Review: Super Mario Bros. 3

Super Mario Bros. 3 (Boss Fight Books, #13)Super Mario Bros. 3 by Alyse Knorr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even though I’m older than the author of this book, I have a different, though similar, relationship with this game. I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up or because my parents were (at the time) struggling to make ends meet, but I completely missed the marketing blitz of SMB3. I only heard of The Wizard a decade or more later.

I know at least part of it has to do in the difference with our parents. Ms Knorr’s father played Mario with her. My parents were super wary of video games. They bought into the narrative that they’d rot brains and limited our exposure. (At least while we were young) Partly because of this and partly because we didn’t have lots of money – $60 was a lot more in those days especially including inflation – we rented most of our video games. So, unlike Ms Knoff, it wasn’t about exploration for us. It was about trying to get to the end of the game before we had to return it. Reading this book explains why we’d been playing it wrong all these years.

That said, even as a young kid I knew Super Mario Brothers 3 was something special. It really expanded what I thought a platformer could be even if I didn’t even know that was a category of game. (Frankly, nearly all of them were platformers back then)

I’ve enjoyed a few of these Boss Fight Books in the past. Like the others, this one was great in that it exposed me to a side of the game I’d never considered. It really opened me up to a different way of considering the game. And tidbits like the Japanese baddie names being onomatopoeic (the Japanese do love their onomatopoeia) or Miyamoto being slightly disappointed in the game 20 years later really expand the universe of SMB3. I think if you lived through the time period of this game, this book will mean a lot to you. If you didn’t, I think it’s still a fascinating exploration of a game that is the root of nearly every game since. Even games like Halo, which are a completely different genre, benefit from the lessons of SMB3 and how to inform the player of how their game world works.

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