That’s right, it has been nearly 20 years since Super Mario Bros. 3 was released. Feeling old yet? Read on to join us for some nostalgia.
Originally released in North America on February 12th, 1990, SMB3 stands as one of the all time classics in video games. It brought a huge number of advancements to the series, including (but not limited to) vastly improved visuals, improved music quality, increased length, an overworld, and a wealth of new moves and powerups. The overworld allowed players some choice in what order they played different levels. It also provided a great visual representation of how far along you were in the game, and served to help keep things in order during 2-player games.
The most notable new addition to the Super Mario Bros. series was the inclusion of suits. In addition to the powerup mushrooms and fire flowers, SMB3 featured a raccoon suit, a Tanooki suit, a frog suit, hammer suit, Kuribo’s shoe…the list goes on. Each one offered abilities new to the series. While they were all extremely useful, the raccoon suit is perhaps the most iconic. Granting Mario the gift of hovering, a spinning attack, and even flight, the raccoon suit was a perfect example of the new direction Super Mario Bros. was taking. True, Peach had a hovering skill in Super Mario Bros. 2, but since that game was a modified version of Doki Doki Panic, I don’t count that.
SMB3 was also noted for its seemingly endless creativity. From airships to Bowser’s kids to match games to Giant Land, it seemed like the only thing SMB3 had in common with its predecessors were the characters and general game play. Each of the different worlds had a different theme and music, in addition to different enemies. The overworld itself allowed you to power through by skipping levels not required to complete the game, or let you take your sweet time and go through every level offered. SMB3 is often tackled by Speedrunners, sometimes with amazing results. SMB3 didn’t redefine secrets in Mario games (the SNES classic Super Mario World is responsible for that), but it did up the number considerably from SMB1 and 2.
Nintendo had always been big on advertising its games, but it went further with SMB3 than they ever had before. The Wizard not only offered pre-internet North America its first look at SMB3, but also acted as one giant Nintendo advertisement. Still, as a young kid when it was released, the period leading up to its release was amazingly exciting. I remember seeing it in theaters, with a bunch of people bored or really upset throughout the whole thing. When the unveiling of Super Mario Bros 3 finally happened up on the big screen though, the theater went completely crazy. As I remember it, parents didn’t even attempt to keep their kids under control…it was nothing short of bedlam. The Wizard is worth watching now for nostalgic purposes, but not really any other reason.
Since its release, Super Mario Bros. 3 has been considered one of the greats. There are a large number of ways to play it (including the Super Mario All-Stars SNES compilation, which makes it look even better), but the easiest way nowadays is likely through the Virtual Console on a Wii. If you have never experienced SMB3, do yourself a favor and find a way to play it. It’s a piece of gaming history that everyone should experience.