Relearning Super Mario Bros. 3

Revisiting a beloved classic isn't always easy

Relearning Super Mario Bros. 3
Source: Nintendo.

Super Mario Bros. 3 is a game that has given me many fond memories. I have played it with my brother as an attempt, as mentioned in previous articles, and tried playing again on a vintage controller. Now I'm trying it on the Nintendo Switch, and it has been a sweet trip down memory lane.

Relearning to play the game as an adult has been good for denting the ego and satisfying nostalgia at the same time. It was a simpler time when the biggest worry was if I could acquire the Hammer Bros. suit and take down pesky ghosts. My brother screamed when I accidentally saved the game at a bad time after he showed me the cheat code to load files. I couldn't stop apologizing, though he eventually beat the game.

I've been playing on the Nintendo Switch since April 2023, and have made it from World One to World Three over two months. While Super Mario Bros. 3 isn't directly available on the Switch, you can play it with the Virtual Nintendo Entertainment System, after paying an annual subscription. A virtual Gameboy Advance System allows you to play the Gameboy version, which has different graphics.

Source: Nintendo.

Transitioning With the Switch

I got a Switch to play games provided by publishers to give honest reviews for SUPERJUMP. Harel Cohen was very kind to gift me a one-year subscription to the NES virtual console service. As a result, I have played Super Mario Bros 3 for the past two months, and I have died so many times. Relearning to play Super Mario Bros. 3 comes with quite a steep curve, even as I relive my childhood. Progress comes with every loaded pixel. I've discovered that not all jumps are equal, and Goombas are more annoying than they initially appear.

Much of the game's difficulty comes down to Mario's excessive slip and skid. It's easy to fall and make mistakes. As a result, you can't afford to sacrifice lives. You can end up back at the beginning, with no extra lives, power-ups, or morale.

Save scumming is the best solution. This term refers to taking advantage of multiple save and load files if a game offers them. Then you can save your progress before navigating a complicated platform, a boss battle, or a bonus activity. The NES version of Super Mario Bros. 3 offers three save slots, which allow you to juggle varying levels of progress and experimentation.

Source: Nintendo.

Having the save scum option makes a vast difference with Super Mario Bros. 3. Developers added it later after players noted how the lack of save files made gameplay more frustrating. You still have to take the falls, so that you learn from your mistakes, but you can track your progress and not lose any significant milestones.

In addition, you can map out a strategy. Sometimes I would study an area, to make sure that a Koopa wouldn't ambush me at the wrong moment. A split second can make a difference between you losing your wings or failing to make a great leap.

Case in point, there was one bonus level in World One that I had mastered as a kid. If you collect enough coins on Level 4, where you are navigating from block to block in the air, then you can Ergo. I wanted to prove to myself that as an adult, I could handle it. After all, shouldn't I have grown enough to relearn those skills and time the jumps perfectly?

Apparently not; I spent a few nights trying to get through one level alone. It used to be easier for me as a kid, as was collecting enough coins on that level to earn a P-wing to boot. After trying the same level and beating it but not getting the P-wing at the mushroom house, I finally calculated how many coins one needed to collect to get that bonus. It was a matter of timing and not falling because the screen pushes you off a safety block. Fail to move, and instant death ensues.

Source: Nintendo.

Acknowledge When A Game Is Hard

My brother Jay and I talked about it, and he told me an important fact: Super Mario Bros 3 is hard. It is fun, which is why we keep playing, but it has a high difficulty level, that becomes gradually more expensive. It's so easy to fall, run headfirst into a Koopa, or get eaten by a giant fish.

Why did it appear easy as a kid? Because I've forgotten all the times that I failed on the very first level, and how I still haven't done stuff like flying to bonus levels with money. That I made it to world three with minimal complications showed that I've gotten better as a player.

I've grown with the Mario world. Yet I freely admit that I have not mastered it. When I save Princess Peach, I can say that I learned how to navigate vintage Mario. Then I can see if any games that came out in between can match those standards.

This Keyboard Warrior can adapt and change with the times. The Switch opens possibilities for the past and the future.


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