This month marks the 25th Anniversary of the North American release for Super Mario Bros. 3 in 1990, essentially the swan song of the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).
The game is claimed now by several generations of gamers, since its 1988 Japanese release on the Famicom, as quite possible the best platformer ever made, if not overall game period. The only real competition for the “Best Game Ever” title people vie for is the series’ blueprint entry, the original Super Mario Bros from 1985, and the original Legend of Zelda from 1986.
All of which are the inspired creations of Shigeru Miyamoto, the man who defined the way games are played, built and designed with his whimsical style and personality after he re-legitimized games with the original arcade Donkey Kong.
His team, the internal Nintendo R&D4 studio, with colleague Takashi Tezuka, digitally built these mesmerizing worlds of the Mushroom Kingdom complete with music composed by Koji Kondo that play in the back of the minds of millions of people, making even fonder memories of Miyamoto’s creations.
There are several things that make Super Mario Bros. 3 such a timeless, revolutionary piece of gaming history, and the fact that it was the focus of a 1989 movie, The Wizard starring Fred Savage, before it’s release doesn’t even compare to the actual reasons. Pretty cool, though. Well, about as cool as the Power Glove actually turned out.
What Super Mario Bros. 3 did is what many people love The Legend of Zelda’s third installment for on the Super Nintendo in 1991, in that it built on the original game’s successful features, and polished them to perfection. The worlds featured more color, more items, more expressive enemies, and general features that make the original look like a simple arcade title. Instead, you are given something that felt so personal as something that could only be played in a home, that it left a Nintendo mark of quality on its audience. Not only that, but the game was optimized for exploring levels beyond a flat, left-right direction, and allowed players to travel backwards, and fly up in a diagonal direction, thanks to the first addition of the series’ now famous Tanooki Suit, in which mario flies with a brown raccoon costume. Don’t ask, I still don’t get how that works.
As if being a great game wasn’t enough to praise SMB3, it was frankly the biggest commercial success gaming had ever seen for years, selling 11 million copies in it’s first two years between the U.S. and Japan alone, and still sits among the top selling games of all time, only recently surpassed by titles like Grand Theft Auto V and Minecraft.
The game has been re-released on several Nintendo platforms in the time since it’s release, including a full remake in Super Mario Advanced 4 for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. It is currently available on the Virtual Console Shop for the Wii and Wii U, and should absolutely be played by anyone as a piece of history in design, building on a success, and in general fun.
In a Koopa shell, this is Super Mario at his finest.