It happens that the first game I finished of 2020 was a replay of the magnificent Super Mario Bros. 3. I waxed poetic about this game and at length when I replayed it nine years ago, in 2011, and everything I said at the time amazingly still holds true after this playthrough, so I don't have a lot to add from a personal perspective. This time around I was playing it on Switch via the Nintendo Switch Online library of games, and I actually played it in its two player mode for the first time since I was a kid. The game worked pretty well online, although progress was much slower alternating turns back and forth than if I were playing it straight through on my own. I found it very difficult to get into a rhythm of a stage due to having to take a break after every death, and in the end I wasn't the one who actually beat a lot of the tougher stages, but I still enjoyed the experience as a change of pace and we were able to get through every level without overusing the original OP power-up, the P-wing.
It's also been fun to see how the context of the game has changed when comparing 2011 vs. now. At that time Super Mario 3D Land for 3DS hadn't yet been released, and that game finally saw the long overdue return of the Super Leaf and the Tanooki Suit. The release of Super Mario Maker on Wii U in 2015 saw the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario World (as well as the New Super Mario Bros. games) get renewed attention, and one of the more memorable bursts of nostalgia from that release was the long overdue return of Kuribo's Shoe. Similarly, the inclusion of the Angry Sun, the Frog Suit, and the original SMB3 Koopalings in Super Mario Maker 2, released on Switch just last year, were similarly long awaited and welcomed with great enthusiasm.
I've fixed the outdated links from my previous post, and I've also been reading through some things people have written about this iconic game that I've had lying around. This reflection on GameSpite reminds me how innovative the two player mode was, in that you could compete against each other, such as by stealing visits to Toad Houses and the like, or work more cooperatively. The writer also discusses the fact that hunting for secrets and pursuing extra power-ups or lives is oftentimes more hazardous and difficult than just getting through to the end of the stage, which was also true in SMB2 but I agree is even more apparent in this game. The writer also compares the straighforward navigation of levels in the original Super Mario Bros. game to the focus on exploration in Super Mario 64 and says, "Mario 3 wasn't as pure in this respect as the original -- it still had a world map and tons of secrets -- but it was the last game to straddle these two approaches perfectly." I'm inclined to agree with that as well. For me SMB3 combines so many things, including huge amounts of originality, secrets, and difficulty, with everything in perfect balance.
It's interesting to see where the game falls on other people's list of Mario games. NintendoLife has an ongoing feature ranking all the Mario platforming games, and they put SMB3 at sixth (!), which is a travesty, but to each his own. When considering again where the game falls on my list of greats, it's overwhelmingly clear to me that Super Mario Bros. 3 sits firmly at the top of my list of Mario games and still deserves to sit at the top of my list of favorite video games of all time period. It's hard to imagine any game being able to have as big an impact on me as this game did when I was in elementary school, and I'm pretty confident that this is a game that's going to hold up no matter how many times I replay it.