Ranking a franchise as legendary as Mario can be quite tricky.
After playing Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the second time, I have begun to wonder where it ranks in Mario’s great history of platforming titles. Mario has appeared in several great games, so unfortunately it was difficult narrowing the list down to 10.
I’m positive I missed one of the best games, but with a franchise as rich as Mario’s, it’s an easy mistake to make.
10-) Mario Party 2 The Mario Party franchise gets a lot of flack for being a very luck-based game, but it can’t be denied that in a group of friends, Mario Party is a very enjoyable experience. The early Mario Parties offer fun and innovative, for the time, gameplay and are easily the most re-playable in the franchise. I would take the simplicity of the games in Mario Party 2 to the waggling games that are prominent in the Wii’s Mario Party 8. Plus, later in the franchise the game boards become convoluted. At this point, they are still quite simple.
9-) Super Mario Brothers The original game in the franchise makes the list because it helped usher in the rest of the titles here. It is a fairly simple game that emphasizes platforming skill over combat and has held up well over the years. It’s a very famous title, almost everybody knows the song that plays with world 1-1. You probably have it going in your head right now. While it’s not as good as some other Mario titles, it deserves placement here because without it, we would not have the other.
😎 Super Mario Kart The original mascot racing title and it holds up well to this day. It is not the best Mario racing title, as this list will show later, but it combines fast and frantic gameplay with environments from classic Mario titles. This gets mention on the list for being a fairly innovative game. It didn’t event weapons in racing titles, but it sure did popularize it. This title caused people to associate kart racing with fast, arcadey and weapon-happy gameplay. It deserves some credit for that.
7-) Paper Mario People were clamoring for a sequel to the Square developed Super Mario RPG for quite some time. This wasn’t it, but it was a role-playing title that included a unique graphical style. What made Paper Mario such a great game was a combination of the simple RPG style gameplay with Nintendo humor designed to poke fun at the company itself. Paper Mario and subsequent Mario RPG titles became associated with self-referential humor. A company as big as Nintendo poking fun at itself is always something I can get behind.
6-) Mario Kart DS This is without a doubt the finest Mario Kart ever released and perhaps even one of the best portable titles ever released. It is the first Mario Kart title to incorporate online play and offers a variety of new items to help balance the play-field a bit, though does not over-do it like the Wii version of the game that often time comes down to the flip of a coin. Mario Kart DS melds fast action with skill better than any other title in the franchise and deserves praise for it.
5-) Super Mario World This title was probably one of the most hyped Super Nintendo titles ever, with perhaps only Donkey Kong Country rivaling it. What it did so great was take the formula that made Super Mario Brothers 3 so loved and expand it. There are more worlds and a lot of secrets to find. Yes, there are fewer powers, but this is also the game that introduced us to Yoshi and we can all get behind that. From a level design standpoint, this is definitely one of the best offerings the franchise has.
4-) Super Mario 64 The original 3D Mario title. I remember seeing this game as an impressionable middle schooler and being absolutely blown away by the graphics. Looking at how far we’ve come really astonishes me. Mario 64 set the standard for 3D platforming titles. After this game came out, other 3D platformers were compared to Mario 64 for quality. No game could be judged on its own merits, it had to stack up with Mario 64. This shows just how impressive this title was and it was one of the first 3D platformers ever. I am stunned to this day by that.
3-) Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars I can be a bit of a Square fanboy at times, so this title’s place on the list probably reflects that a bit. Mario RPG was a fairly easy game, but it set Mario in a format he wasn’t entirely comfortable in: one with a story beyond “save Peach”. In doing this, Mario has to team with long-time enemy Bowser, Princess Peach and original characters Geno and Mallow to save the world from a new evil. It’s a fairly simple game, but it is incredibly enjoyable, gives the player a multitude of things to do, has a decent story and most importantly it is very fun.
2-) Super Mario Galaxy 2 Oh, it almost made it to the top! Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a fantastic title that takes everything the original did and turns it up to 11. It offers a variety of challenges for the player, a variety of worlds with different settings and over 240 stars to collect. There is just so much to do, it is hard to argue against it being the definitive 3D Mario experience. Everything about this game is executed well. Even though it adds Yoshi, my favorite part about the game is the subtraction of a hub world. It is just straight-to-gameplay fun. It’s a fairly easily accessible title, yet it remains deep in challenge. This is what helps make it one of the best Mario titles ever. It surpasses the original Mario Galaxy in almost every way. It also has, in my opinion, the best music in the franchise.
1-) Super Mario Brothers 3 Is this really any surprise? Super Mario Brothers 3 was one of the most anticipated NES titles ever made and the wait was absolutely worth it. There were tons of secrets for the player to find, a plethora of interesting power-ups and gloriously designed game worlds. I think everybody remembers getting the raccoon tail in this game as much as they do getting the fire flower in the original Mario brothers. Super Mario Brothers 3 is the absolute definition of 2D platforming perfection and is one of the reasons Mario is perhaps the most recognizable figures in gaming today.
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