Game Title: Super Mario Bros 3
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: Virtual Console (NES)
Download: 114 Blocks
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download

The Super Mario Bros NES trio of games is still looked upon today as not only classic games, but fun games that are still engaging today as they were back in the 1980s. The third game of which is still held as a fan favorite and arguably the peak of the series to date. Many would argue that (I would. My fav is Super Mario 64 and its DS remake), but it is no doubt that the Mario NES games are classics and looked back upon every time a new Mario platformer comes out.

I’ve taken you guys back to the past before with Virtual Console retro reviews. First, I covered the original game, and I skipped Deluxe and The Lost Levels in favor of sequential canon order with Super Mario Bros 2 last month. This month, it’s time to finish off the trilogy.

So, here is my retro review of what is considered one of the most classic platformers of all time, Super Mario Bros. 3!



Once again, Bowser is up to no good and it is Mario’s job to save the day. Instead of attacking the Mushroom Kingdom, he sends his seven children to other countries in the Mushroom World to cause mayhem and transform all of its leaders into animals, unable to govern their nations. Mario and Luigi are sent out to take down the Koopalings and return the leaders to their rightful forms.

The plotline of SMB3 is interesting because it’s the center of a ton of fan theories. Until last year, it was all speculation, though Miyamoto himself came out in 2015 to confirm that one of the fan theories was right with the canon. But I won’t tell you all that right here and now, as that would be full of spoilers. Just take a quick google search and you can find that answer if you’re curious.



Like its predecessors, Super Mario Bros 3 is a side-scrolling platforming and action game. You’ll be going across various stages, jumping over obstacles, gaining power-ups, and fighting off enemies and bosses in your quest to defeat Bowser and his Koopalings.

SMB3 was different from previous games mostly in progression because it used an overworld map. Every world was a grid you could explore (like Super Mario Land 2 was). On the grid were stages you could explore, wandering enemies that you could fight in special stages, and other stages allowing you to do mini-games for extra lives or power-ups. It was different because you had different paths to take, so you could do Stage 1, then 3, and then the castle without doing Stage 2. There was more freedom of choice.

Most of the in-game changes were new power-ups, enemies, and environments you could explore. They took out the picking-up elements of SMB2, but did give you the option to carry a turtle shell if you find one to toss at enemies or puzzles that blocked the next area. However, the biggest change and most famous aspects of the game were the Tanooki and Raccoon Tail power-ups. This has been repeated in the series (and been a heated debate with PETA), but it made its debut in Super Mario Bros 3 with the ability to fly and glide around in stages.

The other notable change is how you fight bosses. In the first game, you had to avoid bosses and hit switches to dump them in lava. In the second, you picked up and threw items at them. In this game, you can stomp on them like you can normal enemies. Every Koopaling has a boss attack pattern and openings for when they are exposed. This added a bit of more strategy to boss battles.


This comes together as a good flow thanks to the game’s pacing. From the very first stage to the last one, you will quickly notice that SMB3 has very short stages. I would wager the stages in the game are half as long as previous games, if not shorter. It was almost weird at first, going from 2 to 3 with how much difference there is. Even if you walk through the stages instead of run, it feels much faster-paced with how quickly you finish stages. Even castles are short.

Despite the fact that there are short levels and it has fast pacing , it is still one of the longer early Mario games. One run through everyone should take you about 4-5 hours, which definitely makes this a bigger time-sink than previous games, and definitely worth the money on Virtual Console.

Speaking of Virtual Console, another thing that is interesting. Some VC titles allow for Download Play on the 3DS, and this is one of those games.


Being an NES game, like the previous two games, it’s very easy to control. The D-Pad is used to move around, and the Circle Pad can also do that for you. The A button is used to jump and the B and X buttons are used for attacking with a power-up or to hold and run.

I can’t really complain or say much about this because of how simple it is and how well the controls work.



Now, let’s get this started. Visually, the game looks pretty nice with its graphics engine. It’s not blurry like the past two games and provides players with a very colorful world to explore.

However, there are problems here. Graphic glitches happen a lot. Whenever you move forward, the screen glitches on the right hand side, the top glitches when you jump near it and there’s an extra section of the screen lit up past the end of the actual game that isn’t there when you play the original game.

Another minor thing is that the music cuts out a lot when sound effects play from you or enemies. You recall how that happened in the first game? It’s worse here. It happens almost constantly and it’s quite irritating, as I enjoy the overworld music of this game.