It’s not every day that a museum curator finds a rare bit of history among a random assortment of donations, but that’s exactly what happened to Andrew Borman of Museum of Play. The museum’s Digital Games Curator discovered id Software’s original Super Mario Bros. 3 PC port in a collection of other random donations from a game developer.
The news of this special demo of Super Mario Bros. 3 was originally reported on by Kyle Orland of Ars Technica on July 14, 2021. Ars Technica reached out to Museum of Play Digital Games Curator Andrew Borman for comment, and he obliged with plenty of information regarding the state of id Software’s early 90s demo and even revealed he had played parts of it.
Prior to the company’s creation of Doom, id Software created a demo of Super Mario Bros. 3 for MS-DOS in hopes of securing a contract from Nintendo to port the game to PC. Though Nintendo didn’t go for the pitch, the technology created “was reused for Commander Keen,” according to Borman.
Borman goes on to state that although it is an early demo and missing features, it’s still fun to play, pointing out World 1-1 and even 1-4, the latter of which hasn’t been seen by the public.
It’s always good news when museums are able to secure these relics of video game history. Instead of succumbing to rot on a collector’s shelf, the likes of Museum of Play offer researchers access to the artifacts, though there are currently no plans to exhibit the game to the public.
Take a moment to read over the Ars Technica piece. There’s a lot of great information on how the Museum of Play ensures these resources will be available for generations to come. It’s interesting to think what kind of price the Super Mario Bros. 3 PC demo would have received at auction. Recently, an original sealed copy of Super Mario 64 sold for $1.5 million. Thankfully, because it is in a museum, interested parties will be able to get their hands on it.