Super Mario Bros. 3 Review

I have been playing Super Mario Bros. 3 for 29 years. Yes, I’m getting old, and as the years keep ticking away, I hope I never forget the first time I played this game. It happened on a hot, sunny afternoon during the Summer of 1990. I was visiting my neighbourhood video rental store and to my delight, they had a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 available. I plopped down my cash, probably a Canadian two dollar bill, and rented it immediately. At the time, it was probably the most excitement I had ever felt. I ran home and popped that glorious grey cartridge into my Nintendo Entertainment System, and then I set off on the most whimsical adventure imaginable. I started playing video games because of Super Mario Bros., but it was Super Mario Bros. 3 that made me fall in love. With that being said, let’s take a look at the joys of Super Mario Bros. 3.

Mario Gameplay at its Finest

Super Mario Bros. 3 delivers precise platforming, fun power-ups, unique enemies, and incredible level design. Essentially, Nintendo took the basics from Super Mario Bros. and improved on them to make this masterpiece. Mario’s movement has been tweaked to not be as slippery as the first game, which makes the game more fair to play. Mario was also given some new movements which include the ability to slide down hills, as well as carry and throw items such as shells, blocks, etc. Of course, there were also new power-ups introduced which further expand Mario’s abilities. Perhaps the most notable new element was Mario’s ability of flight after grabbing the Super Leaf. Other new elements include world maps, mushroom houses, and the ability to store items in an inventory. In my opinion, this is the perfect formula for a Super Mario Bros. game.

Best Level Design in the Series

Super Mario Bros. 3 has some of the most recognizable, iconic levels in the entire series. While some fans will argue that Super Mario World has the better levels, I wholeheartedly disagree. World’s levels are bland when compared to 3, plus they don’t feature the same level of challenge. Sometimes you will be chased by an angry sun, other times you’ll be infiltrating airships. Of course, there are also the incredibly challenging tank levels of Dark Land that force you to survive an onslaught of cannons and bob-ombs. I can’t write about level design without mentioning that one level where you can steal Kuribo’s shoe. I could go on, but I think the variety in level design speaks for itself.

An Iconic Soundtrack

I went into this review thinking I’d give this portion of Super Mario Bros. 3 a neutral rating. My reasoning being that the game has a tendency to repeat its theme songs. However, after playing through the game, I had a change of heart. Yes, there are two tracks in particular that you will hear a lot, but they are both well composed pieces of music. My change of heart happened upon hearing both the fortress and airship tracks. These two pieces are absolutely iconic and really help set their respective settings. The fortress theme has a foreboding sound and matches its haunting setting where ghosts chase after you and sentient stones try to crush you. The airship theme features war drums pounding in anticipation of Mario’s arrival to battle one of the seven Koopa Kids. Both songs give me chills to this day and helped me realize that this is definitely one of the game’s joys. Throw in an ending theme that moved me to tears upon my latest playthrough and you have the perfect soundtrack.

Visually Impressive NES Game

The restrictive nature of the NES hardware made it difficult for artists to realize their full potential. However, some artists rose to the challenge and created some of gaming’s most iconic visuals. Nintendo’s artists in particular were great at crafting sprites for NES games and Super Mario Bros. 3 is no exception. First, we have the game’s enemies, all of which look nearly identical today. In my opinion, this is proof of the artists’ ability to create iconic designs. Lastly, the game in general has a distinct look that Nintendo still revisits today both 2D games and 3D Mario games.

I Play this Game at Least Once Every Year

Super Mario Bros. 3 is a game that stands the test of time. I play this game at least once every year, and I discover new things almost every time I play. Secrets play a big role in this game and I’m constantly discovering things I didn’t realize were in the game. Whether it’s an area I’ve never seen before, or a hidden 1UP I’ve just discovered, there are still new things to experience. Speaking of secrets, some of them are challenging to uncover. Most of us know where to find the game’s three warp whistles, however, white mushroom houses remain a secret to a lot of new players. To find them, you must collect a certain number of coins in specific levels. Finding them all isn’t necessarily an easy task either, because some levels (World 3-8) really like to throw you in the deep end.


Honestly, I could continue singing this game’s praises, but I eventually have to write other game reviews, so let me close this one out. Super Mario Bros. 3 is not only my favourite Mario game, it is also, in my opinion, the perfect video game. The game features incredible platforming action, unrivaled level design, fun power-ups, beautiful visuals, high replay value, and an iconic soundtrack. If you’re one of the few that haven’t experienced the game, it should go on your bucket list of games to play before you die.

Final Score: +5

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