Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3

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Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
North American box art for Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
American box art
For alternate box art, see the game's gallery.
Developer Nintendo EAD
Publisher 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
Europe March 10, 2016[3]
Australia March 11, 2016
Genre 2D Platformer
ESRB:ESRB E.svg - Everyone
PEGI:PEGI 3.svg - Three years and older
CERO:CERO rating A - All ages
ACB:ACB G.svg - General
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Wii U:
Digital download icon for use in templates. Digital download
Game Boy Advance:
Game Boy Advance icon for use in templates. Game Pak
Wii U:
Wiimote Sideways.png Wii Remote (Sideways)
Game Boy Advance:

Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 is the Game Boy Advance remake of the 1988 NES game 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. Also, like the Super Mario Advance games that came before it, it features an identical remake of Mario Bros.

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, possibly because the e-Reader was planned to be released in Europe. It can be "unlocked" by having a corrupted save file.[4]

The game was re-released on the Wii U's Virtual Console service in Japan on December 29, 2015,[2] and later in North America on January 21, 2016, in Europe on March 10, 2016, and in Australia on March 11, 2016. This release also includes all of the e-Reader levels in all versions, including the levels that were previously only released in Japan.

This game has rumble support if played on a Game Boy Player.


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 and All-Stars versions of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Advance 4.

  • Like in Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2, after the game boots up, a cutscene telling the story leading up to the game was added.
  • If the player warps to World 8, Bowser's letter will appear on-screen as if the player completed World 7.
  • If the player defeats Bowser before defeating all of the Koopalings and enters a skipped 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, similar to the intro.
  • When the player first enters the second part 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.
  • Instead of being a mostly static slideshow, the worlds in the end credits now show a short animation, followed by the screen freezing and the world's name, number, and map sliding onto the screen.
  • The ending scene of Mario/Luigi rescuing Peach is omitted after the game is cleared.

Gameplay changes[edit]

Several items and enemies have been changed for the remake:

  • Upside-down Spiny Shells can be safely grabbed, stomped, and/or kicked without taking damage; in the previous versions, even an immobile, upside-down Spiny Shell would hurt Mario if he landed on top of it.
  • Big Blocks in normal courses can be hit with a tail swipe as Raccoon or Tanooki Mario (Mega ? Blocks in bonus rooms are still immune to tail whips.).
  • Coin Blocks generally give more than ten coins if hit fast enough, and up to 20 if a Magic Wing is used.
  • Spade Panels change suits if won, which gives the player the chance to earn more lives. The order is Spade> Heart (offering up to a 7-Up)> Club (up to a 10-Up)> Diamond (guaranteed win), before looping back.
  • The maximum number of lives is now 999 rather than 100 (in the NES version) or 99 (in All-Stars).
  • Tail-swiping a Muncher will not turn it into an Empty Block.
  • All Lakitus are one block lower than they were in the previous versions.
  • Kicked shells and Ice Blocks can collect coins. Coins collected this way are usually worth double.
  • Jelectros bob up and down in-place rather than being completely still.
  • The Hammer Brothers' hammer-throwing frequency is lowered; the only exception is while they are jumping.
  • Boss Bass takes longer to respawn (if the Orange Switch is not used).
  • Bowser (whose lower half is now harmful) becomes intangible upon defeat (if he is beaten with fireballs or hammers).
  • Bricks that contain something do not turn into a "fake" coin after a Switch Block is activated.
    • Bricks and coins remain animated while a Switch Block is active.

Additionally, several gameplay changes to items and enemies match their functions in Super Mario World:

  • Invincible Mario's point chain is the same as that of kicking a shell through many enemies or stomping many foes without landing on the ground.
  • The time bonus countdown is shown after the player clears any stage, and like in Super Mario Advance 2, the time bonus is x100, x200, and x500 for beating Boom Boom, the Koopalings, and Bowser, respectively.
  • Getting a Fire Flower or Super Leaf as Small Mario will change him to the respective form instead of only changing him to 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 Caped Mario, Raccoon or Tanooki Mario can now tail-swipe mushrooms away from him.

The controls have been slightly altered to match the GBA's capabilities:

  • On the map screen, L Button is used to open the inventory window rather than B Button, which instead swaps lives in Mario & Luigi mode (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 number from 28 to 36.
    • After the player beats 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 Mario & Luigi mode, both brothers 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).
  • Mario can climb beanstalks faster by holding B Button or R Button. He can also aim his fireballs/hammers by moving left or right while on one.
  • The Power Meter does not run out if Mario keeps running, and in Raccoon or Tanooki form, he can replenish it by landing and taking off again.

Level design changes[edit]

Main article: Super Mario Bros. 3#Worlds
Mario on Larry Koopa's Airship.

Entire structures in some levels are altered to fit on the GBA's smaller screen, such as shortened rooms, lower ceilings, higher lava pits, and slightly different stairs.

  • The map pipe tunnels were also edited to fit on the screen.
  • Before facing Boom Boom, the entrance is closed. As such, the fortress boss arenas are slightly shorter.
  • Likewise, Bowser's rooms are also shorter.

Many of the changes to levels have made the gameplay easier for the player to complete.

  • In World 6, the path to the second Toad House was changed so that clearing World 6-5 is not required to access it.
  • Several platforms were made longer.
  • Several blocks containing coins, power-ups, and 1-Up Mushrooms were added.
  • Several enemies, obstacles, and pits were changed to be less threatening or removed.[5]

Some levels also received changes to the placements of items and/or coins.

  • The end of World 2-Pyramid sprite from All-stars is now at the other side of the pyramid, and a Blue Coin-revealing Switch Block has been added behind the pipe.
  • In World 5, the bricks directly attached to Warp Pipes and Turtle Cannons now contain coins.
  • As this is Super Mario Advance 4, the second of the two "3's" made of blue coins in World 5-1 was changed to a "4."
  • After beating the game, in levels that unlock White Mushroom Houses, there is a Mushroom Coin at the start that, when hit, shows how many coins Mario needs to unlock the house.
  • Due to the inclusion of the Mario Bros. remake, and the fact that it is not possible for two players to play on a single console, the Battle Mode in 2 Player Game (and the option to play it from the title screen) is gone.

Graphical changes[edit]

The sprites have a slightly brighter color, but it is 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. If the game is played on a Game Boy Player, however, the palettes revert to those of the All-Stars version.

Beyond being brightened, a few of the game's sprites were slightly redesigned to fit the GBA's capabilities:

  • As in the other games in Super Mario All-Stars, 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 did not fix this for unknown reasons), matching their official artwork. Mario's lighter tail stripes are also thinner.
  • Unless he is holding an item, Luigi now scuttles when he jumps, regardless of whether the Yellow Switch e-Card is active or not.
  • Luigi's Statue form is as tall as he normally is, instead of matching Mario's.
  • Frog Mario/Luigi is upright when holding the magic wand, rather than in his normal jumping pose.
  • When Raccoon/Tanooki Mario/Luigi glides/flies while crouching or holding an object, his tail is now animated.
  • Princess Peach received new sprites for this version, matching her official artwork.
  • Pile Driver Micro-Goombas are colored differently and do not shine like actual bricks (as in the NES version).
  • In World 4, the Sledge Brother map icon now looks like an actual Sledge Brother. Prior to this, their map icon was either an actual Hammer Brother (NES) or merely a green Hammer Brother (SNES).
  • The floating Turtle Cannon in World 8-1 is flipped and now looks attached to the block it is on.
  • As in the official artwork, Boom Boom's head is rounded.
  • Spade Panels and N-Mark Spade Panels 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.

Some effects were added to the sprites for extra detail:

  • Coins sparkle when collected.
  • Shooting a fireball at Bowser or Boom Boom causes him to flash for an instant.
  • Using a 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, 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, and some of the maps have been updated.

  • The end section of World 3's map is even more like Japan, as Sado Island is added.
  • In World 5, the map of the ground seen from the sky is fixed, now matching the actual ground part of the world's map. Also, moving clouds replace the stationary ones.
  • After World 8-The Fortress map icon.Fortress is cleared, the spotlight briefly expands when the lock is removed.
  • On the last part of World 8, Bowser's Castle was redesigned again, as it was during the NES-to-All-Stars transition. Also, the path-connecting coin icons sparkle, and a "Help!" word balloon comes from the castle before beating the game.
  • The border from the All-Stars version returns on the new World Select screen.
  • After beating the game, the castles' word balloons change to "!" if all the stages in the world haven't been cleared, "OK" if they have, and "CLEAR!" if the game is fully completed.
  • During the ending, the "World #" font was changed to look like it did on the original status bar, but bigger.

Many levels are given more fitting backgrounds, like the All-Stars version. However, most level backgrounds (except for underground levels, airships, and fortresses) lack horizontal parallax scrolling, although this did appear in a pre-release trailer shown at E3 (vertical parallax scrolling can still be seen as Mario flies upward).

  • The bonus rooms in Worlds 6-9, 6-10, and 8-1 are made of bonus room terrain, rather than using the cave tileset.
  • In World 3-7's background, which is moved up, the clouds are all in front of the hills.
  • In World 3, all block backgrounds are replaced by waterfall backgrounds (except for the ground Hammer Bros. stages).
  • As in the All-Stars version of Super Mario Bros., underwater level backgrounds now have a distorted wavy effect.
  • The steel background of World 5-1's secret area and the block background of World 5-7's secret area were both changed to a sky background.
  • The sky in World 6's athletic background is white, rather than purple.

Some of the game menus have been changed to compensate for a smaller screen and different button controls.

  • The status bar is only one "block" tall (only showing the current world, and the player's lives, coins, score, and cards) and is in front of the map on the map screen, but it is replaced by a normal HUD in courses (the Power Meter and cards stay on the bottom; the cards are shown briefly at the start of each stage, and reappear near the goal).
    • In both cases, the word "World" is taller (to match the number font), and the "M" & "L" symbols are shorter.
  • The item inventory shows all four rows at once, rather than one row at a time.
  • Small blue L Button & R Button icons are added to the top corners of the map screen.
  • Within levels, the cards are now squares instead of rectangles.
  • A new Game Over screen appears before the Continue/Quit menu, and it is impossible to save after a Game Over (as in the NES version). Any levels cleared before getting a Game Over stay that way upon continuing.
  • 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.

Some of the letters look slightly different:

  • Peach's letters are smaller and have a cyan background.
  • Bowser's letter is written on different paper with a gray background, instead of looking the same as Peach's letters.

After Mario/Luigi defeats Bowser, he automatically turns into Super Mario/Luigi regardless of whatever power-up he is using, to fit with the ending cutscene. Additionally, defeating Bowser now automatically triggers the ending cutscene rather than have the player trigger it manually, possibly to prevent Mario/Luigi from potentially falling into the void left behind in the ground after Bowser's defeat, and therefore losing a life.

Textual changes[edit]

Some levels have had their dialogue updated or fixed.

  • Upon clearing a level, "COURSE CLEAR! YOU GOT A CARD" was changed to "LEVEL CLEARED! YOU GOT A PANEL." "LEVEL CLEARED!" also appears after boss fights.
  • In World 1-3's secret Toad House, "faraway" is spelled correctly as one word.
  • In the Spade Panel instructions, "Miss twice and your out" from the early NES versions was corrected to "Miss twice, and you're out!"
  • World 9's welcome message is now "World 9 Warp Zone!" rather than "Welcome to Warp Zone."
  • World 8's name was changed from "Castle of Kuppa" (or "Castle of Koopa") to "Bowser's Castle."
  • Peach's speech in the ending has been reverted to the one found in the Japanese versions, instead of the joke featured in the previous localized versions.

The dialogue in the Kings' castles were slightly changed:

  • In Toad's initial pleas, "King" is in lowercase.
  • If the player visits the castle after failing in an airship stage, "Little Koopa." in Toad's message is replaced by "the Koopalings!"
  • Kings start their thanks with "Oh, splendid! Splendid!" instead of "Oh, thank heavens!", "I'm" was changed to "I am", and "Princess" is now lowercase.
  • In the Kings' message to Tanooki Mario, a comma was added after "Please."
  • The interrobang (?!) in the Kings' message to Hammer Mario was reversed.
  • If the player managed to defeat a Koopaling after beating Bowser, the King's speech will omit any reference to Peach's letters.

The post-world letters have had their wordings redone:

  • Peach's second and third letters are swapped back to their original Famicom positions[6], though the attachments remained the same. Also, as in the revised NES version, "Kuribo" is changed to "Goomba."
  • In her fourth letter, "Sand Dunes" is now fully lowercase.
  • The space between the first and second sentences of her fifth letter is removed.
  • Her last letter has "goal of the first" added in-between "Third" and "world", and "Third" is in lowercase.
  • In Bowser's letter, "Ha ha ha" is changed to "Gwa ha ha ha", and "Koopa" to "Koopas."

Audio changes[edit]

Mario and Luigi have voice acting performed by Charles Martinet. Other added voice clips include Peach's cries for help in Bowser's Castle, cackling Boos, and Toad's yelp in the intro and castle cutscenes. Along with this, several new sound effects have been added.

  • Luigi's jumps are joined with a new sound effect for his scuttling, similar to Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2.
  • As in the All-Stars version of Super Mario Bros., Bonus Areas feature new upbeat music, rather than the underground theme.
  • As in Super Mario Advance 2, a sliding sound effect was added.
  • Certain sounds were changed/removed. For example, in levels, the "poof" sound Super Leaves make when grabbed is replaced with the typical "power-up" sound, and the "block hit" sound is absent when hitting bricks or blocks with coins in them.
  • 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 Power Meter beeps in a lower pitch if the player isn't in Raccoon or Tanooki form.
  • The short tune heard after defeating Bowser was changed from the same one heard after saving the Kings to a cover of the tune heard after defeating him and his fakes 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.


For this subject's image gallery, see Gallery:Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3.


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Please upload all related music, sound effects, voice clips, or any videos for this section. See the help page for information on how to get started.
Audio.svg Overworld Theme
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Audio.svg Athletic Theme
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Audio.svg Underground Theme
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Audio.svg Underwater Theme
File infoMedia:SMA4 Underwater Theme.oga
Audio.svg Starman Theme
File infoMedia:SMA4 Starman Theme.oga
Video.svg Gameplay of the e-Reader level Wild Ride in the Sky
Play video
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Video.svg Gameplay of the e-Reader level Castle Dash
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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. Gray 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 Goomba from Super Mario World walking.


Main article: List of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 glitches
  • 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.
  • If the player is on the map and uses a Starman and goes to a pipe, after the Starman is done, the underground music will play very fast.


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,[7] and also that site's fourth highest-rated game in the Mario series, behind only Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Super Mario Odyssey.[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 Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 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.[7]

Release Reviewer, Publication Score Comment
Game Boy Advance Benjamin Turner, Gamespy 4.5/5 "Given the short list of negatives above, I'd have to say that this is technically the least desirable version of Super Mario Bros. 3. However, the least accomplished version of an awesome game can still be pretty damn great, and such is the case here. Players who missed the first two editions probably won't even notice the shortcomings, and this is the only version of SMB3 that can easily be played on the go. SMB3 is almost as fun today as it was 13 years ago, and is among the top platformers on the GBA. That makes Super Mario Advance 4 an excellent choice for series veterans who want a portable Mario game, and an even better one for fresh-faced newbies who won't notice the port's technical shortcomings."
Game Boy Advance Joao Diniz Sanches, Pocket Gamer 4/5 "Playing Super Mario Bros. 3 is a dizzying experience. As one of the finest exponents of the genre, the ride it takes you on is as memorable as it is extraordinary, making it a vital acquisition for lovers of platform games."
Compiler Platform / Score
Metacritic 94
GameRankings 92.25%


The game was commercially successful in North America, with sales in excess of 2.88 million copies.[9] By the end of 2006, it had sold more copies in that region than any other Game Boy Advance game.[10]


Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 won IGN's 2003 award for best Game Boy Advance platform game,[11] and GameSpot nominated it for best platform game of the year.[12]

Names in other languages[edit]

Language Name Meaning
Japanese スーパーマリオアドバンス4
Sūpā Mario Adobansu 4
Super Mario Advance 4


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Despite gaining new sprites in this game, part of Luigi's power-up animation is a palette swap of Mario's. His somersaulting sprites are also recolored versions of Mario's.

External links[edit]