Super Mario Bros. 3
Yeah, I said it: Episode I
This is the greatest game of all time. I don't know that any other Mario game really ever got everything quite right like Mario 3 did. They all did some new stuff that was well-done and fun, but I can't be the only one that missed the Tanooki Suit, right? And why did they stop with the Hammer Bros suit? The catharsis that comes with killing a thwomp was one-of-a-kind. The whistles allowed just the right amount of level skipping. The music was great. All the fun little extras that seemed random (until you knew the secret to getting the white ship or the card game to appear) were a great bonus between levels. And, my personal favorite, the level with Kuribo's Shoe was always a cheap thrill.
I could go on and on. But it would just be the same stuff you've heard a million times before. But what makes this game truly the greatest game ever made?
Is 18 million copies sold in the year 1990 not proof enough? Sometimes I think we forget what a ridiculous stat that is.
Consider this: the PS2 sold about 146 million consoles worldwide. Its best-selling game was GTA: San Adreas, which sold a little over 17 million copies.
The NES sold over 61 million systems, and 18 million copies of Super Mario 3.
That's more copies of Super Mario Bros. 3, with less than HALF the number of consoles.
That's a cute stat, but that's not really why this game is great...
The real trick is striking the perfect balance between accessibility and challenge. A game that anyone can pick up and play with relative success in the early levels as the difficulty slowly and fairly ramps up... all the way to the later worlds where the most seasoned gamers can bust their hump trying to get every coin, play every level, complete the final airship without using a P-wing, take the hard route through Bowser's final castle. On top of all the stuff I could have kept listing above, the incredible charm, polish, and near-universal appeal puts this game at the top of the mountain of great games as the reigning king.
Best. Game. Ever.
Yeah, I said it.