Super Mario Bros. 3 review
The epitome of sidescrolling games


Oh man, Super Mario Brothers 3... man, this game was *bleep*ing HUGE when it came out! Whether it was practically the centerpiece of a movie before it even came out (The Wizard) or being impossible to find if you didn't pre-order it or something like that, wow, this game had everybody by the balls. I wouldn't blame them. This game was fantastic! It took everything that made the first game work, and added and tweaked it all so that it would be able to destroy the senses without needing the reputation of saving gaming (not downplaying the first Super Mario Brothers game, but looking back... oh who am I kidding, that game rocked the house as well). That, at least in my eyes, is what a sequel ought to do. No extreme stylistic changes, no mood changing, no identity shattering - just take the first game and iron out the flaws.

Story: Bowser is at it again! No, not kidnapping Princess Peach (well, not yet - you know it's going to happen though), but rather, terrorizing the Mushroom Kingdom, because he's... just like that! He sends his seven kids to steal magic wands from the kings of the seven lands, and it's up to Mario and Luigi to stop them. As per usual, it serves its purpose - to give us an excuse to kick some Koopa ass!

Gameplay: Unlike Super Mario Brothers 2 (ermm, the American one, that is), the idea is to go through each level and curbstomp enemies with Mario's big fat ass before they touch you. As long as you're a smaller Mario, one hit will kill you. Enemies will mostly move about, hoping to get a hit on you, but others are a bit more meticulous - with Chain Chomps that are vicious but will only stay in roughly the same area. Beyond that, the fundamentals are largely the same as they were in the first game (and second if you live in Japan).

But there are some major differences. For one thing, your arsenal of power ups has increased. You still get the Red Mushroom that lets Mario grow, the Fire Flower that lets Mario shoot fireballs, and the Invincibility Star that... well, that practically said everything, but there are more toys to play with. You'll have a Frog Suit, which helps greatly in levels where you have to swim. You'll also have access to a Hammer Suit, which lets Mario throw hammers like those pesky Hammer Brothers. But the most famous power ups are the Raccoon Tail and the Tanuki Suit. Both allow you to slow down downward momentum, but when you run for a certain period of time without stopping, you can also fly! Plus the Tanuki Suit can let you turn to stone and be invincible for a little while, although you'll be in one place... best used in tight situations. The amount of power ups gives the game an edge, especially the Frog and Tanuki Suits that affects momentum.

You'll also find yourself going through more... I suppose you can say "epic" levels, as not only will you go through various castles to defeat a sub boss, but you also hop aboard each of the Koopa Kids' battleships, dodging cannonballs and other various weaponry to get to the end and defeat each of the Koopa Kids. The sub boss is always the same - jump on him before he runs into you - but the Koopa Kids are fairly different from one another. Some have ranged attacks, some prefer close quarters, and some are just *bleep*ing annoying. Either way, each of the fights, although simple, are fairly well done. Even the annoying fights are enjoyable to some extent, but the ones that aren't annoying still have that sense of enjoyability.

Progression isn't limited to going from one level to the next. Instead, you're given an overworld, which not only have the levels, but also chances to get power ups, which you can activate before even starting the next level. Also, the maps themselves aren't completely linear, with a branching path or two, and pipes that can basically put you from one side of the map to the other. Plus, there are opportunities to get extra lives - you'll have spaces with a spade on them, where you'll have to press the A button to stop three columns from moving, hoping to match a face together. Then you'll find a card that'll appear sometimes, floating over other spaces. This leads to a card game where you have to find two of a pair and match them. In a way, it feels like it's a little too generous with free lives, but once you get further in the game, you'll be grateful for them... *bleep*, those last levels are hard!

Not to mention, the multiplayer is a hell of a lot better! At its core, it's still you and your friend taking turns going through each level, but the way it goes is just sweet. Actually, I'll take back what I said before - the power up and extra life overload isn't generous; it's to help make the 2 player mode work so that you and your friend will be forced to compete. Will you force your friend to finish a level so you can get to the item house? Will you make him finish the harder levels while you breeze by on the easier levels? Or will you set aside your differences and defeat Bowser together? Only your personalities will tell...

I really, really want to say that Super Mario Brothers 3 is practically perfect, but it isn't. Why? Because you can't save. This isn't exactly a short game - I mean, it's not an epic RPG either, but this game has a lot of levels to go through, meaning you'll be spending a couple of hours or even three, when most platformers are usually between 40 and 80 minutes long. A simple password system would've been nice! Or battery save would be great! Ah well, this shit is why emulators have save states...

Replay Value: But despite its lack of saving, you'll still find yourself wanting to go through the game over and over again. Whether it's due to the multiplayer or to explore the levels (they aren't completely linear as there are little paths you can find), let's just say that this would be spending a lot of time on your TV. But more than likely, it's because Super Mario Brothers 3 is *bleep*ing fun!

Controls: What contributes to it all is Mario and Luigi's controls - they're fluent. Control of them is as easy as it gets. Moving, jumping and swimming - as easy as pushing a direction on the D-pad or pressing A/B. The flying and floating controls can be a little mashy on your A button as you'll need to repeatedly tap it... yeah, I think holding it would've been a bit of a better idea, but at the same time, it still functions quite well. Swimming with the Frog Suit is handled quite well, allowing for more mobility underwater. Really, words can't describe how awesome these controls are.

Graphics: The game looks very, very good. Every environment you trek through all have their distinct looks, like a forest, a desert, a winter wonderland, among others. Not to mention, each piece of the scenery is finely detailed - well, as far as 8-bit processors are concerned. Outlines, fine attention to coloring detail and just about anything that would make a game look fantastic is seen in this very game. Each object, from Mario to an enemy and to power ups and blocks, are very well defined, standing out with the appropriate outlines, with the colors never blending in together... it just looks *bleep*ing sweet!

Audio: What really stands out is the soundtrack. The older games had less songs but still managed to remain refreshing, even after hearing it for the millionth or so time. This one has more songs, but funny enough, it doesn't detract from the quality. If anything, it makes the soundtrack even better! Each of the overworlds have songs that fit them, like a cheery tune for the first world, a more exotic tune for the desert world and a more chilling tune for the ice world (not too chilling - if you want that, pick up an Immortal album). There are even various level tunes, though you'll hear one more than often. It's a cheerful track that's simple in design, but just works so fantastically. The other level track is a bit faster and has some sense of urgency, but other than that, it's like the other track. Then you'll have the castle track, which is dreary, and finally, the battleship tune, which is doomy, gloomy, and epic. There's just so much to say about this majestic soundtrack, that it'd be its own review.

Overall: Super Mario Brothers 3 is a game for the ages. A mixture of coloful graphics, majestic soundtrack and excruciatingly fun gameplay just helps this game kick some serious ass. There's just so much to experience in what would seem like a simple sidescrolling platformer. Perhaps the best way to describe it is this - greatness incarnate. It's the epitome of sidescrolling platformers, with next to nothing standing in its way. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this is the best game that the NES has to offer. Oh, sure, there's no saving/password system, but it's overlookable, especially in an age of emulators and save states.

Story: 4/5
Gameplay: 14/15
Replay Value: 7/10
Controls: 10/10
Graphics: 5/5
Audio: 5/5
Tilt: +3
Overall: 48/50

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