Though the original Super Mario Bros. is arguably the most iconic video game ever released, Super Mario Bros. 3 remains a classic in its own right. The graphics were next-level for the NES and the gameplay itself was and still is incredibly fun and addictive. Even today, a full 25 years after its release, you can fire up Super Mario Bros 3. and gleefully spend hours upon hours traversing through an exciting and frustrating maze of creatively designed levels. If you stroll into any video game store that sells old NES games, it’s a safe bet that Super Mario Bros. 3 will be the most expensive title available.
I’m old enough to remember when Super Mario Bros. 3 was released – you know, back when video games were sold in boxes slightly bigger than your average VHS tape – and can attest that the game was an immediate hit and lived up to the immense schoolyard hype that accompanied its release. Not surprisingly, the title was deservedly ranked as the best video game of all time by IGN. If you’re as fond of the game as I am, well, you’re going to love this little slice of previously little-known video game history.
Back in 1990, a number of programmers, including gaming and coding legend John Carmack created a PC port of Super Mario Bros. 3 with the hopes of getting Nintendo to sign off on full-fledged development. As the story goes, Nintendo passed on the idea, subsequently resulting in everyone involved with the project to start their own gaming company called id Software, just a small little company you may have heard of.
iD Software of course would quickly go on to define PC gaming in the 90s, with titles like Wolfenstein 3-D and Doom delighting millions of teenagers with revolutionary action play and gratuitous violence; and horrifying an equal number of parents in the process.
Yesterday, iD Software founder John Romero uploaded the aforementioned PC port of Super Mario Bros. 3 to Vimeo. If you have any memories of playing NES, this is an absolute must-watch.
While side-scrolling games may be nothing special today, creating such titles for a PC in 1990 was a technological feat made possible by the brilliant mind and ingenuity John Carmack, the group’s lead programmer..
Ars Technica adds:
As David Kushner memorably lays out in his book Masters of Doom, the IFD team managed to come up with one of the first smooth side-scrolling algorithms designed for the PC way back in September of 1990. Unlike platformers on dedicated game consoles (which had hardware more suited to smooth scrolling), PC side-scrollers at the time usually had clunky, screen-clearing transitions when a character got to the edge of the screen. Carmack’s algorithm, though, allowed for much smoother background movement by only redrawing the elements of the screen that actually changed frame to frame.
And as a nice and perhaps not so subtle easter egg, the blocks which appear early on in level 2 spell out “Like It?”
What an incredible piece of gaming history. Not only is the demo insanely awesome, but it also brings an interesting hypothetical to mind: what would have happened had Nintendo agreed to license out SMB 3 to Carmack and co.? Would classic first person shooters like Doom have ever been developed?