Sunday 14 January 2018

Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES review)

Developer: Nintendo R&D4
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1990

Super Mario Bros. 3 is a platformer that was later ported to the Game Boy Advance in 2003.

Your mission is to recover the magic wands from Bowser's seven children, and restore order to the Mushroom World. This adventure sees a return to the gameplay style of the original Super Mario Bros. (1985, NES) rather than the series' sequel, but brings lots of new abilities, such as being able to turn into a Frog (makes swimming easier) and a Raccoon (gives you flight). These provide tons of diversity and it's great how the power-ups you earn from Bonus Levels (e.g. Mushrooms) can be stored and used strategically prior to tricky levels. Whereas the original felt barren in its landscape, SMB3 feels like a living, breathing world with a huge range of enemies, locations, and gameplay challenges. What makes it so enjoyable is the sense of wonderment it creates within its level design; from throwing a turtle shell to reveal a hidden block that warps you to a coin-filled sky area, to flying above the ceiling to find warp whistles, you'll constantly want to explore, and the multiple paths and secrets help to keep you engaged. There's so much variety in each World, including the maze-like Pipe World and the imaginative Giant World where impressively scaled enemies await you. This carries through to the levels of each World, as one minute you'll be jumping on beetles in auto-scrolling pit stages, dodging environmental hazards in a Fortress, booting enemies as you slide down an icy slope, and running away from a raging sun! There's even diagonally scrolling levels which is impressive for the NES! It isn't linear either, as the awesome overworld hub allows some freedom in tackling levels. The controls respond to your every movement with ultra precision, and the catchy music perfectly encapsulates the level design.

Super Mario Bros. 3 is full of elaborate Worlds that really push the series (and the humble NES console) forward in new and exciting ways. Simply put, it's a masterpiece from start to finish and it's no coincidence that it set the standard for all future 2D Mario platformers.

Random trivia: Bowser's seven children are all based on famous musicians (e.g. Ludwig van Koopa is named after Ludwig van Beethoven).

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