Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
Developed by Nintendo EAD
Published by Nintendo
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Quick links: Overview / Story / Gameplay & Controls / Power-ups / Zones & Levels / Enemies & Bosses / The Making of Super Mario Bros. 3 / The Wizard / Remakes & Re-releases / Videos - Gameplay, Trailers & Commercials / Reception / Legacy & Accolades / References to other Nintendo titles / Mentions in later Nintendo titles / Glitches / Trivia & Facts / Reference & Information / Media & Downloads
Super Mario Bros. 3 is the third installment in the, also, super-popular Mario
franchise. It was the third and final Mario game on the
NES. It was released in
1988 (in Japan), in 1990 (in the USA) and in 1991 (in Europe and Australia).
After the huge and drastic changes in many core elements of the series that were
seen in the previous game, this time Mario returned to his origins and the
familiar setting, that is a trademark of the whole franchise. Similar patterns
were seen in other popular gaming series like
The Legend of Zelda and
where, also, the second game in the franchise changes almost the whole concept
of its predecessor, and then the third game returns the series to its roots and
improves almost everything from the original game.
If it can be said that the first game set the standards for all the future titles to come, then it can be said that this game revolutionized the whole concept. It improved pretty much everything from the original game. The graphics are much better, the levels are much more diverse and unique, the soundtrack is better, there are even more secrets than in the first game (many of them are still waiting to be discovered), there is a huge number of power-ups (it was the game with the most power-ups in the franchise, until recently), there is a world map, mini games……….the list would be too long for this section. And Bowser also returns as the main antagonist of the game. Yay!
This game is, perhaps, the closest possible achievement to something as unrealistically ideal as the “platform perfection”. By pushing the NES hardware to its limits, and by offering so many different and new elements, this game is the most popular game of all 3 that were released on the NES. It is often called – “the ultimate NES experience”. It is also one of the most revolutionary and innovative games ever, just the original Super Mario Bros. , and one can also add that it is one of the most important video games of all times. It influenced all the future releases in the franchise, in the same way as the original game. And even today many platform games, even those that don’t belong to the Mario franchise, are taking ideas from this gem. So, we can conclude that it is a platform game that ideally showcases how a great video game should be made.
The official story from the Super Mario Bros 3 game manual:-
The Mushroom Kingdom has been a peaceful place thanks to the brave deeds of Mario and Luigi. The Mushroom Kingdom forms an entrance to the Mushroom World where all is not well. Bowser has sent his 7 children to make mischief as they please in the normally peaceful Mushroom World. They stole the royal magic wands from each country in the Mushroom World and used them to turn their kings into animals. Mario and Luigi must recover the royal magic wands from Bowser's 7 kids to return the kings to their true forms. "Goodbye and good luck," said the Princess and Toad as Mario and Luigi set off on their journey deep into the Mushroom World.
Above is a video showing the Super Mario Bros 3 background and plot, it's actually an official video based on The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 cartoon but does bare a good deal of relevance to the game too as you might expect.
This video gives the background on the main characters; Mario, Luigi, Princess, Toad as well as Koopa and his kids/minions and shows what you can expect from them all as characters
As we said before, the gameplay of Super Mario Bros. 3 is identical to the gameplay of the original game. Identical but improved in almost every possible way. Once again, Mario’s basic moves are: moving left and right, jumping (Mario beats most of his enemies by stomping on them and/or their heads, just like in the original game), shooting fireballs (that are acquired after Mario gets the Fire Flower power-up) and running. Aside from the standard moves, thanks to the huge line-up of new power-ups, Mario can obtain additional abilities that were not seen in the previous games. One of the most popular ones is the ability to fly (you can get it by acquiring the Super Leaf power-up, as well as the popular Tanooki Suit). There are several other cool suits that you can use as well, and that will make your life much easier, like the Frog Suit, which allows you to control Mario much easier during the underwater sections, or the Hammer Suit, which gives Mario (and/or Luigi) the ability to throw hammers and use them as weapons (like the ones that Hammer Bros. are using). Some suits have their secondary use as well. For example, the mentioned raccoon-like Tanooki Suit gives the player the ability to fly just like the Super Leaf power-up, but it also gives the ability of transformation into a statue (and while he is in this state, Mario cannot be harmed by any of the enemies or the other obstacles), and the Hammer Suit also has another function – Mario can create a shield in order to protect himself from the fireballs. It should be noted that there is also a scale that shows how fast Mario is running (P-meter). In order to actually fly with the Super Leaf power-up or with the Tanooki Suit, you must fill up the scale to its maximum, and after that you can fly for a certain period of time. More information about all the power-ups and the suits that can be found in the game can be seen in the “power-ups” section.
The objective of the game is, once again, to reach the end of the level. Instead of the typical flagpole and a castle from the first game, as well as the Hawksmouth gate from the second this time, when the player reaches the end of the level, the colors of the background lose their standard patterns and the whole background becomes mainly black, with some white lines here and there. There is also a block that has a function of a slot from the lottery machine. It has an item in it and it changes very quickly. The level is beaten when Mario jumps into it, automatically grabbing the item that was shown at that point (a correct combination of 3 acquired items gives Mario additional stuff like extra lives, for example). There are also 8 worlds, just like in the first game, but there are much more levels and all of them are very diverse. Each world has a different theme as well. For example, the first world is called “Grass Land”, and it is placed in a grassy valley. The second world is called “Desert Hill” and, as the name implies, it is a huge desert setting, etc………..The last world is called “Dark Land” and it is very dark and unique. This is the world in which Bowser’s castle is located and this is where Mario and Luigi battle him in order to rescue Princess Peach. Along with the “normal” levels, each world has fortresses as well. They are smaller castles that are usually tougher to beat than the regular levels. Each of the fortresses is guarded by Bowser’s henchman called Boom Boom. In order to beat the level, Mario and Luigi must defeat Boom Boom, who is a standard mini-boss of the game. Also, aside from the regular levels and the fortresses, each world (except of the last one) has two types of mini-games as well. One of them involves finding pairs of identical cards on the screen and the objective of the other is to form the picture of an item, by pressing the button that stops the spinning reels, where 3 different item parts are located (Spade Panels). You can get extra lives and power-ups this way (see our cheats page for how to get the most from the N-Spade game). Also, there are various Toad Houses, where you can pick which of the 3 chests you are going to open. Each chest contains a power-up and, with a bit of luck, you may just find the right one in one of them. The game has an ability to save the power-ups that you collected, so you may use any of them before starting any of the game’s levels (you may use only one of those power-ups at a time, of course). And, of course, we must not forget the addition of the world map that lets you see the entire world and all of its sections. The world map will become a standard part of the franchise in the future games as well. Time limit is, once again, a part of the game. Mario (or Luigi) can die in the same ways like in the original game (either by being killed by his enemies or their attacks, falling down into the pit or into the lava, or when the time to beat the level drops to 0). Unlike the first game, this one has continues, although once you choose that option, you will be returned to the very beginning of the world, and to the first level of that world. The ability to save your progress is, sadly, not included.
Instead of battling 7 fake Bowsers and 1 real one in the last level, as in the original game, this time the first 7 worlds of the game are guarded by the 7 Koopalings (Bowser’s children that serve as bosses of their worlds. Their names are: Larry Koopa, Morton Koopa Jr., Wendy O. Koopa, Iggy Koopa, Roy Koopa, Lemmy Koopa and Ludwig von Koopa). The 8th world is guarded by Bowser himself. The first 7 bosses (the Koopalings) are battled on a flying airship, while the final fight with Bowser takes place in his castle. There are also mini-bosses and, in all cases, that is Boom Boom, the henchmen of Bowser, as it was previously mentioned (he is found at the end of each fortress). Once Mario and Luigi beat the Koopalings, they restore the rulers of their respective worlds to their normal form, and once they beat Bowser in his castle, they rescue Princess Peach. And, of course, she has one very familiar reference for them (“Thank you. But our Princess is in another castle! ...Just kidding!”).
2 player mode
The game also has a multiplayer mode. The first player controls Mario and the second one controls Luigi, just like it is the case with the original game. Though, this time there is one important addition. There is actually a “Battle Mode” added-on. A typical example of this is a mini-game that is, practically, an exact copy of Mario Bros. game (the popular arcade classic). In this mini-game, players can steal cards from their partner, but they can also lose their turn to play if they lose the mini-game. Other than that, the concept is the same as in the original game. The first player controls Mario until he loses a life. After that, the game switches to the second player who controls Luigi, and vice-versa.
The controls in the game are as basic as they can be. But anyway, we are going to list them for you right now:
Right - Move right
Left - Move left
Down –Duck (it can only be used when Mario is in his bigger form)
A – Jump (it is also used for swimming in the underwater levels, for flying and for selecting the level and the item on the world map)
B – Shoot fireballs when the Fire Flower power-up is collected (it is also used to bring down the items menu)
Press and hold B + Left/Right – Running
Start – Pause the game
Up/down/left/right – Move around the world map.
These are the power-ups from SMB3; each had its own unique value and was useful in certain situations. Many of the powerup's below had never been seen before in the Mario series prior to this title.
|Fire Flower - The staple Fire Flower powerup remains in this title, turning Fire Mario a fiery blend of red and orange, just to show his serious about toasting his foes.
|Frog Suit - Truly gives Mario the attributes of a frog... he can swim considerably faster than normal Mario would be able to... but once out of water in this suit it can be a real hinderance impeding Mario's handling and movement speed
|Hammer Suit - Traditionally Hammer Bro's have gotten away with murder, hurling hammers at us aggressively wherever we go and we've simply had to accept it - well this suit gave them a taste of their own medicine... enabling the player to throw hammers right back at em!
|Kuribo's Shoe - Kuribo is the Japanese word for Goomba, so effectively this item is a Goomba boot, which kinda makes sense because you have to beat up a Goomba to get one. Although this power up is only available in one level in the whole game (5-3) it became iconic and was extremely memorable to people who played it at the time. Kuribo's Shoe enabled you to jump on any surface, any enemy without being harmed.
|Super Leaf - The one and only Super Leaf turns Mario into a Raccoon (well sort of) providing him with pointy racoon ears and a bushy tail, take a run up, jump and keep hammering that button and you can fly for a fairly reasonable amount of time. Mario is in his racoon form on the front cover of the Super Mario Bros. 3 box art
Tanooki Suit - If pointy ears and a bushy tail wasn't enough for you then wait til a little further into the game and you can get the full on Tanooki Suit cladding Mario in soft fur from head to toe... not only does this cool little suit enable flight, but you can also change into a statue!
|Statue form - This is an added bonus of the Tanooki Suit over the Super Leaf.... you can turn into a statue and your foes won't recognise you... they'll simply walk past. You cannot be harmed in Statue form... but beware, because you CAN be harmed when it wears off, its effects are only temporary.
As it was previously mentioned,
unlike in the original game, in this one each and every world is different and
unique. Each one also has a different theme attached to it, so we can safely say
that every world in this game is a different and new experience. Below you can
find all the information about all the worlds in the game, their
characteristics, most common enemies…..as well as their guardians (bosses). So,
here we go….
World 1: Grass Land
This is the first world in the game. It is very similar to the overworld sections of the previous two games. The dominant aspect is, as the name implies, grass, but the landscape consists of plains, hills and cliffs as well. This world has 6 levels (beating 4 is enough to access the king’s castle, though), a fortress that is guarded by Boom Boom (it is positioned exactly in the middle of this world), as well as 1 Spade Panel and 2 Toad Houses. The most regular enemies that Mario encounters in Grass Land are: Goombas, Koopa Troopas and Piranha Plants.
The boss of this world is the first son of Bowser - Larry Koopa. He stole the wand of Grass Land king and turned him into a dog (or a Cobrat from the previous game, in the remake of this one). It is Mario’s task to restore the wand and turn back the king into his original form, by defeating Larry Koopa in his flying airship.
World 2: Desert Hills
After the green and shiny environment, we are now switching to a desert setting - where sand, palm trees and pyramids are the dominant parts of the landscape. There are 5 levels in this world (4 levels are enough to be beaten to reach the king’s castle, but the player must also pass through the great pyramid, in order to do so), 2 Spade Panels, 3 Toad Houses, as well as a quicksand field. One of the Toad Houses lies in a secret area behind a rock, and you need to use the hammer to crush it. It hides two Fire Bros. that are holding the last Warp Whistle. The enemies you will encounter in this world are: Fire Snakes, Buzzy Beatles and even an Angry Sun that chases you through the level.
The boss of this world is Morton Koopa Jr. The ruler of the Desert Hills was turned into a spider (or a Hoopster, from the previous game, in the remake of this title), and Mario must reverse him back, restore the stolen wand and defeat Morton Koopa Jr..
World 3: Ocean Side
Are you thirsty from spending so much time in the desert? Well, thanks to the next world in the game, you will have no cravings of this nature anymore! As the name implies, Ocean Side is a world filled with water. It is the central and most dominant element of this region. There are 9 levels in this section. Some take place almost completely under the water, and some of them take place on the solid ground, but with water located beneath (the platforms are usually moving up and down here, so you better stay away from the water in this case. There are also bridges that are placed above the water, just like in the original game). There are 2 fortresses as well, of which one of them has some chambers filled with water, and there are also several Toad Huts and Spade Panels as well. They can only be reached by boat that is unlocked when you use a hammer on a rock in the south. Also, the king’s palace is located on an isolated and remote island, and the only way to access it is through the elevator-pipe. Along the way, you will encounter enemies like Cheep Cheeps and Bloopers, who are reappearing again, as well as Big Berthas (who are debuting in this game). There is also another, rarer form of Boo in this world, and it is called Stretch.
Ocean Side is taken over by Wendy O. Koopa. She turned the ruler of this region into a Kappa (or a Dino-Rhino from Super Mario World in the remake) and stole his wand. In order to save Ocean Side, Mario must, obviously, battle Wendy O. Koopa in her flying airship and restore the stolen wand.
World 4: Big Island
As soon as you enter the first level of this world, you will notice a huge change. Everything is much bigger than you! The Enemies, the blocks……..almost everything. This is a very similar setting to the first world of this game (Grass Land), but a vast majority of its elements are in a gigantic form (hence the name: Big Island). This world is filled with 6 levels, 2 fortresses, 2 Spade Panels and 4 Toad Houses. It should be added that, even though there are 6 levels in total here, only 5 are enough to reach the king’s castle. The enemies that appear in this region are the enlarged versions of the typical and regular enemies (like Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Koopa Paratroopas, etc…..).
Just like in the previous cases, the king was thrown down and turned into an orange dinosaur (or Donkey Kong Jr. himself in the remake of the game), and his wand was stolen. The one who is responsible for this is yet another descendant of the main antagonist of the whole franchise (Bowser) - Iggy Koopa. In order to bring back the piece to the Big Island, as well as to reverse the king to his natural form, Mario must go to Iggy Koopa’s airship and defeat him there.
World 5: The Sky
Quite a simple name, isn’t it? Even though this world has such name, levels are not placed in the air, exclusively. Rather than that, the player starts his journey on the ground and later, once you reach the spiraling tower, it takes you up into the sky, and that is where the second half of this world’s journey takes place. In this world there are 9 levels, 3 Spade Panels, 3 Toad Houses and 2 fortresses, in total. The castle is located on the southwest part of the sky. As for the enemies, the ones that deserve the most attention are the Parabeetles. They are similar to the regular Buzzy Beetles, but they have wings and a different color too.
The boss of this world is Roy Koopa, who captured The Sky world, and turned the king into a condor (or Albatross in the remake), stealing his wand as well. The basic concept is the same, so the only way to restore peace to this world is to beat Roy Koopa in his airship and restore the wand that also enables the king to transform back into his original form.
World 6: Iced Land
It is time to wear something really hot, because the next world is freezing and cold! Snow, ice, white color……….all those elements are the basic contents of this world’s landscape. Obviously, since the platforms are filled with snow and ice, it makes the movement much tougher and it is very easy to slip off and fall down. Along the way you will encounter some ice blocks as well, and they can only be melted by using the fireballs (from the Fire Flower power-up). Ice blocks usually contain various items (such as coins), but they may contain some enemies as well. This world has 10 levels, 2 Toad Houses, 3 Spade Panels and 3 fortresses.
This was a quiet and peaceful place until Lemmy Koopa showed up. As soon as he turned the old king into a fur seal (or Monty Mole in the remake of the game), he started ruling this beautiful (yet chilling) wonderland. It is up to our hero to go all the way to his airship and end his reign.
World 7: Pipe Maze
Just like the name implies, this is a series of platforming sections that are connected by various pipes. This is also the world where the game’s already high creativity reached completely new heights! This region has 9 levels, 2 fortresses, 2 Nippler Plant levels (short sections that are overloaded with these creatures), 3 Spade Panels and 3 Toad Houses. In this region, you will yet again meet with your old underwater “friends” – Cheep Cheeps, Big Berthas, and you will meet some Blooper Nannies too.
This unique world was taken over by none other than the prince himself – Ludwig Von Koopa. His ruler-ship started as soon as he turned the king into a goldenrod Venus Fire Trap (or Yoshi in the game’s remake). If he wants to reach Bowser’s land, Mario must save the Pipe Maze from the terror of Ludwig Von Koopa, in the same way like he did before.
World 8: Dark Land
This is it – the last world. This region is completely dark and soulless, unlike any of the previous worlds. It is also quite mystic. If the previous world has improved the overall inventivity of the whole game by a huge margin, this one blasted it into the orbit! Many of the levels in this domain take place on the sections that are covered with tank brigades, that are approaching from left to right, and that are filled with cannons and various enemies with only one goal – to prevent Mario and Luigi from reaching Bowser’s castle. There are also the infamous Hand Traps that are found in the second area of the game. They unexpectedly grab Mario (and Luigi), taking him to a short level that contains a chest with the Super Leaf power-up at the end of it. Aside from these things, this world has 2 normal levels and 1 fortress.
At the end of this world we can see Bowser’s castle, and that is where the final battle with him takes place. If he wants to save the princess, Mario (or Luigi) must find a way to stop Bowser yet again.
World 9: Warp Zone
The only way to access this world is by using the Warp Whistle. In this section, you can literally skip worlds, and enter any world you want. However, the selection varies depending on the world in which you have used the Warp Whistle. If you use it in this world, it will automatically lead you to world 8 (Dark Land). It must be noted, though, that you can’t return to the world from which you have accessed the Warp Zone.
This is an e-Reader based world that is only available in Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3. It can be accessed at the very beginning of the game. Players can basically use 2 different Game Boy Advance consoles or, in fact – one can use the console and the other can use the e-Reader to scan the level cards, demo cards, as well as the power-up cards.
A full Atlas of all the worlds and levels in Super Mario Bros. 3 for the NES by Atlas Videos.
Here they are, the main bad guys from SMB3. The first one you'll encounter will be Boom Boom who inhabits fortresses throughout the lands. You'll then fight a Koopa Kid at the end of each world, taking back the magic wands and restoring the ruler of each land to their human form before you finally take on Bowser in Dark Land.
The development of this game took more than two years, overall. 10 people from
Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development were working on it and
Miyamoto was, once again, the boss of the whole project. Just like it was
the case with the original game, he was closely connected to the whole project
and, during the entire time of the production, he was constantly promoting a
free interchange of ideas. He thought that his new game should be as fresh and
innovative as the first Mario game was, so that was the main thing that the
entire team was focused on.
The first idea was to make the game appealing to people of different playing habits and to people of varying skill levels. So, at the same time, the game should be easy enough so that anyone can pick it up and start playing it, but also – the more the player progresses, the tougher it gets. To make things as fresh and exciting as possible, many new items and power-ups were introduced. Some of them were truly extraordinary, especially for the time when they originally appeared. It is interesting to mention that there was even an idea to have a power-up that would turn Mario into a centaur, but it was quickly dropped, and a raccoon-tail concept was implemented instead. Many new enemies were also introduced to add even more elements to the game’s diversity, and some regular ones were re-designed and reintroduced as such (like the Goombas and the Piranha Plants). These new redesigns became the standard appearances in the future titles as well.
An extra from Nintendo Power Magazine about Super Mario Bros. 3 and its
It is interesting to note that some designs were actually inspired by the personal experiences of the whole team. For example, the idea for the Chain Chomp enemy came from Miyamoto’s personal (bad) experience with a dog. Also, Bowser’s children (the Koopalings) were based on personalities of 7 of his programmers, and this was basically a tribute for all the hard work they have given in order to complete the game. They also got their names after some very famous people including musicians (for example: Ludwig Von Koopa is named after the famous Ludwig Von Beethoven, while Roy Koopa was named after……….yes, you guessed it correctly – Roy Orbison himself!).
One thing that really stands out in this release is the visual aspect. It was stunning at the time. A special graphics machine (Character Generator Computer Aided Design) was used to render it. Each shape had a different number attached to it (those numbers were a part of the game’s code), and all of them combined together produced the images on the screen, in real time. The cartridge of this game uses Nintendo’s custom MMC3 (memory management controller) ASIC, in order to enhance the NES limitations. This allows the animated tiles, extra RAM for diagonal scrolling, as well as a scanline timer (to split the screen). The game uses the mentioned functions to split the screen into two parts – a playfield that is located at the top and a status bar on the bottom. This allows the top portion to scroll as the player goes through the stage, keeping the bottom part untouched (with all the information displayed on it).
There was a lack of ROM chips in 1988, and Nintendo of America had problems to perform various North American game releases, according to their original schedules. Games that were delayed because of this problem were, among others, Super Mario Bros. 3. and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link . However, this offered new opportunities, and SMB 3 was actually promoted in a movie called “The Wizard”, prior to its release. It was, so far, the only game that was promoted this way in the entire history of video games. More information about the actual connection of “The Wizard” and Super Mario Bros. 3 can be found in the next section already.
As it was already mentioned, in 1988
Nintendo of America struggled to release their games according to their original
schedules. One of the games that was delayed because of this was also the game
we are talking about here (Super Mario Bros. 3). This presented a new
opportunity that Nintendo didn’t want to miss – they made an agreement with
Tom Pollack of
who approached them about a video game movie called “The Wizard”. He wanted to
include some of their most popular titles in it. And so, the agreement was made,
and Nintendo gave a license for its products to be used in the movie. One of the
games that appeared in this film is Super Mario Bros. 3. It was basically shown
to the audience before it was actually released, and it was used in the final
scene, that involved a video game competition. The movie was released in
December 1999, between the release of the Japanese and the English version of
We will not spoil the movie for those of you who didn’t see it yet, but we will shortly describe its plot, so that you can understand the whole thing better. The story follows Jimmy Woods (who is portrayed by Luke Edwards), a young boy who is suffering from a serious mental disorder ever since his twin sister drowned in the river, two years earlier. He is a very introvert type of person, and he spends most of his time building things out of boxes and blocks. It is later revealed that he is very passionate about video games and that he is very skillful at them. After he learns about a video game tournament called “Video Armageddon”, a competition that is offering a cash prize of $ 50 000, he decides to put his skills to the ultimate test………
Regardless of poor ratings in general, “The Wizard” will always have a special place in the history of video games. Not only did it popularize some of Nintendo’s biggest releases, it was also used to promote one of the greatest video games ever made and that is, of course, Super Mario Bros. 3. That is why this film is so important both for the Mario franchise and for video games, in general.
Super Mario Bros. 3 makes its appearance on the big screen in The Wizard movie back in 1989.
Just like it happens with other
popular games, this game got its own remake as well. The game was first revamped
and included as a part of Super Mario All-Stars cartridge. It was an upgraded
version of the game in terms of sound and the graphics that were adapted
exclusively for the SNES.
There were some minor changes in the re-release as well (Super
Mario All-Stars +
Super Mario World), as well as in the port to the
Mario All-Stars Limited Edition). One of the biggest improvements in the
All-Stars version of the game was the ability to save your progress (the lack of
this function was often criticized in many reviews that were written for the
original release). There is also a Battle Game Feature that functions in a
different way than the ones featured from the maps in the 2 player co-op mode.
Many glitches were also corrected, but the core gameplay remained untouched.
This game was also ported to the GameBoy Advance as the fourth (and the last) installment in the Super Mario Advance subseries (it was released as Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3). It had the same sounds and the graphics like the All-Stars version + it had the option of using the e-Reader. Its function was to unlock new items and levels, including the content from the other classic Mario platform games (by scanning the appropriate cards).
Watch the cartoons based on Super Mario Bros. 3
A retro TV commercial advertising Super Mario Bros. 3 toys at McDonalds!