This Day in Gaming History: ‘Super Mario Bros. 3’ Brings the NES to New Heights
October 23, 1988
Under normal circumstances, the news of a giant dragon-turtle that had kidnapped the same princess three times would be annoying to say the least. Luckily, the real situation was far from annoying because the main character had cool raccoon powers and was part of the game Super Mario Bros. 3. The legendary threequel may be celebrated for being a fantastic game, but it didn’t make itself that way.
It all started a long 30 years ago in a land far away called Japan. Nintendo was on a roll with making really fun and memorable games featuring blue-collar handymen. The precedent of a third Super Mario entry would set most people’s hopes so high that Mario could theoretically climb those expectations and reach a hidden cloud area.
Shigeru Miyamoto and his team of designers at Nintendo tasked themselves with meeting and surpassing those expectations. Miyamoto wanted to make the proposed sequel just as unique as the previous Mario titles while still employing the same core gameplay. Ideas being brought forward included Mario using animal themed power-ups, the introduction of the villainous Koopalings, and the star of all your childhood nightmares, the chain chomp.
Since the designers now had all their goombas in a row, it was time to organize those ideas into the new game. This was a very complicated process as NES cartridges have a notoriously small capacity and every last byte of space was precious. A device called the “Character Generator Computer Aided Design” made things easier by breaking down all graphics into simple shapes and later recombining them into their full images. This neat feature allowed for more advanced graphics without topping off the cartridge’s capacity.
One goal Miyamoto seemed to stress during development was player accessibility.
“The general plan with SMB 3 was to make it a game that players of all skill levels could enjoy.”
– Shigeru Miyamoto, project head on Super Mario Bros. 3
This meant that more power-ups and extra lives were made available in the beginning of the game in order to give less experienced players (AKA everyone’s little brothers) a chance to become better at the game.
Since Super Mario Bros. 3 released in 1988 and went on to become one of the most successful and praised games of all time, I’d say shooting for the clouds has its benefits.
Is Super Mario Bros. 3 the best of the Mario games? Is Super Mario World better? Are you one of those weirdos that thinks Hotel Mario is the best? Get real, bro.
All these questions and more can be answered in the comments below!
Eric Hall2112 Posts
Phone-browsing Wikipedia in one hand and clutching his trusty controller in the other, the legendary Eric Hall spreads his wealth of knowledge as a writer for Don't Feed the Gamers. Be sure to catch his weekly "Throwback Thursday" segment for a nostalgic look at trivia from the past.