I could have chosen one of the newest, hottest games to be released to play, or one of the "Game of the Year" nominations. I didn't choose either, however, and instead opted for one of my favorite games of mine, and one I probably have the most fondest memories of ever. I chose Super Mario Bros. 3, originally released for the NES.
This game was the first game I remember actually going to the store and picking out myself as a kid, as all my games before that were just given to me by my parents or grandparents. I remember actually knowing about the game before purchasing, which seems ridiculous nowadays, but back then, that was a huge achievement for video games. Today, we know about games coming out several years from now and get every detail about it throughout its development cycle. But back then, in 1990, most people bought games because the box art looked cool when they were browsing at the store.
Man, I played this game almost to death as a kid. Remember those cleaning kits you could buy to clean the old NES game cartridges? I had to get one of those kits specifically FOR this game, because I played it so much, blowing into it to the point of saliva particles gumming up the board inside. When the Super Nintendo was released, my cousin got one, but I didn't for another year, and honestly, because of SMB3, I didn't mind waiting one bit.
Playing this game today brought back so many fond memories, some of which I think about every so often, but tons of others that I had forgotten about until this game brought them to the forefront of my memory. If I were to sit down and try to tell someone where all the secrets are in that game without playing it for years, there's not a chance I could do it from memory, but as I played it, I found secret after secret, effortlessly, as if I had just played it yesterday. It's an absolute phenomenon, one that I'm sure many people experience, and one I have encountered before, yet it is still mind-blowing every time it happens.
I also realized that this game may be responsible for the foundation of my gaming ADD. All the little nuances that occur throughout the game that are so obsessive compulsive is insane. Jumping at the perfect moment to grab the wand at it's highest peak? Check. Spinning the bolts on the airships as fast as possible to get it to the end of it's track before the screen pushes you off? Check. Timing your run at the end of the levels to hit the P-power and jump into the corner of the box to get a star card? Check. After defeating a hammer brothers stage, timing your jump from one side of the screen to the other to hit the chest the moment it appears (and not too early so that the chest appears on the side of the screen where you jumped from)? Check. And that is only a few of the many, many idiosyncrasies in the game that I still feel urged to do, despite them not altering the game in any way, shape or form.
The game itself is so smart, so groundbreaking for it's genre, and I'm really glad that the New Super Mario Bros. games have dove back into the well of creativity that SMB3 opened up and brought some of those ideas back out. Usually, I am opposed to remakes of games, but honestly, if they did a straight-up HD remake of this game, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to dive right in.
Another thing that struck me as I played through the entire game today was how short the levels are, with the exception of the Level 8 stages. I could easily run through the average stage in about a minute or less it seems, which was perfect back then in order to put in as many stages as possible into the the game. In today's standards, it would hardly be considered long enough for a downloadable title, but alas, our standards for games have changed just a little bit since 1990.
Yes, I finished the game. I skipped one or two levels, but refused to use the warp whistles at all, despite the need to collect every single one I could. Just like when I was a kid, I felt no satisfaction in beating a game after skipping through complete worlds, even after beating it countless times. I remember as a kid using warp whistles only when I had friends over, to show off how cool and powerful they were, but deep down inside, I felt ashamed of my actions.
I love this game, and always will. My seven year old son watched me play some of it today, and while he seemed interested in it at first, especially after finding out how old it was, he eventually got bored of it and went about his business. It makes me wonder if kids these days will ever be able to latch on and fall in love with games to the point where over 20 years later, they still love it. I question it because of the sheer amount of games available to play, the numerous systems and the speed in which big blockbuster, AAA titles are pushed out onto shelves. I guess we will see twenty years from now, but I do know one thing. Twenty years from now I'm positive I will still love Super Mario Bros. 3.
Games played: 1
Systems played on: NES = 1
Total time played: 3 hours