Super Mario Bros. 3
What Is It?
Considering that Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the top selling games of all time, I doubt that I have to explain what this game is to anybody. But just in case you're one of those grandma gamers I keep hearing about or somebody who is suffering from amnesia, Super Mario Bros. 3 is on the short list of the best 2D platformers of all time. Heck, I would go one step further and say that it's in the running for being the best game ever made. It's the game where Mario (or Luigi, if you're playing a two-player game) dons a bunch of unique and entertaining suits (raccoon suit, frog suit, Hammer Bros. suit, tanooki suit, etc.) and does battle with Bowser and all of his kids in order to save the Princess. Of course, the fun of Super Mario Bros. 3 is all of the crazy levels gamers have to go through in order to save the Princess, from a world that is almost entirely underwater to a world where everything (except for Mario) is gigantic. But what makes this game so memorable all these years later is the amount of variety found in the game, there's almost too much to do and see in the game, and it's even fun to go back through the adventure just to try and beat the bosses in different (and often bizarre) ways. There have been a lot of Mario games since this title hit stores back in 1990, but none of them are as polished and endearing as Super Mario Bros. 3. Some would argue that Super Mario 64 and Super Mario World are on par, but for my money this 17 year old NES game is my favorite Mario adventure of all time. You can't go wrong with Super Mario Bros. 3!
Does It Still Hold Up?
I don't know where I would be if Super Mario Bros. 3 stopped holding up. I have a hunch that video games are going to have to go a long way before this Nintendo classic stops being one of the greatest games ever made. There's so much originality in this one game, and best of all there's no way you'll ever be able to do and see everything. This game is a masterpiece, and like the Mona Lisa or Citizen Kane, Super Mario Bros. 3 will continue to endure no matter what year the calendar says it is.
Is It Worth The Money?
There are a lot of great games available on the Virtual Console, but Super Mario Bros. 3 is in a league all of its own. The gameplay still holds up all these years later, the graphics are surprisingly solid, you probably still haven't found every secret the game has to offer, and at $5 there's no reason not to pick this game up. Well ... there is one reason. Chances are most gamers probably already own this game in one form or another (be it the original cartridge, the Game Boy Advance version or even when it was released on the Super NES on the Super Mario All-Stars compilation). But even if you already own the game, this is still a great game to buy. And better yet, this game won't look all messed up on your brand new HDTV. At $5 this isn't even an issue, so get out there and pick up (and rediscover) one of the greatest games of all time.
This Week in GameTap
Every week I plan on taking a look at the classic games being uploaded on the GameTap
service. Regardless of whether it's part of their free or premium service, GameTap
offers a wide variety of old school games that is worth checking out. Here are the most recent games uploaded to their server, keep in mind that all of these games are free to play unless otherwise stated:
Defender is the arcade masterpiece from Eugene Jarvis, the man that brought us Robotron: 2084 and Crus'n USA. Released in 1980, Defender is fast action 2D shooter that lets you race back and forth killing enemies and picking up bonus items. In a lot of ways this game was a precursor for games like Gradius, R-Type and just about every other horizontal shooter. While the game definitely feels dated, this is yet another one of those games you should check out just so that you know the full history of video games.
I've never been a fan of Joust, so it probably won't surprise you to learn that I'm not a fan of this GameTap port. The good news is that the game is pretty much arcade exact, so you can bring in a second player and fight it out. The bad news is that the game is still as boring as ever, with inaccurate gameplay and a level structure that is nearly as repetitive as the original Pac-Man. I know a lot of people who love this arcade classic, but I personally have never seen the appeal of this boring (and repetitive) action game.
Root Beer Tapper
Even if it doesn't feature the alcoholic punch of the original, Root Beer Tapper is still one of the most exciting arcade games around. In this game you play a bartender whose only job is to fill up pitchers of beer and then throw them at the people that want them. Actually, that's not his only job, because it's also important to catch the beer pitchers so they don't break on the ground. It starts off slow, but as you progress through the levels you'll find that this arcade game becomes almost impossible to beat. It's old school fun at its best, definitely worth your time.
Another arcade classic is uploaded to GameTap. Unlike Defender, Space Invaders doesn't hold up particularly well. The gameplay is slow and there isn't much of a challenge compared to today's shooters. In fact, most people will have to play for ten or fifteen minutes before the game even begins to get challenging. It's still worth playing just so that you can see where the shooter genre began, but most modern gamers will probably just want to move on to some of the more recent shooters on GameTap.
(Saturn/Subscription Required) -
This is going to be one of those times when I come across sounding like a real video game snob. While I know I should be happy that GameTap has added Virtua Fighter to their service, I can't help but be disappointed that it's not the far superior Virtua Fighter Remix. Remix was not just a little improvement; it managed to enhance every element of this game (from graphics to gameplay). Still, this is a fun enough game, but there are clearly better Virtua Fighter games from the Saturn era that should have been ported.
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