Happy National Video Game Day!
As you may or may not know, today is a glorious day in celebration of the video game in the US. So I’m going to talk about probably the best game of them all for one of the best systems from an innovative and constantly improving company.
Nintendo, NES, Super Mario Bros. 3.
Yep. This titan.
Where do I even begin.
Well, I was born in ‘91, when gaming was in it’s heyday. I knew of consoles, but when I was quite young, I came across my father’s collection of Nintendo and Sega Genesis games, with perfectly working consoles. Turns out, he had been part owner of a video game store with a friend, and when they went out of business, he kept many of the titles. And I’m talking crazy titles that to this day, I mention and people look skeptically at me.
Anyway, I had a huge library to work with, and I spent many hours starting and resetting games on the NES until they would finally work. I killed Jaws in the Jaws game. I beat Dr. Wily in Mega Man 4. I stormed the enemy lines in Ikari Warriors. And I used the leaf power-up to fly to the magic flutes in Super Mario Bros. 3. I basically learned how to read thanks to Nintendo. Between the NES at home and my Gameboy on the go (on which I was usually found playing Pokemon or Dragon Warrior Monsters), I owe my education to Nintendo. The wonderful Japanese creators and developers brought me into a fantasy world where collection, adventure, trials, loss, and eventually sweet victory, were all things to be experienced.
Super Mario 3 was the top on the list. Now, initially, this may have been in part to the fact that somehow, when every other game didn’t work, this one somehow would. I would sometimes make sure it was working and quickly switch to another game, miraculously making the other game work as well. But when all others failed, Super Mario 3 was my go to game. And due to this, it became the one I think of when I think of Super Mario. I know Super Mario World for SNES is usually the favorite and the go-to for many. I, however, can only tell you of Tanooki suits, both racoon flight and statue variety, Frog Suits, and Hammers to break through for a third magic whistle (which doesn’t serve a purpose, unless you missed one in world one).
The game has a wonderful tone, the worlds are all different, the enemies fit in with their environment, and the movement on the overworld is simple and effective. The game is tight, the controls are excellent, and the feeling of challenge and completion is fulfilling. I can’t find anything negative to say about this game, it’s just a quality program.
Furthermore, the myths that have come from the game intrigue and inspire most of all. Why does the background look like a set from a play, why can you fall behind the backdrop at a certain point, and why can the characters be seen on a stage, complete with rising red curtain? Why, because Mario and companions are all actors, able to fit into any role, hence why they go play baseball, soccer, have partied multiple times, and race go-karts together, even when they are hero and villain in other games. This was the first game in my memory where it seemed like there was a world within the game world I was interacting with. In games like Mega Man, you were the hero and progressed through the worlds. But Mario in Super Mario 3 was breaking this dimension and the fourth wall by implying that Mario and friends are doing something else, hanging out, having a cigarette, and shooting the shit, until you pop in the cartridge and they put on their show. It makes these characters come alive, something that I believe is what has made them so successful. These are real people (and turtle-people) who have lives and hopes and dreams, and we see a piece of their world when we play their games.
So this game is more than just the levels and power-ups for me. It taught me progression, pride in my successes, and that, like real people, characters are multi-dimensional.
Super Mario 3, You will live on as my favorite game of all time.