Super Mario Bros. 3/Gameplay

Starting Out

The opening screen of Super Mario Bros. 3.

When the program begins, you'll see Mario and Luigi perform a brief demonstration. Press the Start button once to end the demonstration and bring up a menu. Choose one or two players and press the Start button again to begin the game. The map of the first world is revealed. A small window will appear in the middle of the screen, indicating the player and the starting lives. Navigate to level 1 and press the A button to start.

Mario & Luigi

File:SMB3 Mario sprite.png
File:SMB3 Luigi sprite.png

You take control of the Mario Brothers throughout the adventure. Player 1 controls Mario, while Player 2 is in charge of Luigi. In the original NES version, Luigi is simply a green palette of the Mario sprite, but starting in Super Mario All-Stars, Luigi was given his own taller slimmer sprite to distinguish him from his stouter brother. Aside from the way they look, they are identical in every way in this game, including their ability to jump.

The brothers begin each new life in their regular small form. As regular Mario and regular Luigi, they are quite vulnerable to attack from an enemy. One hit, and they are finished. This can be corrected by finding and catching a Super Mushroom, which transforms them into Super Mario or Super Luigi. While super, they can jump up and break bricks, and they can survive contact with an enemy, but they will be transformed back into regular Mario and Luigi as a consequence.

In addition to the Super Mushroom, there are several other power-ups available. The two most common are the Fire Flower, which gives the brothers the ability to toss fireballs at their enemies, and the Super Leaf, which transforms them into Raccoon Mario or Raccoon Luigi. In this form, they gain a tail that can be used to attack enemies, and if they run fast enough, they can use their tail to take off into the air for a limited period of time. In most versions of the game, getting hit by an enemy in either one of these forms transforms you back into Super Mario and Super Luigi (although in the Japanese version of the original game, you would regress all the way back to regular Mario and regular Luigi.)

You may also find Invincibility Stars which let you crash into enemies without fear for a few seconds, or 1-Up Mushrooms which grant extra lives if you catch them. There are also three kinds of suits to collect, including the Frog Suit, the Tanooki Suit, and the Hammer Brother Suit. See the Items page to learn more about each of these suits, and the benefits they provide.

Mario and Luigi will continue their adventure until they run out of lives. If you ever happen to run out of lives, you will be permitted to continue from the beginning of the world that you died in, but your score will be reset to zero. A score is kept throughout the game, but it has no true significance on the outcome of the game. Only your ability to survive each of the eight wild worlds of the Mushroom Kingdom will determine whether you can reach the evil King Bowser and rescue Princess Peach from his clutches.

Information Bar


At the bottom of the screen, you'll see a light blue bar. This is the Information Bar, which provides the important statistics throughout the game.

File:SMB3 Info Bar.jpg
  • Indicates World: This shows which of the eight worlds you are on. For a preview of all eight worlds, see the Walkthrough.
  • Speed Meter: This meter indicates your potential to fly. To fill up the meter, hold down the B button (Y or X for the Super Mario All-Stars release, and for the Wii Remote, the 1 button) and run to the left or to the right. When the meter fills up all the way to the "P" symbol, Mario or Luigi will hold their hands outward in a position resembling airplane wings. This gives them the ability to make amazingly long jumps. If they are wearing the Raccoon or Tanooki suit when this happens, they will be able to fly for a short distance by pressing the A button repeatedly (B button is also an option in Super Mario All-Stars, and for the Wii Remote the 2 button must be pressed).
  • Coin count: The coin count shows the number of coins you currently possess. Once you collect 99 coins, the next coin will reset the count back to zero and you will earn an extra life.
  • Cards obtained: You get a card at the end of every level by jumping up and bumping the roulette block containing power-up images. The power-up that is displayed on a giant block when you hit it is the one that will appear on the card. Once you obtain three cards, you will earn extra lives. If you collect three stars, you get five extra lives; three flowers, three lives; and three mushrooms, two lives. Any other combination will net you one life. The cards are removed from the Info Bar once you get three of them, and you can start working on another set for more lives.
  • Extra Lives: This displays the number of remaining lives for the current player. If the count is 0, you are on your last life and death means Game Over. If the life count says 99, that means you have 100 lives. The initial shown is determined by the player; "M" for player 1 and "L" for player 2.
  • Score: The number of points you have scored throughout the game.
  • Time: For every level, you are given a certain amount of time to complete it. This timer ticks away the seconds you have. If the timer reaches zero, you will lose one life and be sent back to the map.