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Id Software’s demo for Mario 3 on PC is now in a museum

Mario on PC was never meant to be, but the evidence of what it could have been has reappeared. Id Software co-founder John Romero showed off a video back in 2015 of Id’s 1990 pitch demo for a Super Mario Bros. 3 PC port. A construction of that demo has now been shown in a donation to the Strong National Museum of Play, including some pieces that Romero did not share at the time. Museum Of Play has no plans to let the public get hold of it, unfortunately, but it has been hidden away as an important part of early PC games.

The demo building came as a bit of a surprise, Museum Of Play̵

7;s digital game curator Andrew Borman tells Ars Technica. Apparently it was hidden with a bunch of other donations from a developer who had not actually worked with the Mario 3 port demo.

Borman was able to play the demo even after depicting the disk it was donated to, including Ids version of Mario 3 level 1-4, which was not yet seen. He described that level as “a fairly flat level, although it has a nice pyramid at the end.”

“It’s an early demo, though, and lacks the many features and polish that would have been seen had the developers been able to work with Nintendo to create a full retail release,” says Borman of the full demo. “For such an early demo, it’s a lot of fun to play, especially 1-1, which recreates the iconic first level of Super Mario Bros. 3.”

It does not include the recently unveiled level 1-4, but here is Romero’s video from 2015.

Despite not landing a PC port for the famous plumber, the company then known as Ideas From The Deep continued and became the Id Software of Commander Keen fame.

This special demo has made itself known as Id’s forerunner to Keen. It shows the smooth scrolling backgrounds they had worked with to mimic what was possible on the NES hardware of the time, but was not seen in PC games from the same time.

“Although the demonstration here really represents a week or less of work, but knowing how important ID software would be, it’s an interesting ‘what-if’? “of game history,” Borman also says of the discovery. In fact, who says we’re ever got the Doom series out of a company that became known for PC ports with Nintendo hits?

For now, the Mario 3 PC demo is destined to stay hidden in the Museum Of Play vault, with access provided at the request of researchers. Aw shucks and so on. Good to see such a central piece of history preserved though.

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