It's a solid entry in the series, but the big thing I see in this game is its variety compared to SMB1. There's a lot more enemies, a lot more levels, a lot more items, etc.
But variety doesn't automatically make a game better in my book, and I think what SMB3 does well in adding variety to the table, fails to execute most of the ideas in interesting ways. Some ideas are undercooked, for example, the kuribo boot, which is only used in one level, and even some of the enemy placement feels a bit cheep.
The level design feels all over the place in terms of difficulty. I found some of the levels to either be too easy (and short) or way too difficult or tedious. I especially found World 4 to be the 2nd easiest world in the game compared to 2 & 3, and World 7 was easier than World 6.
World 8, especially, has a massive difficulty spike that doesn't feel fair for first time players first experiencing the world. You could make the excuse that it's supposed to be hard 'cuz it's the last world in the game, but levels ask too much of the player, requiring them to deal with obstacles you never experienced early on, and the mid-fortress... my god. It has to be one of the most frustrating levels I've ever experienced in a 2D Mario game. It's maze-like, which doesn't work well with the fact that this game has a timer for each stage.
Despite mosty being really negative to this game, I don't want to write it off as a bad game. It's still fine for what it is and is definitely better than SMB2, but I personally fail to put this above SMW or even SMB1, which despite being a game with very less variety, still manages to be an exceptional platformer that works around the controls and has a proper difficulty curve, even if the game has a more arcade-like structure to it.
Reviewed on Jul 22, 2021