Today we’re going to examine my favorite platformer of all time. No, it’s not Mega Man 3, as shocking as that may sound. We’re talking Super Mario Bros. 3, easily the pinnacle of the entire Mario franchise, and the only game I could really live with giving a perfect “10” to.
Why? For starters, let’s look at this from a sheer quantitative standpoint. Keep in mind, this was back in the NES days, before memory cards, 3D graphics, downloadables, and all of that crap:
- 15 powerups.
- 6 special abilities.
- 8 worlds, plus a warp zone.
- Over 70 levels.
- Numerous hidden mushroom houses and bonus games.
That’s reason enough to buy the game right there! But just in case that’s not enough for you…
There’s the whole issue of level design. Super Mario Bros. 3 has the most well-designed levels in gaming history, period. And there’s over 70 of them! There’s mazes, fortress puzzles, hidden rooms, autoscrolling levels of death, you name it. Yes, autoscrolling, the bane of gamers past, but something rarely found in the 3D days. Not every level had a single path, either; there were multiple ways to accomplish your objectives, and a disgusting amount of secrets everywhere. I’ve seen recent games that don’t have near the amount of hidden crap found in a single SMB3 world!
Theme music? As if the original Super Mario Bros. theme didn’t stick in your ear, the tunes from SMB3 will haunt your dreams. Aside from a few remixes of classic Mario themes (like the Star theme and Underground theme), there’s plenty of new musical genius to go around. Many of the SMB3 tracks have even reappeared in later games, such as Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga.
All of this is a pretty hefty package. In the midst of Nintendo’s plans to rip off gamers with their Super Mario Advance series, they actually did something interesting with Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3. Rather than the overpriced rehashes prior, SMA4 actually added plenty of new stuff to a classic game. There’s over 30 new levels on e-Cards that can be scanned in using the e-Reader peripheral, but it doesn’t stop there. There’s cards that give you powerups not originally found in SMB3, like the Feather. There’s also switchblock cards that have permanent effects on all the levels, like the orange switchblock (which makes any enemy killed by a fireball drop a coin), or my personal favorite, the blue-green switchblock (which adds vegetables from Super Mario Bros. 2 to every level!).
Nintendo has yet to release Series 3 & 4 of the SMA4 e-Cards (which contain the rest of the hidden levels and more powerup goodness), but until then, we’ll just have to satiate ourselves with this classic piece of gaming heaven. Nothing else out there really comes close, even over 10 years after the original game’s release.