Super Mario 3

It’s probably been picked up by now that I seem to sing nothing but praises for games and people, but if I did otherwise there’d be no time to recommend anything. And there’s a tonne to recommend to people scrolling through endless lists of really average games on the Steam ‘marketplace’.

I seriously consider this to be one of the best games ever made. I’ve always found the controls of the original Super Mario Brothers to have been pretty terribly mapped, so the final form that the controls took in this final NES version of the Mario franchise is extremely satisfying.

When all you can do is go from the left of the screen to the right, you need those tight controls. Holy moly are the controls tight in this game. Best played on the original NES with it’s two-button controller, this game has singly seen me spent entire evenings and nights attempting to conquer as much of its fascinating content sheerly because the ability to run and jump is so freaking masterfully programmed.

The learning curve is perfect, with an almost impossible number of permutation of 2D enemies and terrain challenges. Ghosts in castles chase you when you turn your back to them, forcing you to run when you encounter one on either side of you – combine this with platforms of knives and falling ceilings and you have probably the most authentic rendering of a haunted castle you’ll see unsurpassed until Super Mario World.

The fact that this game achieves so much in 384 kilobytes is the reason why I prize it above Super Mario World. The SNES was a beast when it was released (1992) a year after Mario 3 debuted (1991 – we’ve always been short-changed) here in Australia, what Super Mario World achieved was on top of the shoulders of giants – the fact that Mario 3’s score-panel was achieved at all (two screens were drawn to make the score panel, so, conceptually, it was separate from the play area, which was revolutionary for the time) is testament to the fact that Miyamoto is one of the best game team managers/concept designers to have ever lived.

This game is proof that you don’t need incredible graphics just to pull a game off, let alone make a near-perfect one. Every platforming game after this one owes it some sort of artistic debt. There are so many hidden items in here that only person to person conversations will reveal. You need to talk to your friends/someone else in order to complete this game:

A: ‘Yeah you get the magic whistle by crouching on the green box in the third level on that world.’

B: -brain literally explodes-

The fact that seasoned players knew this stuff before game-sharks and ROM-mapping was easily available is one of the universe’s greatest mysteries – if it was just by sheer empirical trial and error that we discovered all the secret stuff Nintendo’s Entertainment Analysis and Development department (they actually have such a department!) crammed into this game, I can only continue to be astounded.

Every 2D platforming game is just a slight variation on this game. I’m completely certain. This game has me seriously considering buying NES consoles for the sole purpose of making sure people know this game exists. I realise Megaman 3 is a close competitor with Mario 3 (it’s worth noting that the new 9 and 10 released on the current generation of consoles were a disappointment, and are probably worth a look) but the infinite amount of varied substance in Mario 3 makes it practically perfect.

Get this game at all costs, and play it until you develop arthritis in your thumbs.

NB. Notice I’ve made no mention of:

– The tanooki suit.

– The fact that this game is still awesome despite you can’t save.

– Koji Kondo’s brilliant music.

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