The “Get To Know” line of articles are built to get a better impression of what I love/hate, and why, through a more direct means. While my tastes have been quite unconventional to the “norm” we’ve seen, I feel as if it’d be beneficial to run a series of articles that go into what I adore, and deplore, about gaming, and why.
I alluded to a major project I was going to work on throughout 2018, but due to repeated illnesses, I was unable to produce a healthy enough queue to get it going. That project was going to be my top 100 games of all-time, in which I would go into a great bit of detail on each game, and why it has a position on said list.
With this miniseries I have going with Get To Know, it’s given me a renewed sense of urgency to try and get some portion of this project revealed and shared with everyone. Instead of being overly ambitious, I’ll truncate the list to a top 25; that’s more than enough to show the kinds of games I adore the most, and the genres that they represent.
12 – Super Mario Bros. 3
- Developer: Nintendo R&D4
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Platform: NES
- Genre: 2D platformer
- Release date:
- Rating: 9.7
What is Super Mario Bros. 3?
One of the most famous, and widely celebrated 2D platformers, Super Mario Bros. 3 is literally magic in the form of a video game cartridge. Nintendo introduced more bite sized levels in a feast of a full game, with some memorable world themes and power ups throughout.
What warrants Super Mario Bros. 3‘s inclusion on this list?
I’ve mentioned previously how the NES era was magical, where youth played a pivotal role in anticipation, immersion and expectation. There was such a mystique behind Super Mario Bros. 3; any brief glimpses in Nintendo Power or TV commercials seemed like the most epic event, even with the game still a little ways to go. Even The Wizard, as hokey and infuriating as the movie was, still managed to elicit such a powerful emotional response to a game I so desperately wanted to play.
Then Super Mario Bros. 3 finally came out, and it literally felt like an earth changing event to the nine year old me, and I hadn’t even owned an NES yet.
When I did get my NES, I didn’t even get the one bundled with Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt; I got the core unit with five games in the very early 90’s for Christmas, one of those being Super Mario Bros. 2. It didn’t matter to me whether or not my experience with the first Mario title was advanced or beginner, I just wanted the damn game so badly!
Actually playing through it the first time, Super Mario Bros. 3 was something I hadn’t experienced in a video game up until then. While Super Mario Bros. 2 had its platforming precision, Super Mario Bros. 3 had literally everything else, and was executed in a manner that I had never experienced before. The sprite work was brilliant, the themed worlds gave the game such a profound identity. The new power ups were insane; Hammer Bros. Mario was something I had only thought would be present in my 10/11 year old dreams, but it became a reality (though I swear it seemed like I’d lose the damn thing just as fast as I got it).
Each world was a bit sized morsel for what turned out to be a gaming feast. Never did any one stage in any one world outstay its welcome. On top of that, they were all so radically varied, it never felt like any one stage was a retread of a previous one, sans the world 8 airship levels.
Being able to gain power ups from mini-games and bank them for use on the map screen, was a genius move. While players could earn items such as the cloud to skip past one stage, in game power ups were banked through this menu and method as well, most notably the P-Wing, which enabled Mario unlimited Raccoon Mario flight for said stage. I could help change the experience for each stage, whether beneficial, or detrimental (trying to play Frog Mario on non-water stages was a challenge in of its self).
The introduction of the Koopa Kids helped diversify the end world boss issue that the original title had. Some of them seemed too familiar with each other early on in regards to dispatching them and the patterns players had to avoid, but later on there would be a bit more diversity between them. Even still, they were enjoyable, yet elementary boss battles.
The biggest draw, IMO, was how each passing level felt more and more like the most epic gaming experience. The flawless Mario platforming, combined with imaginative, perfectly paced levels, and the creative power ups, easily commanded, and demanded my attention. Even playing through it the umpteenth time, there was always a sense of accomplishment going through the game.
Much like Super Metroid, Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of a small handful of video games I can see as “flawless”. The overall execution was rarely ever matched, and it’s truly one of those “once in a lifetime” experiences that certain games provide. As with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario Bros. 3 can usually be found in just about everyone’s “top x” list, and for a damn fine reason.
The time when life showed me that gaming transcended all ages and genders.
I remember one time when Nintendo Power sent out a strategy guide for Super Mario Bros. 3. I received mine in the mail, and that same day, while we were getting out mail, an elderly woman had got the same exact strategy guide from her mailbox too. We talked briefly about Mario, and for some reason, which I cannot recall, she gave me her copy of the strategy guide. I, for some reason, drew or traced the image or a similar one on a white sheet of paper and taped it on top of the cover. This has little to do with Super Mario Bros. 3 outside the game being a discussion topic, but it was the first time I realized just how far the long arm of gaming stretched; it wasn’t just for kids, or for men in their late 30’s like my dad, but it was for everyone. I never did see this nice old lady since that first encounter, but I know I’ve taken care of that magazine for her.