Super Mario Advance 2
Oh, that's right. This is why we were excited about the GBA. Amidst the sea of mediocre and downright craptacular recent releases for the handheld, we had almost forgotten. Nintendo themselves revived our faith in the lil* powerhouse with another updated classic--this time, the over-10-year-old platformer Super Mario World. The sheer variety of gameplay is astounding: Mario runs, jumps, grabs, throws, swoops, spins, dive bombs...well, just look at all the stuff below. What we have here is a true classic, whose addictive gameplay bears out the cliche: Simple enough for kids and casual gamers, but deep enough for the hardest of core. This is Nintendo at its finest.
This is the ultimate proof that 2D games will never die. Mario is simply a joy to play--effortlessly fun to control, and nearly impossible to put down. Check out the collage of all your moves on this page. That's more than any other platformer, ever, and yet it never overwhelms you; everything just comes naturally. Graphics and controls haven't suffered one bit in the translation to the GBA, and other refinements (such as the added map menu) improve on an already top-notch title. Levels are honed to perfection: Every block, every enemy, and every secret is placed with devious precision, all in a variety of stages vast enough to explore every facet of the excellent gameplay. If I'd never seen it before, this incredible game would likely score even higher--but since I already jumped through every nook and cranny of this World years ago, much of the excitement of exploration and discovery I remember was lost this second time (and I can't be alone, given that SMW was a Super Nintendo pack-in game). Finding all five Yoshi coins each level and a few secrets time blurred from memory were enough to keep me playing until I unlocked everything (no small feat in a game this huge), but I guess I'll just have to continue waiting for the original Mario adventure that the GBA deserves. Still, whether or not you played it before, Mario World is a must-own cart that deserves a permanent slot (right next to Castlevania) in any GBA carry case.
Of all the Marios, World's my least favorite-but I still love it. It's like trying to decide which color of Skittles is best: They're all good. And even though Super Mario World is a io+-year-old game, it's still one of the best platformers ever, now perfectly ported to 6BA. How can you not love it? Flying around with the cape, 96 stages (some with multiple paths), ridin' Yoshi, uncovering secret areas like the Star Road --this is one hell of a game. The improvements are welcome but unnecessary. Will anyone honestly play as Luigi? Maybe if you have to do everything, but he's too slow and awkward. In the end it makes no difference; SAW is great.
One of the best platform games of all time is now available in handheld form for only $30...honestly, what more could you ask for? The GBA conversion of Super Mario World is almost flawless, with just a few minor quirks that only hardcore fans of the original will notice (such as the occasionally tinny sound). The few new features are mostly welcome ones (playing as Luigi is cool, though I miss the two-player mode), and the page that tracks your progress is a godsend. I'm a tittle disappointed that they made it easier, and it's lame that the Mario Bros, multiplayer game hasn't changed. Oh well-still a must-own game and a true classic.