Selena the Retro Princess

“Lost” E-reader Version of Mario 3 Now Playable

In 2001 Nintendo released a Game Boy Advance accessory that allows unique gameplay options to be added to certain games, perhaps most notably was Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros 3. The accessory was the e-Reader and due to its complexity and obscurity, many thought this unusual version of the game to effectively be lost. But now, over 20 years later, anyone can download this save file that has all of the North American Super Mario Advance 4 special options unlocked! You only need to provide a legal copy of your own ROM.

Link to the file: Internet Archive

The e-Reader was an unusual GBA accessory that allowed players to purchase and collect special cards containing “dot-code”, which could then be swiped into the e-Reader for various uses such as playing classic NES and Game & Watch games, reading special pokedex data from Pokemon Trading Cards, or – as in this case – unlocking special gameplay options.

Super Mario Advance 4 also has bonus e-Reader levels which Nintendo included when they re-released this version for Wii U, but sadly Big N never provided any official way to access the e-Reader gameplay changes included in this release.

The added content includes three primary changes to the base gameplay of Super Mario Bros. 3; vegetables sprout from the ground as in Super Mario Bros 2 and can be picked up and tossed at enemies, and enemies turn into coins when struck by fireballs as well as the cape is present with all flying mechanics intact just like in Super Mario World. Together, these official mods made by Nintendo themselves make for an exciting change to the classic game!

It wasn’t easy to add e-Reader content. A second GBA and a link cable were necessary to swipe the cards and transfer data to the intended cartridge. This made for a complex procedure that many players at the time didn’t have the resources to accomplish. Furthermore, the code contained on the cards was unique and not possible to unlock on the ROM with a simple hack; the code would need to be injected as a mod making the need for the cards and equipment difficult to bypass.

In the save file I’ve uploaded to, the cards used are those which were released in North America. There were a few e-Reader cards that added other features which are exclusive to Japan and are not presently included. If I acquire those cards they may be added in a future update.

[Note: If you have followed my socials, make sure to get this newly uploaded version. My previous release had an error for the first level.]

I’m excited to be able to share this release with the awesome retro gaming community!

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