Super Mario Bros. 3
Nintendo Entertainment System
This one, I played with my girlfriend. She is shocked by how terrible it looks. She’s racked up a fair amount of Mario 3 in the past, but always the All-Star remakes on the SNES and GBA. She’s never before played with the original recipe 8 bit herbs and spices. Compared to those excellent up-ports, no two ways about it, this game looks rough.
My perspective is a little different. I’ve played a lot of NES in recent days, so I’m very aware of the graphical range of the system. So, even though I’ve played this game over and over throughout the years, when I loaded it up this week, I was simply blown away by how amazing it looked. Just jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It’s a joy to just look at this game, let alone play it. Its visuals are crisp, beautiful and infused with a charm and personality that is second to none.
I mean, pretty much everyone who cares enough to have ever taken the time to pick a greatest NES game agrees that this game is it, right? Sure, that’s mainly due to the innovative level design, the seemingly endless volume of manic-clever ideas, and the perfectly frictive controls. But it is also because –on both the art end and the technical end– this is easily the best looking of its era.
Mario 3 is a marvel. It pushed the boundaries of Nintendo’s aging console hardware to the very limits. This is a game that was so badass that before its release, a theatrical feature film was made and sold around the premise of “Holy Fuckballs Look At This Game Mario Can Turn Into A Goddam Raccoon This is Crazy and Rad And Also We Can Now Play Video Games With Gloves.” The Wizard was a truly terrible movie, but when they unveil Mario 3 in that game, young minds across America were irrevocably blown.
Today, Mario 3 looks like a dinosaur. But you gotta admit that it’s a T-Rex. Most NES games are more like the Brontosaurus: They were the greatest thing in the world when we were six, but now we know that what we thought was real and awesome never even existed in the first place.
Super Mario Bros. 3, you are king of the Thunder Lizards.