Our favorite plumber has been around for over 36 years, having appeared in a staggering 200+ games in that time. To celebrate his newest release, we thought it necessary to take a jump down the pipe and revisit our favorites. As we haven’t finished our review of Super Mario Odyssey, we won’t consider it for this list.
Now, without further ado…
5. Super Mario Bros. (NES, 1985)
Okay, so this may not actually be one of the best Mario games ever, but it has to be mentioned on our list, as it pretty much started everything. It is now a 32-year-old game, meaning some of the gameplay elements are a bit archaic, but in terms of what it brought to the world of gaming, well, that’s history. It is still a very-playable game, with all the touches you’d expect of a Mario game nowadays: great level design, tight controls, and memorable characters who have all appeared in games since. Oh, and the sound? You can pretty much show anyone on the street a clip of the game’s sound and they will recognize it. If any game has stood the test of time, it is Super Mario Bros.
4. Super Mario 3D World (Wii U, 2013)
Building off the success that was Super Mario 3D Land, World improved upon the 3DS game in many ways: different power ups (Cat Mario anyone?), bigger and more interesting level design, bringing the gang back together in the form of different playable characters, like Princess Peach, and the core Mario gameplay we all love. However, one of the best things that, in my opinion, has ever been put into a Mario game was present and presented better than ever before in World: four player simultaneous coop. This huge game was ever fun, and brought a new way to play Mario with diehard fans and newbies alike. As Brian here put it when talking about 3D Land, “3D Land is the best 3D Mario game ever, simply because it perfectly adapted the level-based gameplay to a 3D game in a way that I don’t think the more open-world games do.” Essentially 3D world took that same concept and put it on steroids.
3. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64, 1996)
Launching alongside the Nintendo 64, and one of the most beloved Mario games ever made, Mario’s first venture into the 3D and sand-box realm of video games was an undisputed masterpiece. Most games don’t make the jump to 3D as smoothly as Mario did. The game presented new ways to use Mario, with sprinkled in new skills to master, in order to achieve level completion. With great and varying level design, secrets abundant, and forcing the player to adapt and explore, the design team took all the elements at its disposable and creatively formed this exceptional game. Oh, and the sound was magical.
2. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii, 2007)
Mario in space? Sounds like a winning combo. Mario’s third iteration in the realm of 3D gaming basically showed the world the pinnacle of what a Mario game could be. The game used the same characters, plus ideas, from previous games such as Super Mario 64, and put them in new objectives, scenarios, and challenges. The attention to detail, massive “galaxy” to explore, space-themed mechanics and using the Wii’s controls to its advantage, Nintendo’s EAD Tokyo went all out and it showed. It is one of the Wii’s prettiest games, and even though not perfect, it still went to show just how amazing a 3D Mario game could still be, especially after the varying opinions on Super Mario Sunshine.
1. Super Mario World (SNES, 1991)
Let’s be honest: it’s hard to crown just one of Mario’s games as his best. Any of the aforementioned games could be anywhere, on anyone’s list. However, we have to crown one, and in this case we’re crowning Super Mario World as the number one choice. Mario’s first adventure on the SNES was one of his finest, and it needed to be as the game was a launch title for the SNES. The 16-bit game seemingly took some steps backward in terms of gameplay elements, taking away items in order to improve upon the better ones. Ultimately though, the game constructed some of the coolest Mario levels seen at the time, using new stage design mechanics, such as sinking or rising stages. Lastly, who could forget Yoshi and the music which accompanied him? Yes, beautiful stuff indeed.
All in all, everyone is going to have an opinion on Mario games. Everyone holds a particular title just a little closer to their heart than others, and that’s great; part of the reason we all play games, after all. One thing we can all agree on is just how important Mario has been to the video gaming industry, and just how impressive his catalog of games has now grown to. What are some of your all-time favorite Mario games? Definitely let us know!
Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned his newest adventure. Stay tuned for our review of Super Mario Odyssey coming later in the week!
Caleb has been a gamer and Nintendo fan since picking up Pokémon Red for his Game Boy back in 1998, at the wee age of 4. He’s an avid Pokémon TCG collector, and is currently enjoying Breath of the Wild on Switch, along with PUBG on Xbox. He’s a fan of the outdoors when not writing, while also being an avid runner and world traveler. Give him a shout if you’re a fan of Arsenal FC.
Plays: Switch, 3DS, Xbox One, Pokémon TCG, and Various Board Games.