Super Mario Bros. 3 was a 1988 platformer game by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Of the three Mario games on the regular Nintendo, this was my favorite. It was a true sequel to both previous games, Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2. It was not only longer, but also had many new mechanics and a better story. It featured eight “worlds”, each with around ten Levels. It was just massive in comparison to the older games. There were more power-ups for Mario now too. He could transform into a frog for faster swimming and step inside a boot to protect him from spiky floors. There was also the amazing Tanooki suit that allowed Mario to fly into the air. It was almost like breaking the rules.
The game took place on several island kingdoms. Each world was basically a kingdom. Each kingdom had been taken over by one of Bowser’s (Mario’s nemesis) children, the “Koopalings”. Mario had to finish the levels and defeat the Koopaling to liberate the kingdom. Then it was off to the next kingdom to repeat the process with new levels. The story was pretty simple, but it was like a novel compared to the one sentence stories in the last two games.
Each world had a unique theme to it including grasslands, desert, ice, lava, and more. I loved these themes. It was so fun to explore that new theme. Each world’s levels had new enemies, environments, and properties that all fit the theme. It was amazing. I was always excited to see what the new world had. It kept me playing even after losing many times.
I remember there were afternoons that I played for five hours straight. This was the first game that I could really play that long. It was hard but never difficult enough to cause frustration. Even after I had beaten it, I would play again to see how fast I could do it with my new experience. Sometimes I used the shortcuts in the game to beat the game faster. Other times I wanted to clear every single stage. There was no save feature. Everything had to be done in one sitting. Sometimes I would have to go somewhere. I would leave the NES on with the TV off until we got back home. Although it wasted power, it pretty much always worked.
Super Mario Bros. 3 really set the standard for 2D platformers. It’s still considered one of, if not, the best 2D platformer ever made. These days, 3D graphics are in and 2D graphics aren’t as popular, but 2D platformers still get made from time to time and developers still look back at what Super Mario Bros. 3 did for inspiration. I had no idea at the time that the game would have such a legacy, but I did know it was fun. That’s all that mattered.
In a way I was spoiled to grow up during this time. So many new and great games were coming out. All gamers got used to greatness every year. These days there is only incremental innovation in video games. Huge innovation still happens here and there, but it’s rare. The ’80s and early ’90s were just so exciting. We older gamers really miss those times. There are still great games every year, but they’re just not as new as the games were back then.