acting in this was e’en worse, too: both characters (who had the same voice) sounded as if they’d inhaled cartons o’ helium.
If I had to recommend which to play, I’d say maybe the 1st 2, Super Mario Bros. 2 & Super Mario World, & maybe just see if you can find a save o’ Yoshi’s Island that’s already beaten so you can just play the new levels. If you play the Virtual Console version or have some way to mess round with the e-reader content, maybe Super Mario Bros. 3 would be worth it. But other than these bonuses, the SNES versions are generally superior, with better graphics, sound, & controls, & without as much dumbing down.
Actually, though this probably doesn’t fit with this subject, I’d recommend Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, since that’s the best o’ the Mario remakes, with lots o’ bonus content without nearly as much gameplay losses, & no sound inferiority, a’least compared to the NES version. The only flaw is that the smaller screen makes some parts a li’l harder & that the remake o’ Lost Levels is, as I said, shitty. Hell, maybe I’ll write mo’ ’bout that game later—or e’en do a series ’bout the Game Boy Color.
1 ‘Nother point o’ interest: I don’t remember where this info came from, since ’twas years ago, but I remember some list o’ the following Super Mario Advance games before they came out that claimed that Super Mario Bros. 3 would be Super Mario Advance 2, but either it kept being pushed back, or this info was just some fan’s assumption.