I’m going to start something a little different here. Today begins my lessons on games that you should have played, and we’re beginning with Super Mario Bros 3 on the NES.
There are some games out there that you should have played by now and if you haven’t, well you’ve got some work to do. Video games have a history as rich and engrossing as literature or film, but you don’t hear people telling you these games are required for game scholars. No more!
This isn’t a difficult game to get a hold of. It was originally released on the NES but has been ported to the SNES in Super Mario All-Stars, the GBA in Super Mario Advance 4, and the Virtual Console. You have one of those systems, and if you don’t…well you can probably find it online via an emulator. No excuses!
Setting the Bar
Super Mario Bros came along and revolutionized gaming, and I’ll probably get to the original another day, but Super Mario Bros 3 stunned everyone with how much better it could be. I can’t stress this enough but SMB3 reset the bar and said, “Okay, leap that suckers.”
Companies other than Nintendo were attempting to copy SMB as closely as possible until SMB3 came along. Then they all tried to copy it instead, but no one could match the plumbers.
What made the game so great were a number of different things. Shigeru Miyamoto has always had a thing for exploration and secrets, thus why Mario and Zelda games are loaded with hidden items, paths, and general amusement that isn’t always required to complete the game. SMB3 added more power-ups, including the single best power-up of the series, the Tanooki Suit, a raccoon outfit that allows Mario to fly and turn to stone. No, don’t try and make sense of that. If you try then you’re missing the point.
Levels became vibrant in entirely new ways. Sometimes it wasn’t all about getting from one side of the screen to the other. Sometimes there was a question of HOW to do it. One level in particular will frustrate gamers till no end. Go to World 6 and tell me when you freak out attempting to fly a Koopa shell up to a nook in a place you’d never think to look. That’s the only way to beat the level, and I applaud that.
Worlds of Greatness
Ask a gamer which world is their favorite and you’ll get about 8 answers. Every world is great, and the final world stands out as one of the coolest moments in video gaming.
You go to fight Koopa on his home turf and go toe-to-toe with his army, his navy, his air force, his personal guard, and then storm his castle and make him kill himself. He kills HIMSELF. Gears of War gets all “Hoo-rah!” on our tails, but Mario was doing this stuff 15 years ago and he was dressed as a raccoon when he did it.
I can’t say enough good things about the games. You can play through it in a half-hour or a day depending on your preference. Add a second player and you’ve got a party. If you haven’t played Super Mario Bros 3, then consider this your homework assignment.