At one point in time, there was a PC port of Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. 3. In 1990, id Software and John Carmack, who were a mere few years away from the stardom they'd reach from releasing Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM had been working on an MS-DOS version of the classic NES title in hopes of getting Nintendo's attention and eventual contract for a home computer port of the game. As we all well know, Nintendo rejected the offer, and Super Mario Bros. 3 stayed exclusive to Nintendo platforms. However, the only ones who'd ever had their hands on id's ill-fated MS-DOS demo had been those involved with the company itself.
At least, until this week. Video game preservation institution The Strong National Museum of Play now owns a rare copy of that demo, courtesy of an anonymous donation from "a game developer". The unfinished MS-DOS demo of Super Mario 3 was apparently included in a collection of other games, unknowingly. The museum's curator, Andrew Borman, has already backed up the floppy disk, in order to preserve the game digitally, and even used DOSBox to play up to level 1-4. Currently, Borman doesn't have any plans to display the game publically, though he hasn't ruled out potentially showing it off at a later date.
The Museum of Play will also ensure that this piece of history will be accessible to future generations of gaming historians. "Our preservation work focuses not only on the research needs of today but also how researchers decades from now, some who may not even be born yet, will access material," Borman said. "Proper climate-controlled storage helps to preserve those physical artifacts, especially when materials like plastic degrades over time. We are also building out our digital preservation capabilities, allowing us to preserve the many forms of media that we find, including the various cartridge and optical mediums.