Posted by: seanmalstrom | December 10, 2013

Did Super Mario Brothers 3 use table-top gaming?

It isn’t often when you read about someone playing Super Mario Brothers 3 for the first time. He is doing it correctly by having played Super Mario Brothers 1 first and completing that. Then, and only then, can he get a sense of what Super Mario Brothers 3 did. And in his post, he gets very near the target.

Listen to this:

The first thing I noticed coming off of SMB1 is the fact that the game scrolls left as well as right, which immediately turns stages into explorable places. Lots of levels seem to take advantage of this as well, adding a puzzle and adventure element to the game at times. It also increases the ways in which Nintendo can manipulate item placement. In contrast, games like New Super Mario Bros. (the only other 2D Mario I’ve finished) hardly utilize this at all, being much more like SMB1 with a rudimentary world map system.

Indeed, items and item usage were a huge factor of SMB 3. I don’t just mean carrying power-ups. I mean carrying a turtle shell around and kicking it straight-up to hit that annoying block floating up there. Now that I think about it, a huge shift with SMB 3 was all the items that could be manipulated. The P blocks are one type of item. NSMB DS doesn’t even come close.

Ah, the world map system. Y’know, what with all the special areas, cards, mini games. layouts, and the way each attempt at a level acts as a “turn,” SMB3’s world map feels more like a table top game than a world you explore. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole system was inspired by a board game. I can see how people could spend years figuring out different routes, secrets, and other ways to game the system. I like how even after you get game over and get knocked back to the beginning of the world, what’s happened on the map stays persistent.

This is actually insightful. Each of your lives was a ‘turn’. (Then the hammer brothers got their turn or the Doom Ship would fly somewhere else.) Richard Garriot, of the Ultima series, explained why he never did bosses in Ultima games. He thought bosses were stupid because he can’t understand why a boss would sit there waiting for you. Wouldn’t the boss come after the hero? In Super Mario Brothers 3, the ‘bosses’ actually roam around on the map. The hammer brothers roam. The doom ships fly around.

I really can’t stand Super Mario World’s ‘map’. There is no true choice. It is just a visual representation to unlock everything. Super Mario Brothers 3 overworld felt like a board game.

I also only recently figured out there’s a turn-based two-player mode. Does anyone ever do that? Has anyone ever actually hosted a party where people just got together and played “a game” of Super Mario Bros. 3? Nintendo seems to have at least anticipated the possibility with the inclusion of battle mode when Mario and Luigi end up on the same square. I think this feature by itself has huge potential. The only similar thing I’ve played was an SNES Flinstone game I played with my brother where you had to roll a die (in the game) to move across a board and do platforming levels.

And this is what everyone forgets about with Super Mario Brothers 3 (and why it decisively surpasses Super Mario World as Super Mario World had no simultaneous multiplayer). The Battle Mode is extremely entertaining. In fact, many times we would do nothing but play Battle Mode and try to see who wouldn’t die first (with the rule to not kill all the creatures). You’d have fireballs going everywhere with a blue monster roaming as well as Mario or Luigi bumping you and pushing you into the monster or fireball. It was so much fun!

Super Mario World was a fantastic launch game. In fact, I think it is the best launch game we’ll ever see. However, it was disappointing compared to Super Mario Brothers 3. I seriously thought, “I cannot wait until Nintendo makes Super Mario Brothers 5 once they learn how to deal with the new hardware! Boy, that is going to be great!” What we got instead of Yoshi’s Crappy Island. “Oh boy! Kid Icarus in 16-bit! And after Link to the Past, there will be a Super Nintendo incarnation of the gameplay mechanics of Zelda 2!” Can you see why I was disappointed with the Super Nintendo? If it weren’t for the absolutely brilliant Super Mario Kart, I would chalk up all of Nintendo’s SNES output to be extremely disappointing compared to what we got before.

I am very amused how people in that thread think World 8 of Super Mario Brothers 3 is hard. Come on, gentlemen! Even six year olds can beat that game!

World 8 is so brilliant. I always imagine Bowser had an army (the tanks), a navy (the boats), an air force (the flying ships), and marines (more tanks). The two levels in World 8 are eerie white like they are completely dead and lifeless. The Hammer Brother traps with the hand getting you is SO COOL. Bowser’s Castle with the statues that shoot laser beams and all is SO COOL. The last fight with Bowser is awesome. Bowser being a badass helps so much. In Super Mario World, Bowser lives in an underground Vegas and rides around in a Clown Car. What idiot designed Super Mario World again?


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