Super Mario Bros. 3, A Thirty Year Reunion

Today we celebrate the thirtieth birthday of the American release of Super Mario Bros. 3! This is a game that has gone down in the history books as one of the greatest platformers of all time. Playing it again after a considerably long hiatus, I can definitely attest to its well deserved status as a timeless classic.

Super Mario Bros. 3 takes the overall gameplay of the first two games and adds some new features to keep it fresh and interesting. It’s your standard 2D platformer, as this  was one of the only forms of video gaming styles available at the the time. It demands a certain amount of precision, dexterity, and calculation that many current-day games simply don’t require.

Super Mario Bros. 3

One of the most basic premises found in every video game. That and having to save the princess. Oh wait..

The controls are simple. For the most part you can walk, run, and jump. Depending on what power-up you have, you can also shoot fireballs or imperviously run through enemies. This game introduced a few new features like the Frog Suit, P-Wings, the Super Leaf, the Tanooki Suit, and the Hammer Suit. Each come with their own specific function and perks. The Frog Suit for example, lets you swim through and hop out of water much easier than normal, while the Super Leaf gives you a set of fox ears and a tail that allow you to whip your foes into oblivion and fly into the clouds to discover treasures unknown.

This brings me to another great feature of Super Mario Bros. 3: the secrets. Yes, there were certain cheat modes you could access in Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2, but those paled in comparison to the fabled treasures and hidden paths you could unearth in Super Mario Bros. 3.

Super Mario Bros. 3

That wily, slightly discolored musical box will lead me to secrets unknown.

Finding all of the secrets was something of a remarkable achievement in Super Mario Bros. 3‘s heyday, as the internet didn’t really exist at the time. For those of us that had to brave these games on our own, we had to rely on our own sense of cunning, comparing notes with friends (if they were even nerdy enough to play video games), or grit our teeth through countless hours of trial and error. What awaited us at the end of our struggles were often times the different Suits, Warp Flutes, and Anchors.

The Warp Flutes were fairly common knowledge within the gaming community, even back when it was first released. The way to find them however, blew the minds of nearly everyone who tried it. This was one of the first times in gaming history that you could purposely try to manipulate the environment around you in order to find hidden treasures. It rocked the worlds of many gamers and has since inspired future developers to follow in its footsteps or hiding items within their games.

Super Mario Bros. 3

Big Bertha’s gonna eat me! Now I know what a fish stick feels like.

The 8-bit pixelated art style and chiptune sound design still hold up today. This is largely due to the fact that so many current game developers grew up with these classic titles, so they have been paying homage to these games ever since. Hearing the beats instills such a strong sense of nostalgia to anyone who remembers its originally, but it also calls to something more basic and instinctual to those who have never experienced it before. Case and point, I heard my six year old daughter humming the tune from World-3, days after having her play this with me. She said she couldn’t remember where the tune was from exactly, but it made her happy. If that’s not a testament to the positive effects that games can have on us, I don’t know what is.

I have to give credit to Super Mario Bros. 3, as well as others from that era for paving the way for modern day classics like CelesteHollow Knight, Shovel Knight, and Cuphead. We would never have been able to experience the thrill of modern day games without the hard work and vision from those tireless developers. I think all gamers, both new and old, owe a debt of thanks to these tireless visionaries. Super Mario Bros. 3 has aged like a fine wine and well deserves all of the praise it still receives to this day.