There is no denying that Super Mario 3 is one of the greatest NES games of all time. In fact, it’s one of the greatest GAMES of all time, and it’s not hard to see why: solid platforming, awesome power ups, great music, fantastic level design, addicting gameplay, and – most importantly – it was fun! It even spawned a cartoon series that many of us watched. A series that – unlike the game – didn’t age well.

 

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Like most North Americans, I first heard about this game while watching “The Wizard,” and the less said about that movie, the better. I had to wait until Christmas 1990 before I got the opportunity to play it, even though I could’ve received it months before. I was given the choice of Super Mario 3, or Super C. I chose Super C, and I regret nothing.

I have many fond memories of me and my cousins staying up late and playing the shit out of this game, trying to get past those damn pipes in World 7. The game was frustrating at times, but that’s what made it more interesting – there was a solution to that problem, and we had to figure out what that solution was.

 

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If you’ve ever played a Mario game, you know the drill by now: Bowser kidnaps the princess, and tries to take over the Mushroom Kingdom. However, this time he has his seven Koopalings invade each of the lesser kingdoms, steal that king’s wand, transform them into animals, and usurp the thrones. As Mario (and Luigi, sometimes), you have to save each kingdom before you get to Bowser’s Dark Land, and take on the Koopa King himself.

(Or, you could just find the warp whistles… if you REALLY want to do it that way.)

The game is one of the most visually impressive titles in the NES library, showcasing what the Nintendo was capable of achieving graphically. Whether you’re playing Grass Land, Desert Land or Ice Land, it still looks just as beautiful today as it did 25 years ago.

 

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This is the first Mario game to feature power ups which enabled you to fly. Sure, it still had the Super Mushroom and the Fire Flower, but the Super Leaf was the one thing everyone wanted. Becoming Raccoon Mario allowed you to fly to new heights, and break blocks with your tail. If you found a P-Wing you could fly through an entire stage, without having to get a running start first. You can also find a Tanooki Suit, which allowed you to do what Raccoon Mario does, plus turn into a statue to avoid enemies. The Frog Suit allowed you to move through water with much ease, but it sucked on dry land. Finally, there’s also a Hammer Bros. suit, which lets you throw hammers… which can kill Thwomps in one hit!

This is also the first Mario game to feature auto-scrolling levels. These can be a pain in the ass, but I had a lot of fun with them. Specifically, I had a lot of fun watching my friends and cousins die a lot during these levels.

 

 

The music is audibly spectacular. Koji Kondo had really outdone himself with the work he did on this game. It is hard to talk about Mario 3 and not get Athletic (Overworld 2) stuck in your head. Or, maybe you preferred the Underwater theme. Either way, they’re all great, and worth listening to all day.

My only complaint is that the jumping feels a little stiff, almost like Mario is on the moon, or something. Although it’s nothing game breaking, and it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment to be had with this game.

The last time I beat this game was three years ago. My friend came over, we plowed through the game, and made it our bitch. Since then, I haven’t been able to finish a proper playthrough of the game. Then, I realized that I had the most fun with it when I was playing with someone else. My cousins don’t play video games anymore, and neither do the friends I still have (the ones who live near me). When I try to play Mario 3 now, I’ll get up to Desert Land, and either warp whistle to World 8 to beat the game quickly, or just give up entirely. It’s hard to replicate that kind of fun when you’re going solo.

 

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For a long time, I had been thinking of retiring this game. Recently, I’ve had a change of heart, and here’s why:

Two weeks ago, I did another playthrough of Final Fantasy VI. Even though I said I would never get through that game again, I actually did and had a lot of fun doing so. I have no current desire to play Mario 3 now. However, I do believe that someday I will find an opportunity to play the game again with someone else – and when I do, I will be reliving my childhood, and having the most fun I can possibly have playing a video game.

If you have somehow never played it before, you owe it to yourself to do so. It is nothing short of legendary, and you will have a lot of fun with it.

Super Mario 3, you are a masterpiece!

Thanks for the memories.