Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3

You just can't get a decent plumber these days. It's one of life's great mysteries, along with people who look like rats and the purpose of daddy-long-legs.

But if you play Super Mario Bros. 3, you'll know the answer to at least one of the above conundrums: good plumbers are out rescuing royalty. Granted, Mario (and Luigi, if playing the turn-based two-player variant also offered here) is not your typical pipe technician. For a start, he inhabits a dreamlike world filled with turtle foot soldiers, fire-spitting carnivorous plants, smiley clouds, lava pits and giant pipes. It’s a world terrorised by a bipedal alligator who has recently turned all of the land's kings into animals. Torn between the responsibilities of his day job and the long-term well-being of his people, Mario ultimately disappoints his customers and embarks on an adventure, set on righting some wrongs.

This involves running across eight vast, uniquely themed worlds, stomping on the heads of unpredictable enemies, collecting as many coins as you find (these increase the number of Mario’s lives at your disposal), jumping on precarious platforms in order to avoid countless chasms of death and numerous other similarly danger-filled situations.

With the odds stacked against you, there is at least some hope in your ability to enhance Mario's skills along the way. By getting him to wear a variety of suits, Mario can turn into a fireball-firing or hammer-throwing maestro, negotiate water with the grace of an Olympic swimmer, become invincible and even take to the skies.

Playing Super Mario Bros. 3 is a dizzying experience. As one of the finest exponents of the genre, the ride it takes you on is as memorable as it is extraordinary, making it a vital acquisition for lovers of platform games.

Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3

Wonderfully inventive, fabulously constructed and brilliant fun.