February of 1990, the dawn of the 90s… A video game released to North American audiences for Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). This game would be the greatest of an NES trilogy and herald the essential end of the NES era of popularity. It was none other than Super Mario Bros. 3!
And what a stellar third act for the NES to bow out on!
Taking The Question To The Fans
In a recent poll created at “The GNN Greats”, I asked fans their opinion on which NES Super Mario Bros. game was indeed the best and results were as follows as of March 10th, 2023: Super Mario Bros. 3 received 85%; Super Mario Bros. received 10%, and Super Mario Bros. 2 received 5%.
Jonathan Hile, gameplayer for the Geek News Now (GNN) Twitch team (check him out sometime) offers an explanation: “SMB 3 set a new bar for platform games, the map system, the multiple suit types/power ups, etc. Technically, it really pushed the limits of the NES toward the end of the system’s life cycle.”
Hile pretty much nailed it there; especially with the Super Nintendo being released not long after.
Maps and Power-Ups
When it comes to the map/overworld system, Super Mario Bros. 3 wasn’t the first NES game to employ such. The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy had maps; the latter game had an overworld as well. But Super Mario Bros. 3 was the first of the trilogy to have an overworld layout. And it looks glorious with its miniature landmarks!
The power-ups were mostly familiar fare: mushrooms to grow Mario, invincibility stars, fire flowers… But then came two new and memorable additions — the racoon leaf and the Tanooki suit! The former granted temporary flight, gliding capabilities, and the ability to spin and break blocks with a tail. The Tanooki suit did much the same thing, but it also granted the ability to turn into a statue for temporary invincibility.
If anyone else’s gameplay was similar to mine, we said “adios” to the fire flower and crowned the racoon leaf as the new king of power-ups! But what of the other new additions to Mario mythos in this game?
Enter the new bad guys: the Koopa Kids — Larry, Morton, Wendy O., Iggy, Roy, Lemmy, and Ludwig! According to former Nintendo product analyst Dayvv Brooks, these rotten Koopalings were named mostly for musicians (Wendy O. Williams, Iggy Pop, Roy Orbison, Ludwig von Beethoven) and talk-show host Morton Downey, Jr. Larry and Lemmy just sorta looked like a Larry and a Lemmy.
Each one presented increasing difficulty at the end of each world map and took some planning around to defeat! And what an adventure it was with the awesome score from veteran Mario games composer Koji Kondo!
The Score & Secrets
Oh, the score alone… This makes Super Mario Bros. 3 even more memorable in many nostalgic hearts! Unlike previous Mario games, which had a small handful of looping tracks, Super Mario Bros. 3 had a unique track or two for levels, mini-games, and something unique to each of the eight worlds. Drum sounds, flute, and piano are easy to hear! My favorite is Grass Land Theme; it’s a classic!
And then there are the hidden secrets; such as the two warp whistle locations in Grass Land (World One)! One of which is revealed in the climactic Video Armageddon contest seen in The Wizard (1989).
It was also this movie which revealed the existence of Super Mario Bros. 3 to American audiences! It’s this totally rad NES-centric movie about three kids who travel to California so their youngest member can prove himself in a video gaming competition; at Universal Studios, no less! But I digress… Seems like even in present day, nostalgics like me who grew up with this game discover this game’s secrets!
Super Mario Bros. 3 is simply the best! In general, and of the whole Super Mario Bros. NES trilogy! Released thirty-three years ago as of February, it still stands strong for many hearts out there. Ranking as the third-best-selling NES game, it sold over 17 million copies worldwide. It was so popular, it merited a Saturday morning cartoon series — The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 (there’s a mouthful)! Play the game for the first time or the billionth time!
Have any memories/opinions of Super Mario Bros. 3? Comment below! Check out this Geek News Now article for more Mario fun depicting his history! Also, subscribe to Geek News Now and give its Facebook page a like!