Monday the 18th is officially the day Nintendo has designated as the anniversary of the NES launch. The truth is that the system didn’t have a hard launch date, but Frank Cifaldi has done a lot of research into that and I don’t want to spoil his findings. So, instead, I’ll play along with Nintendo’s convenient lie and say HAPPY BIRTHDAY NES by posting a piece on the game many people consider the finest ever made for the system: Super Mario Bros. 3.
I’m pretty proud of this piece. And I’m a dude who doesn’t hesitate to admit openly when something I’ve created doesn’t live up to my standards or expectations, so when I say I’m proud of this article I am actually making a statement, here. I actually managed to say something that I think is moderately insightful and which I’ve never seen or heard anyone else say about one of the most written-about games ever published. I’m sure someone will quickly prove me wrong, but let me bask in my self-congratulatory smugness for just a moment here.
…wait for it…
…wait for it….
OK, now you can go ahead and shoot me down.
Unlike a lot of people, I don’t actually revere SMB3 with my soul. I was excited about the game, no question about it, and I was pretty thrilled when my aunt brought home my copy for me (she was a warehouse manager at a local department store and would sneakily pluck new games out of the stock room for me before they hit the shelves, plus she let me benefit from her 20% employee discount, which made the game-obsessed days of my youth pretty awesome). But once I’d finished the game both with warps and without, I never really felt compelled to go back and revisit it. Unlike, say, Mega Man 2 and 3, both of which I replayed until my fingers could probably play through them automatically, I was content to have finished Mario 3 and let it be.
Yes, I’m one of those terrible humans who enjoyed Super Mario World much, much more. Alors!
Still, I will always think fondly of Mario 3 simply because of the memories around it. My aunt brought the game home for me on on the evening my birthday that year — a Friday — and since I knew the game was due to arrive that day, I made plans to spend the night at my similarly NES-obsessed best friend’s home so we could take turns playing it into the wee hours. What I wasn’t expecting is that when I walked into his house brandishing my new acquisition, a dozen of my friends would jump out for a surprise birthday party. It was, in the fact, the most amazing birthday ever. Someone even got me a cassette of Sesame Street Disco, which was almost as fantastic as Mario 3.
And, of course, after everyone else went home, I stuck around for the rest of the night. We did indeed play Mario 3 into the wee hours.