Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) Review

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Review by The Every Gamer (April 2017)

Score: A

   Super Mario Bros. 3 (developed and published by Nintendo) was released in 1988 in Japan, 1990 in the US and in 1991 in Europe. The game was first announced in America in a commercial disguised as a movie called The Wizard, which sent shockwaves through a country of excited children and brought disappointment to those who bought a Sega Master System.

   The Mushroom World is being invaded by the Koopalings, young minions who work for Bowser (and not his legitimate children). They not only steal each of the Kings’ wands, but turn them into animals as well. Princess Peach catches wind of this and sends Mario and Luigi to go all over the world to battle the Koopalings, take back the wands, and return them to their rightful owners. I thought the plot would deviate from the norm until at the end when Peach once again gets kidnapped by Bowser, because tradition is forever.

   The game goes back to the original Mario formula that we saw in Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels where you run, jump and also jump on most enemies to defeat them, if it ain’t broke, you damn well don’t fix it. You have refined controls, new stages, enemies, power-ups, music, more levels, and better graphics; it was the Sonic 3 of it’s time and it’s considered to be one of the best NES games ever. Even the multiplayer is back, and once again it’s, Mario for player 1, Luigi for player 2. Though Luigi controls the same as Mario and not fast and slippery like in the previous games.

   You venture through eight stages, each with their own individual theme, and this may be the first game in the series where we get different themed worlds…which would be repeated in a nauseating state in a certain 2.5D sub-series as well as in the main games in the future. We have Grass Land, Desert Hill, Ocean Side, Big Island, The Sky (You could have called it Sky Land guys), Ice Land, Pipe Maze, and Dark Land, the home of Bowser.

   Each world has an overworld map, showing you the number of levels you can play in. There will also be fortresses to conquer, these are where the game ups the challenge a bit, but are still pretty still fun to go through…well I kind of skipped the first castle to get the flute and I didn’t use it, I just wanted to speed-run this game…well not speed-run, just skim through it, I’ve played this game before after all.

   Each level you complete will let you progress through the map, but there are more things in the map that you can do, mostly bonus stuff where you can open one of three treasure chests and get a power-up inside, the rest are also mini-games that reward you with items and lives. Also, there will be times where an enemy will be on the map and once you touch it, you’ll have to defeat it. There are secret mushrooms and Japanese coin ships that will appear too, but they are rare and you have to do something special that I don’t know of in order to get it. So there’s much to do, but be forewarned: As the game progresses, maps get longer with more levels and stuff to do. Which is probably the reason why most levels are short with no checkpoints; hit & run levels that don’t stay their welcome and each of them are packed with stuff you can do, so long as you get from A to B.

   The end of each world will take you to one of the Koopalings’ airships, where cannons, Bullet Bills and such fly all over the place and you got to dodge it all, before battling against one of the Koopalings. Winning will get you the wand back and you got to do this six more times. The Koopalings include Larry, Morton, Wendy, Iggy, Roy, Lemmy, and Ludwig. Each sort of have a gimmick, but they just use the wands to attack you for the most part, just bop them in the head three times and you win each battle.

   Each level has a ton of variety, from basic platforming, to a little puzzle solving that actually works with the Mario formula for once and with Mario’s control scheme for this game. It’s fun to play through this title…though there have been times where the controls feel a little floaty, especially when you jump too high or too low. This has happened a lot on my adventure, but I got used to it and doesn’t cause too much of an issue overtime. There are some levels that feature auto-scrolling, where the level moves itself and you just have to progress on or die.

   Familiar enemies are back and we have some new ones too, like the stone-faced Thwomps, ghostly Boos, skeletal Koopa-Troopas called Dry Bones, Munchers and much more, with some of the returning enemies coming in different varieties…and the Piranha plants that shoot fireballs can go f*** themselves. Heck, even the Sun itself can kill you, damn Mario, who haven’t you angered…besides PETA (HA!). But by far the most memorable enemy is the Chain Chomp, created after Shigeru Miyamoto was attacked by a chained dog…I assume a bodiless, sharp-toothed dog.

   Power-ups are also back and once again, there’s new ones, but the one you’ll find most commonly is the Super Leaf, which gives you the ability to glide and if you run, you’ll notice a P meter, which will let you fly for a short period of time should it fill up (Well, go to the toilet Mario!). There’s also the Tanooki Suit, which will allow Mario to turn into a statue for a short period of time. Frog Mario is a Frog Suit that will let him swim faster, but is a terrible power-up when on land. Then there’s the illustrious and rare Hammer Bros. Suit, which lets Mario throw powerful hammers and he has a Guy Fieri tan when wearing it. But probably the most game-breaking items are the flutes, use them and not only do you hear a jingle from The Legend of Zelda, but you can skip to other worlds, which allows you to get to World 8 very quickly.

   The graphics and level design are absolutely well done, the levels are fun and have high replay value, with a lot of creativity going into them. But that’s what I love about this trilogy of games, each of them have their own unique design, with each of them getting better by the years through improved technology and this game has the most detail, full of design and…well, the have is a stage play, it has the elements of it and Shigeru Miyamoto confirmed it so…yeah, it was all make-believe within the game itself. What was once a conspiracy theory is now fact. The music is memorable with a lot of upbeat and cheery tunes…and they’re way too catchy…wait, the music is catchy…Koji Kondo, an absolute genius in music.

   Overall, Super Mario Bros 3. is still highly fun to play, and even though I have nostalgia for this game, I still appreciate it more for holding up many years later, a game I can go back time and time again and never get bored of it. Whilst it can be floppy in terms of challenge, it doesn’t hinder my enjoyment of this game. If you haven’t tried out a proper platformer, this is one you should try out.

Rating: 4.5/5

You can get Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES, SNES (via Super Mario All-Stars), Game Boy Advance and Wii, Wii U and 3DS Virtual Console.

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