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All variants of Super Mario Bros. 3


austin532
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Can anyone verify all the variants of Super Mario Bros. 3? My memory is a little fuzzy but the ones that I remember are:

Box
Left Bros. NES-UM-USA TM SOQ
Right Bros. NES-UM-USA-1 TM SOQ
Right Bros. NES-UM-USA-1 R SOQ No Mexico
Right Bros. NES-UM-USA-1 R SOQ With Mexico
Right Bros. NES-UM-USA-1 R SOQ "Challenge Set"

Manual
Left Bros. NES-UM-USA TM SOQ
Right Bros. NES-UM-USA-1 TM SOQ
Right Bros. NES-UM-USA-1 R SOQ
Right Bros. NES-UM-USA-1* R SOQ
Right Bros. NES-UM-USA-1 Circle T R SOQ

Game
Left Bros. NES-UM-USA TM SOQ
Right Bros. NES-UM-USA-1 R SOQ

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Interesting this is being brought up right after I just watched the Gaming Historian's fantastic SMB3 story.  I hope they do a similar episode for the NES Zeldas at some point.

Don't forget Lincoln's birthday next year (Feb 12) is the 30th(!!!) anniversary of SMB3 coming to the good ol' USA! 🙂

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Member · Posted

@Hybrid Your collection of errors never cease to amaze me.  I, too, am stumped by that manual.  To me it looks more honey combed than like a turtle shell.  How are/were high quality paper items printed?  One layer of color at a time? If so, maybe there was a game with a yellow screen that looked like that and when they made the print run, they made the changes for the CM & K layers, but not yellow?  I don't know.  That's my best guess.

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Yes, just the US versions for now because nobody cares about Canada.😁 As for the 5 digit number variations, that's going too far down the rabbit hole for me. What do those numbers even mean?

Calling @0xDEAFC0DE we need your variant expertise help here.

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14 minutes ago, austin532 said:

Yes, just the US versions for now because nobody cares about Canada.😁 As for the 5 digit number variations, that's going too far down the rabbit hole for me. What do those numbers even mean?

Idk. Print runs! They're all the rage now! I looked at NintendoAge thread recently and saw something about there being two Castlevania hangtab boxes, one with "slightly shifted art" which I definitely never knew about. The rabbit hole is scary.

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1 hour ago, austin532 said:

Yes, just the US versions for now because nobody cares about Canada.😁 As for the 5 digit number variations, that's going too far down the rabbit hole for me. What do those numbers even mean?

Calling @0xDEAFC0DE we need your variant expertise help here.

I think it's also too far down the rabbit hole for me. As far as I remember they are production numbers of some sort. I have no clue if they mean anything though. They don't really look like date codes, although it's possible there's a date code embedded like DS/3DS carts. I'll do some more research tonight if I have time. 

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2 hours ago, DefaultGen said:

The Left Bros. box has 3 different variants on the flaps. Three numbers: 00119, 91219, or 91208.

Out of curiosity, where did you get this from? Is it based on three boxes that happened to have those codes or many more boxes with several for each code? 

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13 minutes ago, 0xDEAFC0DE said:

Out of curiosity, where did you get this from? Is it based on three boxes that happened to have those codes or many more boxes with several for each code? 

Mr. @K.Thrower who knows a lot more than me. Followed by checking all the boxes I've seen and asking a few people, who all have one of those three. Go check yours if you have them. I've got my eyes out for a 00119 in case people start caring one day.

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Edited by DefaultGen
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I tried to search for NA threads, but I wasn't really able to find anything. I'm getting the feeling that all the old threads are being removed from Google. Looking on bootgod, the earliest right bros I saw had the latest date code of 9013 which was the last week of March 1990. The earliest ROM chips on bootgod are from December 1989. With the time period established, the codes actually do look like dates in the format YMMDD.

91208 = 1989 December 8th
91219 = 1989 December 19th
00119 = 1990 January 19th

Most of my variant experience comes from Zelda variants. Unfortunately, none of the NES zeldas have these codes, but I remembered that Link's Awakening (original and DX) have similar codes. My LA DX box has the code 991028 (1999 October 28th), this matches the date code on the cart (9943, 1999 October 17-23) and the manual (the -1 manual was the first with the solid E esrb rating that was introduced around September 1999, the -1 manual is also pretty uncommon meaning it was quickly replaced by the -2 manual). The code of the LA DX was 6 long but this ebay auction of the original LA (https://www.ebay.com/itm/264552165499) has the code 30607 (1993 June 7th) which is 5 digit code a bit before the release date. And then I found this site (http://www.game-boy-database.com/game-ML-3206-USA.html) that calls the code the "box date" along with hundreds of scans that, from what I've seen, prove this to be true.

I'm pretty sure at this point that these codes are the date that a print run was started. It's a bit strange when comparing to chip date codes as those change weekly, but I assume that the box printing process has a reason why this was changed less often. So, returning to the SMB 3 codes, it seems that 00119 is the third print run and not the first. I went and found ebay links for the three codes (see below). The Wata post mentions that the 00119 code has "a very subtle white hue around the nintendo logo on the back of the box." I don't really see this in the first link for 00119 but I see a bit of white below the logo in the second. This appears to be more like an offset during printing instead of a design error across an entire print run. In fact looking at the back of the box in the 91208 link, the seal and the blue text also look a little offset as well. While looking through ebay, I found a half-dozen 91219 boxes, two 00119 boxes, and I stopped when I found a 91208 box. I trust Wata when they say 00119 is the rarest (I only have a small sample size after all), but it doesn't look like 91208 is the most common either.

91208: https://www.ebay.com/itm/133221972723
91219: https://www.ebay.com/itm/133256610069
00119: https://www.ebay.com/itm/333445412714 and https://www.ebay.com/itm/264542760640

So, I guess it's up to @austin532 whether he wants to add them to the list. Personally, I don't think I'll be adding these print run date codes to my Zelda variant list. I already don't differentiate when it comes to cart date codes, and there are other outwardly visible production marks that I am also ignoring (stamped codes on cart labels, mold codes on cart shells, etc.)

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6 hours ago, austin532 said:

Thank you for doing extensive research on these as usual. You definitely have more patience then most of us here.🙂

As far as the variant list would you say it's correct or is there something missing?

On a quick glance, I don't notice anything missing, but I don't know a lot about SMB 3 variants and I don't have enough time or interest to go through thousands on auctions like I did for Zelda. If you are interested, try to look for all changes between each variant. If multiple things change, look out for variants where only one thing changes. I got quite a few Zelda variants by doing this. Overall looking at my Zelda list, they didn't make that many variants after the switch to the oval SOQ, so your list has about how many I would expect. 

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The date theory may be correct and I’m gonna have to say that’s the most solid theory so far. The manuals for most games also have a code printed on the last page of content and is usually only a single digit or two off.

My theory for the codes was that they were catalog codes. Meaning every time they went to press they would designate a number to a particular aluminum litho plate.

If these are date codes then holy crap these codes matter. If they aren’t, well then they still matter but they’re less fun.

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