Best Super Mario Bros 3 ROM Hacks: The Ultimate List

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Super Mario Bros. 3 was released to international acclaim in 1990, continuing a legacy of incredible platformer titles that have shaped the gaming industry to this day.

The third entry in the SMB series expanded upon the core Mario experience with new power-ups and goodies such as Tanooki Mario, Bowser’s Koopalings, and a world map for traversing the levels.

That said, even a game as fun as SMB3 gets old once you’ve played through it one too many times.

If you’ve reached your breaking point, consider changing things up with a ROM hack.

There are funny ones, hard-as-nails ones, and they’ll all provide a new perspective on your favorite NES platformer.

Here are some of the best worth playing.


15. Blue Mario Bros. 3

Blue Mario Bros. 3 Gameplay

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There are a million ways you could modify a classic game to spruce it up and trick your brain into believing you haven’t already cleared it 15 times. Painting everything blue is one of them.

Created by Lags_80 back in 2006, Blue Mario Bros. 3 is a graphical overhaul of SMB3 that replaces the game’s color palette for the soothing tones of a clear sky or crystalline tropical beach.

In other words, it paints the Mushroom Kingdom blue.

It’s not the most popular or creative hack around, but I like the original game’s difficulty and level design, so this is plenty to make a new SMB3 playthrough a little more interesting.


14. Super Mario Bros. 3: Second Run

Super Mario Bros. 3: Second Run screenshot

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If rather than visuals, you’d rather have something that expands the game’s content but leaves everything else intact, I’d recommend SMB3: Second Run by creator Reccovery1.

It modifies all levels in the first seven worlds of SMB3 but tries to emulate the original’s level design style, making it feel like an official expansion rather than a hack.

It’s the perfect hack when you just finished the game, but can’t wait to jump back in on the block-crushing, Goomba-stomping, princess-saving action.


13. Super Wario Bros. 3

Super Wario Bros. 3 Game screenshot

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Prolific ROM hack creator Googie brings us a unique gameplay hack focusing on the big W.

This hack puts you in control of Wario and Waluigi as they step in for the Mario Bros. when these inexplicably disappear.

Wario is a shrewd businessman with an eye for opportunities, after all.

And aiding the Mushroom Kingdom will land them points with the royals.

The hack is full of profane language and crude humor that’ll make you laugh in the same way a South Park episode would.

Someone even came up with a Censored Edition to make it more appropriate for younger audiences on YouTube.


12. Super Loco Spoof! 2

Super Loco Spoof! 2 Gameplay

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The original Super Loco Spoof! for Super Mario Bros. was among the best hacks for that seminal game, and its sequel running on an SMB3 ROM keeps up the high-quality.

Author Googie has a way of bringing together cute graphics with zany humor that makes playing any of their hacks a pleasure.

One look at the adorable cacti spread throughout some of these levels should be enough to prove my point.

The hack includes three entirely new worlds full of action-packed levels and tweaked graphics to add some flair to the scenery. It doesn’t have any new music, but its use of SMB3’s original tunes is top-notch.


11. Mario Chronicles

Mario Chronicles Gameplay

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Mario Chronicles is the improved, finished version of an older hack known as Odd Mario Bros. 3, which was thought lost until creator RingoDoggie released this title.

This challenging ROM hack features lots of ASM changes and custom graphics that are a treat for the senses.

This is the kind of hack you could play without realizing it’s a fan-made title (if nobody warns you).

It’s an underappreciated gem.


10. Present Panic: A Princess Adventure

Present Panic: A Princess Adventure Game

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Nowadays games like Super Princess Peach, Mario Party, and Mario Kart let us see the Mushroom Kingdom’s regent in action pretty frequently – but that was unheard of when SMB3 was released.

You’ll get a chance to play as the 8-bit princess in DarkData’s Present Panic hack, a short and sweet title where Peach and Daisy are the heroes.

Despite its relatively short length, Present Panic is packed with custom content. This includes fresh new power-ups like the Squid Suit and a Christmas-themed version of the Hammer Suit that lets your character hurl candy canes full of merriment at your opponents.

The levels themselves are pretty standard regarding SMB3, so users of all skill levels should be able to enjoy it.


9. Luigi’s Chronicles 2

Luigi’s Chronicles 2 Game screenshot

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I know lots of Luigi fans who’re never satisfied with what little Luigi-centric content Nintendo gives them.

If you’re like this, you’ll love Luigi’s Chronicles 2.

Much like New Super Luigi U, this Luigi adventure features a more significant challenge than regular Mario levels.

Constricting time limits play a vital role in this increased difficulty.

These levels will be no walk in the park – even for SMB3 veterans.

If you’re up to the challenge, you’ll enjoy five full worlds of green-capped goodness featuring nice graphical tweaks and a warmer color palette.


8. Super Mario Bros. in The Mystery of the Flying Fish

Super Mario Bros. in The Mystery of the Flying Fish screenshot

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After all of the fish in the Mushroom Kingdom suddenly take flight, it’s time for the Mario Bros. to spring into action and save the realm’s fishing industry.

This single-world hack is short but action-packed like a 15-minute cartoon episode.

Other than the flying fish thing, this mini-hack focuses on difficulty. You’ll have to learn to evade lots of “traps” throughout the levels quickly or memorize them.

This would be somewhat boring in a full-length hack. But as a novelty, it’s pretty entertaining.


7. Super Mario Bros. Chaos Control

Super Mario Bros. Chaos Control Gameplay

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If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if the Koopa King got his hands on the Chaos Emeralds from Sonic the Hedgehog, you’re pretty weird – but also in luck.

SMB Chaos Control is a hardcore hack that provides an engaging and genuinely challenging experience for veteran players.

It’s not exactly a Kaizo-level thing, but you’ll have to overcome lots of frustration before you’re done with this hack.

It’s a bit of a tall order for any casual Mario fan, but experienced gamers will appreciate the clever level design and creative obstacles spread throughout the hack’s length.


6. Super Mario Bros. 3 Reloaded

Super Mario Bros. 3 Reloaded Gameplay

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If you’re looking for a well-rounded improvement on the base game’s formula, I recommend Gerardo’s SMB3 Reloaded.

This hack features some impressive levels with appealing visuals that give it a distinctive personality.

My favorite aspect of this hack’s level design is how some levels present unusual challenges to find the exit. Stuff like collecting all coins, finding a hidden P-Switch, or just jumping into a chasm, trusting you’ll find the next level at the bottom.

It was released pretty recently in 2019, but it’s en-route to becoming one of the classics.


5. Mario in: Some Usual Day

Mario in: Some Usual Day Game

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Prolific creator JaSp brings us a complete hack featuring five new worlds full of creative levels, appealing custom graphics, and a fantastic soundtrack.

This hack has it all!

While the game’s beautiful overworld and colorful graphics are a highlight, this title hides many unique features – such as the ability to have both Raccoon and Fire Mario active at the same time. It turns Mario into a B-52 bomber, and I love it.


4. Super Mario Ultimate

Super Mario Ultimate screenshot

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One of the most visually striking ROM hacks floating around in the SMB3 scene is Super Mario Ultimate – featuring eight new worlds and over 90 new levels of eye candy.

Not every level in this game is a masterpiece.

But some definite gems are hidden here and there.

In terms of gameplay, the main feature would be difficulty selection – which most hacks lack – and the ability to keep one item in stock to use when push comes to shove.


3. Super Mario All-Stars (NES)

Super Mario All-Stars (NES) Game title menu

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Super Mario All-Stars on the SNES is a fantastic compilation.

But considering it’s made up of 100% NES games, wouldn’t it make sense to have an NES version?

That’s what creator Infidelity decided to make a reality.

This ROM hack turns SMB3 into a collection including all SMB entries, including The Lost Levels and even the original Mario Bros.

It’s pretty convenient and incredibly cool if you manage to get it running on real hardware.

It does have some glitches here and there, but it works pretty darn well for the most part.


2. Mario Adventure

Mario Adventure Game screenshot

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Mario Adventure was hailed as the greatest NES hack of all time back in 2004-ish.

And 15+ years later it remains the standard by which all other hacks are measured.

It features new graphics, new dialogue, and an entirely new score.

Gameplay-wise you’ll also find several new power-ups like time-stopping potions and the chance of becoming invisible.

Another key feature is the multiple custom enemies, which go far beyond some simple recolors. They have brand-new sprites, and even their AI has been fine-tuned.


1. Super Mario Bros. 3Mix

Super Mario Bros. 3Mix Gameplay

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There’s a hack that can give Mario Adventure a run for its money, and maybe even surpass it.

I’m talking about Super Mario Bros. 3Mix – a large-scale overhaul featuring new levels mixed-in with remixed versions of iconic stages from past Mario titles.

This hack’s main feature is the fantastic array of levels included here, but I also appreciate being able to play as Luigi and Toad if I’m not feeling it with Mario.

The new bosses were also fantastic – including the ones adapted from previous games.

This hack is a masterpiece, and precisely the place to start if you’re new to playing ROM hacks. Mario fans will fall in love right away!

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.