Super Mario Bros 3
Original Release Date: 1988
When looking at top 10 lists of the best NES games, the one game that is always there without fail is Super Mario Bros 3. It’s widely regarded by many as the best NES game, the best Mario game, and in some cases the best game ever made period. Those are some pretty bold statements, and the game seems to get nothing but gushing praise from older gamers. But does the game actually live up to the praise it gets?
In some respects, it’s a clear step up from the previous Mario games. It retains the basic elements that made Mario fun while also adding lots of new content. It has much better graphics, a new overworld map, new environments, new enemies, new power-ups, and so on. In terms of sheer amount of content, Super Mario Bros 3 eclipses the original Super Mario Bros. But is it actually a better game?
The thing that made the original Super Mario Bros such a fun and replayable game was its elegant simplicity and its straightforward, easy to pick up and play nature. It started off very simple, and gradually added more and more elements in order to give the player a consistently engaging and gradually more challenging experience.
This is unfortunately not the case with Super Mario Bros 3. A lot of the new additions feel like innovations for the sole sake of innovation without a clear indication of how it makes the game better. It lacks the elegant simplicity of the original, and instead focuses a lot more on various gimmicks. Each world has its own unique aesthetic, but also its own unique gimmick, which generally never showed up before that world, and will not show up again once that world is completed. This wouldn’t be too big of an issue, except that the gimmicks tend to range from silly, to pointless, to outright frustrating. In particular, the levels where the camera is constantly shifting around outside of the players control are just irritating, and provide challenges based less on skill than on trial and error.
It has the same basic elements that made the other Mario games good, and its overall design is fine, particularly for NES standards. But for all its technical accomplishments and new features, Super Mario Bros 3 just wasn’t as much fun to play as Super Mario Bros 1 and 2, at least for me. It is by no means a bad game, and there is certainly some fun to be had. But as far as I’m concerned, it’s certainly not the best Mario game, nor the best NES game.
How well it holds up 3/4
Overall quality 8/10
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