Well, I have now done the First, Second and World games – time to get, as many of you should have expected, to Mario Bros 3. A game where you can kill the sun (yes you can – I tried and did it this run, hey, it was self defence he came at me with an angry face!)
With Mario 3 we see what a lot of 2D Mario games would now have. Right away we find we have a world map letting us choose which levels we can play, each of the 8 worlds is very different (though world 5 teases you with thinking its like 1 at the start before raising you above the clouds) Plus each of these worlds contain many of the themes that would become standard. Starting out with a standard grassy countryside style, then going to desert, then water then beginning to get weirder like giant land, sky world, Ice world then finally the pipe maze before going to Bowser’s surprisingly military feeling castle zone.
The game controls are basically the same as Mario 1, maybe a little smoother here and there and levels don’t just go from right to left, some levels even need backtracking. However what is new is some of Mario’s new power ups. Previously it was a simple progression, Mushroom to fire flower and the odd power star and one up. Now it also throws in the leaf giving Mario (or Luigi cause he’s playable too) the ability to fly with a tanooki tail.
This is A LOT less broken than the super cape from Mario World but serves a similar purpose. Then there are the 3 costumes, a tanooki suit which does the same as the leaf but also allows him to turn into a statue (it’s from Japanese mythology look it up… maybe less on the tanooki themselves unless you want 2 big surprises he he) frog suit which allows you to swim far better than without it and even against currents but is really slow and cumbersome on land. And finally the very rare hammer brother suit, which works like a supped up fire flower.
Because of the world map there is much more to do this time, there are alternative levels you don’t need to do but have alternate routes to the castles or toad houses containing power ups you store for later and use at your leisure. Some of these power ups have special effects like constant flight for the next level, skipping the level entirely or putting one of the encounters to sleep. But also there are hidden features, complete levels under certain circumstances (which I’m not looking up for you) special games of match or money ships can appear, sometimes even blue toad houses containing super rare items. But also hidden in the first world (and even more hidden) are the 3 warp flutes.
Here’s how to get them.
First one is on the 3rd level of world one, near the end of the level there is a white platform, crouch on it till you fall behind it. Now run to the black bit at the end of the level. If you’re still in the background you will run behind the curtain and enter a hidden location where the first flute is.
Second flute is hidden in the first fortress, If you have the means to fly (there is a ? block that contains a leaf if you have a mushroom or higher),when you get to the first door in the fortress instead of going through it, fly up above the wall and walk on the roof and you will find another secret area that will give you the second.
The final flute is at the end of world 2. Get a hammer and don’t use it, at the top left of the “final” section of the map, use it to destroy a rock and you will get to a place where you can fight fire Bros, they guard the third flute. Using the flutes sends you to the Warp island. First flute will let you skip to world 2,3 and 4, second gets you 5,6 and 7 and final flute gets you to world 8. BUT NOW here’s a trick I found, if you have the first two flutes, use one flute, then on the Warp island, use the second and you get to world 8 without the second flute.
Your goal is to get to the castle at the end of each world, there you find the king has been turned into something (different depending on the version, be it the original or in my Mario All Stars version) and you climb onto a doom ship, it’s a screen scrolling level (yes those were introduced here too) and at the end is one of the koopalings (yes also first showed up here). Take them down and world completed.
The levels get progressively harder so by the time you reach Bowser’s castles at the end of world 8, you are ready for it. You have fought through his army of tanks, battleships, armada and more tanks and now you get killed by lasers coming out of the Bowser statue since those never appeared before and thus you weren’t expecting them. Bowser himself is still beaten mostly by not fighting him but at least it’s not just grabbing an axe this time. Finally the princess thanks you and game over.
This is a classic and a must play for Mario fans and platforming fans, while Mario 1 is skippable this one is not.