Two logos you do not expect to see together… [credit:
Andrew Borman / Strong Museum of Play
The Strong National Museum of Play has obtained a rare demo of Super Mario Bros. 3 that a pre-Doom id Software coded for MS-DOS PCs back in 1990. The acquisition will ensure that the historical curiosity will be preserved and accessible to researchers well into the future.
Students of video game history have long been aware of the existence of the demo, which was described in detail in David Kushner’s excellent 2003 book Masters of Doom. id Software—then known as Ideas from the Deep (IFD)—coded the game in under a week and sent a copy to Nintendo in the hopes of getting a contract to develop an official PC port of the NES classic, which had launched in the US earlier in 1990.
Part of what made the demo special was a John Carmack-coded scrolling algorithm that went way beyond the stuttering background movements and full-screen wipes you’d usually see in late ’80s DOS games. “When looking at PC games of the era, there really weren’t titles with the smooth scrolling seen in Nintendo’s hits,” Museum of Play Digital Games Curator Andrew Borman told Ars via email. And though Nintendo would never entertain the idea of a PC port for SMB3, id Software was “not deterred by the rejection, [and] the technology was reused for Commander Keen, which is still one of my favorite series of that era,” Borman said.