Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES, 1990)

I remember when I was a kid, and had only played Super Mario Bros a few times. I thought that game was the coolest thing ever. At some point shortly after this sequel came out, I was at someone's house and they had -all three- of the Mario games. I would have given up a year's salary as a second-grader (all $50 of it) to have one of them. Of course, I wanted to play Super Mario Bros since I was obsessed with it, and my friend was like "No, you've gotta see Super Mario Bros 3, it's even better." This, of course, was hard to believe. Better than the first one? So we fired it up, and it was.

Scott Hall: 1958-2022

The game begins with one of the liveliest title screens ever. Fun Fact about this: I've never actually played all the way through the NES version of this game. I've played through the All-Stars remake, but on the NES I've only beaten the game via warp whistles.

So this is gonna be my first time doing all eight worlds all the way through, and I'm making a point to not skip any levels. I hope that by the end of this playthrough I can finally answer my own question about whether this game is better than Super Mario World or not.

Previously, on Super Mario Bros 2: Toad possessed the guy from Doki-Doki Panic and took over the world. We don't speak of this.

In any case, this game introduces something new to the Mario series: World maps. I love how they're styled to look like a board game.

World 1-1 BAY BAY.

The P meter adds a new momentum mechanic to the gameplay and it just works.

The Raccoon Tail is the big powerup in this one, and the first time Mario was ever able to fly. It works much better with a turbo controller/button, though it still has plenty of room for improvement (the cape).

The stage-endings are still iconic, with their black backgrounds. This is usually a relief when you find it, though as the game progresses it starts dropping enemies into the endzone just to surprise you.

Right away the game lets you know that there are multiple routes through the worlds. Here, 1-3 and 1-4 are both completely skippable (and 1-4 is a bit rough so I usually skipped it). However, there's a mushroom house over there, and most players are gonna want to know what it is.

First encounter with Boomerang Bros, the cousin of Hammer Bros. They throw boomerangs, no big whoop.

Toad's House of Black is a menacing place, where you must offer blood tithe to him in exchange for spoils from his underworld hoard. It's also a pretty good place to get super high.

1-4...man, I do not like 1-4, with its moving platforms and complete lack of floor. I remember not being able to get through this one as a kid and just leaving it.

More Toad Action, as he gives Mario one chance to expand his lives. Toad is merciful, but not THAT merciful.

...why is he so huge in this shot? He dwarfs Mario. Did he consume Luigi?

You can win up to five lives in this minigame if you match up an image, but usually I just end up with some sort of unearthly abomination.

World 1 Fortress is the debut of fortress levels in this game. Unlike World where fortresses were optional side challenge-dungeons, in this they're generally mandatory.

They're basically this game's version of the castle levels from the original game, now as mid-world stages to make room for the airship levels being the new end-world stages.

I remember to fly above the ceiling to grab...

...this warp whistle, that I'm never gonna use. This was SUCH A FIND when we were kids.

Oh yeah, the inventory system. I think this is the only early Mario game that had this, and it lets you store something like 30 items in a bank of sorts and tap them as needed. I usually save up a ton of items early on, then burn through them in later worlds so I never have to get stuck playing small Mario.

1-5 is the game's first cave level. That's right, this is what cave levels looked like on the NES. The days of World and its very cave-like caves hadn't arrived yet.

1-6 is another platform-rich level like 1-4, and easily the other level I have the most trouble with in World 1. I gotta say though, so far this game is WAY easier than I remember.

This one spot is one I have vivid memories of dying a lot on. I'm...not sure why. Just drop down!

The next section is a moving platform of doom, and as far as being an introduction to this kind of thing goes, it isn't bad. It's also the final challenge before the debut of the airship level. But first!

Oh, now Mario is bigger than Toad. I get it, he was small before.

Still doesn't rule out whether Toad consumed Luigi, however. Where IS Luigi?

The memory minigame is fantastic, I just wish it gave you more tries at the outset because two mistakes isn't enough to get any kind of feel for where things are on the board. After a couple of rounds of this (it pops up frequently on the overworld) I usually remember what most of the cards are and can rake in the items (mushrooms, flowers, stars, etc)

We arrive at the palace, where the king has been transformed by a magic wand wielding koopaling bastard. He's now a dog, which means Toad can't have his soul because dogs go to heaven. Toad is understandably apoplectic at this turn of events, as he prepares to wash the dog's rich pelt.

Mario arrives at the airship, which is always in the middle of taking off when he gets there. These koopalings know the jig is up!

Airship levels are distinct to this game, at least among the early Marioes, and they've got a ton of personality. They're low on enemies, but high on Bullet Bills and cannons. So they basically present their own unique challenge that's very different from the more traditional fortress levels.

The first koopaling is Larry Koopa (who got switched around to the last one in World). Weird thing is, here he doesn't LOOK like Larry from the artwork. Larry is supposed to have blue hair, not whatever this is. He looks more like Iggy here, but rest assured, that's actually Larry.

This is a basic fight where he jumps around firing rings from his wand (no doubt to turn Mario into a pooch) and you need to bounce on his head 3x (or blast him with a bunch of fireballs, a snap with a turbo controller).

The King is restored to his normal form, and he's...The Iron Sheik?

Finish a world and you get some super-useful item from the Princess. Well, they're usually super-useful. The P-Wing in particular lets you fly over an entire level and a few of those can make World 8 WAY easier. Matter of fact, I'm gonna store up all the P-Wings in the game for World 8 instead of using any on airships along the way (they're particularly good for airship levels).

That's it for today, more later.

Wow, did I just spend an entire post talking about one world? Yep. We'll see how many more parts this takes to cover. It's an enigma, like how many episodes FFVII Remake will have.

1 comment:

  1. 1-4 is the most avoided on out of all the stages that say they get avoided on.