To say that the Mario franchise is well known would be to say that The Beatles were a small indie group. Since the release of the first game back in the 80s, our beloved plumber has seen his fair share of adventures to rescue his seemingly dim-witted love interest, Princess Peach. Now while Mario's most recent travels may have brought him to the final frontier of space, I must admit that my fondest memories of him and the gang come from the earlier instalments and in particular, Super Mario Bros. 3.
I still remember the morning of waking up, walking into the living room, and seeing that my parents had gotten an NES for my sister and me. SMB3 was the first game we ever owned, and we played the hell out of it. I'll never forget loading the big cartridge into the console, booting it up for the first time, and being greeted by the menu music. I was too young to fully appreciate it at the time, but it made a lasting impression.
Nintendo may be famed and, for some, hated due to the re-use of their IPs, but no one can deny that what they do with these properties have been revolutionary. For the games that aren't revolutionary in their own right, they have been honed to near perfection. SMB3 falls into the later category. The game handles very similarly to the original Mario game, but everything has been polished. Nintendo coaxed every bit of power out of their original console and it shows.
Super Mario Bros. 3, for the 2 or 3 people who don't know, is a 2D platforming adventure game starring Mario, an Italian plumber who sets out to rescue Princess Peach who has been kidnapped by King Bowser, Mario's long time nemesis. While the premise in SMB is the same in each game, SMB3 shines in comparison when looking at everything else.
The platforming is just as solid as the original, but with new enemies to defeat, more level types to complete, and new power-ups to utilize including the introduction of the famous Tanooki suit! One of the largest additions to this instalment was the world maps. In previous games, players took on each level in a predetermined order. SMB3 introduced a world map where players could choose to bypass certain levels if they desired. Players who wanted to explore more fully were rewarded for their trouble.
When it came to the presentation, Nintendo really brought their A game (no pun intended) and outdid the previous instalments. The level designs were much more complex; the backgrounds were more detailed; the animations were more polished; the music was more varied and had a much greater variety while still paying homage to the original themes; even Mario himself received a graphical overhaul and looks much better and more detailed than he originally did in the first SMB.
Mario, and by extension Nintendo, are largely responsible for crafting the VG industry that we know today. SMB3 was one of those defining games that showed us that Nintendo, even though they may reuse their IPs, knows how to perfect and polish their process to a mirror shine. If you've never played the third Mario instalment, I recommend fully that you get your hands on a copy and see for yourself where Mario began his long and epic journey!