Through the looking glass: An early demo of a PC port of Super Mario Bros. 3 from the team that went on to form id Software has found its way to the Strong National Museum of Play. While Nintendo never took the team up on its offer to bring Mario to the PC, it's fun to imagine an alternate timeline where the two joined forces to bring Mario to desktops.
Before finding success with franchises like Doom and Quake, the team that would become id Software developed a proof-of-concept port of Super Mario Bros 3. for PC. They went so far as to send the game to Nintendo in hopes of getting the green light to work on an official offering, but Nintendo declined.
Although the story wasn’t exactly a secret, it wasn’t exactly widely known, either, until John Romero shared a video of the demo on Twitter back in 2015. Now thanks to the Strong National Museum of Play, it will live on indefinitely.
Andrew Borman, a digital games curator with the Museum, told Ars Technica via e-mail that a game developer donated a demo of the SMB3 PC port. “They did not work on this pitch, instead receiving [it] during their work,” Borman said. “It wasn't something I expected to see in this donation, but it was extremely exciting, having seen the video Romero shared back in 2015,” he added.B
Before trying out the game, Borman made a copy of the original floppy disk and ran it on an emulator to compare it to Romero’s video.
“It is an early demo, though, and lacks many features and polish that would have been seen had the developers been able to work with Nintendo in creating a full retail release,” Borman said.
The Museum doesn’t yet have plans to exhibit the game to the public, but Borman said researchers and others with a relevant interest will be able to request it.