This week’s game is Super Mario Bros. 3.

So you might be asking, “Why the third game?” I’m glad you asked. Of all 3 games made for the NES (famicom) the greatest of them was the third. The first Mario Bros. game was with the release of the system. The graphics were very simple, the game consisted of 8 worlds separated into 4 levels each, and the boss of each stage was basically the same sprite that threw more and more junk at you each time you got to the end of the castle. The second game was a huge step forward in many ways, but despite being a very good game, was criticized for being so vastly different than the first game, and indeed vastly different from all the games of the entire series. The third is really where the Mario games started to emerge as more than just a simple side scroller.

Mario 3 introduced a more open feel to the game with area maps (something that would occur again in Super Mario World, though with a much more sophisticated presentation). Instead of being a direct 32 level progression as with the two previous games, each world is divided up into numerous levels and bonus areas, all connected with paths. These paths branch here and there to create shortcuts which can bypass stages and lead to optional areas. This allows a more free-form play within the 8 world structure.

World 1. As you can see levels 3 and 4 can be skipped, though you'll miss out on the mushroom house.

Also added to the game is the idea of Mario’s costumes (a mechanic that has followed the series to this day). With the first mario there was one single progression: little Mario > Super (big) Mario > Fire Mario. In 2, there were no costumes at all. In three, they added a number of costumes to give Mario different abilities. Raccoon Mario for flying and tail attacks, Fire Mario returns to throw fireballs, Frog Mario for speed swimming, Cloud Mario for flying and passing stages, Hammer Bros. Mario for hammery goodness, and Tanooki Mario for all the goodness of Raccoon Mario with some statue power tossed in. With these new suits come obtainable items (mostly through mushroom houses and beating hammer bros.). Items can be used on the main map to give Mario a quick boost in power before starting a stage.

Most of the suits.

Of the three NES Mario games, Three stands out as easily my favorite. It’s more polished than the previous two, and offers more variety of play. Many purists will cite the first Mario as being the only one true to the Legacy… but I think that’s mostly oldschool video game codgers (like I’ve been known to be) liking it because it was the first, not necessarily because it was the best.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

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