System: Game Boy Advance
Genre: Action
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release date: October 21, 2003
ESRB rating: E
Players: 1 - 2 alternating/simultaneous
Memory size: 32 megabits
Save: 3 slots
Peripherals: e-Reader (optional)
SMA4 screen shot


Super Mario Bros. 3, hands down the most popular Mario game, finally comes to the Game Boy Advance. Just like Super Mario Bros. 2's transition into the first Super Mario Advance, Super Mario Advance 4 uses SMB3's graphics from Super Mario All-Stars. The color palette was tweaked slightly, resulting in a brighter-looking SMB3 for the GBA.

As per usual, SMB3 went through a few changes to become part of the Mario Advance series. Due to the fact that a Mario Bros. two-player mode is always included with Mario Advance titles, the Mario Bros. mode was removed from SMB3's two-player mode. In its place is an "extra lives swap" à la Super Mario World, but the card-swapping feature from the original SMB3's Mario Bros. mode was nowhere to be found. Because the B button is used to start the extra lives swap, opening and closing your item inventory was assigned to the L button.

Minor changes include slight modifications to levels (e.g. wider platforms and extra coins) which make the game a tad easier, but in most cases the changes are so small that you would've had to have played the original game many times to notice. Another particularly neat addition is a short intro scene showing Larry Koopa storm the castle in World 1...

The screen dimensions of the GBA are a bit smaller than the NES (240×160 vs. 256×224), of course, so data from the original bulky status bar was shrunk to one line and moved to the top of the screen. The power meter remains on the bottom of the screen, out of the way. The three squares showing cards you've collected from Roulette Blocks are in the bottom-right of the screen, but during a level they'll only appear briefly when Mario enters a level, and they'll pop back up when Mario is at the end of a level near a Roulette Block.

e-Reader connectivity
Swiping special cards (sold separately) into an e-Reader connected to the GBA will unlock new levels and play modes. One choice on the Data Select screen is the "Course Card" mode; this takes you to "World e+" which appears to be totally dependant on the e-Reader, as I couldn't do anything useful there without one.