Super Mario Bros. 3


Review by Will Matson



Graphics: 9

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 10

Overall: 9

supermariobros3.png (3083 bytes)What we have here is a true masterpiece that is one example of the NES performing at it's best. My personal favorite of all the Mario games, edging out Super Mario World on the SNES. Some may ask why, I'll tell you, if you don't mind a brief explanation. SMW was not as big of an improvement over SMB3 as SMB3 was over the original Super Mario Bros. Sure, there were some changes, such as a new partner for Mario, a dinosaur named Yoshi, who could eat most enemies. There were also some nice scaling effects, and of course the graphics at the time were top notch. There were also the addition of colored blocks and switch palaces. Some courses also had more than one exit.

But there were plenty of similarities between SMW and the elements that first were shown in the third game. Mario could still fly in SMW but the cape was nowhere near as fun as the Racoon suit (even if it made the game somewhat easier). Mario still saw the world he was exploring and in some cases had his choice of what level to enter next. The Koopalings also showed up in this game, like in SMB3. There were also places to power up, hidden areas and mini/bonus games you could play to earn free men (thought the older gamers might like that better than 1-up's, heh).

In fact, there were some things taken out of SMW that were originally in SMB3. You no longer had several suits to choose from (Frog, Tanooki, Hammer Bros, Racoon), you only had the cape and fire flower (remember when that used to the ultimate Mario power-up?). You did not have a wide inventory of items that you could save. Nothing against SMW, I would safely call it my second favorite Mario game, but it's just that there was not as much improvement from SMB3 to SMW as there was from SMB to SMB3. Keep in mind that I didn't consider SMB2 as it is a totally different type of game in the series (sort of like Zelda II). It was a lot more exciting when I was first playing SMB3 than when I plugged in SMW. Even though the graphics and sounds were much better, they were quite similar, and some of the SMB3 elements I liked were taken out. Ok, enough wasting time, I am just explaining myself as to why I prefer SMB3 ahead of time to avoid as much criticism as possible.

The graphics were very clean and looked truly excellent back when it was first released. It was even better than I expected to see. You now had a much larger area to explore and could interact more with the background, you weren't limited to one area of the screen, in which you disappeared if you went too far up (SMB). One of the best places to explore is the Giant World (World 4) in which the majority of the enemies are more than double their original size. Mario and Luigi look more detailed and aren't as blocky as they used to be. A lot of you have probably seen this, I'm assuming, so I think I've said enough. The graphics were so good that when this game was updated for Super Mario All Stars, there was hardly any change made (same goes for the sounds). Nintendo themselves said in Nintendo Power that the game was practically perfect to begin with.

The tunes and sound effects both work very well. The background music sticks in your head, if you let it. Some of the best music comes on the airships. One cool sound effect is the flame thrower that appears on some of these ships, it almost sounds real. Some other good sound effects are when you stomp on enemies, the bullets that fire from the cannons (Bullet Bill's, I believe) and also the sound effect that occurs when you are flying, which stops when you no longer have the power of flight.

I've mentioned some of the changes earlier but I will include some improvements that have occured since the first SMB game. The worlds actually have a theme now (Grass World, Giant World, Pipe World). Instead of battling Bowser (or a clone of?) at the end of each level, you now have a new enemy in the Koopaling's (Bowser has seven children). There are eight worlds like before, but a lot more than 4 levels in each world, this time. At the end of each of the first seven worlds, you battle a Koopaling, who has taken over a castle, on an airship. There are now several different suits you can obtain, each of which gives you different abilities.

The Racoon Suit lets you fly, a new ability for Mario (get the suit and run for a stretch to charge up your power). The Tanooki Suit lets you fly as well, and also lets turn you to stone, making you briefly invulnerable, although you cannot move during this time. The Frog Suit lets you swim much faster, although it is kind of useless on land (moves very slowly). The Hammer Bros. Suit lets you toss hammers at your enemies. As you may know, the hammers are the only thing that can stop quite a few enemies (other than the star). In fact, if you are fortunate enough to get to Bowser while wearing the suit, one hammer finishes him off and the game ends without him having to bust through the floor.

You now can play mini-games to earn free men. You can find power-up areas (mushroom houses) and also earn power-ups by playing various mini-games. One mini-game, which appears if two players are competing, is one based on the Mario Bros. game (not SMB, the ORIGINAL Mario Bros.). As usual, there are hidden areas to uncover and warp zones. You have an inventory in which you can store up to 28 items, which you can use BEFORE entering a level.

supermariobros3_3.png (2927 bytes)For example, small Mario can put on a Racoon Suit or use an invincible star before entering a tough level, which helps you out when you enter. One small change is that your jumping is a little different in this game. Mario and Luigi have the same abilities, but something has changed. You now jump a lot more smoothly and bounce up higher after jumping on an enemy than you do in SMB. In SMB, it was tougher to bounce off one enemy and onto another before hitting the ground (it raises your score). It's much easier in SMB3.

Another change is that if you are hit when you have a powerup (Racoon, Frog, etc) it only restores you to large Mario and not all the way down to small Mario. As you remember, in the first game, even if you had a fire flower, one hit would restore you to small Mario. One more change is that two players can now cooperate (or compete), as opposed to taking alternate turns. This now means you can team up with a friend to finish the game or.........(more on this later in "Tips").

In the gameplay department, this one is actually a little bit easier, but also quite a bit more fun, than SMB. Even though it is easier (in my opinion, others may disagree), it takes a lot longer to get through this game playing straight (no warps) than it does SMB. The game controls like a dream, very accurately, and even better than SMB, which boasted good control. The Racoon, especially, controls very smoothly and you can get him to move almost any way you want easily. The only tough time you will have here is with the frog and that is because, out of the water, it is a lousy power-up.

Overall, as I said before, I find this to be the best of the series. It's also one of the best 2D platform games you will ever play on the NES, or any system. One of the cool features of this game is the screen in which you control Mario as he selects a level. This little feature was later "borrowed" in quite a few games, such as one of the Adventure Island games and it was also used in later Mario/Wario games (some of the Game Boy adventures that appeared after this, and also SMW itself). Even though it doesn't include the save feature, I enjoy this game more on the NES than I do in the Super Mario All Stars collection on the Super Nintendo. To sum it up, this game is a gem. It doesn't have the slightly more classic/basic feel of SMB, but there are a lot more options and the simple fun is still intact.

Odds & ends:

Bob-omb (the walking 'bomb' with legs) is the only enemy from SMB2 that appears in this game.


If you are playing alone and want some more lives to help you through the game, plug in a second controller and select a two player game. Luigi and Mario each start with 5 lives to complete the game and can work together to get through the levels. Use both Mario's and Luigi's lives to get you through the game.


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Last updated: Tuesday, September 27, 2005 01:29 AM

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