there have been more than a few games that i played as a tyke that i’ve been wanting to play again, although there’s always a certain amount of trepidation involved due to the very real risk of completely ruining a blissful memory. i was particularly worried about replaying the original super mario bros. 3 on NES, partly because i have distinct memories of it not only being one of the greatest platformers of all time, but also one of the greatest games of all time as well, and also because i personally have cherished memories of it just from the fact that i spent the first few weeks of summer vacation in elementary school (even missing the last day of school) with the worst case of poison ivy in history, and the only thing that got me through it was this game. (i had such a bad reaction that i even had to get a shot in a very uncomfortable place to bring the swelling down.)
so i’ve been putting this game off for a while, even though it was the last of the mario series that i hadn’t played and beaten in the last five years. i finally decided to give it a runthrough last weekend, and i ended up playing through every level of the game in one sitting. i was surprised at both how much i did and didn’t remember, and being a much more experienced gamer this time i found some secrets that i’d never noticed before. i’d forgotten just how many new elements were introduced to the mario universe in this game, particularly a host of new enemies that have become core characters including chain chomps, thwomps, boos, dry bones, and nipper plants (not to mention P-switches, the giant world, and the koopalings). what makes the game even more special is the number of elements that have as yet never been reused, including the angry sun, hot foot the candle, kuribo’s shoe, and the fantastic new powerup suits (frog, hammer bro, raccoon, and tanooki). i’d also completely forgotten that para-beetles (the flying buzzy beetles that made their reappearance in a fantastic stage in new super mario bros. wii) and spikes (those green enemies that spit out spiked balls) originated in this game. this was also the first mario game that included a world map with their attendant mini-games and mushroom houses.
it’s hard to separate the nostalgia from any semblance of objectivity, but after my mini-marathon i have to say the game definitely still holds up, so much so that i have to put it among the absolute top of my list of greatest games of all time. it’s almost impossible for me to choose between this game and the first super mario bros. game since the latter was so incredibly influential. at this particular moment in time, though, i have to give super mario bros. 3 the edge. although it didn’t create a new series, the amount that it expanded the series’ universe was incredible, at least doubling its previous size and scope. the sheer variety of stages and challenges has arguably never been matched, and the expansion of the gameplay along with the spot-on controls, vibrant graphics, music, colorful characterization, and plethora of secrets, not to mention some fun multiplayer interactions, all combine to make this a game for the ages. it’s a great relief to find out that the game holds up as well as it did in 1990, and now that i’m through with one pass through the entire mario series i’m looking forward to revisiting the series again, especially through its various remakes, and reevaluating my initial opinions. more to come on that in the near future …
super supreme-o super mario bros. 3 links:
– great site at themushroomkingdom.net including a nice list of tips ‘n tricks and a comparison of the japanese vs. english versions. it seems like there’s a neverending supply of things to learn about this game, like who the heck jugem is.
– entry at mariowiki.com
– some maps at nesmaps.com
– i rarely read game guides, but nintendo power’s issue 13 was completely devoted to unveiling all the secrets of the game. i skimmed through my copy and wasn’t too surprised to find a number of things i had missed, mostly related to flying. you can download a copy at retromags.com.
– and in a case of coincidental timing, just this past week iwata unveiled a strong hint that the 3DS mario game may have some connection with super mario bros. 3 beyond the number 3. let the drooling begin!