Top 10 Super Mario Games

Mario is one of the most iconic characters from the gaming industry. When speaking of gaming culture, everyone and their mother knows about Mario, literally. Nintendo has given a special gift to the gaming market, always attempting to change the industry for the better. One of the ways they perform this immense feat is by changing how others view Mario games. Constant iterations have been made, perfecting or adding great aspects while sometimes introducing (or reintroducing) unpopular mechanics and characters from games past.

With the approaching release of Super Mario Odyssey on the Nintendo Switch, this article will look back upon the best Super Mario games. As a caveat, this list only considers mainline Super Mario series platformers, meaning games like Super Mario RPG and Super Mario Strikers are not included in this list.

Rulings aside, all Super Mario games have a dear place in the hearts of gamers of all ages, and with the grandiose stock of great games within the series. Story takes a sideline as we delve into the mechanical aspects of each game and tip our hats to the infamous Italian Plumber.

10. Super Mario Bros.

Starting off with the sequel to the original Mario Bros. and releasing on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), comes the highly influential title of Super Mario Bros. Affecting the gaming industry as a whole with its release, Mario and his newly-introduced brother Luigi are confronted against a trial. Offering a 2-player mode in which the second plays as the aforementioned Luigi, the players must traverse across the exotic Mushroom Kingdom to save Princess Peach from the clutches of the evil conqueror Bowser and his Koopa Troopa subjects.

Introducing complex platforming (while being friendly to the average gamer) brings this wonderful adventure through 8 worlds that are accompanied by an incredible soundtrack. Though the first of its kind, almost every installment in the series expanded the complexity of this title, and it will always be remembered as a pinnacle of platforming games.

9. New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Introducing a 4-player, co-op experience not seen before in the Mario universe comes the successful installment, New Super Mario Bros. Wii. While Mario, Luigi, Blue Toad and Red Toad gather to celebrate the birthday of Princess Peach, Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings dramatically burst from the cake and kidnap her. This 2D platformer with 3D polygonal renderings create a unique aesthetic upon the Super Mario series.

Bonus mechanics are shown throughout this game with the use of the Wii remote, opening up new ways to adventure across the land and defeating all Koopa Kids to free the Princess. The introduction of new playable characters and multiplayer capabilities creates an epic experience of teamwork, or sabotage.

8. Super Mario Bros. 2

Offering a different take on the classic stomping combat of the original Super Mario Bros. comes its direct successor: Super Mario Bros. 2. A conspiracy underlines the release of this game with its interesting development history and shared themes with Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic. Starting as a bland reincarnation of the first, this game was redesigned to give the series a complete sense of freshness. Entering the Subcon, a dream world within Mario’s mind, the player gets a choice between four playable characters: Mario, Luigi, Peach and Toad. And each character has a unique ability. Though labeled as the black sheep of the original trilogy, many staple characters and elements were established within this tilte.

The heroes explore 20 levels, moving through them in any direction and defeating foes by throwing objects at their faces. Improving upon every aspect of the game before, this title proves to be a great sequel and an enjoyable game.

7. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

Releasing on the Game Boy in 1992, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is a unique twist of fate for our Italian friend. Directly following the plot of the first iteration, after saving another world, Mario comes home to find Mario Land, his own kingdom, brainwashed and in the clutches of a new ruler. This was the first debut of the chubby antagonist Wario, who has claimed the castle for himself, demanding that Mario collect 6 Golden Coins to remove the seal on his palace.

Traversing six worlds with the familiar mechanics of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, the objective is simple, and the execution of each stage is enjoyable. Though offering only slight alterations to the Super Mario series, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is the first handheld Mario game to feature a save option.

6. Super Mario Sunshine

Vacationing away from the classic setting of the mushroom kingdom comes the GameCube title of Super Mario Sunshine. Sunshine was received with praise for the addition of the FLUDD (Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device) and stunning visuals. Sunshine was the second 3D open-world platformer of the Super Mario series. Controls fell in line with that of its predecessor, Super Mario 64, in mechanics while also adding more complexities to freedom of movement with the FLUDD and its various nozzles.

Upon arriving at the island resort of Isle Delfino, Mario discovers a dark polluter named Shadow Mario is ruining the beauty of the island, kidnapping Princess Peach along the way. Mario is put on tial and found guilty for the crimes of his shadowy counterpart and is sentenced to return peace to the island by collecting the Shine Sprites and cleaning the ruined locales. Though hindered by an awkward camera angle, this experience is still an enjoyable open-world game.

5. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s island

The prequel to the first Super Mario World introduces the struggles of one Yoshi, safeguarding Baby Mario in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (commonly referred to as Yoshi’s Island). While officially a part of the Super Mario series, this game allows the player to take on the role of Yoshi. Instead of the classic platforming of games past, Yoshi utilizes unique mechanics with his tongue and eggs to overcome obstacles in this title.

Tracking down the Baby Luigi who was captured by the Magikoopa Kamek, all while escorting Baby Mario through 48 levels, Yoshi gains a prominent role in this acclaimed side-scroller. Further establishing the history of Super Mario, Yoshi’s Island is one big escort mission, a grand adventure of protection and the struggles that come with it.

4. Super Mario 3D Land

Forgotten by most, Super Mario 3D Land is a game overlooked when comparing Super Mario games. Released on the Nintendo 3DS, this game was met with praise for combining the aspects of 2D and 3D Super Mario platforming games of the past.

During a Thunderstorm, it is revealed that Bowser has stolen the mystical Power Leaves and is using them to enhance his army with Tanooki-like powers, allowing him to capture Princess Peach. Designed with the 3D hardware in mind, traversing through the special worlds becomes easier with this functionality. With the introduction of new power-ups and a creative adventure not seen in other titles of the series, though not in the limelight of fans, it is truly a remarkable journey.

3. Super Mario Bros. 3

Claimed to be “one of the greatest video games of all time,” Super Mario Bros. 3 introduced many improvement to the previous titles in the renowned series. Playing as either Mario or Luigi, the player trials against the Koopalings as they conquer the seven kingdoms of Mushroom World with stolen magic wands.

While adventuring across the eight thematic and distinct kingdoms, the Super Mario Bros. gain access to a plethora of new movement options and power-ups. Standing at the pinnacle of power-ups is the Tanooki Suit, allowing the Bros. to take to the skies and hover through the various themed levels and obstacles. Also introduced to the series was the ground pound, allowing players to slam into the ground from the air, removing all obstacles. The best of all the classic Super Mario games and one of the best platformers of all time, Super Mario Bros. 3 creates a skillful and fun experience to which many cannot compare.

2. Super Mario 64

The series giant, and originator of the 3D open-world platforming genre, Super Mario 64 took the series’s first steps to the 3rd dimension. With an emphasis on exploration and choice, this quickly became one of the most prominent Super Mario titles of the series.

Responding to a letter from Princess Peach, Mario arrives at the Bowser-controlled castle and must collect stars by traversing through the unique levels strewn about. The most common way to enter these areas is by jumping through paintings hung on walls around the castle; however, many secret walls and compartments hide levels within them as well. All aspects of Mario’s movement, along with the rotational camera, make for a fluid experience. A hallmark upon gaming as a whole, Super Mario 64 will always be endeared in the hearts of gamers for what it brought to the industry.

1. Super Mario Galaxy & Super Mario Galaxy 2

A giant of the industry and series can always be toppled by an exceptionally and brilliantly designed game, with posthaste I present Super Mario Galaxy & its successor Super Mario Galaxy 2. Although mainly focusing on the first installment, both provide a remarkable game-play experience. These games are seen as one in terms of this list; with each having their incredible strengths, the second falls a bit unfavorably to the first.

Ingeniously incorporating the full range of control provided by the Wii at the time, Mario is seen traversing through the stars and gaining his own Power Star to once again combat Bowser’s evil forces. With the most unique level designs and a plethora of power-ups, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 create broad, non-linear paths on which players can explore the Mario universe. All aspects of these games implement their mechanics perfectly within the levels, creating two of the most enjoyable and engaging experiences of the entire franchise.