Classic NES Review – Super Mario Bros. 3

Super Mario Bros. 3 for NESAsk anyone what their favorite Mario game is, and undoubtedly a ton of them will tell you, “Super Mario Bros. 3!”

Indeed, the third Mario adventure is considered one of the greatest games of all time and it’s sales certainly reflect that.

With over 18 million copies sold, and closer to 33 million if you include other versions of the game, it is by far one of the most popular games of all time. Heck it made Nintendo Power‘s Top 20 NES games list from the time of the game’s debut all the way until the list was retired in 1995! Only The Legend of Zelda was on the list longer (and that’s cause it came out first . . . plus it’s Zelda).

And lets not forget the fact that Super Mario Bros. 3 was the sole reason for the Fred Savage movie The Wizard‘s existence. Millions of kids the world over bought into the hype (the infamous SMB3 commercial certainly helped I’m sure) and to this day they remember the game fondly and are probably still Nintendo fans (I know I am).

Thankfully, all the hype didn’t come unfounded. Super Mario Bros. 3 was critically acclaimed for a reason, and it sold super well for a reason. The game is simply leaps and bounds beyond anything you ever could’ve dreamed of back in the day, and makes the last two games seem simple by comparison. Even in the year 2007, you can not deny the greatness of Super Mario Bros. 3. All hail the mustachioed one!

Title Screen - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot

System: NES
Also On: SNES – Super Mario All-Stars, GBA – Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 (Coming soon to Wii Virtual Console)
Released: NA – Feb. 12 1990, EU – Aug. 29 1991, Jap – Oct. 23 1988
Genre: Side-Scrolling Platformer
Players: 2
Save: NES – None, All-Stars – Cartridge, 4 Files
Developer: Nintendo R&D
Publisher: Nintendo
Origin: Japan

Super Mario Bros. 3 (SMB3) is a side-scrolling platformer for the Super Nintendo and is the follow-up to the original Super Mario Bros. (SMB)

Super Mario Bros The Lost Levels (USA) & Super Mario Bros 2 (Japan) Screenshots
You see, in Japan, Super Mario Bros. 2 (SMB2) was an updated, almost remixed version of the original Super Mario Bros. We didn’t get the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 until it was released as part of the Super Mario All-Stars compilation on the Super Nintendo, where it was included as “Super Mario Bros. – The Lost Levels”.Super Mario Bros. All-Stars allowed you to play all the NES Mario's, including Lost Levels, the real 'Super Mario Bros. 2'

U.S. Super Mario Bros. 2 for NES - Box ArtThe Super Mario Bros. 2 game that the United States got was an arranged version of a game called Doki Doki Panic, which was drastically different from the original SMB. But the powers-that-be in Japan thought that their version of SMB2 would be too difficult for U.S. audiences, which is why they chose to use another game; swapping the characters with Mario ones (Mario, Luigi, Princess and Toad replaced the Doki Doki Panic characters).

“What does this have to do with Super Mario Bros. 3?” I hear you ask. Well it’s easier to understand why Super Mario Bros. 3 is the way it is if you know the history.

Super Mario All-Stars for Super NES (Does not include Super Mario WorldFans of Mario were caught off guard by Super Mario Bros. 2’s drastic shift in gameplay, which had you picking up and lifting objects and enemies and throwing them into other enemies, as well as allowing you to choose from one of four characters each with differing abilities and introducing an entirely new set of enemies for Mario and his posse to deal with. It had a completely different feel to it than the first Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Advance for GBAHowever, the game proved to be wildly popular regardless. The US Super Mario Bros. 2 was even released in Japan as “Super Mario USA” and would eventually become part of the real series canon when Nintendo started re-releasing the entire Mario series (with upgrades) on the Game Boy Advance with the “Super Mario Advance” label. Super Mario Bros. 2 (the US version) was the first Mario game they released in the “Mario Advance” series. So finally they gave the US Super Mario Bros. 2 what it deserved by making it the true Super Mario Bros. 2.

Bowser - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotSo Super Mario Bros. 3 was a return to form for the franchise after it drifted away with the second game. The play style and look of SMB3 was very similar to that of the original SMB . . . but totally and completely expanded in every way, shape and form.

There is no bones about it, Super Mario Bros. 3 was, and still is, a beast of a 2D platformer. The complexity of the game is simply leaps and bounds above the first and second Mario’s, and it is packed to the gills with secrets. So many secrets in fact that it is impossible to see them all on your first play through the game (as levels can have multiple paths). Although that’s not to say that you will want to play through Mario 3 again once you beat it. Because you will probably be all Mario’d out by then.Yay coins! - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot
Like all Mario games, the storyline in Super Mario Bros. 3 is non-existent except for in the instruction manual. Which tells us . . . “The Mushroom Kingdom has been a peaceful place thanks to the brave deeds of Mario and Luigi. The Mushroom Kindgom forms an entrance to the Mushroom World where all is not well.

Ludwig Von Koopa - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork Screenshot“Bowser has sent his 7 children to make mischief as they please in the normally peaceful Mushroom World. They stole the royal magic wands from each country in the Mushroom World and used them to turn their kings into animals. Mario and Luigi must recover the royal magic wands from Bowser’s 7 kids to return the kings to their true forms. ‘Good-bye and good luck!’ said the Princess and Toad as Mario and Luigi set off on their journey deep into the Mushroom World.”

Morton Koopa Jr. - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotRight, I probably could’ve written it better myself. But anyhow, you are tasked with traversing each world to eventually reach the Castle, where you will enter that specific Koopaling’s (Bowser is called “Koopa” in Japanese. Koopaling=Koopa child) airship and defeat him to retrieve the magic wand and turn that world’s king back to normal. King Bowser’s seven children are: Iggy Koopa, Morton Koopa Jr., Lemmy Koopa, Ludwig Von Koopa, Roy Koopa, Wendy ‘O Koopa, and Larry Koopa (all of them are named after musicians, except for Larry).

Roy Koopa - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotEach Koopaling has their own unique and specific way of attacking (outside of the first few) that will make some of them a bit harder than others. They are pretty much all pushovers though and will hardly give you a real fight before you make the best of them. It’s easy to defeat them, just jump on their heads three times and they’re dead. Although you can also destroy the Koopaling’s using a Fire Flower, which is one of the coolest ways to beat them, even if their hopping around can make them a bit difficult to hit with your fireballs.

Wendy O' Koopa - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotAll of them will attack you with their Magic Wand (which is what you are trying to take back) by shooting at you, but some of them will have more unique attacks as mentioned above. Wendy O’ Koopa for example shoots out bubbles that will bounce off the walls, while Lemmy Koopa rides atop a ball! It is fun to play through the game and see what each Koopaling has to offer and I won’t spoil the rest of them.

SMB3 makes many drastic changes to the series and introduces a whole host of new gameplay mechanics that give it a ton of complexity over the first two games.Ice Level - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot
Like previous games in the series, you control Mario (or Luigi for player two) throughout the game from a side-scrolling perspective as you make your way from the beginning to the end of various levels, hopping on enemies heads to take them out, jumping from platform to platform and avoiding the game’s many pitfalls, which kill you instantly if you fall into them.

And like in the first SMB, SMB3 is full of various blocks floating in the air. These both serve the purpose of creating the platforms you will be running and jumping across, forming the level, as well as for giving you coins and items to use on your adventure.

Brick Block - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotBrick Block: The most common block you will see and a Super Mario Bros. staple from the first game. These can be broken by jumping into them from below as anything but Small Mario, or by whacking them with your tail. Brick blocks make up a lot of the levels that you will traverse through, sometimes acting as platforms for you to stand on along with Question Mark blocks.
Question Mark Block - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotQuestion Mark Block: These blocks (also a staple in the series that debuted in the first game) are used to give you either items or coins. If it’s a Coin Block then you will need to continue hitting it from below (or with your tail) until it turns solid to receive all the coins inside.
Jump Block - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotJump Block: These blocks are identifiable by their white color and black music note in the middle. Jump on them and press the jump button again to get a boost higher into the air. These blocks can also sometimes hold items.
POW Block - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotPOW Switch Block: In Super Mario Bros. 3, POW blocks are called Switch Blocks, and hitting them will do special things in the level, generally it’ll make some hidden blue coins appear, but other-times it will reveal a hidden door.Kick these blocks! - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork Screenshot
You will also sometimes come across these special blue blocks that can be picked up and kicked, but will disappear after a short time of being held. These blocks often appear in groups and are really fun to play around with, since you can stand on top and kick the blocks below in one continuous motion.

Mario knocks out a Goomba - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotUnlike in Super Mario Bros. 2, once again Mario’s main means of attack is by jumping on the head of enemies (or swatting them with your tail) instead of picking them up. Although you can now pick up certain enemies like bob-ombs and koopa troopa’s if you knock them out with a jump first. Once picked up you can kick them, which is a great new mechanic and makes it easier to take out enemies in the game, and is required to hit certain blocks.Shell kicking! - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork Screenshot

Slide Attack - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotYou can also now slide down hills, which is a pretty neat ability, and you will destroy any enemies in your path when you do this, although there are not a ton of hills in the game so you won’t get to use this ability a whole lot. You also get a jump boost if you jump off when you reach the end or if you reach a “ramp” at the end of the hill.

Fire Mario - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotReturning power-ups include the Super Mushroom, which turns little Mario into the bigger version, Super Mario (letting you take an extra hit from enemies), the Fire Flower, which turns Mario into Fire Mario, allowing him to throw fireballs, and the Invincibility Star, which makes Mario invincible for a short period of time and destroys any and all enemies in one hit.

Power-up Diagram - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork Screenshot

And making their debut in Super Mario Bros. 3 is a whole host of new power-ups, a few of them “Suits” that give Mario new never-before-seen (and never seen after word either!) abilities!

Mario can fly! - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotThe biggest main power-up you will constantly come across is the Super Leaf, collecting this turns Mario into Raccoon Mario. Dunning a tail, this allows Mario to fly through the air for a short period if he can find the distance to run, charging up his meter all the way. You fly by jumping into the air with a full meter and repeatedly pressing B. You can do this for a short period, but eventually the meter runs out and you’ll come back to the ground. This gives you a sense of urgency when trying to find secrets in the sky or get to a platform in the air because you know that it won’t last forever. Sometimes you’ll have to try multiple times before you reach the intended target. All part of the fun.Break the blocks with your tail. - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot
The Super Leaf also gives Mario the ability to float with his tail (by repeatedly pressing the B Button while falling), which is a huge addition to Mario’s arsenal, since it allows you to navigate platforms and avoid falling into pitfalls a lot easier, due to your ability to slowly glide down and land on a safe spot.

You’ll also come across a Frog Suit, Tanooki Suit and Hammer Bros. Suit. These power-ups are rarer and the latter two only appear about half-way or more through the game. Although once they do appear you’ll run into them at a more frequent pace than before (depending as well on if you are playing the original version of Super Mario Bros. 3 or the Super Mario All-Stars version).

Swim Mario swim! - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotThe Frog Suit allows you to swim very quickly in water and jump higher while on land, even though Mario is a bit unwieldy on land in the Frog Suit due to his awkward movement. Although the suit seems cool, I actually find it completely useless as rarely do you need to swim quickly through water. But at least you can laugh at how goofy Mario looks!

'Wha? Where'd he go?' Tanooki Suit Mario - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotThe Tonooki Suit has to be one of the most popular power-ups in the series and a fan-favorite. Using this suit Mario dons a brown costume with a tail, meaning he can whack enemies as well as fly just like Raccoon Mario.

But the biggest and most unique feature is it’s ability to turn Mario into a statue by pressing and holding down+B. Doing this Mario will fall to the ground (and stop in his tracks), turning into a stone statue. He’ll stay a statue for only a few seconds before he starts flashing and eventually automatically changes back. The number of times you can do this however is unlimited and letting go of B will also return Mario to normal. In statue form enemies cannot hurt you but rather pass right through you, leaving you unharmed. And it can even kill certain enemies that are unbeatable any other way.

The last suit, and both the coolest and most useful in my personal opinion, is the Hammer Bros. Suit. Using this Mario is able to throw hammers by pressing the B Button. Finally you can take revenge on those damned Hammer Bros. that were so merciless in the first game and give them a taste of their own medicine! The hammers can be thrown quite far, and they destroy most enemies with one hit! Very, very useful.

Tanooki Mario - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotAll the suits are great additions, although they are hard to keep because one-hit, and you lose the suit for good, until the next time you come across or win one. So it’s a very likely possibility that you will lose a suit on the level you use it in.

A brand new feature introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3 was the map-screen. Every world (there are 8 worlds total) starts you out on the map for that world. From the “Start” point you can move your Mario icon along the paths where you will encounter various panels (this even means that you can skip some levels entirely). You can even store items in one of four rows of storage boxes that you can access from the map (by pressing the X Button in the All-Star version). Use an item and it will be reflected on-screen, so you can enter levels already powered-up, or effect the map in other various ways.

There are many different panel types that appear on the map (some aren’t exactly “panels” but objects on the map), these include:

Level Pane - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot ArtworkLevels: Black square icons with the level number displayed. Enter these to play the level. Complete it and the panel will be replaced with an M (or L for the second player controlling Luigi) icon to show that it’s completed. Unfortunately, there is no way to replay levels you have conquered, not even in the Game Boy Advance version.End of Level Box - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot Artwork
The end of each level has a black area with a box, and hitting the box will give you one of three “cards”: Mushroom, Flower or Star. Collecting three of the same type will earn you 2, 3 or 5 lives (respectively). If they don’t match then you just get a single extra life once you’ve collected three of them.
START - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot ArtworkSTART: This block is the starting point of every map. You will return here if you die before you reach the first mini-fortress, which acts as a sort of checkpoint.
M Pane - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot ArtworkM or L Panel: These replace the level panels when you beat a stage. It’ll be either an L or M depending on who you are playing as, and it shows that the level is clear and it cannot be played again.
Toad Shop - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot ArtworkToad Shops: Enter these and you will win an item from one of three chests. The item will be added to the end of your inventory which you can access on the map screen.Select Your Box in the Toad Shops - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot

Mini-Fortress - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot ArtworkMini-Fortress: Mini-Fortresses are dungeon-like levels that you will find throughout the maps in Super Mario Bros. 3. Some maps can contain more than one mini-Fortress. At the end of each one you have to fight Boomer to collect the key to the locked doors.
Locked Door - Super Mario Bros. 3 screenshotLocked Doors: Defeating Boomer in the fortress will unlock these locked doors, you cannot pass them without defeating Boomer. Some worlds contain more than one locked door.
Spade Panel - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot ArtworkSpade Panel: In this game you have to match either the picture of a Mushroom, Fire Flower or Star, and you will receive 2, 3, or 5 extra-lives for successfully doing so.
Spade Mini-Game - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot
The screen is divided into three parts that quickly scroll to the right or left. Pressing the button will stop it. Obviously, you first stop the top, then middle, then bottom, trying to form a single picture by matching the right piece. Failing to do so will simply end the mini-game.
N-Spade Panel - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot ArtworkN-Mark Spade Panel: This card-flipping memory game occasionally will appear on the map. You see a grid of cards that are face-down, and you have two tries to flip two cards over and hope they match, if they do you get that item. The game is nearly impossible to win on your first try without cheating and using a guide, but the goal is to remember the locations of certain cards (which take the from of mushrooms, fire flowers, stars, 1-Up Boxes, 10 & 20 coins, etc.) and then each time the N-Spade appears on the map you will be able to match more and more cards. Fail and the game ends.
Hammer Bros. - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot ArtworkHammer Bros.: Will take you to an action scene where you have to fight them. Beat them to get an item that will be added to your inventory.
Pipes - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot ArtworkPipes: Will take you to another spot on the map. Once you enter the pipe, you will have to physically move through it in an action scene. Some pipes lead no where, others lead to blocked areas, some lead to special Toad Shops. So make sure to check where every pipe on the map leads!
Rocks - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot ArtworkRocks: An impassable obstacle unless you have a hammer. You will find rocks blocking many important or secret locations. You never know what may lay behind it!
Castle - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot ArtworkCastle – Your goal in every map is to reach the castle so that you can face off against the Koopaling who is holding the whistle you need to turn the King of that map back to normal.

There is also an extremely rare mini-game that appears if the conditions are exactly right, can you find it?

The ability to store items in Super Mario Bros. 3 is a very cool feature although make sure to use the items because you will quickly fill your inventory to capacity, in which case a new item will keep replacing the last item on your list. And you will gain more items than you know what to do with throughout the course of the game. So don’t be afraid to use them!

Items are really a crucial part of the Super Mario Bros. 3 experience, since there is a whole bunch of them. So below I will list each item in the game and what it does. Not all items are for the actual levels themselves, some of them are only usable on the map screen.

Coin - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotCoins: These coins are the main standbys of the Super Mario Bros. series and they are here in full force in SMB3. Collect 100 coins and you will get an extra life. They also now come in blue, and these appear when you activate POW Switch Boxes. Coins are only found in levels and are not an inventory item.
Super Mushroom - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotSuper Mushroom: Turns Small Mario into Super Mario, the larger version. The Super Mushroom is one of the most popular Nintendo and Mario related icons, you can find them on many Mario-related t-shirts and such, and it has become a sort of pop-culture icon. One of the Mario classics carried over from the original Super Mario Bros.
1-Up Mushroom - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork Screenshot1-Up Mushroom: As in all Super Mario Bros. games, collecting this special green-colored mushroom will give you an extra life. Thus the term “1-Up”, you’re lives are increasing by 1. As you probably know, the term “1-Up” is now a famous gaming and Mario related phrase (and the inspiration for the “1-Up Network“, a popular video game web-site). Check out your local Hot Topic for 1-Up t-shirts (or click the highlighted link to buy one yourself online)!

Fire Flower - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotFire Flower: Turns Mario into Fire Mario, making him solid orange (In the All-Star version he is transformed from his usual red undershirt and blue overalls to a white shirt and red overalls! The same Fire outfit he wore in SMB1). The Fire Flower is one the most popular Mario power-ups of all time, and gives Mario the ability to shoot fireballs. Which is very, very useful and an ability carried over from the first SMB. Most enemies die in one hit from a Fireball, although some cannot be killed even by fire! All bosses can be defeated with multiple hits from fireballs. Tap the button to throw them faster!
Starman - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotStarman: This makes Mario invincible for a short period of time and is also a power-up carried over from the first SMB. Like the 1-Up Mushroom and Fire Flower, the Starman has turned into a kind of iconic Nintendo/Mario pop-culture icon itself, and you can find it donning t-shirts as well.
Magic Wing - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotMagic Wing: This “P Wing” allows Mario to fly indefinitely through a single level! Mario dons a P on his suit and by simply pressing the B Button continuously you will always fly. You can even stay above the screen throughout the levels entirety, therefore “skipping” whole levels, but be careful not to collect Fire Flowers or get hit, or you’ll come crashing down. If you’re having trouble with a specific stage, simply use this item. P-Wings are one of the most common items you will receive.

Jugern's Cloud - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotJugern’s Cloud: This mysterious item (who is Jugern anyway?) allows you to skip a level on the world map! This item is also quite common, meaning you will eventually have the ability to skip several levels. Although it is wise to save this for one specific mini-fortress in the last world . . . .
Hammer - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotHammer: Use a Hammer while next to a rock on the world map and the Hammer will break it! Allowing you to pass. This gives you the ability to discover many secrets and enter places you couldn’t before. However you only get so many Hammers, so use them wisely! Depending on where you use them, there will be other areas you cannot enter due to already using the Hammer . . . so keep note of those hidden areas for your next play through!
Music Box - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotMusic Box: Using the Music Box puts all the Hammer Bros. or other enemies on the map to sleep! Allowing you to pass them without having to fight.
Anchor - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotAnchor: Use this item to stop the Koopaling’s airship from flying off around the map, that way you don’t have to chase it.

Magic Whistle - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotMagic Whistle: As made famous in The Legend of Zelda, the Magic Whistle is the rarest item in Super Mario Bros. 3. These mysterious items teleport you to later worlds in the game. Although people often mistake the Magic Wand for the Whistle, they are in fact separate items. You never get the Magic Wand yourself to use in the game. These items are infamous in Super Mario Bros. 3 and there are only four of them in the entire game, can you find them all?Using the Magic Whistle - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot

Super Leaf - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotSuper Leaf: Turns Mario into Raccoon Mario, giving him a tail and the ability to fly! This is by far the most populous power-up in Super Mario Bros. 3 and also the most useful, since you can float safely to platforms as well as whack enemies and break blocks with your tail. And of course the famous image of Mario in flight, with arms spread, from the cover of the game is known the world over.

Frog Suit - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotFrog Suit: Changes Mario into Frog Mario, giving him the ability to swim quickly through water. You can control Frog Mario on land, but his movement and jumping are awkward, so ideally you’d only really want to use Frog Mario in water, but those opportunities honestly don’t pop up very much. Frog Mario is the most common suit you will come across.
Tanooki Suit - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotTanooki Suit: Changes Mario into Tanooki Mario, giving him the ability to turn into a statue. Tanooki Mario is the second most uncommon suit behind the Hammer Bros. suit. There are a few special shops around the Mushroom Kingdom that will give you a Tanooki Suit exclusively, if you want the suit you at these points you may have to plan for it ahead of time. Can you find all of them?
Hammer Mario - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot ArtworkHammer Bros. Suit: Changes Mario into Hammer Mario, giving him the ability to throw hammers like one of the Hammer Bros.! Like the Tanooki Suit, the Hammer Bros. Suit is available exclusively in a Toad Shop or two, and you may have to plan ahead to get it. This is the rarest of all suits in Super Mario Bros. 3 and my personal favorite!

Kuribo's Shoe - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot ArtworkKuribo’s Shoe: Who doesn’t love Kuribo’s Shoe? Easily one of the most beloved power-ups in Mario history, this strange item is only found on one level! Although thankfully the GBA version of Super Mario Bros. 3 remedied this by giving you the ability to insert any item into any level at any time by using the E-Card Reader and the specified Item Card . . . now only if more people actually had the E-Card Reader and Super Mario Bros. 3 E-Card Packs! Regardless, this is one of the coolest items, using it Mario hops into the shoe and can walk on spikes and kill enemies in one hit by jumping on them! Let’s pray that Kuribo’s Shoe is a power-up in the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii, it needs a comeback!

Each world in the game is themed, although not all levels will embrace the theme of that world, which gives you quite a bit of variety no matter what world you are in. The world themes are basically:

World 1: Grass – Pretty standard levels, nothing unique.
World 2: Desert – You’ll encounter quicksand, an attacking Sun, pyramids and the like. One of the Magic Whistles is craftily hidden on this map screen. Can you find it?
World 3: Water – Obviously, lots of levels will contain water, in which you’ll have to avoid a giant fish who can eat you with one gulp, killing you instantly. If you use a Hammer on this world’s map, you can gain access to a boat! Using the boat you can reach a few islands that will net you some items.Cimb the vine, avoid the fish! - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot
World 4: Giant – One of the most unique worlds! True to it’s name, levels feature large versions of blocks, pipes, Koopa Troopa’s, Goombas and Hammer Bros. One level even has you switching between small and big sized versions of the same level.
World 5: Sky – This map features both a “ground” section, and an “in the clouds” section, with a mini-map of the other part of the map shown on-screen. This world features lots of scrolling stages with you hopping from platform to platform to avoid falling to your doom.
World 6: Ice – One of the longest and most difficult worlds, the Ice World has you dealing with lots of slippery surfaces. You will even come across frozen coins and enemies, that you can unthaw with a fireball!
World 7: Pipe – A very unique world, this one features lots of pipes and deadly plants. A few levels are maze like where the exit isn’t quite so clearly defined.Battleship - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot
World 8: Fire – This world has you dealing with fire as well as . . . war! Or rather, cannons, about as war-like as Mario can get. Although the world map is set ablaze, you won’t actually encounter too many levels that feature lava, always a good thing.

Super Mario Bros. 3 really excels in the level design department. The game is pretty accessible and a bit challenging, although lives are given away like candy so you rarely have to worry about seeing the Game Over screen. But you will encounter some really interesting stages on your way through the adventure and no two levels look too much alike. The sheer variety is just amazing, as you will not only face regular stages but also auto-scrolling stages, fortresses, airships and even a few levels where it’s single-screen, but if you go through one side you’ll pop out on the other!One of the many Fortress levels - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot
I can remember a few specific levels that really stood out. A few levels feature sections made up entirely of blocks, where hitting a POW turns all the blocks into coins, which means you don’t have much to stand on. And as soon as the POW timer runs out, all the coins turn back into blocks. A really cool effect.

The infamous SMB3 Commercial

World 5 features a cool auto-scrolling level where you have to hop on top of these flying enemies that flutter a bit higher if you stand on them for a bit, with only a few safe platforms to stand on throughout. Another level in the same world has you jumping on top of and over these bars. Some of them spin, and if you hit them it’ll knock you away. Ones that don’t spin are like scales, and they’ll tip if you stand too long, sending you to your doom.

World 7 features a stage that has you running across dangerous plants coming up out of pipes, and you have to keep collecting stars on the way by hitting blocks in time before the Star runs out and you die from the plants. One stage features these platforms with arrows. Stand on it and the platform sends out a highlight that you can ride. Platforms with light bulbs mean you can change the direction of the highlight by jumping. Your goal is to ride these things to the top of the level.

And that is just a sampling of the unique stages you will find in Super Mario Bros. 3. Suffice it to say that when the Sun attacks you for the first time, you’ll understand how ingenious this game is! It truly is a marvel in level design and proves how much unique gameplay a developer can pump out on such limited hardware with some enormous creative thought.

Mario dons tail - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotAnd like Super Mario Bros. 2, many stages in Super Mario Bros. 3 are vertical. In fact you’ll tackle many stages that feature both horizontal, vertical, and even diagonal, action. The scrolling in this game is much improved over that of the first and the second as well, with smoother vertical scrolling than in the previous games. And naturally, many of these scrolling levels or levels that go high into the sky are perfect for Mario’s new Racoon hovering ability.

And what’s really cool about the stages in Super Mario Bros. 3 is, not only are they filled with secrets, but there are often multiple paths through the levels. And since you can’t replay them, it means that you will not have seen all parts of Super Mario Bros. 3 on your first play through.

Mario tail whacking! - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotMario 3 really is a gigantic improvement over the first game, when you really take a second to think about how much is packed into it. Even the simple mechanics of tail-whacking, flying, and being able to pick up and kick enemies and items adds so much to the game. And secrets really are everywhere. They can even be in the sky, meaning that it’s very possible for you to miss a ton of secrets on your way through the game, and you very well may discover new ones that you never knew existed!

Mario holds shell - Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork ScreenshotSuper Mario Bros. 3 is a fun platformer that everyone should experience. Graphics-wise it’s obviously a bit crude looking, but a big improvement from the drab colors used in the original game, and it looks really good on the All-Stars version, with lots of graphical enhancements and effects and an entirely polished look that makes it look nice.Princess Toadstool / Peach gives you tips & an item between levels - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot
The music in Super Mario Bros. 3 is classic, just as you’d expect from Koji Kondo, the famed composer of all Nintendo’s most classic themes. There’s really no complaint in the sound effect & music department, even though the music can be quite simple (but it’s an 8-bit game, so what would you expect?).Mario Swims - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot
Having different background music for each world map is also a nice touch. And story-wise SMB3 takes it further than any previous game in the series. As you’ll hear from the princess in between worlds (with a note giving you a tip on the game and including a bonus item) as well as text for the kings who have been transformed, which is much improved over the previous two Mario games, which had no in-game story (outside of the opening and closing scenes in Super Mario Bros. 2).

Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros 3 for Game Boy AdvanceOverall, Super Mario Bros. 3 is an outstanding platformer in every way, the game is fun and is packed with so many secrets and hidden areas that you definitely will have reason to go back and play through it again, and you can’t say that about a lot of 8-bit platformers.

The game is simply gigantic for an NES title. Unfortunately all the bosses are fairly easy and the game offers tons of opportunity for extra lives, so it’s not a difficult game unless you have to play through it in one sitting. The All-Star version gives you four save files and allows you to save at the beginning of every world.

World 1 – SMB3 NES Gameplay Video
(Don’t watch if you don’t wanna know where the Magic Whistles are hidden)

And while there aren’t really any puzzle elements per se, you will encounter stages, particularly the Fortresses in each level, that are quite difficult. One in particular had me playing for three hours before I figured out how to find the exit! That however was simply the case of me overlooking something very simple (yes I was kicking my own butt with full force when I discovered the hidden door’s location) so it’s very likely that you won’t get stuck like I did. But if it’s been a while since you played, then it’s very likely that you will find a few levels (the last Fortress definitely comes to mind) difficult. And it’s not so much that it’s hard, but rather you may have trouble figuring out how to find the exit. Which is all good.

The All-Star version of Super Mario Bros. 3 made many slight changes and tweaks to the game, but the biggest changes involved the graphics and sound and the addition of save slots so you could save your game.

World 1 – SMB3 All-Stars Version SNES Gameplay Video
(Don’t watch if you don’t wanna know where the Magic Whistles are hidden)

The graphics were given a complete make-over. Mario looks completely different and when you get a Fire Flower Mario turns distinctly red and white instead of solid orange. Backgrounds were added, complete with scrolling effects. The Airship intro for example has scrolling clouds in the front and flashing lightning in the background. And these detailed backgrounds were added to every part of the game. Even the model used for Princess Toadstool (in her letters), Toad (in the shops) and the transformations for the Kings were changed (one of them turns into a Yoshi!). The music was also given an update. But gameplay-wise it is pretty much the exact same game. The Advance version features even more updates.

Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of those games that’s nearly perfect . . . I can honestly find no real complaints with the game. Everything is done to perfection as you’d expect from a Mario game, and a first-party Nintendo title.Some levels look really cool. - Super Mario Bros. 3 Screenshot
If you have not played Super Mario Bros. 3, then you owe it to yourself to experience one of the best Mario games ever. And with the game soon hitting the Wii Virtual Console, it’ll be easier than ever for people to experience this best-selling classic.

Some consider it the pinnacle of Mario’s career. While it’s not personally my favorite in the series, the awesome level design and pure fun of Hammer Mario solidifies the game as definitely one of the funnest. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better classic platforming game. Period.

Graphics – 9.0
Whether you are playing the original version, which was graphically one of the best NES titles, or the Super Mario All-Stars version, which has Super NES quality graphics, the game does not look bad by any means. Each world has it’s own theme and the game oozes Mario uniqueness. The Advance version is even better looking than the others, but this review is not really for that version, even though they share a lot of similarities. Definitely pick up the Advance version if you have a choice though.

Music & Sound – 8.5
There is only one word to describe the music and sound effects in Super Mario Bros. 3, classic. Although there are only so many themes and some of them are quite simple (which may annoy some people). But what do you expect?

Ingenuity – 9.5
Mario can fly! Hammer Mario! Frog Mario! Tanooki Mario! Airships, Koopa Kids, item storage, map-screens, item shops . . . Super Mario Bros. 3 expanded the platformer to the top of the cup . . . any more and it would’ve been overflowing! Many innovations and Mario staples were introduced in the third installment. A unique and innovative game for it’s time.

Replay Value – 9.0
There are so many secrets in this game that it’s impossible to see them all with one play through. From different paths through levels to hidden warp whistles, the game has a lot there to keep you playing, if you enjoy it that much.

Super Mario Bros. 3 Artwork