The Super Mario series has been with us for almost four decades, and since that time, we've seen our favorite plumber jump through castles, galaxies, and many, many different biomes across the years. Here are the 10 best Super Mario games, ranked.
10 - Super Mario 3D Land
One of the Nintendo 3DS' premier titles, Super Mario 3D Land, used the hardware's capabilities impeccably. The 3D was used to accentuate the platforming as some key areas were blocked from view by the boxes on screen. Similar to games like Astro Bot: Rescue Mission from PlayStation VR, the way that Super Mario 3D Land plays with your perspective is so engrossing and will keep you playing from beginning to end. You can play the game without 3D vision as well, but we recommend leaving it on. Some of the levels aren't memorable, however, so Super Mario 3D Land is lower on the list.
9 - Super Mario Maker 2
The Super Mario Maker series has excited masses of fans around the world as they're able to create the levels they've dreamed of making as a kid. Placing platforms and traps along each of your crafted levels is super fun, in addition to being able to share them around the world with your friends (or possibly your enemies). It's intricate, feature-rich, and even has a single-player option if you want some traditional 2D levels from Nintendo in Super Mario Maker 2.
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8 - Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Sunshine is one of those Super Mario games that people either love or hate it. We're on the side of the former. Isle Delfino, where this takes place, looks gorgeous as Mario sets off on a summer adventure. Mario, in this game, is equipped with a tool called the F.L.U.D.D. With it, you can eliminate dirt around you, remove graffiti, and above all, use it as a way to reach higher areas.
It feels fluid to control, and while there are some camera issues from time to time, Super Mario Sunshine is genuinely engaging overall. The best version of this game is available in the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection, which has it run at 1080p.
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7 - Super Mario Bros.
You can't go wrong with the classic Super Mario Bros. that revolutionized gaming forever. It still feels great to control today, and each level is designed so pristinely that anyone would have fun with the game, no matter their age. The only issue is that you are in the same couple locations over and over again. For today's standards, we're used to a variety of biomes in Super Mario games, and this original title does feel a bit repetitive. However, this game left an incredible foundation for many, many years to come. You can revisit it with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.
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6 - Super Mario Bros. 3
An NES game that took the foundation of the original game and made it better, Super Mario Bros. 3 is a clear masterpiece. It has new biomes to explore, bosses, and a graphical style that was more widely colorful than the first title. The levels are tougher, but each power-up that was introduced into this game made them more engaging and overall thrilling to play through. There is one other 2D Mario game, however, that trumps this.
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5 - Super Mario 3D World
The only 3D co-op game in the series, Super Mario 3D World keeps its platforming foundations but provides a riveting bird's-eye view of the action instead. Zooming through stages with your friends is very entertaining, and the graphics are stunning as it was the first game in the mainline titles to be in HD. Yes, it's not as detailed as games like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, but the bright and beautiful art design truly makes Super Mario 3D World pop. The music is also on point with the catchy and welcoming "Super Bell Hill."
"One thing that remains consistent throughout Super Mario 3D World is varied level design, whether it's the more side-scrolling themed Shifty Boo Mansion or the Shadow-Play Alley, which creatively incorporates shadows and platforming," said Austin Suther in his TechRaptor review. "There isn't a single level I felt was unoriginal or too similar to the others, which assures that each new area is as enjoyable as the last."
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4 - Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 is one of the most memorable Super Mario games in the franchise, but due to its aged control scheme, it's at #4 instead of #1. Still, it still has imaginative level design that inspired many for generations to come. While the camera is abhorrent in 2022, the flow and speed of Mario running and jumping on the spot is phenomenal. There's nothing better than backflipping on to the next platform above Mario's head. The bosses and more open levels are well-designed, and there are many memorable moments within the set pieces that still impress gamers to this day like going down an ice slide with a big penguin.
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3 - Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2
The Super Mario Galaxy series brought the Italian plumber into the realm of space, opening up Nintendo's creative juices from the more restricted format of past Super Mario 3D games. In this adventure, you'll see some stunning planets with astonishing creatures and challenging platforming segments that will keep you immersed from beginning to end.
Other than Odyssey, this is one of the best feeling games in the franchise with controls that has Mario traversing a full 360 degrees around mini-planets and other areas in the game. The boss battles are staggering and epic as you try to figure out the puzzle of how to beat them. Also, it arguably has the best Mario soundtracks in history with Mahito Yokota's magical and interplanetary inspired soundtrack.
2 - Super Mario World
By far one of the best 2D Super Mario games in the franchise, Super Mario World is jam packed with clever level design, compelling power-ups, and overall classic visuals that we remember fondly. It also introduced the adorable dinosaur Yoshi, which you can ride on the back of. It's entertaining to suck foes up with his long tongue and jump high up in the air.
The platforming is some of the best of the genre with precise controls and smooth flow of movement, and the stages had a great amount of variety as opposed to the original NES classic. You can play this game right now with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription; just download the SNES games app on the Switch.
1 - Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey takes everything we know and love from a more open 3D Mario game and makes an almost perfect game out of it. You're exploring bigger-scale areas than past titles as you explore the streets or ceilings of the buildings in New Donk City. It also has an intriguing ability for Mario, in which his hat Cappy can help take over the friends and enemies around you. You'll be shocked to see who you can manipulate as you test your puzzle-solving skills.
You can also take control of a dinosaur that can wreak havoc in its path, destroying key barriers on the map. There is so much to find in the levels you encounter like missions and collectibles, and the puzzles you come across are intriguing to solve in Super Mario Odyssey. Additionally, it has some stellar music, including Pauline's song "Jump Up, Superstar" and the inspiring "Fossil Falls" stage theme.
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That's it for today's Mario flashback. What are some of your favorite Mario games? Let us know in the comments down below. Also, check our recent review on Mario Strikers: Battle League and how a modder turned Microsoft Flight Simulator into a game inspired by Mario Kart 8.