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Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) artwork

Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) review

"Super Mario Bros 3 reverts back to the classic Mario formula, unlike the SMB2 disappointment. Instead of riding on the heads of enemies and picking vegetables, gamers were rewarded with a block busting, fire throwing and flying (thatís a new power) Mario. It took the basic style that SMBís produced and worked on that, adding a new level selection, new power ups and a brand new mission for our podgy plumber. "

Super Mario Bros 3 reverts back to the classic Mario formula, unlike the SMB2 disappointment. Instead of riding on the heads of enemies and picking vegetables, gamers were rewarded with a block busting, fire throwing and flying (thatís a new power) Mario. It took the basic style that SMBís produced and worked on that, adding a new level selection, new power ups and a brand new mission for our podgy plumber.

Bowser has returned from hiding, he wasnít around in SMB2 because he was getting jiggy with himself (he must be asexual, unless his wife left him abruptly before this game was made) producing new mini-koopas to help him with his latest scheme. His seven demonic koopa kids have invaded different realms of the Mushroom Kingdom, stealing the magic wands of the kings and turning them into a miscellaneous assortment of horrors. Mario and his player two brother Luigi arrive to bring down the koopa kids and revive the kings to their normal state. Princess Peach is away from the kingdom but thanks to the brilliant postal service, her letters always get across to her lover. Bowser seems to be letting his children do all of the work, his true plan will emerge later.

Mario now must explore eight brand new worlds, each with a varied number of levels that lead to the castle of that worldís king. Youíll visit the grass land, a plain valley where the beginning of your adventure unfolds. Desert land will see you enter a giant pyramid and walk through a land of sand. After this, youíll swim through a water world, fight gigantic enemies in giant world, slide along the glaciers of ice world and finally, slug through the hellish dark world, home of Bowser. Each of these worlds will have a castle which houses the mini-boss of the world and when you reach the Kings castle, an airship will appear, this will belong to a Koopa kid. When you board this ship, you will face an array of cannon balls and Bullet Bills, eventually, youíll duel it out with the kid at the end of the stage.

The two player mode is more co-operative this time around. Unlike the competitive game in SMB, players will take turns each at conquering levels. Itís not as harsh as the original two-player mode; which could leave a rookie player doing nothing while a veteran whizzes through the game. On this occasion, if player one finishes a level, player two takes over straight away. Although this is mainly co-operative, there is a competitive side to it as well. If Mario and Luigi try to enter the same level as each other, they will be thrown into a game of the old classic Mario Bros. Theyíll fight in a small area with many levels. Enemies will walk on the top levels and the Mario bros will have to jump underneath the enemy to flip it on its back. When it is struggling, you can kill it by kicking it. This will give you one coin and to win the game, you must get five coins before your opponent does.

You can control Mario through the map and take him to the available levels. When you clear that level, it will open the path to a new one, you can retrace your steps and replay levels as many times as you want. Pipes are also on the map. These will transport you to a different area, Hammer bros which you may have to fight if you donít put them to sleep and also various bonus houses. Entering these will give you a shot at a bonus game; allowing to match pictures together to gain extra lives or they will give you an item to fit in your inventory. You can access your inventory whenever you are on this map. Most items you collect will be items you can get in levels but you may pick up some mysterious suits.

Mario has all of his abilities from before, only now he can pick up Koopa shells as well as holding and running with them. The power ups that enhance Marioís skills are back, the old ones from the original are now accompanied with four new ones. The mushroom causes Mario to grow and withstand another hit, the fire flower enables him to throw countless fireballs as well as the skill of the mushroom. We also have the return of the power star, giving Mario invincibility for a short period of time although it seems a lot shorter this time around. Mario can also pull off somersaults in this state although his jump distance is not increased.

However, the new skills that Mario acquires here will knock your socks off. If Mario comes across a leaf in the ? block, he will don a raccoon tail and ears. With these tools, he can whip bad guys with his tail, use it to hover and even fly. I donít know how someone saw the relation between raccoons and flying but lets hope it was through a moral and humane experience. Anyway, at the bottom of the screen, next to the timer and your life amount will be a P scale. When you run with Mario, the P scale will go up and when it reaches itís max, Mario can leap up in air and fly for a short period of time. You can also pick up an item which will give you a raccoon tail and give you an unlimited P-scale so you can soar through levels with ease.

Some boxes will have a musical note painted on its side instead of a question mark. These boxes have two uses: they drop standard power ups and they can catapult you into the sky. Sometimes, youíll go so high that youíll end up running on the clouds. These bonus stages will give you a fine boost to your gold reserves and may be rife in other items as well.

Mario will also be given a boost with three other costumes: the Tanuki suit is a lot similar to the raccoon suit except that you can turn into stone for a few seconds. You can also acquire a frog suit which will increase your speed in underwater levels but hinders your progress on the land. The final suit you can get is equally as interesting, you may remember the Hammer brothers in SMB, well not only are they back here but you can also wear a suit that allows you to be one of them, throwing hammers at turtles was never this much fun. If you are wearing one of these suits make sure you do not get hit, one attack from an enemy will revert you to your Super Mario state and certain suits are quite hard to pick up.

SMB3 offers diverse collection of enemies; ranging from a lot of old favourites to a heap of enhanced characters and completely brand new ones. Some new notable enemy upgrades would be the flying Goomba, who drops mini Goombas on you and the Piranha plants that spit fireballs at you. Mario will also encounter new types of turtle brothers, the Hammer brothers are back but are accompanied with the Boomerang brothers and the Fire brothers. One new enemy species are the Boos, ghosts that haunt the koopa castles. These are invincible to standard attacks and will only follow you when you have your back turned to them.

When you reach the end of a castle, youíll be attacked by a turtle that waves his fists around.. Three hits will kill him, but be warned. Heíll come back again with the ability to jump really high and heíll learn to fly. Thankfully, heíll take three hits, no matter when you fight him. Koopa Kids are the main world bosses, youíll battle them in their airship. They will use their stolen magic wands to fire projectiles at you, with three hits youíll kick some shell and acquire the wand. The kings of the world will be brought back to their normal state.

Finally, Bowser appears and duels with you at the top of his castle. Luckily for Mario, the blocks of the castle are no match for the amazing fat ass of Bowser. When he does the butt drop on Mario, think fast and move out of the way. The colossal weight of Bowser will be no match for these rocks and theyíll crumble beneath him. Eventually, heíll plough all of the way through the roof and plummet to the depths below. Was this the threat that had me worrying throughout the entire course of the game? What a pushover! A little disappointing but quite fun and original. I was expecting something a little more challenging though, not this wimpy climax.

Not many games have a musical score as memorable as SMB3. The tunes may be small in number but they are so memorable and recognisable which fills the gap. The level selection screen and general level music is cheery and pleasant, they go with the theme of the level very well. Castles and Koopa ships are given dreary and slow music, which creates a threatening atmosphere to the dark and dangerous environs. The boss music is also something that is immensely memorable, the fast paced tune that booms in the background while you duel with the turtle guy really helps boost the action. Overall, we find an impressive score that will forever be imprinted in your mind.

The visuals of SMB3 were truly landmark stuff for the NES. The sprites are cartoon like and packed with detail. Mario and Luigi look exactly the same except for the colour swaps, a revert back to original form. They look relatively different in the last game but in the original they were exact reflections of each other, despite the colour swap. Enemies have also been reworked, most of them have full facial expressions now and look a lot more detailed. Goombas have long fangs, the turtles are still has dumb as ever and the angry faces of the Koopa Kids are very special indeed. However, itís Bowser who steals the show again. His sprite is quite large and is packed with detail, his facial expressions are easily the best in the game.

Super Mario Bros. 3 took the classic formula of Mario and injected so many additions. The range of power ups outclass any Mario game and the gallery of new and upgraded old enemies are amazing. The game is stacked with so many levels that you could play though that could keep you busy all day and all night. This game isnít just a platform game, itís the god of platform games. The only game that can actually contend with this one would be its follow up on the SNES. If you havenít played it; my heart bleeds for you.

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Community review by goldenvortex (April 09, 2005)

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