Review by Retro

"THIS is a 10/10 game if I've ever played one!"

OVERVIEW

After a wildly successful second installment in a now famous series of video games, everybody and their mama knew that there was no way that a third game was not going to be made. The makers had a choice to make, though. Would the future third title be another strange, yet engaging platformer, or would they decide to take a trip back to the roots and make this sequel a Bowser-infested, enemy-stomping, princess-saving adventure? Well, they decided to do the latter and go back to the ways of the blockbuster original, only this third outing would prove to be vastly improved in almost every way.

As in the original, the only playable heroes in Super Mario Bros. 3 are the mustachioed plumbers, Mario and Luigi. The princess has once again been kidnapped by the evil, flame-spitting dragon named Bowser. She doesn't care whether it's Mario or Luigi that rescues her; the princess is just tired of smelling Bowser's fiery 5000º breath, and she really misses seeing fellow individuals of her own species. Being single, unemployed plumbers, the two brothers jump at the chance to be heroes once again. But the road to the forbidden castle in which the monstrous green, spiky creature resides won't be an easy one.

Since old, blocky terrains along with a bout against a leaping Bowser at the end of each world didn't prove challenging enough, Bowser found a mate during his five-year vacation (though no one has ever seen her or knows who she is). From that mysterious relationship came seven mischievous kids that Bowser would decide to bring along with him. At the end of the first seven worlds awaits one of the little rascals who enjoy trying to fry some human butt with various magic wand powers or by simply touching a victim with their overly contaminated selves. If Mario or Luigi is skillful enough to defeat a Koopa kid, he will be a proven idol for that world's king, and best of all, he'll receive a letter from the treasured princess.

The infamous family of dragons isn't just lined up in a neat single file line waiting for a plumber to take on. No, you must first guide Mario or Luigi through several different lands in order to locate the airborne airship that houses the main boss. There are a total of eight mind-boggling worlds in all. You will venture through deserts filled with dancing palms; attempt to stay afloat in lands literally overflowing with water; try to squeeze through terrains where everything is ten times larger than normal; take your journey miles above sea level in cloud-filled surroundings; freeze your ass off in a world that looks like it comes from the ice age, and so much more!

Ready....Set....Go!

Upon beginning your fun filled, yet dangerous quest, you'll see (by aid of an overhead map of the world) that each and every world is composed of several levels, and even a few never before seen buildings (at the time of course :-þ), such as impressive looking castles that have the word 'HELP' shooting out the top of them. Sand-colored fortresses, Toad-infested mushroom houses, and even a caveman-looking hammer brother also invade most maps.

As you progress through the levels in each captivating world, you will have to force your brain to make its decision as to how to get past the legions of enemies and situations that await your presence. Use gliding beetles as stepping stones high up in the skies above you; avoid a hotheaded sun as it circles down trying to heat you up; fight to make your way higher up on a sinking water-infested land to avoid the frightening jaws of a hungry fish; climb aboard long tanks and battleships that are packed with cannons that never run out of ammo; have fun getting lost inside fortresses that contain hundreds of rooms but only one exit, and throw fireballs at blocks of ice that enclose great numbers of coins so you can collect the riches!

It would be a very difficult quest indeed if it wasn't for the Mario brothers being so popular with certain citizens, namely Toad. Scattered around like four leaf clovers in a grass field is a living mushroom named Toad (and I thought toads were a species of frog...) that makes his residence in a spotted mushroom house. Go inside these buildings and you'll be able to select from three treasure boxes that each contain a valuable item.

Also lying around lazily on each world's map is a card that has a black spade on it. Instead of a slow-going time passer like solitaire or rummy, these spade rooms contain a fast-moving slot machine for a chance at some extra lives. The third most common chance at the gaining of a usable item comes by way of the Hammer Bros. that run around on the face of each map. Defeat these threatening foes and you'll be given either a worthy item or one that you want to drop like a bad habit. These aren't all the places on the map that are there just to supply you with useful items or coins, but they are the only ones that you will see more than once in a blue moon. Others, such as a treasure ship that carries most of its weight in coins, only appear when you, the player, unknowingly or cheatingly performs a certain function.

These 'items' are one thing that makes Super Mario Bros. 3 better than its previous two installments, and better than 99.9999999% of the other platformers in the world. Yes, the mushrooms are still here for growing 15 years older in a matter of split seconds; there are still cleverly hidden extra lives; thousands of coins are either hidden inside rotating question mark blocks or waiting out in the great wide open. Not to mention the pleasant inclusions of invincibility stars and flowers for infinite fireballs.

As welcome a sight as these old familiar faces are, the new items are what really makes the game even more playable and enjoyable. Mario and Luigi can now collect leaves that enable them to literally take off and fly, music boxes for putting certain map-invading foes to sleep by singing them a soothing lullaby, Power Wings for flying out of the screen and into eternity, and even whistles for skipping entire worlds like a time traveler would!

Even better are the suits that the happy go lucky plumbers can strap on for unique and unforgettable powers. Mario and Luigi may be seeking the hand of the beautiful princess, but they're not putting on their tuxedos. No, 'suit' Super Mario Bros. 3 style includes innovative coverings for extra special abilities.

Putting on a frog suit will permit you to humorously hop around and to jump much higher on land, but even better, you'll be able to swim like a frog (fast!) underwater. Raccoon suits give you a tail to spin, the ability to fly, and best of all, the capability to turn you into a stone statue! While transformed into this statue that looks like a bald Mario holding up a sort of shield, enemies move right through you without causing any harm (totally amazing)! Finally, the hard to find Hammer Bros. suit is quite possibly the best. Find one of these and you'll be mutated into a hammer brother! This is really a treat because it allows you to run and jump about everywhere while throwing hammers at anything you please, just like those annoying creatures in Super Mario Bros. did. Mario and Luigi may always have a joyful look on their faces, but trust me, they have revenge gleaming in their eyes!

Where the hell are the enemies?!!

Oh yeah! Just like the items, many of your recognizable favorites are here to roam about in this more than glorious sequel. For instance, ground dwelling goombas are still walking strong after all these years, and those hard-shelled beetles continue to show their gloomy faces on occasion. But they're nothing compared to the inventive new enemies. Chain linked balls and chains rear their ugly, doglike faces at anyone who gets within a few feet of their personal space; small green creatures regurgitate deadly spiked balls and then throw them your way (heads up!); subaquatic adult squids with several offspring chase you as if you're playing hide & go seek; terrifying mini bosses jump around trying to stomp on you as if you were a dying fire, and the list could go on for at least 50 more KB.

A one-player platformer couldn't be much better!

If I've learned one thing from playing Super Mario Bros. 3 after all these years, it's that it is a prime example of the word overachiever. It just wasn't enough to include swarms of new, never before seen enemies, to add in separate worlds that each have their own personality, and to throw in several different bonus games for a chance at extra lives or other much needed articles.

No! The makers of Super Mario Bros. 3 couldn't settle with just making one of the absolute best one-player games that the universe would ever see. They went on and put in two-player capability while they were at it! You and a friend, enemy, or acquaintance can play a two-player turn-taking game at any time. If you get tired of conquering or dying in the levels of the main game itself (not likely!), both of you can always force Mario and Luigi to go back to their old jobs by transporting them to a subterranean sewer and then playing the original Mario Bros. It was the first game that the siblings first appeared in together. Ridding the screen of scurrying crabs, slow turtles, and hopping flies never ceases to be fun.

For the time, and for all times, Super Mario Bros. 3 has impressive graphics. The levels and maps are drawn out in nice cartoonish detail, the characters move around fluidly, and the landscapes are relatively colorful. It's nice to just sit back and watch the waves move back and forth on world 4's map, to witness the glorious effects of getting three cards of a kind at the end of a level, and so on.

The sounds in Super Mario Bros. 3 have always been easy on the ears. From the 'boing' sound of jumping to the pounding sound of a turtle bouncing back and forth off of rock hard blocks, none of the sounds should make you want to mute your television or make yourself deaf. However, what I'm most impressed by is the variety of catchy tracks that come from your television set throughout most of the game. Most of the music successfully sets the mood with the environment that currently surrounds you. Wait until you hear the evil, haunting sound of world 8's map, and the track that plays while on a moving ammo-filled tank that just makes you want to yell ''CHARGE!!'' and get on with the action as fast as possible. Whether you're flying with precision, aiming fireballs in a direct spot, or jumping from platform to platform, the game's controls are right on. I just played through the game today, from start to finish, and I don't remember any problems with the controls at all.

Simply put, Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the very best video games of all time, to say the least! Along with all of its other great assets, it has replay value that doesn't know how to run out, and it will never learn how to. If you're a platformer fan and even if you're not, just get the thing. If you don't, you will be the one missing out on a classic!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/30/01, Updated 02/23/03


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