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This Is What Super Mario Bros. 3 Might Have Looked Like on a PC

2 minute read

This is why the Internet exists — so we can see what the folks who’d go on to make Doom once tried to do with Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. 3 on a PC. id Software co-founder John Romero just put up the video to mark the 25th anniversary of id Software’s first game, Commander Keen.

Yes, a PC, which as far as I know is somewhere Mario and pals have yet to set foot wearing bona fide gameplay boots. Unless of course you consider the Nintendo Entertainment System a computer, which in Japan, Nintendo certainly did (the NES’s Japanese name, Famicom, derives from “Family Computer Disk System”).

But this was 1990. The NES was still the console du jour. And id Software wasn’t yet id Software: the group of code-slingers who’d go on to draft the basic grammar of the first-person shooter were still calling themselves IFD, or “Ideas From the Deep” (you can see the acronym backgrounding the intro to the video above).

And this is what they were doing in their spare time then: creating a version of NES blockbuster Super Mario Bros. 3 that’d run on…what was hot in PC-dom back then? I bought my first “IBM-compatible PC” in early 1991, a CompuAdd 386sx 16MHz. It could just barely run Flight Simulator 4.0, Wing Commander, Eye of the Beholder II and Ultima VII: The False Prophet. So that.

IFD finished their Super Mario Bros. 3 demo in late September 1990, then pitched it to Nintendo, presumably hoping the company would sign off on a PC port. But Nintendo declined, so IFD instead released Commander Keen a few months later (a PC side-scroller inspired by Super Mario Bros. 3), went on to found id Software in February 1991, released the groundbreaking Wolfenstein 3D in May 1992, then blew minds the world round with Doom in December 1993.

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Write to Matt Peckham at matt.peckham@time.com