Pick a box. Its contents will help you on your way.
This is the list of At the Buzzer’s top 25 games of all-time, as voted on by the main ATB cast members and other friends of the show. For more information on how this whole thing works or for the other games on the list, check out the Related Links at the bottom of this post.
13) Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
Chris: The original Super Mario Bros. might have been more influential, but SMB3 was by far the superior game. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the Mario series would have been in serious danger without it.
Consider the situation: Following the extremely successful original game, Nintendo makes a bit of a mistake and decides that the version of SMB2 released in Japan is too tough for American gamers. Instead, we get a bizarre, remade version of Doki Doki Panic with Mario characters haphazardly tossed in. Mario’s identity essentially became turnips and Shy Guys.
While SMB2 was important for establishing some now-familiar parts of the series, it wasn’t a true Mario game. Super Mario Bros. 3 was. All the familiar platforming elements returned, along with a bevy of great new level designs and power-ups (like the Tanooki Suit and the Kuribo’s Shoe). It also introduced the world map system and Koopalings and gave Mario the ability to fly. Add it all up and you have a title that was extremely influential to the biggest video game series of all-time.
Shaun: There’s something magic over at Nintendo. It’s an unfortunately cheesy and saccharine thing to say, but it’s the truth. A recent study even proved that Mario’s “jump time” — his hang time in the air during jumps — is absolutely perfect for maximum play control and player enjoyment. Shigeru Miyamoto is a wizard, leading a bunch of wizard apprentices, and I don’t know if a game encapsulates this idea more than Super Mario Bros. 3.
Platforming perfection. That’s all that can be said. I don’t know how and and I don’t know why, but SMB 3 is just the pure embodiment of “fun.” The powerups were ingenious and totally balanced. The overworld navigation brilliantly innovated the game’s sense of progression. The level and character designs were dynamic and completely immersive. In fact, if there’s one complaint about the game, it’s that the secret warp whistles allow gamers to skip over levels and entire maps. Why would you skip content when you could bask in the glory of each and every level? Super Mario Bros. 3 might have been the game, more than any other, that instilled a lifelong love of the medium for me, and like many gamers, it will always hold a special place in my heart.
Dave: This was the first game that I ever beat from start to finish. I remember being 7 years old and playing it with my babysitter the entire evening. I think I was in love…but that’s another story.
Super Mario 3 was by far the best game of the Mario series up to that point and really did a number of things to help return Mario to the forefront of gamers’ minds. The world map was innovative in the sense that you could choose a different path and skip levels in certain places, and you could even get an idea of what a level would be like based on the environment of the world map. After seeing the environment, you could then pick the right item to play that level.
Oh the items, how awesome they were. Not only could you get the traditional mushroom and fire flower, but now you could fly (as a raccoon…what?), turn into a statue, a frog, a hammer brother (by far the most underrated power up in Mario history) and even jump into a shoe to squish stuff. The items kept the experience ever-changing, making it fun to go back and play it, even when you’ve played that first level at least 300 times. The music was amazing, the secrets that were found in the levels were intriguing, and if a level ever got too hard to beat, well then you just slapped on the P-Wings and flew over everything. You could beat a level in 30 seconds or take your time exploring every square foot of the level. The options were yours and the options were endless.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this game. That’s a pretty big sentiment.
MORE FROM AT THE BUZZER’S TOP 25 LIST
(15) The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
(18) Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
(21) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
(22) The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask