There are some truly iconic video game mascots out there, but none are bigger than Mario. The Italian plumber has been running, jumping and flying his way onto Nintendo consoles for over three decades, amassing more than 200 games in that time. With so many titles to choose from, it can be hard to pick which are the best from the bunch. However, we feel pretty confident in saying that these are the video games every Mario fan should play at least once in their lifetime.
Super Mario 64
Its graphics may not live up to modern day standards, but “Super Mario 64” is still a favorite of many Nintendo gamers out there. This release for the Nintendo 64 took the beloved mascot, who by that point had been around for 15 years, and threw him into a 3D environment. “Super Mario 64” is credited as having a significant impact on the gaming landscape, as its camera system and overall design was revolutionary back when it was released. The launch of this title was what Nintendo needed to prove that Mario had the power to outlast all his competitors. Just when you thought he’d reached his limits, he gave us a new way to play.
Super Mario Galaxy
What do you do when you’ve explored all there is to see in the Mushroom Kingdom. Launch Mario into outer space, of course. That’s what “Super Mario Galaxy” on the Wii did back in 2007. The game achieved great success with its exciting new environments and stunning visuals that took platforming to a whole new level. While the title still felt like a Mario game, players were introduced to a new experience that changed the franchise forever. Plus, it introduced us to one of our favorite video game characters of all time in the form of Rosalina. Mario doesn’t usually play on the emotional factor, but Rosalina’s backstory is one of the most heartbreaking narratives we’ve ever seen in a video game. We’re already crying just thinking about it again.
Super Mario 3D World
When you utilize the same characters time after time, you have to continually reinvent the games they feature in so things don’t become stale. That’s something that Nintendo has become somewhat skilled in over the years, particularly when it comes to Mario. Even though a lot of their titles offer a similar overall experience, the company still find a way to make the games different enough to be enjoyable. That’s what “Super Mario 3D World” did. It was a typical Mario platformer, but the 3D levels brought an exciting new experience to the game. With the chance to explore 3D environments with three of your friends (which always makes for an interesting experience), this game proved to be Mario’s best platforming release so far. It made the Wii U worth buying, even if the console had its share of faults.
Super Mario Odyssey
It’s the newest game in the franchise, but it’s also one of the best. Released in late 2017, “Super Mario Odyssey” sees the format return to the sandbox style of “Super Mario 64,” only this time Mario has a revolutionary new mechanic. Enter Cappy, the protagonist’s sidekick of sorts who allows Mario to take control of a variety of enemies, from your standard Goombas and Chain Chomps to King Koopa himself. The game received a near perfect universal rating on review aggregate sites because of its gorgeous design, reinvented gameplay and exploratory nature, and we believe that score is justified. This is definitely one of the best games in the franchise, if not one of the best ever made.
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to great Mario games. It’s not often that the plumber has featured in a bad title, whether it’s been a mainline release or one of his many spin-offs, because Nintendo knows what they’re doing with this mascot. Now, who’s up for some “Mario Kart?”