Super Mario 3 – I have beaten this game annually for the past 10 years with my twin brother. We do it the old fashion way; no skipping levels and when you beat a level or die, you pass the controller. The amazing thing about this game is I never get board. It’s just so well put together that its fun every time I play it. Also – quick note – I have been playing with my newly modded RGB NES with a palette switch to try out some different palettes, so the screen shot colours look a little different compared to the original NES palette.
This game was the last main Super Mario adventure to grace the NES and was re-released in Super Mario Allstars on the SNES, and later on GBA as the final Super Mario Advanced game. It starts off with a unique title screen. The curtains rise and turtle shells fly, as you think – is this the beginning of a play? The answer is YES – Miyamoto confirmed it last year (see link)!
The player starts off in a simple first world with six levels, a mid-castle, some toad houses, and some mini games! This is a huge departure from the original and one that is much welcomed because of the added variety it brings! The toad houses, flip card games, and roaming enemies allow players to store items for later use in particularly hard-to-beat levels, while the mini games (somewhat similar in concept to Mario 2’s slot machines) allows players to grab some extra lives. I found the addition of these new stages (especially toad houses) really fleshed out Mario’s world and made it feel more like a place!
In terms of level design, each one feels unique and interesting and looks great graphically. What makes them interesting is that each world acts as a backdrop that allows new concepts to effect gameplay. For instance, in the water world, you play a stage where a giant fish is trying to eat you. In the desert world, you play stages where a Sun sent from Hell jumps around the screen trying to burn you. And in the ice world, the ground is slippery which makes you slip and slide all over the place!
The game starts off easy enough though, allowing the player to get accustomed to Mario and his power-ups (fireballs, leafs, and mushrooms). By stages 3 and 4 however, players are being pushed with scrolling screen levels and discovering white blocks (that allow Mario to slip behind the curtain!). This leads me to another point where this game goes above and beyond the previous entries – the SECRETS!
The two previous Mario games had a few secrets that allowed players to skip some levels, but Mario 3 brings it to a plateau. Now the world map can be explored for secret toad houses (especially world 2 and 3)! The magic flutes can be found scattered in the first two worlds, and most impressively, new secret rooms can be found in levels that have giant boxes in them that gave Mario new awesome powers like the Tanooki suit! These new additions give the game a sense of wonder and exploration that encourages players to carefully examine each level to find all the secrets!
The game also brings back some classic ideas from the previous original games – the main ones being castle levels and bosses. Each world has at least one castle mid-way through. These levels can be quite challenging with many of them requiring the player to find hidden exits or solving puzzles to proceed. This variety adds another layer of depth to the game and still challenges me to this day! Boom Boom is also a hilarious boss that is faced at the end of each castle but is sadly quite easy to destroy if you jump on him right away.
Lastly, Mario 3 introduces the airship levels! These levels house the final boss for each world and really push the player to the their gaming limit with cannon-ball filled scrolling screens! Each airship contains one of Bowser’s children, all of which make for a huge upgrade over the original that had Bowser at the end of every world. The children also have great personality and get much harder as the game progresses. In terms of graphics, they are simple but still stand up today and where quite the upgrade compared to the original when first released. The music is also still awesome, and sound effects complement the gameplay, making it satisfying to jump on turtles heads, swim in the water, and fly through the air.
In summary, this is a game that all gamers should play. I have played in on NES and on GBA and both versions are similar and excellent. It doesn’t matter your age or experience – this is good old fashion NES fun! I give this game the coveted 10/10. It is a timeless masterpiece that still holds up to the best of games today!
FINAL SCORE: 10/10