Today (March 10) marks ‘Mario Day’, a day so called because writing MAR10 looks a lot like ‘MARIO’.
Think of it as being to video games what May the 4th is to Star Wars.
So since we’re already thinking of the portly mustachioed plumber, we thought we’d take a stab at ranking all of his games from worst to best.
Bearing in mind that there are thousands of spin-offs, Japanese exclusives and remastered efforts, we narrowed down our list by only focusing on the “Super Mario” games, and of those games only those released in the West were considered (so no Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels sadly).
Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988)
Mario’s second full outing introduced players to Luigi, Toad and Princess Toadstool, though a complex development cycle and the use of content culled from unreleased versions of previous Nintendo platformers added up to a less than silky smooth experience.
Classing any of these games as ‘the worst’ feels like sacrilege, but when compared against the rule-writing majesty of its predecessor, Super Mario Bros. 2 suffers.
Super Mario Bros. (1985)
While Super Mario Bros. arguably rewrote the rule book back in 1985, it’s since been eclipsed by the many innovations Nintendo have thrown Mario’s way (when you see what comes in as our best Mario game, you’ll see what I mean).
New Super Mario Bros. 2 (2012)
The New Super Mario Bros. lineage came along to make everything a little bit confusing as to what players were getting, but far from the simple remastered visual many had come to expect, players were in business for whole new games.
The second ‘new’ game on the 3DS continued the solid platforming fans had come to expect, but didn’t do much fresh with the formula.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2009)
The first New Super Mario Bros. game for the Wii followed on from 2007’s Super Mario Galaxy (again, more on that in a bit), and disappointed in comparison to the innovation of the 3D platformer.
As always with Mario games, it was completely solid throughout, but the 2.5D style had nowhere near the wow factor of Galaxy.
Super Mario Maker (2015)
Including this as one of the ‘main’ Mario games might seem a bit strange given its gaming-tool-like nature, but Mario Maker features some of the purest platforming around, thanks to its community of devoted creators and easy to grasp tools.
Of course, it also features some terrifyingly trolly works of sadistic art.
New Super Mario Bros. (2006)
Nintendo tried their hand at reinventing Mario in his original, 2D side-scrolling likeness for their new Nintendo DS handheld.
After a couple of amazingly innovative 3D efforts, heading back to 2D felt like a step in the wrong direction. A solid platformer yes, but nothing innovative enough to amaze.
Super Mario Land (1989)
This was Nintendo’s first attempt at translating Mario’s side-scrolling prowess to handheld consoles, specifically the original GameBoy with which this game was bundled, and boy did it translate.
The monochrome’d graphics may look dated these days, but the solid gameplay was there for all to see.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (1992)
This game was a technical marvel at the time of its 1992 release, clocking in at a whopping 4MB of data – the largest GameBoy game of the time and twice the size of its predecessor.
The game that introduced Mario’s second fiercest protagonist in Wario, Super Mario Land 2 is the only Mario game not to be directed by Shigeru Miyamoto.
Super Mario 3D Land (2011)
3D Land was one of Mario’s biggest change ups in recent years, combining traditional side-scrolling elements with innovative 3D gameplay and introducing new power-ups and abilities.
Oh yeah, and it was really cool too.
Super Mario World (1990)
The introduction of Yoshi in Super Mario World reinvigorated the series with fresh game play mechanics (the green dinosaur’s ability to eat power-ups and enemies from afar a particular highlight).
The series had been strong up until here, but it needed a few tweaks to keep the momentum going. They came in timely fashion with Super Mario World.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island (1988)
The first Super Mario prequel (being a prequel to Super Mario World), this game introduced the world to Baby Mario and sold more than four million copies.
Super Mario Sunshine (2002)
Super Mario’s first and only outing for the much underrated GameCube system had the unenviable task of following up Super Mario 64‘s genre defining platforming.
It didn’t quite manage to topple its bigger brother, but the tale of Mario cleaning up Isle Delfino with a nifty water canon mechanic still showed Nintendo’s willingness to experiment with their mascot.
Super Mario 3D World (2013)
Mario’s first game in super shiny 1080p graphics on the Wii U looked and played like a dream, and was handled by the same team behind the Super Mario Galaxy games (more on those in a bit) so was chock full of innovative game play modifiers at every corner.
One of the best current-gen Nintendo titles.
Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990)
Of the three ‘original’ Super Mario Bros. games, this is by far the best, with special suits granting Mario different abilities making for a memorable game.
With even more memorable gameplay moments.
Super Mario 64 (1996)
An absolute game changer, Mario’s first outing in 3D basically wrote the rulebook on platforming as we know.
Everyone remembers the first time they explored the castle grounds (we still remember the teary Christmas morning unwrapping our N64 as a six-year old), the music, the levels… all of it. Super Mario Games don’t get much better than Super Mario 64.
Super Mario Galaxy (2007)
Except they do. It was always going to be tough to top Mario 64, but somehow 2007’s Mario Galaxy managed it, breaking up levels into self-contained spheroids, experimenting with the rules of gravity, and transporting the whole thing to an amazing space setting.
New gameplay elements were introduced in every level, it never got boring, and levels varied in challenge just enough to keep everyone engaged. How could Nintendo top this?
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010)
This is how.
How do you make an already amazingly innovative game even better? Throw more innovations at it of course.
There are some genuinely breathtaking moments in Super Mario Galaxy 2, and a couple of times a new game play mechanic comes around to make you say “wow!” A true modern classic, Galaxy 2 surpassed its predecessor in every way and should be a must own for Mario fans the World over.