Super Mario Bros. 3: retrospective

In a new feature for the site we will be replaying, reviewing or simply giving opinions on some of our all-time favourite retro games. The games can be anything, good, bad, long, short the only stipulation is that it isn’t classed as current gen. You can expect a whole heap of styles, genres and console formats to be included over the coming months.

Title: Super Mario Bros. 3
Original release: 1988 (JPN) 1991 (UK)
Format: Nintendo Entertainment System

How better to start this off than with one of my all time personal favourites, Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES. This was one of the first console games I owned and I still do to this day. I must have been around 11 or 12 at the time and my friend was lucky enough to have it, so naturally I was always asking to go round his house and not necessarily to see him. Eventually he let on that he was looking to sell his NES and move over to the Sega Megadrive, I made sure that I was first in line to take it off his hands. I think it ended up setting my parents back around £50 for the console including a couple of games and accessories which, considering it’s still with me now and working, is amazing value for money. I know now it was a lot of money for them at the time but they got it anyway for which I will always be greatful. I’m pretty sure I was made to do the washing up for a whole month but it was totally worth it, my very own NES with my very own Mario game. I couldn’t have been more happier. Super Mario Bros. 3 was like nothing I had ever played or seen before. Graphically it was amazing, the jump from the original Mario to this was unbelievable. We can touch upon Mario Bros. 2 at some point but being a re-skined version of Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic I’m putting it to one side for now. Honestly it felt like I was playing a Disney cartoon, the bold bright graphics really helped make the game resonate with me.

Super Mario Bros. 3 is a 2D side-scrolling platformer which takes place over eight kingdoms of the Mushroom World. Each of the kingdoms has been invaded by antagonist Bowser and one of his seven children, the Koopalings. The Koopalings manage to conquer each of the kingdoms by stealing it’s kings magical wand and turning them into animals. In steps Princess Toadstool and requests that Mario and his faithful sidekick Luigi, also his brother, rescue each of the kingdoms returning their king to normal in the process. All seems to be going to plan until they reach the seventh kingdom, upon its completion they receive a note from Bowser gloating about the capture of Princess Toadstool. This sets the scene for an epic finale between Mario, Luigi and Bowser in Dark Land.

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Gameplay is very similar to the previous entries in the Mario series but this time round everything is given an upgrade. Mario and Luigi have new moves, additional special powers and we see the inclusion of an overworld map to navigate through the story. With the new powers on offer it is the first time we get to use the now popular Tanooki suit which gifts Mario or Luigi the ability to fly, this was a real game changer allowing hidden areas to be easily found in the skys above. Some of the bonuses on offer come in the form of mini games gifting a host of prizes upon meeting certain requirements. Collecting three of the same cards when finishing a stage will give extra lives or entering a toadstool house offers the chance to win big matching up pictures or playing a memory match card game. I even remember spending many hours when originally playing the game making a guide detailing the layouts and solutions for each of the different memory match games. It’s a shame kids nowadays wont get that pleasure as a quick search on the internet provides all of the answers.

It included a basic two player mode in which you took turns to play, either at the point of completing a stage or losing a life. This offered something fun in the fact that I could often goad my younger brother who was unable to complete certain parts of the game.

It was one of, if not, the first console games that I managed to complete. The glorious sense of achievement was an amazing feeling and really spurred me on to do the same over and over again. I guess it has a lot to answer for thinking about it.

Super Mario Bros. 3 was a juggernaut on the NES reaching a staggering 17 million copies sold. This naturally lead Nintendo to re-release the game on many of its newest consoles over the years, first making a re-appearance in 1993 as part of the Mario All-Stars collection for the SNES offering updated graphics and sound. All-stars was later ported to the GBA and Wii. Mario 3 by itself is available digitally on the virtual console platform and was included on the NES mini classic. All I can hope for now is that Switch announcement on the virtual console front.

I forget how many hours I have put into this game over the years but with every new release on a different format it is always welcomed with another play through. It is one of the all time great examples of video gaming and it’s worldwide success goes just helps to fortify this point. It’s definitely a contender for my all time top ten video games.