Shout Factory has done a remarkable job of releasing shows from the past that I’ve never heard of. I knew that there were animated Nintendo cartoons in the 80s and 90s, but I never realized how much. Watching Zelda and other Mario toons on DVD for the first time has revealed a whole world of Nintendo I’ve barely seen before and this is both good and bad.
Debuting in September of 1990 The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 hit the airwaves, nearly half a year after the third Mario game hit the NES. There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind how revolutionary and absolutely fun Super Mario Bros. 3 was (and is, to this day) and the animated series follows the game remarkably well, incorporating elements from the game directly into the show. Suit power ups and even sound effects and actual video from the game itself became a key point in the film and remains one of the coolest aspects of it.
With a show such as this it helps if you’re nostalgic of the era it aired in. I was too young to have originally seen this series (I grew up with the SNES, not the NES), so my enjoyment of it is hampered by that aspect alone. There are plenty of animation issues with the show (missing colors and character accessories), but it’s still fun to watch anyway. As long as you know the video game and the aspects of it, there are little doubt in my mind you won’t find the thirteen episodes (two stories per episode) of this series enjoyable. It’s a shame the show didn’t last longer than a season, but what we do get is all genuinely entertaining stories and I can’t think of a single episode I didn’t enjoy watching on this set.
Overall the series comes Recommended viewing if you’re a fan of the era. If not, you may just want to Rent the discs first, as I can see plenty of people expecting more than they actually get from the series.
Arriving on DVD in a three thin-pak set inside a slipcase, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 is presented with a front cover that mirrors that of the original video game releases box art, as well as plenty of art from the series gracing the back cover, thin-pak inserts and disc art. Menus mirror the packaging and are colorful and easy to navigate.
The first two discs contain the episodes while the third disc is made up of the special features. The video and audio quality of this set is to be expected in the condition it arrives in; the episodes show their age with plenty of grain and dirt on the cels, though the clarity of the video is still passable even with the color shifting it does at times. On top of the sometimes flakey video, the transfer is also interlaced, making for even more distracting visuals if you’re watching this on a progressive display. Audio is clear for the most part, although the finale episode on the set seems to have a drown-out issue, making everything hard to hear. I know Shout Factory doesn’t want to invest too many resources into bringing these shows to DVD, and even releasing them in the first place is a welcome thing, so I’m not going to fault the video and audio too much. The sets are being released fast and cheap while there is still demand and any huge glitches can be ignored—to me, of course. Die-hard fans will probably be upset, but it’s better than watching old VHS recordings bootlegged online.
On the third disc in the set is where all the extras are housed. Storyboards, episode recaps and character profiles are the brunt of the disc, so there isn’t a whole lot of interest here. All of the extras are without creator/cast input, so those hoping for some great revelations about the series will be disappointed. A gallery of background and concept art is given in “The Worlds” and “The Music” gives us access to 10 isolated songs from the series. Cool extras to have, but I don’t think they needed to devote a whole disc to what essentially amounts to storyboards and music.
The series is definitely a product of its time and only those fully knowing what they’re getting into will be able to get into the series and appreciate its nostalgic value. Despite the flaws in the DVD transfer and overall underwhelming nature of the special features, the set, like the series, can come with two final verdicts: Recommended for the fans who know what they’re in for and a Rental for the curious.
The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3: Complete Series is now available on DVD.