Super Mario Bros. is widely considered to be the best of the Mario Bros. games and one of the best games of all time. Officially it is the third game in the “Super Mario Bros.” series but I really consider it to be the fourth game in the Mario Bros. series because I think you really have to count the original Mario Bros.
SMB 3 was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988 in Japan, 1990 in the U.S. and in 1991 in Europe. It introduced a number of new features that would remain with the franchise to this day. These include, but are not limited to, a number of new moves, power ups and enemies; non-level parts of the world (e.g. Toad Houses); the world map itself and vastly increased complexity over the previous games in the series. Arguably it was as much an advancement over SMB 1 & 2 as they were over the original Mario Bros. If you are looking for the defining 2D platform game, then this is the one you are looking for.
While playing on the original NES will always be the best way to play this game, you do have a number of other options. It has been released as a digital download for the Wii Virtual Console (2007), 3DS Virtual Console (2013), and Wii U Virtual Console (2013). For a slightly less authentic experience, there is also the Super Nintendo remake as part of Super Mario All-Stars or there is Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition on the Wii. You can also play the 2003 release of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 on the Game Boy Advance which is also an enhanced version of the original.
There are a few other interesting pieces of trivia related to this game. First, shortly after the game was released, a cartoon called ‘The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3’ was made that was loosely based on the game. Also falling under the category of cross media advertising, the movie ‘The Wizard’, whatever else it may of been, was one huge advertisement for SMB 3. Finally, iD Software (makers of Doom) created a demo of the first level of this game in an attempt to get Nintendo to license it for the PC. The demo was quite good and Nintendo was impressed with it but ultimately they weren’t interested in releasing the franchise on other platforms. The same game engine created for that demo was later used for the Commander Keen games.