Super Mario Bros. 3

"The cover art depicts Mario, the main protagonist, flying with the ears and tail of a Japanese raccoon dog, obtained from the new "Super Leaf" item."

If you've been reading previous entries you'll know that I know of much of the Mario series from their re-release in the form of Super Mario All-Stars, and Super Mario Bros. 3 is no exception. The first time I tried it was on the SNES in All-Stars, as was the second, and all subsequent times I tried it. 

I've not played the original NES version until now, and, well, I think I might need to hand in any scrap of credibility I have as a video gamer because I'm frankly embarrassed with my performance in it.

Fun Times

Those of you even vaguely aware of Mario will note that our titular hero isn't to be found in the screenshot above. His newly learned abilities from newly introduced power-ups aren't shown either. He has not flown so high into the sky with his Tanooki suit as to be invisible to us, nor has he leapt great distances with his Frog suit. He has, against all odds, fallen into the one Mario-sized hole in the floor.

And not for the first time.

Yes, ashamed though I may be, I am appallingly bad at Super Mario Bros. 3. I want to add 'today' to the end of that sentence but I suspect that, no, I actually am that bad at the game. I could chuck out the usual 'it takes time to adapt to the change of speed and physics' and so on, but I really should have picked up some kind of skill for these games by now. I'm not asking for world record pace, just to cut down on the stupid deaths a little...

Anyway, the lack of screenshots - other than the failure of making a whole lot of progress - is because it's too engaging to play. Like previous titles, it teaches you what's new by getting you to do it there and then, when you need to do it.

You can still miss things, though, like the first instance of the Super Leaf, one of many new introductions to the series. It unlocks new moves for Mario to make use of, as well as new means of getting through a stage - and it is a stage. It's all for show, none of it is real, that's not a bottomless pit but a trapdoor, Mario is fine, those coins are his performance fee (and obviously my performance wasn't worth a lot).

Back to whatever point I was making. 

New introductions to the series mean Super Mario Bros. 3 is bigger and better and keeps making tweaks to the winning formula that it is built upon. Stages now have a place in the world or more accurately a place on a world map, and this map allows players to take different routes towards their shared goal. Bowser is again up to no good, and his seven offspring, the Koopalings, will be the end bosses to your journey across the land, above the clouds and under the water.


Not that I've seen this for myself. I thought I'd have more luck with the SNES version, but I must not be as used to it as I thought I'd be - I'm worse than my NES run. For all I go on about playing All-Stars as a kid, I must have played all the other games my cousins had an awful lot more than it because I'm shocking when going through this game now.

And yet putting it down wasn't easy, because you just don't want to admit defeat to it when you know - you just know - you can do better.

Once again, the frustrations are with me, and not a game. There probably are some frustrations later on - I certainly never finished it as a kid to find out - but how many frustrations would it take to make Super Mario Bros. 3 a game to avoid?

These Mario-sized holes can bugger off, though...

Final Word

I'm getting old. My fingers don't poke a controller like they used to do, and my time isn't everlasting like it was when my age hadn't yet his double digits. I just don't have the resources I need to play this game - and many other games - like I ought to. Yet I can still enjoy it.

I can marvel at the speed runs, I can admire the hacks and exploits, and I can still have fun at picking up and controller, trying, failing, trying again, failing again, but not getting mad.

Super Mario Bros. 3 picks up the baton and runs with it like you always knew it would. We've already had four Super Mario titles on this 1001 list so far, and up to this point in history, Nintendo had only released four. Their quality is a given (though a phrase like that should really strike fear into you and I should scrub it from my vocabulary for these posts) and their entertainment is quite possibly timeless.

You don't need me to tell you that. It's getting yet another re-release on the NES Classic Mini thingy, nearly 30 years later. Not a fancy HD remake remaster, just a straight up emulated re-release, because you evidently don't need to tart it up (ignoring that tarting games up is the whole point of Super Mario All-Stars).

If you've not played it for a while, go and have a quick bash. Consider it a test to see how fast your skills are deteriorating and how soon you should pick another hobby. If you've not played Super Mario Bros. 3 at all, well, do correct that. It's part of a long history of classics, and an even longer list of must play games.

Fun Facts

A clone/tech demo of Super Mario Bros. 3 was developed for the PC and shown to Nintendo, who decided to stick to what they know and avoid the PC as a platform. The developers of that demo, which was now known as Dangerous Dave in Copyright Infringement were John Carmack and Tom Hall, of soon to be founded id Software.

Super Mario Bros. 3, developed by Nintendo R&D4, first released in 1988.
Version played: NES, 1990, via emulation.
SNES, Super Mario All-Stars, 1993, via emulation and childhood memory.