Super Mario Bros. 3

Wow! What a detailed title screen. The 3’s shadow has a tail. Luigi is aiming a shell at Mario. The clouds have pinwheels.

Review Date: April 20, 2021

Release Date: February 12, 1990

Platform: NES

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Linear Platformer

Anecdotes: One night, the area just got a deluge of rain, and my dad wanted to fire up the Blazer to go around town to check out the scene. I was in the middle of a Super Mario 3 run, but I absolutely hit a wall in world 8-2. I needed to get away from it, anyway, so I chose to hop in the Blazer to have a look around town. There were massive puddles and roads closed do to flooding, but luckily, there was no major damage. Meanwhile, my brothers kept the game going back at home and they struggled with 8-2 as well. After the short ride, my dad and I got back home. My mind was on the rain scenes outside, but it was just as much on world 8-2. I remember that jumping into quicksand led to shortcuts in Super Mario 2, so why not try it in 3? Sure enough, it worked. My dad driving the Blazer through “quicksand” (actually just mud) helped me think of that.

Description: Bowser has captured Princess Toadstool again and it’s up to Mario to save her. Mario has to traverse 8 worlds of various themes, battling lots of enemies, including the seven Koopalings, on his way. Mario will find lots of surprises along the way, including some unique suits that grant Mario new abilities.


-Mario’s back, and he’s got two new moves. Mario can fly if he’s equipped with a Raccoon Tail or a Tanooki Suit. This has two benefits: Mario can access new areas and Mario can avoid obstacles. Mario can also use a P-Wing (I never figured out what the P stands for) to keep the ability to fly throughout a course or until he is hit, whichever is less. Mario’s other new move is the ability to slide. He doesn’t need a power up to slide, just a steep hill. It’s nice because Goombas and Koopa Troopas will all die on the way down.

-Mario also has access to some new suits. Beyond the raccoon leaf, he can also equip a Tanooki Suit, which allows Mario to briefly turn into a statue; a Frog Mario, which makes swimming easier and smoother for Mario; and a Hammer Brother suit, which is really cool, but impractical.

Mario can become a Hammer Brother and throw hammers. They even take out Thwomps.

-Thankfully, the developers have removed ratchet scrolling from the game. Mario can now go back to grab a missed mushroom, for example. It also opens up puzzles, like the one in 6-5 that requires Mario to make room to fly.

This is part of the puzzle in 6-5. I ran out of time on my first try.

-Each world has its own theme. I absolute love this. Each area has a concept behind it and the themes strongly affect the level design. While worlds 1, 2, and 5 are generally similar with different backgrounds, the rest stand out. World 3 has a water theme, using things like swimming and rising tides. World 4 doubles the size of many things. World 6 adds ice physics and “trapped in ice” puzzles. World 7 is just full of pipes and oddball mazes. This even extends to detail things like the kings at the end of the worlds.

To fit the ice theme, World 6’s King became a seal.


-Each of the first 7 worlds ends with an autoscrolling airship. They’re generally annoying levels and they tend to be short on mushrooms and flowers. There are no checkpoints, so a loss to the boss means starting over.

-Speaking of starting airships over, this becomes a pain if it happens. It’s bad enough that Mario will have to go through the whole stage all over again, but the airship can fly to any blank space on the map. This may not matter much at times, but other times, it’s a huge issue. It’s the player’s fault if he or she Jugem’d past a stage and now he or she has to do the stage to reach the airship, but that world 5 issue is just nonsense. If the airship flies from the ground back to the sky, the connector road will have to be done again.

-Super Mario 2 West had four players to choose from, but this game completely reversed that. Removing Toad probably didn’t bother many, but taking out the ability to play as Toadstool was a huge mistake. Girls wanted to play games. Many of them just loved having a heroine to play as and were looking forward to more. Unfortunately, Nintendo removed it. While some girls had no issue playing as Mario, others were left in disappointment when they could not play as Toadstool.

-There is absolutely no way to save. This game is too long to not have a save function, and it was released in 1990, long after Kid Icarus and Metroid started using passwords, plus the Legend of Zelda had battery saves. It’s inexcusable that Super Mario didn’t get any method of saving. It’s alleviated a bit by the warp whistles, but then players can use them to skip lots of the game, meaning they miss out on a big chunk of the experience.


These bouncy blocks with quarter notes on them are cool. The pink one even bounces Mario into Coin Heaven.
Yeah, sure it will. I had about 20 items left in the inventory when I finished up.
Dancing palm trees!
Mario found a ‘shroom, but that ghost above will come chasing if Mario faces away.
Those bubble like things on the right are a tornado like formation that just throws Mario into the air, but that sun can swoop down and attack.
Hey, look, it’s the Army Star!!
I know they had to fit it into the box, but it’s YOU’RE, not your.
Let’s add some Thwomps in, too.
Mario goes for a swim, but Big Bertha hangs out below.
I found a bonus area through use of a hammer.
I call this the “N-Game.” I have no idea what the N stands for, though.
It’s nice to see an element from the western SMB2 included; the Bob-Ombs have become a mainstay.
This is my favorite world of the game: Giant Land. It’s a unique, but simple concept.
This is a 3 star presentation.
I’m feeling a bit froggy right now.
Each world has a Koopaling as its boss; they’re all defeated the same way, but vary in their attack methods. This one is Iggy.
I found some Chain Chomps! Even the enemies in this game are cool.
World 5-3 is a fun romp involving bouncing around in a shoe.
This is part of Ice World. Hitting an ice cube with a fireball allows Mario to obtain the coins inside.
This is a ridiculously easy way to farm extra lives; I think my readers can figure it out.
I like how the world themes extended to what creature the king was turned into. World 7 is the Pipe Maze, and the King has become a Piranha Plant.
Bowser was working on his writing skills. I especially like the “Yo!” greeting.
Great. Giant bullet shooters…where were these in Giant World?
I call these “Hand Traps” because a hand may grab Mario, forcing him to complete a short level, but there is a prize at the end.
I’ll just take this shortcut here in 8-2.
Bowser is the final boss; let him just kill himself while keeping Mario out of the way.
Toadstool really thinks she’s funny lol…by the way, how did she know the Toads were saying that?

Final Opinion: I don’t get why a game released in 1990 that’s as long as this one comes with no method of saving at all. It doesn’t even contain passwords. The warp whistles help, but not if players don’t know where they are. Otherwise, this is a quality title with a few minor flaws.

Grade: B

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