Monday, 13 January 2014

Super Mario Bros 3 Review (NES)


After the mixed reception of Super Mario Brothers 2, Nintendo had to create an instalment in the Mario franchise that fully lived up to fans expectations. What they produced far exceeded the hopes of fans and showed a massive step forward for Mario, both in terms of play mechanics and also in the sheer size of the adventure to be undertaken. 

The game consists of nine main worlds split into a number of smaller levels and mini-game sections. Each world is based on different terrain, for instance level two is a desert landscape while later levels are set on top of large clouds and in areas filled with pipes. Far from being just a cosmetic touch, each of the stages are tailored to whichever world they are set in. For instance, in the water world expect a reliance on swimming sections, while the cloud world involves precision jumping. This variety maintains player interest from one moment of frenzied platform action to the next. 

Graphically nothing else comes close to this on the NES. Large well-animated characters running around colourful, large levels are very much the order of the day. Very impressive to the point where you could mistake this for an early Super Nintendo game. Furthermore, there is absolutely no slow down present, which makes the game seem even more impressive given the size of levels.

With all Mario games though the focus is on the gameplay, and this third installment has it in absolute bucket loads. As well as the standard platform action there are so many new gadgets and suits to get to grips with it's unbelievable. The standard fireball remains but now Mario can adorn a raccoon tale and fly, use a frog suite to swim, use hammers to break blocks, music boxes to distract enemies and even turn to stone to hide from passing Kooper turtles. Absolutely everything you can think of has been included to make this one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences available on any format. 

What really helps to bring out the greatness in Mario 3 though are the little touches on the world map screens. There are little mushroom huts where you can visit and collect new items, a sort of mushroom kingdom ‘snap’ game and wandering Kooper turtles which have to be dispatched one on one and it all adds to the feeling of fun and invention.  

Once you've made your way across the map screen to the castle of the land, you must board one of Bowser's Kooper kids ships, make your way through the treacherous maze of cannon balls and bullet bills before finally facing a showdown with whichever of the evil kids is at the helm. This is a truly epic and fitting end to each world that shows just how much attention to detail has been poured into the game. 

The difficulty pitch is just about perfect. Each world provides a gentle step up in difficulty from the last until you get to the absolute nightmare stages on the last world. What is so brilliant about the learning curve is that unless you use the warp whistles to move from one world to the next you don't really notice things getting harder. That's not to say the game seems easy, it just simply seems to match you move for move as you get more accustomed to it, a brilliant accomplishment. 

Overall, Mario 3 is practically perfect, and represents the pinnacle of NES platform games. In fact it still shows up a lot of far more graphically splendid games to this day. The only subsequent video games that really outshine Super Mario 3 are later releases in the Mario franchise. This is another example of gaming gold from yester year and one welcomed onto the virtual console services with open arms.

10/10

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