Mario is one of the biggest video game characters of all time, spawning multiple games every year that people love (with a movie on the way). Whether it be the traditional Super Mario platforming games or the Mario Kart racing games, there is almost a genre for everyone featuring the famous plumber. Despite how big the character is, that doesn't mean that all his games will be good.
Make no mistake; Mario has some of the best games ever made. Unfortunately, some developers have placed more confidence in the brand than the game they were making. Here are the 5 best Mario games ever made and the 5 worst.
10 BEST - SUPER MARIO WORLD
When it comes to 2D platformers, Super Mario World remains one of the best. Released back on the SNES, it's amazing that this game still holds up. Players make their way through vast worlds, exploring secret levels and bonus rooms, while grabbing power-ups that allow them to discover more areas.
There are multiple paths to Bowser's Castle, and it's up to the player to decide which one they want to take. Super Mario World never treats its audience like they're inferior, but challenges them to test the limits of the game's mechanics and levels. Couple that with an iconic soundtrack and stellar graphics, and it's a game to remember.
9 WORST - MARIO PARTY 10
The Mario Party series went a bit off the rails after the GameCube. Mario Party 8 wasn't awful, but it started to shake up the formula, which made everyone nervous. Mario Party 9 introduced the dreaded car as well as less-interesting mini-games. Despite the backlash the game received, Nintendo used it as the foundation for Mario Party 10 on the Wii U.
This game is often cited as the low point for the series. It didn't have the exciting, friendship-destroying gameplay of its earlier iterations. It's staple new mode was an unbalanced nightmare. It also tried to push a generic line of Mario Amiibo.
8 BEST - SUPER MARIO ODYSSEY
Super Mario Odyssey is the latest 3D Mario game and a darn strong one at that. Nintendo dove pack into its roots on the N64 to create this game, and it shows. Not only is Super Mario Odyssey a return to form, but it tries to invent new things and bring new ways for players to interact with Mario.
Featuring a simple yet deep movement system, Super Mario Odyssey lets players explore worlds the way they want and rewards them for doing so. Introducing the capture mechanic and the hat throw feels like a glorious one-two punch that also provides a creative, new alternative for power-ups. We haven't even mentioned the graphics, score, and level design.
7 WORST - MARIO TENNIS: ULTRA SMASH
Many still regard Mario Tennis on the N64 as the best game in the series. This was practically confirmed with the release of Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash on the Wii U. While the graphics weren't bad and the gameplay looked fine, the final release confirmed that Nintendo had revealed all their cards beforehand.
There was only one court to play on, fewer characters than the N64 game, and a pointless Mega Mushroom mechanic that added little to how the game was played. It had no proper single-player content either (which was rectified in Aces), yet Nintendo expected people to pay a whopping $60.
6 BEST - SUPER MARIO MAKER
There's nothing quite as fun as a well-designed Mario level, but what if you had all the tools at your disposal? Super Mario Maker was one of the games that made the Wii U a worthy purchase for many. The game put the assets of multiple Super Mario games in the hands of the players.
Anyone could create and share their own levels with ease. Seeing the sheer creativity that people had when making these levels was a pure treat that hasn't been replicated in a game since then. Featuring support with every Amiibo on the market and multiple themes, this was the Wii U game to get.
5 WORST - SUPER MARIO 64 DS
Super Mario 64 is often considered the best game on the N64 and the best 3D Mario game. It only made sense that it would later be ported to the Nintendo DS in the form of Super Mario 64 DS. However, there were some issues in translation that actually made the game worse as a result. Many of the game's issues come down to the control scheme.
The original game was designed with the N64's control stick in mind, giving Mario a much wider direction of movement. The Nintendo DS only had a D-pad. As a result, translating the game's controls and settings to that format made the experience worse.
4 BEST - MARIO KART: DOUBLE DASH
There have been several Mario Kart games after the GameCube, and most of them have been excellent. However, there are certain reasons why Mario Kart: Double Dash remains one of the best in the franchise. It's central mechanic, having two racers in a kart, had a much greater impact on how races were approached as opposed to the new mechanics introduced in future games, which often just change the aesthetics.
Depending on your character combination, your stats and special items would change. Double Dash also featured a wide selection of consistently excellent tracks, like DK Mountain and Dino Dino Jungle.
3 WORST - NEW SUPER MARIO BROS 2
It's difficult to criticize the New Super Mario Bros series as a whole. They're not bad games, but there's just a lack of creativity or imagination with them. While the first one was understandable as a return to traditional, side scrolling games, Nintendo has rehashed that content with each new release.
This became evident with New Super Mario Bros 2. It attempted to add something new with the coin-collecting mechanic. However, there is no external reward for collecting so many coins. More often than not, it just makes the game much easier, as players are fed with lives. A lot of the aesthetics are just borrowed from the earlier games too.
2 BEST - MARIO PARTY 6
When it comes to the Mario Party games, it's hard to argue that the GameCube and N64 had the best ones. The cream of the crop, in our opinion, is Mario Party 6. This was when the franchise peaked, having great and innovative new boards with their own special gimmicks to keep in mind.
Mario Party 6 also had a great variety of mini-games that never seemed to get stale, which is everything a Mario Party game should have. Keeping the Bowser and DK spaces on the board, the game was much less predictable than Super Mario Party but just as fun as Mario Party 2.
1 WORST - MARIO SPORTS SUPERSTARS
No one would forgive you for forgetting Mario Sports Superstars. This was a 3DS game that tried to blend together multiple Mario Sports titles into one package. However, thrusting so many different game types into one package resulted in each of them not getting as much attention had they been released individually.
Think of a generic Mario Sports game but with less care put into its design. The hook for Mario Sports Superstars was that horseback racing was added as a new game type, but even it didn't live up to some expectations. It wasn't long before fans left this one.