To commemorate the launch of the newest Mario adventure, Super Mario Odyessy for Nintendo Switch we thought we’d do something fun. We’re looking back at Mario’s long history of great games and see if we can find a consensus pick of which Mario game is the the best. Now we’ll limit this to the main line platforming series, so Mario spin-offs like the Mario Kart and Paper Mario series’ won’t be included.
Here are the options, though you’re free to pick one of your own as well. PLACE YOUR VOTE AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE.
1.) Super Mario Bros. (1985) – The original Super Mario Bros. in many ways probably helped save the game business and usher in an entirely new generation of gamers into the hobby. While this isn’t Mario’s first appearance it is in many ways his first full fledged adventure. With his faithful bro Luigi, Mario have to traverse the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue the Princess from Bowser. All the core Mario mechanics, like running, jump on Goombas, mushroom and fire flower one-ups, swimming, question blocks are here. The game is still perfectly playable and fun even to this day. Who doesn’t have great memories of this one? This is maybe the most famous video game of all time.
2.) Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988 Japan/1990 USA) – In a lot of ways Super Mario Bros. 3 might be the first emergence of the modern “Nintendo epic”. This is actually the “real” sequel to the original Super Mario Bros. “Mario 3” would take everything from the original Super Mario Bros. and dramatically expand upon it. Mario would gain new powers like Racoon suit, Tanooki suit, Frog suit, and even the Kuribo boot. The game would introduce a new map overworld for eight unique “worlds” for Mario to explore, basically the first overworld in a Mario game. The sequel would also take some wildly inventive risks like the “little-big” stages that featured giant enemies and introduce the Koopa kids as bosses.
With tie-in’s to McDonalds Restaurants and the Universal feature film The Wizard, Super Mario Bros. 3 is arguably the first big “blockbuster launch” in gaming history and would hold the title of the world’s biggest selling video game for several years.
3.) Super Mario World (1990 Japan/1991 USA) – To launch the new 16-bit Super Nintendo (SNES) system, Nintendo would of course call on Mario once again. With the large upgrade in hardware power, Mario on the SNES had a gorgeous color palette, more expressive animations, and enemies. The music also was notably more sophisticated instrumentation (and banjos!).
Mario’s main power up in this one would be a magical yellow cape that allowed for flight, but the biggest addition would be the creation of a new pal for Mario … the dinosaur side-kick, Yoshi! Yoshi would instantly become a classic Nintendo character in his own right. Nothing says a happy Christmas in the early 1990s more than a Super Nintendo with Super Mario World.
4.) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (1995) – Well technically this is really more of a Yoshi game, it’s full official title is “Super Mario World 2”, so we feel like its inclusion here is warranted. It has been stated the Nintendo developers started off wanting to make a straight forward Mario World sequel, but as time progressed the game became a more stylized Yoshi-centric title with a baby Mario/Luigi.
The game would is incredibly wacky, with tons of new platforming ideas and a very distinct nursery-themed art style. It utilizes the Super FX2 chip to create graphical effects that wouldn’t otherwise be possible on the SNES. Even though the game was overshadowed at the time of release by the Donkey Kong Country series, this game has a special place in any Nintendo die-hard’s library.
5.) Super Mario 64 (1996) – Just as the original Super Mario Bros. revolutionized 2D platforming games in the 80s, by the mid-1990s, gaming was ripe for a new revolution. That revolution would come in the way of Super Mario 64. Mario’s first leap into full 3D world amazed and delighted millions of gamers around the world and made the new Nintendo 64 system the must-have holiday item for 1996 (well outside of that Tickle Me Elmo doll). Super Mario 64 also introduced most gamers to analog joystick control, which let Mario manoeuvre in 3D with Jackie Chan-like agility.
6.) Super Mario Sunshine (2002) – This Mario adventure still causes some division with Mario fans. It was maybe not the “Mario 64-2” a lot of people were expecting. Instead of the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario would travel to the tropical Isle Delfino. Armed with the new FLUDD water pack, Mario had to “clean” up the island. The control was quite smooth, but the levels were perhaps a bit too large. Still it has a fiercely loyal and vocal fanbase that really loved the game. It also holds the distinction of being the first Mario adventure made directly by Nintendo that was on a disc rather than a cartridge and is still one of the show piece games from the Nintendo GameCube era.
7.) Super Mario Galaxy (2007) – Developed by EAD Tokyo, Super Mario Galaxy is the next in the 3D Mario series and first for the then red-hot Wii console. Super Mario Galaxy would take Mario into outer space with gorgeous visuals and an equally bombastic new orchestral soundtrack. It may be the most epic Mario game. It would also introduce us to Bee Mario! The gameplay was sublime and Super Mario Galaxy would rack up several prestigious “Game of the Year” awards for 2007.