Bob Chipman's SMB3 Brick by Brick book review

Posted on July 7, 2013 - 4:15am by Joriss


Fun book, those who grew up with Super Mario Bros 3 will get the most out of it.

I’m gonna start off by mentioning that at the time of this writing, I have not yet completely finish reading Bob Chipman’s book. But I assume I’ve read enough so far to tell you all about it and if this book is worth checking out.

Short story? It is. Long Story? Okay, here we go…


The book is kinda hard to describe, my best bet is that’s a love letter to the old NES-class Super Mario Bros 3. Bob starts off with mentioning some of its history, goes into telling his own experiences with the release of the game and so on (and spends a lot of time too talking about that) and switches over to the ‘main event’ which is a playthrough of the game.


The first bits of the book are in my mind, not all that special. Bob informs us about everything we need to know about Nintendo and Super Mario back in the 80’s and so on but chances are he ain’t gonna tell you something you don’t already know. The origin of Mario? Know it. The deal with the movie “The Wizard”? Know it. Why the live-action movie of Super Mario Brothers is so damn terrible? Know it. But that’s just me. If you’re a rookie geek, you might be surprised with what you’ll find in this book.

Bob goes into a lot of detail talking about his childhood and how Mario came into his life. There isn’t however much explanation to why SMB3 is so special to him. He sorta just fel in love with it (he did own it pretty soon when it came out, which is pretty badass when you think about it). What is fun about his experiences is that most of the time, as I myself am born in the 80’s, that I as a reader can relative to some of the stuff he’s talking about. How you were back in the day either a Nintendo-kid or a Sega-kid, there was no other way around it. How you blindly accepted ‘The Wizard’ for what it was and ignoring the fact that it’s actually a terrible movie. Bob continues however beyond SMB3 and tells about his experiences with everything that Nintendo has released over the years. I don’t really get why he informs us about it. It doesn’t seem to add all that much, and even becomes dull after a while…


But then there’s the ‘main event’, the playthrough. We first get a detail of the characters, items, enemies and such of the game. It feels a bit too technical and I sorta skimmed through it. Bob does inform a bit extra about some item or enemy’s history, but nothing too special.

I feared that the whole playthrough was gonna be like this but luckily, it isn’t. When the playing actually starts, Bob switches over to Diary-mode and talks about not just the levels but the moments when he’s playing those levels and what impact those levels had and why. It’s highly enjoyable!


But here’s the thing: I never played much SMB3. Super Mario World was the game that stole my heart (as my parents never gave me a NES, the SNES was my first console). Sure I played some SMB3 as a kid over at some friend’s house but it was always sorta rushed. You could say I missed out on SMB3 in a way.  I could easily play it now on an emulator but that feels to me like cheating, not the real experience.

I’m telling this because it was one of the main reason I instantly downloaded this book (yes, I’m from Belgium, reading it digitally goes a lot easier then getting the paperback, I’d had to pay more for the shipping cost then the book itself). I wondered if this book could awaken my interest for SMB3. Well, it sure did. I enjoyed reading about the levels and how Bob talks about them in great detail (not always exactly ‘brick by brick’, but image how boring that would be) but I couldn’t always image what he was going on about, since I haven’t play every single level there is out there. I do have a Wii so I can get it through the virtual console and I might, but the only time I really have nowadays for games is when I’m in the train, traveling for my work. That’s why I’m getting a 3DS soon (so hopefully the GBA version of SMB3 will be available soon on that?).


This book is perfectly suited for people like Bob. Born in the 80’s and have played SMB3 as a kid (or teenager or adult, anyways you’ve completed the game!). For other readers like me, it’s simply a fun book. Not hard, funny at times (if you’ve watched Bob’s videos you’ll also image Bob’s voice a lot while reading) and you can feel the nostalgia. For me, it makes me wanna play SMB3.  If that’s what Bob Chipman had intended, then job well done Bob!

A few complaints are that the structures sometimes repeat itself, as if Bob has forgotten he already mentioned a certain part before, and there are no pictures! No screenshots of the levels or anything. I assume this has to do with copyright stuff, as Nintendo has nothing official to do with this book. That’s a bit of a pity, but no big deal.


Enjoy SMB3 Brick by Brick!

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