Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3

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Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
Super Mario Advance 4 Box.png
American boxart.
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Platform(s) Game Boy Advance
Release date Japan July 11, 2003
Europe October 17, 2003
USA October 21, 2003
Australia October 24, 2003 [1]
Genre 2D Platformer
ESRB:ESRB E.svg - Everyone
PEGI:PEGI 3.svg - Three years and older
CERO:CERO A.png - All ages
ACB:ACB G.svg - General
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer
Game Boy Advance:
Media GBA icon.png Cartridge
Game Boy Advance:

Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 (known as just Super Mario Advance 4 in Japan) is the Game Boy Advance remake of Super Mario Bros. 3, and is the fourth and final entry in the Super Mario Advance series of games on the GBA. It boasted similar graphics and sound to the Super Mario All-Stars version, and made use of the e-Reader.

A few e-cards came included with new copies of the game, while two sets (referred to as series) of cards were released and sold alongside the game. By scanning special cards into the e-Reader, players were able to upload items, videos, and most importantly, new levels into the game. One notable item was the Cape Feather from Super Mario World, which allowed Mario to transform into Caped Mario. There were also two Switch cards that the player could activate (and deactivate) the effects of by scanning them; the Orange Switch and the Blue Green Switch. Scanning these switches triggered small functions in the game. The e-Reader feature is still available in the European version, but disabled by default and inaccessible. It is fully translated, probably because the e-Reader was planned to be released in Europe. It can be "unlocked" by having a corrupted save file.[2]


The story, from the instruction booklet:

The Mushroom Kingdom has remained a peaceful place, thanks to the brave deeds of Mario and Luigi. However, the Mushroom Kingdom forms an entrance to the Mushroom World, a place where all is not well. Bowser sent his seven children to make mischief in this normally peaceful land. As their first order of business, they stole the royal magic wands from each country in the Mushroom World and used them to turn the kings into animals. Mario and Luigi must recover the royal magic wands from Bowser's seven kids to return the kings to their true forms. As Mario and Luigi set off on their journey deep into the Mushroom World, Princess Peach and Toad have but one thing to say: “Good-bye, and good luck!”

List of changes[edit]

There are many changes between the original Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Advance 4.

  • If the player warps to World 8, Bowser's letter will appear on screen as if the player completed World 7.
  • If the player defeated Bowser before defeating all of the Koopalings and arrived at a world's castle, a cutscene will play that will show the respective Koopaling breaking into the castle, stealing the King's scepter, transforming the King, and leaving just as Mario arrives at the castle.
  • Like Super Mario Advance 2, after booting up the game a cutscene telling the story leading up to the game was added.

Gameplay changes[edit]

  • Getting a Fire Flower or Super Leaf when Mario is small will change him to the respective form instead of changing him to only Super Mario.
  • Koopa Troopas can now be stomped underwater.
  • Upside-down Spiny shells can be safely touched, stomped or kicked from above without taking damage; in previous versions, even an immobile, upside-down Spiny shell would hurt Mario if he landed on top of it.
  • Giant Blocks can be hit with a tail swipe as Raccoon or Tanooki Mario/Luigi.
  • Spade Panels can produce different variants in response to completing one. The order is: Spade, Heart, Club, Diamond. Each one allows the player the chance to earn more lives.
  • Mario or Luigi can have up to 999 lives.
  • Pressing the R Button button brings up the e-Reader menu.
  • Like in Super Mario World and later games, each enemy defeated by Invincible Mario will be worth double the points of the last, eventually leading to extra lives.
  • Just like in Super Mario World, Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 lets the player carry shells through pipes to new areas.
  • In Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, tail swiping a Muncher won't turn it into a Used Block.
  • Kicked shells and ice blocks can collect coins. Coins collected this way are worth double.
  • Based on one of Caped Mario's moves, if Raccoon or Tanooki Mario or Luigi tail swipes a Super Mushroom, it will move away from him.
  • A new game over message appears before the Continue/Quit menu, and it is impossible to save after a game over in Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3.
  • The Power Meter lasts longer, doesn't run out if Mario keeps running, and, in Raccoon or Tanooki form, can be replenished by landing and taking off again.
  • Brick blocks that contain something don't turn into a "fake" coin after a Switch Block is activated.
  • The inventory window is much larger, being able to hold eight more items, increasing the allowed amount from 28 to 36.
  • Similarly to Super Mario World, the player can actually select the level they wish to play on a world map, but only after beating the game.

Level design changes[edit]

Racoon Mario on Larry Koopa's Airship in Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3.
  • The bonus area in World 1-2 now has far more coins.
  • In several levels of Giant Land, just before the Goal Panel, there is a coin bonus in the sky.
  • The ending of World 3-5 has a shorter expanse of water, and a 1-Up hidden above it.
  • In Sky Land, some brick blocks that otherwise make Pipes and Bullet Bill cannons float in the air contain coins.
  • In Ice Land, the path to the Mushroom House was changed so the player does not have to do 6-5 to access it.
  • Some enemies are changed. For example, the first pipe in level 1-1 contains a normal Piranha Plant instead of a Venus Fire Trap.
  • One cannon was removed from the World 8 Battleship level.
  • The first tank level in World 8 is shorter, with the removal of the first two tanks after the first ? block. Similar things were done in the World 8 Airship.
  • Several platforms throughout the game were made longer.
  • As this is Super Mario Advance 4, one of the two "3's" made of blue coins in 5-1 was changed to a "4".
  • Before facing Boom-Boom, steel blocks will block the entrance.
  • Entire structures in some levels are altered to fit on a smaller screen, such as lower ceilings, higher lava pits, and slightly different stairs.

Graphical changes[edit]

  • A few sprites were slightly improved. For example Mario and Luigi got white gloves. Previous versions had the two with light yellow gloves, the NES version due to color limitations and the All-Stars version for unknown reasons.
    • Sprites have a slightly brighter color, but it's not as noticeable as in the other Super Mario Advance games.
    • Princess Peach received new sprites for this version, matching her official artwork.
    • Pile Driver Micro-Goombas are colored differently and don't shine like actual Brick Blocks.
    • In World 4, the map icon for the Sledge Brother got modified to make it look more like an actual Sledge Brother. Their NES map icon was merely a green Hammer Brother.
  • Some effects were added:
    • Shooting a fireball at Bowser or Boom Boom causes him to flash for an instant.
    • Using a Warp Whistle in Super Mario Advance 4 causes the screen to blur out.
    • After a Switch Block is activated in this game, it disappears in a puff of smoke after one game second.
    • When an extra life is earned in Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, the "1UP" icon appears and grows bigger before it disappears.
  • In World 5, the map of the ground seen from the sky was fixed, now matching the actual ground part of the world's map.
  • Spade Panels (and the matching card game) get a major design change. Also, a drumroll starts when two-thirds of a picture are lined up, and a different music plays if a picture is lined up.
  • Many levels are given more fitting backgrounds, like the All-Stars version. However, during most overworld levels (except for underground levels, airships, and fortresses) there is no horizontal parallax scrolling in the background although this did appear in the All-Stars version and a pre-release trailer shown at E3. There is still, however, vertical parallax scrolling which can be seen as Mario flies upward.

Textual changes[edit]

  • Kings have slightly different speeches. They start out with "Oh, splendid! Splendid!" opposed to "Oh, thank heavens!"; "I'm" was changed to "I am"; and the word "Princess" no longer has improper capitalization.
  • When entering part 2 of the World 8 map, Princess Peach is shown above the second pipe. She yells "Mario!" if the player is Mario or simply screams if the player is Luigi before disappearing.
  • If the player finishes all the levels, staff credits are shown at the end along with the cutscenes and world names, along with the alternate ending music mentioned below.
  • World 8's name was changed from "Castle of Kuppa" (or "Castle of Koopa") to "Bowser's Castle".
  • If the player managed to defeat a Koopaling after beating Bowser and restore the King, the King's speech will omit any reference to Princess Peach sending him a letter addressed to the Mario Bros.
  • Peach's speech from the ending has been reverted to the one found in the japanese versions, as oposed to the joke featured in the previous localized versions.

Audio changes[edit]

  • Mario and Luigi have their trademark voice acting, as performed by Charles Martinet.
  • Other added voice clips include a cry for help from Peach, cackling for the Boos, and a yell for Toad used in the intro.
  • New "happier" music plays when in a Bonus Area, instead of the underground theme.
  • The short tune heard after defeating Bowser was changed from the same one heard after saving a Mushroom King to the tune heard after defeating him in Super Mario Bros..
  • An alternate ending song, which features the Super Mario Bros. ending theme remixed, is played when the player finishes all the game's levels. The original ending song is only heard if the player beats Bowser without finishing all the levels.


For a complete listing of the cards themselves, see here. The list of features added to Super Mario Advance 4 by the cards is as follows:

Exclusive features[edit]

Features and enemies from past titles[edit]


Main article: List of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 staff

Super Mario Advance 4 was developed by Nintendo EAD, with Hiroyuki Kimura as its director and Takashi Tezuka as the producer. The new graphics were designed by Emi Tomita, and the new music tracks were composed by Taiju Suzuki. Very few of the original game's staff were involved in the production of this remake; even Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto goes uncredited here, when he had previously produced Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2 with Tezuka as his supervisor.


Box art[edit]


Pre-release and unused content[edit]

Main article: List of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 pre-release and unused content

The game's logo looked different than it did in the E3 trailer. Grey Switches were also found in the game's data and also includes pressed versions of these switches. Compressed Super Mario World graphics were found in game data, these include an animation frame for the Koopa Clown Car, three frames of a Koopa Troopa walking, and two frames of a Galoomba walking.


Main article: List of glitches in Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3

It is possible to get Mario or Luigi to run backwards in the game. To get this to happen the player needs to hold L Button and R Button at the same time.


Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 has received very positive reviews, and has been considered one of the best Game Boy Advance games ever made. It is the third highest-rated GBA game on Metacritic, with an aggregate score of 94 based on 25 reviews,[3] and also that site's third highest-rated game in the Mario series, behind only Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel.[4] The game was also commercially successful in North America, with sales in excess of 2.88 million copies.[5] By the end of 2006, it had sold more copies in that region than any other Game Boy Advance game.[6] Super Mario Advance 4 won IGN's 2003 award for best Game Boy Advance platform game,[7] and GameSpot nominated it for best platform game of the year.[8]

Both Pocket Gamer and Play Magazine gave the game perfect scores. The former called the game "Mario hop-'n'-bop action at its finest", while the latter lauded the challenge in the gameplay, the quick save feature, and the e-Reader functionality. Meanwhile, Electronic Gaming Monthly praised SMA4 for its controls, stages, and visuals, stating that it looked good for an "old, trippy 2D game", and Yahoo! Games stated that the game surpassed both the original NES/Famicom version and the Super Mario All-Stars release.[3]


  • This is the first Mario franchise release in North America to carry Nintendo's current-era universal seal, which covers all products and merchandise licensed by the company. Previously, Nintendo had two seals—the Official Nintendo Seal of Quality, which covered hardware, games, and accessories; and a secondary seal saying "Official Nintendo Licensed Product", which only covered licensed merchandise.
  • The Ghost House graphics in the e-reader levels look quite similar to the ones made for Super Mario Maker, yet the music is the same as the one heard in Super Mario World, whereas Super Mario Maker had a new tune for the Ghost House levels.
    • Similarly, all the enemies taken from other games (Wigglers, Hoopsters, Monty Moles) uses the same sprites from their original games, whereas in Super Mario Maker all non-SMB3 enemies where given new sprites that closely follow the game's style.
  • This game's Goal Pole mechanics (like obtaining an extra life if the top is reached) became the standard in the series since New Super Mario Bros.


  1. ^ Date info for GBA from TMK, retrieved 6-30-2008
  2. ^ Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 - The Cutting Room Floor
  3. ^ a b Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 reviews at, dated 10-20-2003
  4. ^ "Best and Worst Mario Games" at, dated 5-20-2010
  5. ^ "US Platinum Chart Games" at The Magic Box, dated 12-27-2007
  6. ^ News - "Sailing the World: Eye of the Hurricane" at Gamasutra
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ [2]