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After the success of the original Super Mario Brothers on the NES, expectation for a follow up was understandably high. It is something of a surprise then that Super Mario Brothers 2 was not originally a Mario game at all, rather it was a game that had Mario characters ported into it late in development. Accordingly it feature gameplay that strayed from the previous Mario formula.
Given a little time however and this quirky follow up found its place in the hearts of Mario platform fans, and became another big hit for Nintendo. It is even credited with bring innovations to the series that remain today, the life meter, picking up enemies and playable other characters. The game was later released as Super Mario Advance on Gameboy Advance.
Platform games task you with getting from point A to point B. The world you journey through is usually based on different levels, and populated with enemies, switches and lifts to be negotiated. As you work through each level you pick up various collectables that accrue score, special abilities and access to hidden areas.
After the original Super Mario Brothers essentially established platform games as a genre in their own right you would expect the follow up to continue along the same bent. However, for one reason or another, this is a game that innovates. The level of interaction in Super Mario Advance: Super Mario Brothers 2 with the environment is greatly increased. Here you can pickup any enemy, pluck vegetables from the ground and enter various doors throughout the level. There is a bigger variety of end level monsters to defeat each of which require a little more jumping and shooting skill than before. This goes along with the more action oriented feel to the game which slightly dampens the sense of exploration of the original.
Players often go to this game after enjoying the original Super Mario Brothers. This is slightly ironic as it is in no way a follow up in the traditional sense of the word. However, the immersive interactions and quirky gameplay are more than enough to keep players coming back for more. Add to this the cast of Mario characters, and the first playable appearance of Princess Peach and you have an experience that establishes some essential elements of future Mario games.
The levels in Super Mario Advance: Super Mario Brothers 2 are more expansive than the original game and can take a little longer to finish. There is less reason to revisit them once they have been completed. Because of this the GBA version introduced a new Yoshi Challenge that tasks players with finding hidden Yoshi eggs throughout each stage. As in later Mario games this encourages players to scour each level over and over until each egg has been found.
Very young players are likely to find the exacting action oriented controls a bit tricky. There is often a lot going on at once, and the end level bosses require the player to develop relatively involved strategies to defeat.
Intermediate players who have enjoyed other Mario platform games should take to Super Mario Advance: Super Mario Brothers 2 quite well. After Super Mario Brothers this is a very different experience and can seem a little odd. However, in the wider context of other Mario platform games (such as Super Mario Advance 2 (Super Mario World) GBA and Super Mario Brothers 3) it features are more understandable.
If you are looking for a game with a female protagonist, Super Mario Advance: Super Mario Brothers 2 enables you to play as Princess Peach. Not a million miles from those Disney princesses, but certainly a character more in charge of her own destiny - complete with her own special move. As with other features in the game, this idea is fleshed out in a later platform game (in this case, Super Princess Peach on DS).
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