The last game of the Super Mario Advance series, Super Mario Advance 4 finally brought Super Mario Bros. 3 to a portable system. Before it underwent many changes, SMA4's SMB3 started out as the Super Mario All-Stars version. All comparisons made here are between the US versions of both games.

GameSystemUS release
Super Mario All-StarsSuper NESAugust 1993
Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3Game Boy AdvanceOctober 2003


Perhaps the most obvious difference between the two versions is available screen space. Whereas the SNES has a resolution of 256×224, the GBA has only 240×160. For the SMA4 team, this meant losing 16 pixels (one block) in width and a whopping 64 pixels (four blocks) in height. Even after removing the 32-pixel high status bar, they still lost 32 pixels (two blocks) in height. Many changes for SMA4, such as raised or lowered platforms, were to adapt SMB3 to the smaller screen.

The image on the left shows just how much is lost in the transition from SNES to GBA.

Purple = SNES
Pink = GBA

Game intro

SMA4 treats us to a short introduction that sets up the game perfectly. It begins with Larry Koopa's airship flying through a storm to the World 1 castle. Larry Koopa drops into the castle, steals the king's wand, and turns him into a Cobrat. Toad then sends Princess Peach a letter asking for help. The princess relays Toad's message to the Mario Bros., who quickly jump into action.

Game select

SMA4 contains the same Mario Bros. game included with the other Super Mario Advance games.

Title screen

The lettering, clouds, and bushes on the right all changed for the smaller screen. The copyright dates were also updated.

Mario & Luigi

Instead of one- and two-player options, SMA4 offers Mario and Mario & Luigi modes. The four-player Mario Bros. mode (included on all Super Mario Advance games) effectively replaces SMB3's Battle Game.

Mario & Luigi works as a pseudo-two-player mode. After exiting a stage, the other brother appears on the map. You then have the option of passing the GBA to another player.

SMA4 also removed the Mario Bros. battle game that you could start from the map screen. Instead, you can give some of your extra lives to the other player. Stand over the other player's icon on the map and press B to bring up the life giveaway window.


In SMAS, you pick a file before the SMB3 title screen appears. SMA4 brings up the file select screen after the mode select screen.

Loading a saved game in SMAS resets the world map and starts you back on the START panel. SMA4 lets you save and continue your progress at any point, however, it's only a temporary save.

SMA4 will let you permanently save your progress after beating fortresses, airships, the tanks and ships in World 8, and after all the stages have been cleared.

Level start

This notification in SMA4 has a different font and stays on screen longer.

Level end

The message "Course clear! You got a card" was changed to "Level cleared! You got a panel" (most likely because the Japanese version of SMA4 used "panel" instead of "card"). In SMA4, the message stays on screen during the fireworks display for matching three cards.

SMA4 shows "Level cleared!" with the time bonus countdown after fortress and airship stages.

SMA4 has a new world clear screen after you meet the king. It'll say "Perfect clear!" if you haven't skipped any stages.

Mushroom Houses

The SMA4 version has a slightly smaller house with a different ceiling and a shorter drop to the floor. SMA4 lets you start moving immediately, except for the World 1-3 secret house.

Except for the hidden house in World 1-3 (above), Toad stands against the back wall. He also sports a creepy smile and a slightly different hat.

When you pick a box in SMAS, the item inside pops up a bit, then takes a curved path into your inventory. After you pick a box in SMA4, the item rises up high, and Toad's message box goes away. Then, all four rows of your inventory pop up with the new item highlighted.


The king's chamber is slightly smaller in SMA4. In Toad's message, the "K" in "King" was changed to lowercase.

Toad has a different message if you visit the castle after failing in an airship stage. Referring to the Koopa Kid in each airship, he says "Little Koopa" in SMAS and "the Koopalings!" in SMA4.

When you save the king, he says "Oh, thank heavens!" in SMAS and "Oh, splendid! Splendid!" in SMA4. Also, "I'm" was changed to "I am" and the "P" in "Princess" was changed to lowercase.

A comma was added after "Please" in the king's message to Tanooki Mario.

The punctuation combination "?!" was changed to "!?" in the king's message to Hammer Mario.


SMA4 has a different paper shape against a cyan background. In Princess Toadstool's signatures, the "T" in "Toadstool" was capitalized and the period at the end was removed.

Princess Toadstool's picture winks once in SMAS, but not at all in SMA4. The SMA4 princess wears a light blue earring.

While the attachments stayed the same, Princess Toadstool's second letter was switched with her third. Also, "Kuribo" was changed to "Goomba."

In letter number four, "sand Dunes" was changed to "sand dunes." It started out as "Sand Dunes" in the NES version.

In letter number five, the space between the first and second sentence was deleted.

The princess' sixth letter has a less vague hint about where to find a Magic Whistle. Instead of the "end of the Third world," she tells you to check the "end of the third goal of the first world."

In SMA4, Bowser uses his own stationery. "Ha ha ha" changed to "Gwa ha ha ha" and "Koopa" changed to "Koopas." Another nice touch in SMA4, you'll receive Bowser's letter if you warp to World 8.