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
Virtual Console (Wii U)
Release date Game Boy Advance:
Japan July 11, 2003
Europe October 17, 2003
USA October 21, 2003
Australia October 24, 2003[1]
Virtual Console (Wii U):
Japan December 29, 2015[2]
USA January 21, 2016
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
Wii U:
Media DL icon.svg Digital download
Game Boy Advance:
Media GBA icon.png Cartridge
Wii U:
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 boasts 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 Cape 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, possibly due to the fact that the e-Reader was planned to be released in Europe. It can be "unlocked" by having a corrupted save file.[3]

The game was re-released on the Wii U's Virtual Console service in Japan on December 29, 2015, and later in North America on January 21, 2016[2]. This release also includes all of the e-Reader levels, including those previously only released in Japan[4].


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 World: Super Mario Advance 2, after booting up the game a cutscene telling the story leading up to the game was added.
  • When first 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.

Gameplay changes[edit]

  • 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 in normal courses can be hit with a tail swipe as Raccoon or Tanooki Mario (Giant ? Blocks in bonus rooms are still immune to tail whips.).
  • Spade Panels change suits if won. The order is: Spade> Heart (offering up to a 7-Up)> Club (up to a 10-Up)> Diamond (guaranteed win) before looping back. Each one allows the player the chance to earn more lives.
  • Mario can have up to 999 lives.
  • On the map screen, L Button is used to open the inventory window, rather than B Button, which swaps lives in 2-Player Mode instead, as in Super Mario World.
    • Due to the removal of the current world and the player's lives from the inventory window, it can hold eight more items, increasing the allowed amount from 28 to 36.
    • After beating the game, B Button can also be used to select a world (as in Super Mario Bros. and Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3), although in 2-Player Mode, both players must be in different places for it to work.
  • R Button can be used as an additional run/attack button during levels, while on the map screen, it brings up the e-Reader menu.
  • On the map screen, Select Button opens a new replay menu, which can be used to watch or save a replay of the most recent level playthrough (provided the player did not pause).
  • Several changes are inspired by Super Mario World:
    • Each enemy defeated by Invincible Mario will be worth double the points of the last, eventually leading to extra lives.
    • Getting a Fire Flower or Super Leaf as Small Mario will change him to the respective form instead of changing him to only Super Mario.
    • The player can carry items (like shells and ice blocks) through pipes to new areas.
    • Shelled enemies (like Koopa Troopas and Buzzy Beetles) can now be stomped underwater.
    • Holding an item underwater lets Mario swim faster and float to the surface.
    • Like Cape Mario, Raccoon or Tanooki Mario can now tail swipe mushrooms away from him.
  • Tail swiping a Muncher won't turn it into a Used Block.
  • All Lakitus are one block lower then they were in previous versions.
  • Kicked shells and ice blocks can collect coins. Coins collected this way are worth double.
  • A new game over screen appears before the Continue/Quit menu, and it is now impossible to save after a game over.
  • 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.

Level design changes[edit]

Racoon Mario on Larry Koopa's Airship in Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3.
  • The bonus area in 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, the Brick Blocks that otherwise made Pipes and Bullet Bill cannons float in the air when broken now contain coins.
  • In Ice Land, the path to the second Mushroom House was changed so that clearing 6-5 is not required to access it.
  • Some enemies are changed. For example, the first pipe in 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.
  • The map pipe tunnels were edited to fit on the screen.
  • 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, the entrance is closed.
  • 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 changed:
    • Mario and Luigi now wear their white gloves, instead of being bare-handed (The coloring in the NES version was due to color limitations; the All-Stars version didn't fix this for unknown reasons.).
    • Unless he's holding an item, Luigi now scuttles when he jumps, regardless of whether the Yellow Switch e-Card is active or not.
    • 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 (as in the NES version).
    • In World 4, the map icon for the Sledge Bro now looks more like an actual Sledge Brother. Their NES map icon was merely a green Hammer Brother.
  • Sprites have a slightly brighter color, but it's not as noticeable as in the other Super Mario Advance games.
    • The invincibility palettes are even brighter, making Mario/Luigi colored like they were in Super Mario Advance. This can be reverted by using a Warp Pipe, taking damage, powering-up, or exiting/clearing the course.
  • Some effects were added:
    • Coins sparkle when collected.
    • Shooting a fireball at Bowser or Boom Boom causes him to flash for an instant.
    • Using a Warp Whistle causes the screen to blur out, like it does when warping in the remakes of Super Mario Bros. 2.
    • 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, the "1UP" icon grows bigger before it disappears.
  • The world maps have been edited, mostly due to the lack of borders on the map screen. Most maps scroll vertically, due to the GBA's resolution.
    • In part 2 of World 5, the map of the ground seen from the sky was fixed, now matching the actual ground part of the world's map.
    • After World 8-Fortress1-SMB3.pngFortress is cleared, the spotlight briefly expands when the lock is removed.
  • Spade Panels (and the matching card game) got a major design change, now having a zoomed-out view of the original area, a more detailed background, and a door which Mario enters to play the minigame.
  • Many levels are given more fitting backgrounds, like the All-Stars version. However, most levels (except for underground levels, airships, and fortresses) lack 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.
    • Thus, in 3-7's background, the clouds are all in front of the hills.
  • Brick Blocks that contain something don't turn into a "fake" coin after a Switch Block is activated.
  • The status bar is only one "block" tall (only showing the current world, and the player's lives, coins, score, and cards) and is front of the map on the map screen, but it's replaced by a normal HUD in courses (The Power Meter stays on the bottom, however.).
  • The item inventory shows all four rows at once, rather than one row at a time.

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.
  • 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, instead of 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 Peach's cries for help, cackling Boos, and Toad's yelp in the intro.
  • Luigi's jumps are joined with a new sound effect for his scuttling, similar to Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2.
  • New "happier" music plays when in a Bonus Area, instead of the underground theme.
  • In the Spade Panel minigame, a drumroll starts when two-thirds of a picture are lined up, and new victory music plays if a picture is lined up.
  • 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,[5] and also that site's third highest-rated game in the Mario series, behind only Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel.[6] The game was also commercially successful in North America, with sales in excess of 2.88 million copies.[7] By the end of 2006, it had sold more copies in that region than any other Game Boy Advance game.[8] Super Mario Advance 4 won IGN's 2003 award for best Game Boy Advance platform game,[9] and GameSpot nominated it for best platform game of the year.[10]

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.[5]


  • 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.
  • Many of this game's mechanics (like obtaining an extra life if a Goal Pole's 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. ^ a b
  3. ^ Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 - The Cutting Room Floor
  4. ^ GameXplain. (January 31, 2016). All 38 e-Reader Levels in Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros 3 - PLAYTHROUGH. YouTube. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 reviews at, dated 10-20-2003
  6. ^ "Best and Worst Mario Games" at, dated 5-20-2010
  7. ^ "US Platinum Chart Games" at The Magic Box, dated 12-27-2007
  8. ^ News - "Sailing the World: Eye of the Hurricane" at Gamasutra
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ [2]