Some potentially good news came up yesterday, as it was revealed that next week would see the release of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 on the Wii U Virtual Console in Japan. Besides arguably being the definitive version of the game, there was also word that the e-Reader levels would be intact.
For those who are unaware, a quick history lesson: the Nintendo e-Reader was a device for the Game Boy Advance which read codes from cards, allowing for additional content (in a pre-downloadable content age) or even entire games to be scanned into the system. In the case of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 (simply referred to hereafter as “Super Mario Advance 4“), you could scan in additional levels as well as items, enemies, and power-ups from the many Mario games to come before. As such, you could see anything from the Shy Guys and turnips of Super Mario Bros. 2 to the Super Feather’s cape from Super Mario World, all in one game — and lots of new stuff as well!
Unfortunately, the news worries me. While I’ve no doubt Nintendo of America will do the same thing over here, what I’m concerned with is what capacity. See, we only received about a third of the total e-Reader content here, thanks to the peripheral’s considerable failure in this region. What’s more, according to Press The Buttons, Japanese dot codes from the e-Reader cards don’t work in the American version of Super Mario Advance 4. Therefore, for all intents and purposes, it seems possible that localized versions of the content may simply not exist.
As a result, I’m worried that while we may get Super Mario Advance 4 here, we may only end up seeing that third of the total content included. It wouldn’t be the first time Nintendo has held back on such things — the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, for instance, only features the colorless non-Super Game Boy version of Donkey Kong. And Balloon Kid was only released here in its colorless Game Boy iteration, while Japan was able to enjoy the Game Boy Color version from the previous Japan-only release of Balloon Fight GB. If they won’t release a game about balloons of all things in color, I don’t know what to tell you.
On the other hand, with the effort they’re putting into Pokemon Virtual Console releases, and that — if I’m not mistaken — M2 are handling the Game Boy Advance Virtual Console releases, perhaps there is still some hope yet?
Then, on a related note, Super Mario 64 DS is coming to the Wii U, albeit not quite in the form I would have asked for. Another Virtual Console release, this remake of Super Mario 64 is on the cusp of being the definitive version, with 30 new stars, new levels and foes, and the ability to play as Yoshi, Luigi, and super-strong Wario in addition to Mario.
The downside is that the graphics are better as well… but made for a much smaller screen resolution, and may not scale as well to a high definition television. Plus, there is no analog control — you can use the Circle Pad when playing on the Nintendo 3DS (and presumably the analog stick on Wii U as well), but it’s based on an eight-directional Dpad from the Nintendo DS, plus a run button. Of course, that makes it more like Super Mario 3D World instead of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and the two Super Mario Galaxy games, but that one was excellent, so there’s little to worry about there.
Just the same, this is why I elected this version specifically as one I wanted to see remade in high definition in a recent issue of Nintendo Force magazine: it has the most/best content, and could use the graphical polish and control options. Two Zelda remasters, but no Mario? Sigh.
In any case, if you can get past whatever may happen to the graphics in the process (playing on the GamePad will probably help a lot), then I highly recommend giving it a look.
David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.