An unreleased Super Mario Bros. 3 port for the PC has been obtained by the National Museum of Play.
As first reported by Ars Technica yesterday on July 13, the museum has managed to obtain the incredibly rare unreleased port from id Software. This port was first assembled by id Software in 1990, before the developer had even released Doom, and was intended to enable Super Mario Bros. 3 to run on MS-DOS PCs.
Previously, this PC port of the NES classic has only ever been referenced, never seeing the light of day. According to Ars Technica's report, it was first revealed in 2003's Masters of Doom book, and would then be seen running for the first time in 2015, in a video released by id Software co-founder and lead designer John Romero.
The National Museum of Play Digital Games Curator Andrew Borman tells Ars Technica that it was actually a game developer who donated the unreleased demo to the museum. Borman reveals that the developer in question, who remains unnamed, never actually worked on the demo itself, but they instead "received it" during their work, for some unknown reason.
The demo itself is said to be a pretty early prototype from developer id Software, and certain features lack polish, as you'd probably expect from a PC port of a game that was released earlier that same year in 1990. It's revealed that Borman himself has played levels 1-1 through 1-4 of Super Mario Bros. 3 himself, but the curator never elaborates on just how much of the Nintendo classic game is featured on the demo disc.
Going forward, Borman revealed that the demo will actually be available to researchers upon request. There might not be any current plans to actually exhibit the unreleased PC demo of Super Mario Bros. 3 anywhere in the National Museum of Play itself, but it's fascinating that the demo has resurfaced after all these years, and that researchers and other academics might even be able to play the demo for themselves.
If you're interested in Nintendo's storied history, head over to our Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island retrospective for more.