It’s odd to rag on such an old and seminal game, but after having completed all three NES Mario games, I’ve realized that I only really liked the first, most basic one. Sure, this third entry offers more of everything: eight massive worlds, various minigames to bolster your life counter and countless different suits Mario can don to get extra abilities like flying or high jumping. But quantity really doesn’t equal quality. Instead of enjoying numerous hours of fun, I felt like playing through an endless tedium that instead of compelling and interesting level design merely offered generic levels with a ramped up difficulty.
Instead of each new world giving you something new to discover and play with, each new world felt like a cheap paint job that offered the same that the first world already had. Another castle, another mini-boss who could be beaten exactly like the one before, another mini-game you’ve played a dozen times already. The only time the game broke out of its mold was the last world, which had a strong underworld theme and offered a few unique levels. I grew up with the SNES/Gameboy Mario games and thought their predecessors should be just as good, considering the variety those games offered (even the 1989 Gameboy game), but Super Mario Bros. 3 can’t hold a candle to them when it comes to variety and gameplay.