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Super Mario Bros. 3

Fifth release in the Super Mario video game series

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Among Mario's Best Adventures

  • Aug 10, 2009
  • by
For those who know me, you'll have to bear with me for a moment as once again we talk about the historical significance of a video game.  Mario himself needs no introduction.  He single-handedly helped save the video game industry.  He's been in more video games than any other character (besides maybe Mega Man) and he's sold more than 300 million games worldwide.  Mario is easily the biggest selling franchise.  Yet his strongest days were perhaps in the NES days.  And why not?  This was when most of us knew him best. 

The original Super Mario Bros was, whether people care to believe it or not, one of the biggest video game breakthroughs ever.  Certainly the NES games don't have nearly as much to offer graphically, but as gamers it is important to step away from graphics and look at a game for what it is rather than what it isn't.  And look at the context of when a game came out.  Simply put, you wouldn't expect a movie made in 1939 to look anything like a movie made in 2009.  The same is true of video games.  Don't expect a game made in 1990 to look like a game made in 2009, either.  This has slowly been the case with most gamers.  There's a small cult who refuse to play anything which doesn't have revolutionary graphics... as if those games themselves won't become dated technologically (remember when we thought the PS2 was the console to end all consoles?).  There's an even bigger sect of gamers however, that refuse to play ANYTHING before they began playing games.  In short, if you began playing games in the Playstation era, you probably don't want to play games that came out before then. 

Mario, on the other hand often gets lucky because it gets several re-releases with graphical updates.  As cool as this is, I've always admired the charm of the original Super Mario Bros. 3.  When THIS game came out, you have to understand, it was all the rage.  When people asked, "What do you think is the greatest game ever made?"  In 1990 most people answered: Super Mario Bros. 3.  The era of side scrolling games seems dead now, with the exception of the handheld market and LittleBigPlanet.  When it came to the 2D side scroller, however, Super Mario Bros 3, for its time, took us in directions that we never could've dreamed.  Mario has always been able to take platforming to new heights.  Even Super Mario Galaxy revived interest in the genre and became a monumental success.  

But let's talk Super Mario Bros. 3.  Once again King Koopa has wrecked havoc in the Mushroom Kingdom.  This time he and his children have stolen the wands of the lands and Princess Toadstool.  It's up to Mario to get all the wands back and save Toadstool once again.  Certainly Mario 3 doesn't have a good story.  But you are, and I say this with a stern tongue, a moron if you actually pick up a Mario game for story.  If you are picking up a Mario game for story you might need to check yourself into a hospital.  Mario has always been about gameplay, and Super Mario Bros. 3 pushes gameplay a lot.

As the game begins you start on a world map and have to choose a level.  Mario 3 is what really began this trend of an overworld map to select levels.  Because it's a non-linear experience.  You don't have to complete every level to complete a world.  It's unfortunate that you can't go back and replay levels but that innovation had yet to occur during this time.  But for what it's worth the levels are ingeniously designed and crave to be explored.  This is because there is so much that Mario can do thanks to a load of items he can find in Toad Houses, or from taking on special battles along the map or winning them in mini-games.  Super Mario Bros. 3 also has the suit system.  There are many items Mario can get that will change his appearance and give him unique abilities.  There is, of course the Mushroom which makes him big and the flower which lets him shoot fireballs.  But here he's also given a leaf that turns him into a sort of a raccoon and can fly with.  Or he can get a Tanooki suit and turn into a statue.  He can get a frog suit and swim faster and better.  Or he can get the hammer suit and throw hammers just like the Hammer Bros.  All of these things are amusing.  But he also has other items.  The invincible star or the music box which puts enemies on the world map to sleep... or the cloud which lets him skip a level.  The best of all may be the magic whistle which he can use to warp.

The levels themselves are also well designed.  Some have complext puzzles to solve and others are pretty straightforward.  But they're varied enough with tons of hidden goodies that you rarely get the sense you're playing the same stage twice.  There are also a TON of stages and eight varying worlds.  You'll go from simple grasslands to a desert, a water world a GIANT world, a sky world, an ice world a pipe world, and finally King Koopa's castle.  

Super Mario Bros. 3 is not exactly an easy game, but it's hardly a challenge either.  You might get stuck in some levels because you can't figure out the puzzle, but everything within it is manageable.  Younger more inexperienced gamers might have problems with it.  Or those who began after the Super Nintendo era.  This is because in the NES era you had to find some way to make people keep playing the game.  And there was no better way to do that than to give people a challenge.  It ensured that not only did you keep coming back to play longer, but also to try and do better.  Super Mario Bros. 3 is a challenge, but it is far from being the most challenging NES game or even Mario game, for that matter.

Graphically, Super Mario Bros. 3 looks quite amazing for its time.  It took the NES to its limits and gave us some visual flair that most NES games didn't provide.  It may be nostalgia talking here, but I'm still charmed by the games old school graphics even to this day.  Not because I was there when they were new, but because they say so much.  A game's artistic style is as important as it's visual style.  Imagine, if you will, if Halo just looked good and didn't carry it's own visual style?  It would probably look like any other FPS to someone who hadn't played it.  This is where Super Mario Bros. 3 has its charm.  It's style is unique and groundbreaking for its time. 

There are also some catchy tunes that are recognizable to just about any seasoned gamer.  Some of which have been remixed time and time again.

Surprisingly, though, Super Mario Bros. 3 is still quite fun to this day.  It's status as the world's best selling non-packaged game has been overshadowed by other games (well, if you don't want to count Super Mario All Stars or the GBA release) but one thing is for sure: It survives the test of time better than most of us could've imagined it would.  It's a game that anyone who calls himself (or herself) a gamer should check out at least once.

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More Super Mario Bros. 3 reviews
review by . August 02, 2012
posted in Siliconera Bounce
Many gamers consider this the best game in the NES library, and while I won't say that since I don't think I've played a wide enough array of games for that console to come up with such a conclusion, I'll say that this is my favorite game with the Mario title on it. This is my favorite of all the Mario games since I think among Mario's "classic" games, this one is the toughest while still being fun and unlike the two previous Mario games, starts to include features …
Quick Tip by . September 26, 2010
This is what a sequel to one of the most classic games should be. Find whats good about the original and ramp it up.
review by . August 14, 2008
I first played Super Mario Brothers 3 many, many years ago when it first appeared on the original NES. Now, it's all over the place, having been re-released for the Game Boy Advance and now downloadable on the Wii. It is certainly the most difficult Mario title I have ever played. The graphics are cute, the sound is catchy - til you die 999999 times on the same level, then it gets on your last nerve. The worlds are massive and offer many puzzles to test the most seasoned veteran. That being said, …
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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