I mean, look, I love Super Mario Bros. 3. Up to 8-1, it's a beautiful game, and worthy of all the praise that comes with it. All of the levels are amazing, the new powers are great -- it's just awesome. But damn it if I can't get past 8-1. Getting there is unbelievably easy, strangely enough. Reaching the 8th world is as simple as grabbing the Warp Whistle in 1-3 and the first Mini-castle. Then, if you know how to use them properly, *BOOM* you're in the final (and, arguably, bleakest yet coolest designed) world, World 8.
The first time I arrived there, I was awestuck at the level design because the game I was previously enjoying was full of light and color and whimsy, now looked like some sort of ravaged warzone, complete with craters and waves of flame. I new I was in for a real challenge; I didn't realise I was never going to beat the damn thing.
World 8-1 is, in essence, a parade of death tanks, each equipped with a vast arsenal of cannons. Random shells go off in the background, causing explosions of color as you make your way through the black cavalcade. Truly terrifying; the only things previously seen in the game this powerful were the various airships the Koopa Kids called home. And, much like those airships, the music of 8-1 is a haunting symphonic march that brings out the evil essence of the level.
Each cannon the tanks are equipped with has a different type of ammo and aim; cannonball guns that shoot in either direction or angled in the sky, flamethrowers that spit out a jet of hot death, and Bob-om-spawning cannons. The final tank in the level also comes equipped with gigantic cannon capable of delivering Mario-sized cannonballs your way. On top of that, you're also assaulted by the weasels that drive the tanks and they sometimes pop out to toss wrenches at you. It's almost as if you've been transported from a Mario game into a bullet hell shooter. Oh, and don't forget that the whole time the level is auto-scrolling. As if you didn't have ENOUGH to worry about.
And, that's the biggest problem I've faced. There's way, way too much shit going on on-screen that can kill you. At any point in the level, you can have three cannons pointed directly at you, while two tank operators are throwing wrenches at you and two Bob-oms are THIS CLOSE to exploding. It just seemed to be too much for me. The saddest part is that the level isn't even that long. After finally watching a video of the level, not only is it short, the final boss of the level is nothing but a lowly Boomerang Brother.
And that's the embarrassing part. If I was to just get through this first level, maybe the rest of the game isn't so bad. But, I've never found that out. I always get caught by an errant cannonball, or a Bob-om blows up too close to me, or I time my jump DIRECTLY INTO a wave of napalm, or, as a final "Fuck You", the giant cannon catches me off guard. There's seriously no other level in gaming that embarrasses me like this. But that doesn't mean it's a bad level, it just means that I suck at games.
Check out a real master of the game get through 8-1 with ease here (at the 2:12 mark):
========================================================= Industrial Castle
(Castle Crashers) The Milkman Conspiracy
(Psychonauts) Turbo Tunnel
(Battletoads) Ye Olde Royal Odeon
(Guitar Hero 3) The Homerun of Death
(Illbleed) Waluigi's Island
(Mario Party 3) Report 5: Evil In The Galaxy Revealed!
(Space Channel 5) Fort Frolic
(Bioshock) Airport 1001
(Mega Man X) Crescent Isle
(Skies of Arcadia) Chainsaw Hedgemaze Mayhem
(Zombies Ate My neighbors) Temple Of Ice
(LoZ: Phantom Hourglass)