Retro Review: Super Mario Brothers 3

A true Retro Review should be a look back at something that was important in the past — to all or just to us — through the lens of today. On The Spinchoon, it might be a movie, a video game, a TV show, or something else. To see the rest of our series, look here at the Retro Review Feature Page.


Super Mario 3 is held to high standards, not only by players, but by critics. I remember enjoying this one as a kid, but does it hold up now? Let’s find out

First off, when I was a kid, I technically beat this game, but I never played all of the levels.

Who did?

You play the ones you need to get the whistles and go right to the end of the game. This time, I made it a point to play them all.

Controversial opinion: I think child Brian might have played it the right way.

One thing that I definitely did not remember was just how short these levels are. I remember struggling in some, and feeling like it was going on forever, but that’s not the case. Most levels seem to be no longer than a minute to get to the end. The longer levels are still extremely short by today’s standards.

Pretty much every level — outside of the beginning and the end — was new to me, and what I experienced surprised me. A lot of the levels just felt like filler levels to pad out the game. Many worlds had some great levels that I missed, but I felt the majority of the levels were just uninspired platforming.

The rose colored glasses came off and one of my favorite childhood games felt like a lie.

After I completed the game, I just sat and thought about it.

The more I thought the more upset I got.

I was thinking of a random level in a random world that took me a lot of attempts because of a jump that felt unfair. Then I was thinking about another level that took me too long because fish kept jumping out of the water — in a random order — killing me. Needless to say, I felt this experience had broken me.

I was thinking that maybe the game wasn’t good but the memory of playing with family and friends is what made it good. Passing the controller back and forth, playing as both Mario and Luigi, laughing and talking the whole way through the game.

My favorite memory of this game wasn’t even a memory I made playing the game. It’s also something I learned about years after playing this game. The NES and this game was a Christmas gift for both my sister and I. Our parents bought it months before Christmas. We found out years later that they would open it up after we went to bed and play multiple times. I had a new respect for my parents after learning this.

Even though my sister and I received this as a Christmas gift, I don't remember ever playing with my sister. I do, however, remember falling down, hurting my ankle, and refusing to walk. The doctor said my ankle was fine, but I was a dramatic little child, so I refused to walk. My mom told me if I walked she would give me the game Yoshi’s Cookie. Little did she know, I didn't want that game, but my sister did, so I didn't walk, and we had to wait about six months before getting Yoshi’s Cookie. Maybe that's why she didn't play with me?

My sister never played with me. but my mom did. My mom was my gaming buddy on the NES; countless hours of all the Mario games, Marble Madness, and Contra. Our time with Super Mario 3 was always fun. To this day, I don't know if my mom was terrible at the game, or she just wanted to make me feel good, that I was the best. Either way, its memories like that I will never forget.

Maybe this was why we all loved it? The memories you make with others? This couldn’t be right.

I then rebooted the game, started over, and played it how I did as a child.

When I first started the venture of playing all the levels, my first thought was child me really missed out. However, as I dug deep, and struggled through the middle worlds, child me was right and adult me was just sad.

I still would hold this game up there in my personal list of my favorite games, but only if I played how I remember playing it. All levels are not created equally.


I would say this game holds up for the most part. It still is fun and controls well, but the way to play it is to cheat your way to the end and take down Bowser — the short and fun way. I’ll still give this one a thumbs up and say if you remember liking this game, you still will, but it may not be as good as your brain tries to tell you it is.

Childhood Brian Grade:

Child me loved this game . Running to the end and rolling credits made me feel like I accomplished something. This was to me back then the best game every made 10/10 —

2020 Brian Grade:

In 2020 I’m not afraid to say this game is overrated. Its fun to play through but struggles from uninspired filler levels. Controls are solid, and it’s still a classic, but as an adult, I realize its not as great as I always thought. — 7/10 —

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