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Super Mario Bros. 3 Had a Label Variation

There were very few games that had label variations in the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System.  The most notable ones have always been the Red-Label Blades of Steel and Yellow-Label Metroid which saw re-releases and have easy-to-see differences.  Less common are the re-released versions of The Legend of Zelda and Adventure of Link where the cartridges are not only gray instead of gold but have “Classic Series” written along the tops of their boxes.

However, one label variation only recently came to my attention and that’s of Super Mario Bros. 3! Let’s take a look at the most common version we see in the wild first:

The common variation of Super Mario Bros. 3.

The common variation of Super Mario Bros. 3.

OK, we’re quite familiar with it by now.  Let’s look at the rarer label variation that actually preceded this one:

Original

The rarer SMB3. Can you spot the subtle difference?

It might be tricky to spot the difference but if you have an eye for design it should stick out to you.  It’s the left-justification of “Bros.” in the title.  Oddly enough, this is one variation that has nothing to do with a re-release at all.  Quite obviously, the justification was changed because of the sloppy overlap of “Bros.” with Mario’s right hand.  Frankly, it’s surprising nobody noticed the obfuscation before it was released.

The problem likely occurred when they adapted the cart label to the box.  The label on an NES cart has an aspect ratio of about 0.63, but it’s 0.67 for the box.  When Mario was moved upward to accommodate this change the hand overlapped the text and nobody seemed to notice until the print run began. The way I imagine it is that they pulled the first one off the line and celebrated the release of what they knew would be a great game and huge seller…and that’s when one of Nintendo’s underlings pointed it out to the embarrassment of the executives.

They probably got fired, too.

While the variation is rarer, it isn’t noticeably pricier to purchase online.  Most sellers don’t even recognize it to be different in the first place.  If you’re a hardcore collector, though, it may be worth it to you to acquire both.

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About John Blanco

John Blanco is an avid game collector and loves to write about his hobby as much as he participates in it. He run the Denver Retro Gamers Facebook group in Denver, Colorado, and coordinates swap-style meetups with dozens of other collectors every couple of months.

6 thoughts on “Super Mario Bros. 3 Had a Label Variation

  1. I own both cartridges, and the in-game text is slightly different for each one. In the version with the “Bros” on the left, the Toad that hosts the N-Spade card game says “Miss twice and your out”. Since it should say “you’re” instead of “your”, the text was changed in the other version to “You can only miss twice”. Also, in the version with the “Bros” on the left, the princess’s letter at the end of World 2 says “Kuribo’s Shoe” and in the other version it says “Goomba’s shoe”. There is a site called The Cutting Room Floor that shows the version differences of different games. On the SMB3 differences page (https://tcrf.net/Super_Mario_Bros._3/Version_differences), it labels the versions as PRG0 and PRG1. I also noticed that the cartridge with “Bros” on the left says NES-UM-USA at the bottom, and the other cartridge says NES-UM-USA-1.

  2. The price difference isn’t really noticed unless talking sealed new. A sealed new first print is extremely rare you will see maybe 3 a year on eBay in this condition and they will usually sell for 50-100% more.

  3. There are 5 known SMB3 NA Variants. 3 US and 2 Canadian. The first US release of SMB3 has the Bros. on the left hand side and then you have the SMB3 NA Second Release and Challenge Set that has the Bros. on the right side of the carts. The Canadian first release has 3 seals on the bottom right of the box (2 Nintendl and 1 Mattel) with Bros. being on the right of the box and cartridge. The cartridge also has CAN on the cart and English and French on the back of the box and in the manual. The manual for this has CAN on it as well. The Second Canadian Release which is the rarest and most valuable of the SMB3 releases has a red stripe going across the top of the box and cartridge, but only has 1 seal on the front of the box, with Bro.s being on the left of the box and cartridge. The cartridge and manual also have CAN-1 instead of CAN. French and English are on the back of the box and in the manual like the first release. The insides of the Canadian cartridges are made to higher quality than the US releases and the difference is very noticeable with the CAN cartridges even having a Nintendo logo on the inside. Here is a link to the insides of 4 cartridges with it labeled what carts are what. (I did not take this picture) https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CiXIxNhWUAAxUj7.jpg:large

    There is also a 6th SMB3 variant that I may have discovered, but has yet to be proven and may have been a rare misprint on a box that I’ve seen 1 picture of years ago, but the picture may have been edited as well.

  4. “The Second Canadian Release which is the rarest and most valuable of the SMB3 releases has a red stripe going across the top of the box and cartridge, but only has 1 seal on the front of the box, with Bros. being on the left of the box and cartridge”

    What is this version worth? I can’t seem to find any examples on the internet of the box with red label at he top. I just picked up a copy of the game with the box with the red label across the top.

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