Super Mario Bros. 3 Review by JThomson
NES Reviews
Super Mario Bros. 3 Review

Super Mario Brothers 3 was, unsurprisingly, the third major installment in the Mario Brothers series for the NES.

It was also arguably the greatest game released for the NES and certainly pushed the system to its very limits.

The game takes a similar standpoint to any of the other Mario games - the Mushroom Kingdom is in peril and it’s up to Mario and Luigi to save it. This, as you will discover when you play the game, isn’t that easy of a task.

Mario and Luigi will have to battle through eight worlds in order to restore peace to the Mushroom Kingdom and defeat Bowser. Each world contains lots of levels, many more than either of the previous installments in the series. With a total of ninety levels to conquer, this isn’t a game that you’ll complete in an afternoon’s sitting.

One of the first things that you will notice when playing this if you have only previously played the original is the huge increase in depth in the game. To some extent there is non-linearity in the game, with a choice of levels to take in each world and a choice of where to warp to, should you find the elusive Warp Whistles. Mario’s arsenal is greatly improved - from simple firepower, Mario can now act as a frog, turn into a Hammer Brother and even fly, allowing a greater level of exploration within individual levels.

Some of Mario's powered up forms in Super Mario Bros 3 including Frog, Hammer, Racoon and Tanooki Mario

This allows a lot more strategy than in previous games - items such as feathers or flowers can be stored, and it’s up to you to decide when it is best to use them to your advantage. These new implementations give you a lot more control over the character than in previous Mario games which I believe is for the best. It keeps a balance between having the freedom to explore levels by flying without allowing the absolute freedom that the cape in Super Mario World allows.

Each world has its own character - from deserts to ice lands, from water worlds to the sky. This allows the action to seem different as you go along, even though you are still playing the same basic game. Clearly a lot of though went into the designing of the game.

The learning curve of the game is pretty much perfect. Early levels are easy enough to allow you to learn the controls of Mario, and gradually get more and more difficult, with the later worlds having some absolute swines of levels. Although some levels are very hard, they are not unbeatable, and with effort will be defeated. You will have to learn different strategies for beating different levels, and some of the tricks you will have to learn are quite unique and clever.

One of the best aspects of this game is the 2-player mode. Instead of the way that the original Super Mario Brothers worked which basically involved two players playing distinct games, you work in co-operation, and if Mario beats a level it is then defeated for both players. There is also a version of the original Mario Bros. game should you get bored of the main game for you to play! This was popular enough to be featured as a separate Battle Game in the SNES remake of the game on the Mario All Stars cartridge.

The game features some of the best graphics and sound to be featured in any game released on the NES. Although the system is clearly limited as to what it can do (certainly by today’s standards), it uses what it has top play with very well. When attacking the fortresses and airship, the music fits in perfectly with the mood of the levels. The graphics are smooth and work well. You can’t expect a NES game to have spectacular graphics, and this game copes with the NES’s limitations in that department.

Super Mario Bros 3 artwork of Racoon Mario and Luigi with the Princess and Toad

This was the first game I ever bought, way back in 1992-ish, and it certainly provided great value for what I paid back then. If you were to go to Ebay today and find a NES with this game and you bought it, you wouldn’t be disappointed with your purchase. Back when it was released, it was without a doubt the best game of all time. My message board sig lists it as one of the best games of all time even today. There is so much to explore in the game, more so than its SNES follow-up Super Mario World, that you won’t be done with it in a long time.

Although getting to Bowser is fairly easy if you’ve found the Warp Whistles, playing through every level and discovering all the secrets of the game will keep you going. You should have this game in some format - be it the NES original, included in Mario All Stars for the SNES or even just an emulated copy. If you don’t play this at some point, you’ll have missed out on a part of video game history.

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