Super Mario Bros. 3 review - Nintendo Entertainment System

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Super Mario Bros. 3 box artMario and Luigi are called back into action when Bowser and his kids turn the kings of the Mushroom World into animals and steal their royal magic wands.

The acclaimed Super Mario Bros. 3 features more Mario action than ever before: fly as Racoon Mario, swim as Frog Mario, throw fireballs as Fire Mario, and turn into an invincible statue as Tanooki Mario! And you’ll need all the powers you can muster, to beat Bowser’s offspring lurking in their heavily-armed airships.

With eight huge worlds to navigate, countless secrets to discover and even a cooperative or competitive two-player mode, Super Mario Bros. 3 truly deserves its status as one of the greatest games ever made.

What the Mean Machines staff thought


" Super Mario III is simply the finest videogame I've ever played. It mightn't have the graphics and sound anywhere near as good as many Megadrive and Super Famicom titles but what it does have is utterly fabulous playability. Its perfectly graded difficulty level, massive depth, constant surprises, hard-to-find secrets, mega-rewarding gameplay and supreme challenge combine together to make it horribly, horribly addictive. I mean real Government Health warning stuff! Once you start playing you want to keep going, just to see what surprises are around the next corner! I ended up playing it all night! And when I wasn't playing the game I was thinking about it! It's truly awesome stuff - the greatest game yet seen! And if you haven't got a Nintendo to play it on, you'd better start saving now! "

" Finally! Mario II's been propping up the Nintendo charts for many months, and now Mario III's out I confidently expect it to sell by the jumbo-jetful - and it deserves to! Mario is a truly brilliant game, combining a massive amount of depth with totally superb playability. Featuring many devious platform traps and puzzles that rely both on brains and reflexes, Mario is simply a truly classic game. The graphics, though quite simple, are incredibly varied and there are hundreds of excellent enemy sprites, each with their own behaviour pattern. The sound is superb too, with a special sound chip built into the cart to provide some excellent bongo drum samples! Having completed Mario IV, I expected this to be a doddle - not a bit of it! In some aspects it's even better than the Super Famicom game, and in the playability department it makes Sega's Sonic look poor by the comparison. In my view, Mario III is THE game for the Nintendo and is worth every last penny! "


Overall Score98%

Retrospective comments


Another game I recently revisited on the GBA. All the fond memories came rushing back. I was quite late to the party with this game having been a late-comer to the NES scene. My early allegiance to Sega almost made me miss out on this gem. So good was this game that on a hot summers day in the 6 weeks school hols I ran an power extension into my back garden and played through all the levels in one day!

There is something so special about this title. Nintendo really got it spot on. Never too hard to put you off but you had to keep your wits about you for some of the demanding platform sections. Cheery music, stunning graphics for the NES, a great variety of enemies and bosses and fab level design with loads of hidden goodies made this a game to go back to time and time again.

Next to Super Mario World on the SNES and Streetfighter II this is the highest rated game in Mean Machines. Totally deserved too!

tim - 08 Jun 2008, 21:25 GMT

How do u beat the gray castle in world 8?

Dazza - 12 Jun 2008, 07:48 GMT

Try using a P-Wing if you really suck :-)

Tris Wicks - 05 Nov 2008, 04:27 GMT

An interesting review, and a learning curve for journos too. What happens when a bigger fish comes along? Give it 100%? And what about after that? Here's to you, Trojan

mitzibishi - 22 Jul 2009, 03:31 GMT

100% forget about GFX of the SNES & MD, its all about gameplay. a CLASSIC!

justin - 25 Nov 2009, 23:55 GMT

how do you get pass world 3's castle 1

Staresy - 21 Feb 2013, 12:19 GMT

I remember reading this review and then getting the game only to be mildly amused by it. I thought, and still think today that 98% is a gross overmarking of how good this game is. Don't get me wrong it it a great game but I just didn't find it the life changing experience it was made out to be.

Little things that frustrated the hell out of me like the mushroom programmed to always go in the opposite direction to you just seemed unnecessarily lazy to make the game harder than what was enjoyable.

I personally thought SMB2 or SMB USA was the best of the lot simply because I found it a great challenge and I didn't end up throwing my controller at the screen in rage.

Great fun but I came away with a sour face too many times after playing this game.

ed - 22 Jan 2014, 16:40 GMT

@ Staresy - The mushroom going the wrong way was you not realising - I believe - that if you hit the ? block on the left hand side, the mushroom would go to the right, and hitting it on the right would send it to the left. A trick Nintendo didn't repeat again in subsequent Mario games because it probably annoyed too many people like you. You needed precision and skill to nail that fungus.

But for me Mario 3 is still eminently playable and it's intriguing that this and Mario 4 haven't really been bettered as pixel perfect platformers where you have such *exact* control over your character. Rayman Origins/Legends are fantastic and, especially considering the lacklustre New SMB series, are the new torch bearers for imaginative entertaining 2D platform games, but they lack the exact precision and skills required for SM3/SM4. Just not as tight. IMHO.

Anyways I'm off to play this bad boy on my 3DS. Sweets.

Bob Joe - 04 Aug 2014, 14:02 GMT

Just a 2014 comment passing through…


YawnBoyPest1957 - 23 May 2015, 08:10 GMT

Played through the NES version in it's entirety for the first time recently, having done most of it on the SNES mario all stars compilation back in the day. Thought it was overrated then, and still do now. No doubt it's a decent, meaty mario game that introduced some cool progressions, eg. flight. Challenging, but partly due to numerous noob traps catching out a first time player. Mediocre graphics on NES, looking like a spectrum game at times, yet somehow general consensus is that it's one of the better looking NES games. Pure groupthink. Castlevania III and Track and Field II are impressive looking NES games. This isn't. And why are Mario's dungarees black? Now I've done the UNTHINKABLE in objectively criticizing SMB 3, I'll round up my thoughts by stating that humble, arcadey SMB 1 has far superior fluidity and balance to it's gameplay.

Mean Machines Issue 13 - October 1991
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