Top 10 Mario Games [Best Recommendations]

Not only is the popular plumber in red and blue Nintendo’s main mascot, Mario has also become a global icon and perhaps the ambassador for gaming in general. Mario has definitely had some ups and downs in his illustrious career, but there’s simply no denying that his story of trying to save Princess Peach is entertaining. Over the decades Mario has had a lot of cosmetic changes done to him in order to stay current with the times, and so too have his titles. Whether he’s smashing a ball down the court in Mario Tennis, or throwing shells at his enemies in Super Mario World, there’s just enough of Mario to go around for everyone.

10. Mario Party

  • System/Platform: Various Nintendo Platforms
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Hudson Soft
  • Release Date: December 18, 1998

Love it or hate it, Mario Party is one of those titles that you need your friends to play with in order to really get the best out of the game. While the title has definitely seen better days, Mario Party is a staple title that anyone should pick up if they’re looking for some wild and outrageous fun. The minigames in Mario Party are just a blast to dive into, and knowing that the clock is ticking to see who comes out on top means that you’ll always need to be on your A game at all times. That’s the thrill of Mario Party. It never pulls you in just one direction and you always need to stay alert for any random event that may occur.

Anyone from your parents to siblings can join in on the fun, and just spend hours upon hours screaming and heckling at each other to see who can get the most stars. The diversity of Nintendo characters is also a great aspect about it, and isn’t just limited to the more well known such as Mario himself or Luigi. Every minigame has a different dynamic that you’ll need to understand correctly to really master the stage, and the maps themselves are just full of twists and turns. Certainly a game worth playing and deserving of a place on our list.


9. New Super Mario Bros. U

  • System/Platform: Wii U
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date: November 8, 2012

New Super Mario Bros. U took everything we knew and loved about the classic and revamped it entirely to suit the current landscape of the game industry. One thing Nintendo has certainly mastered over its years of being in the industry, is that they truly understand games and will always try to innovate in some way to make their games feel fresh. While many would complain and say that it’s simply just another Mario game, New Super Mario Bros. U takes us back to the days when you really had to come up with a clever strategy to clear platforms and avoid losing power ups.

Another plus is that now you could team up with Luigi and smash blocks together, transform into a giant Mario and stomp your way through an entire stage, or call upon everyone’s favorite Yoshi to safely carry you toward the flag. They threw in every aspect that stood out in every Mario title and gave us a package that truly felt new in every sense of the word. The traditional side scrolling platform style remained in tact, all with some fine tuning to help make what was once an all time classic feel totally fresh and invigorating.


8. Mario Kart 64

  • System/Platform: Nintendo 64, Wii
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date: December 14, 1996

“Welcome to Mario Kart!” is perhaps the one quote that you’ll remember when you think of Mario Kart 64, because that’s what you’d hear once the title screen popped up. That classic music that chimes in right after is a timeless masterpiece on its own, and it still reverberates through our body to this day. Taking everything that we loved about the original Super Mario Kart on the SNES, and revamping it entirely was perhaps one of the best choices Nintendo made. Mario Kart 64 is the one title that revolutionized the whole kart racing genre, because it demonstrated just how racing games should be played and that’s with a group of friends.

It wasn’t trying to be realistic but it also wasn’t trying to go too animated either, it simply just felt like a true go karting experience through and through. Everything you loved from Super Mario Kart was still in tact, from the crazy level designs to the powerful power ups, and that’s what made it so satisfying to play over and over again. The replay value felt limitless because even today with the likes of Mario Kart 8 still being played by many players around the world, it retains that charm that continues to reel you in every time.


7. Paper Mario

  • System/Platform: Nintendo 64, Wii, Wii U
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems
  • Release Date: August 11, 2000

Paper Mario is another classic title that is actually Super Mario RPG 2, just without the entire name. It plays akin to that of Super Mario RPG, along with some extra visual upgrades to make it stand out. Paper Mario at first glance didn’t really stand out as a hit seller, but once you picked up the controller and sat down with it you realize just how awesome this game truly is. While the puzzles weren’t game changing in any way, it was the simple design aesthetic that made Paper Mario feel more robust. It combines both the platform and RPG elements to create a very exciting adventure, with a little bit of strategy to keep you on your toes.

It created a formula that worked, one that provided players with an opportunity to challenge themselves, but also didn’t intimidate new players from picking up the game and diving in. A lot of Mario games don’t really come with a lot of dialogue, but Paper Mario ensured that not only was the dialogue going to be meaningful, but incredibly funny as well. Paper Mario is intuitive, charming, and downright fun to play and it’s certainly a title you can’t ignore.


6. Super Mario Sunshine

  • System/Platform: Nintendo Gamecube
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date: August 26, 2002

Super Mario Sunshine is such a remarkable game that it’s sometimes hard to find reasons not to like it. Aside from glitches and bugs that often times rear their ugly head, Super Mario Sunshine overall takes everything that made Mario 64 a masterpiece and completely revamps it to create a truly definitive title. Mario 64 revolutionized how we play platformer titles by throwing you into a 3D world where now you had to deal with more obstacles and challenges.

All of that is upgraded in Mario Sunshine, and with the help of Mario’s new backpack named F.L.U.D.D. it made traversing around the large maps so breathtaking. Mario’s backpack is perhaps the best feature because it had a lot of versatility pertaining to how you could use it. You could use it to clean the ink off the walls, propel yourself to high ledges, or clear obstacles that you could not otherwise do without the robotic backpack at your disposal. It was a huge step in the right direction for Nintendo and was perhaps the staple title for the Gamecube. Super Mario Sunshine was to the Gamecube as Mario 64 was to the Nintendo 64, both titles help to break barriers and create innovative ways to play a platformer.


5. Super Mario Bros. 3

  • System/Platform: Various Nintendo Platforms
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date: October 23, 1988

Super Mario Bros. 3 ushered in some new power ups such as the super leaf, that allowed Mario to transform into a Raccoon and take to the skies to clear obstacles, and discover new secrets. It was also the first Mario title that allowed you to pick either Mario or Luigi in order to stop Bowser and save Princess Peach from harm. It introduced new enemies along with using the world map to transition between levels, making it easier for players to backtrack if they needed to. These added elements really helped to pave the way for more lucrative Mario titles to be released shortly after, but it also helped to inspire other game designers to think outside of the box.

Super Mario Bros 3. is hands down one of the greatest games ever made and it’s due to all the things we mentioned earlier. It incorporated new ways of playing, while encouraging players to take new directions pertaining to clearing stages and also beating mini bosses. This new element of challenge is what makes Super Mario Bros. 3 a must have in your gaming collection because even to this day, Mario Bros. 3 is still played in the speedrunning community and just about every die hard fan out there.


4. Super Mario Galaxy 2

  • System/Platform: Wii
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date: May 23, 2010

Nintendo always has something fresh up their sleeve and perhaps that’s why so many of us can’t resist them. Despite poor sales on the Wii U and many people pondering whether Nintendo will survive in the rapidly evolving industry, you have to realize that Nintendo is the company that pretty much pioneered a lot of the technology that we know and use today. So there’s no way this behemoth will go down anytime soon, and with fantastic games like Super Mario Galaxy 2 in its established library that certainly will not happen in the near future.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 came out for the Wii and is pretty much an upgrade from Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, but introduces various unique new elements to once again keep gameplay fresh such as climate change, and sudden shifts in gravity that affect the stage layout. Each galaxy that Mario travels to provides a new challenge and blows you away with spectacular visuals. With varying degrees of difficulty depending on what galaxy you’re on, Mario Galaxy 2 always felt different and yet it never strayed away from what made the original so stimulating.


3. Super Mario 64

  • System/Platform: Nintendo 64, Nintendo DS, Wii
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date: June 23, 1996

You can’t talk about any of the other 3D platformers without bringing up the originator of them all, and that’s Super Mario 64. This title alone helped to launch Nintendo into the stratosphere and pretty much changed the entire landscape of the game industry as a whole. Prior to Super Mario 64, many platform titles were generally side scrollers in a 2D universe, which limited players from being able to move around freely. While these games were still addicting to play, that lack of depth really hindered the creativity and held a lot of players back. Mario 64 threw all of that away and created a blueprint that worked seamlessly, while still retaining what made the series so popular.

Everything from chucking shells at the enemy, hopping on platforms, to soaring to the skies were still there but all within a 3D world that felt real and riveting. You can’t forget the music that even to this day is a timeless classic, as you traverse through the depths of the underwater stage searching for the stars, or the more upbeat tunes on the first stage when you just pop in the game. Everything about Super Mario 64 is just priceless and you can’t help but applaud Nintendo for their ingenious creation. Looking back at the Nintendo 64 days makes us remember just how amazing it felt to be a part of the revolution, and now 2 decades later we’ve arrived at a new format that transcends all that we once knew and makes it ten times better.


2. Super Mario RPG

  • System/Platform: Super Nintendo, Wii
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Release Date: March 9, 1996

Super Mario RPG is a title that both Square Enix and Nintendo worked on, so you know that when two of the world’s biggest companies come together it’s a hit in the making. Super Mario RPG took all of the benefits from Square Enix’s RPG know how, and sewed it together perfectly with Nintendo’s platforming approach. The balance was spot on and the experience you had playing it is truly unforgettable. Mind you this was at a time when Nintendo was on their way to launching the N64, and Square Enix was just about to say goodbye to their long time partner.

What made Super Mario RPG so amazing was that it was perhaps the first title that Nintendo gave their Mario rights over to another company to work on. The bond between Square and Nintendo at the time was at its highest, but also it was a game that took advantage of 3D sprites on the SNES. It was humorous, challenging, and allowed players to use up to five characters in battle. It helped to appeal to a wider audience, breaking down barriers and allowing both RPG fans to dive in, while still incorporating everything that made Mario so popular. The soundtrack was clean, graphics pristine, and overall an unforgettable title that still lives on today in Paper Mario form.


1. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

  • System/Platform: Super Nintendo, Game Boy Advance
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release Date: August 5, 1995

If there’s one game that really defined the greatness that is the SNES, it most certainly has to be Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. It took everything you loved from the original and threw Yoshi into the mix along with all the challenging obstacles you’d come across. When we watched famed Twitch streamer Trihex speedrun this game, it made our jaw drop to the floor because never did we see the game played at such a high level, and truly made us see the game in an entirely different light. Abilities that we never even knew existed were exploited, which made us hungry to go back and try it for ourselves.

Who can forget little Baby Mario too, this cute chibi version of our favorite character who rides on the back of Yoshi as the dino chews up and spits out enemies to clear the path. The game never felt boring to play, and the level design was perhaps one of the best we’ve encountered in any Mario game thus far. They were exciting enough to play through casually, but the challenge was certainly there if you wanted to take things to the next level.


Closing Statement

Whether he’s starring in movies, sitting on your shelf as an Amiibo, or perhaps hanging in your closet as a limited edition tee, Mario is an icon that you can never forget. Without Mario the game industry just wouldn’t be the same, and of course we can’t forget about all the other wonderful Nintendo characters that just bring a breath of fresh air to the game industry as a whole. Leave your comments below as to what Mario games you loved (or hated) and be sure to spread the love on social media as well! Oh, and we should definitely mention Super Mario Maker, Mario Tennis, Mario Golf, and the plethora of other fantastic Mario related titles.

As always, if you want to know about all the latest buzz straight from the bee’s nest in Japan, be sure to keep it locked here at Honey’s Anime.

Rob

Editor/Writer

Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

100% Vegan. A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and join me on Discord! Take care!

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