My Top-10 Mario Games

The Mario games are my personal favourite series of games ever, so today I decided to share with you the Mario games that I love and never get tired of.

10. Donkey Kong

Some of you might be surprised to see this game up here, but there’s a reason why Donkey Kong became a timeless classic in spite of its silly name. It’s just plain old fun.

The game may only have four levels but they are still well designed and offer a great challenge even if you are a veteran. The game has been ported to numerous platforms, including Nintendo’s on NES and was included as a built-in game in Donkey Kong 64. There was also a longer remake for the Game Boy released in 1994, but I still prefer the original.

Donkey Kong is just one of those classics, like Pac-Man, that you just love coming back to and which never lose their appeal. Admittedly, it’s a primitive 2D platformer, but one that still holds up extremely well.

9. Super Mario Bros.

The game which truly made Mario into an immortal icon of video-gaming didn’t come around until five years after his debut in Donkey Kong but it is still one of my favourite platformers ever made. The simplicity and fluidity of the play-control and the memorable and challenging level design is what makes this one so timeless in my eyes.

Plus, for a game with only six pieces of music composed for it, the soundtrack never gets old, tiresome or even repetitive. Also, the challenge rises fairly and in the later levels of the game, there is a real sense of accomplishment just making it to the flagpole at the end.

However, the formula has been improved a lot since this first game which is why I can’t put it any higher on the list.

8. Super Mario Land

On the offset Super Mario Land may seem like more SMB on the Game Boy, but this game actually has its own distinct charm. The level variety is much better than in SMB and the soundtrack is excellent, despite not being composed by the grand-daddy of all great video-game composers, Koji Kondo.

Also, the game has its own unique variety of enemies and such a high fun factor that you’ll never notice that the game is actually shorter than Super Mario Bros. Plus, this game introduced Daisy – the second princess in the Mario universe – to the world as well as the Super Ball, a fun if not all that recurring power-up from the series.

In addition, Mario gets in a space-ship, a submarine and a plane, adding some more gameplay variety to this instalment. If you own a Game Boy, you need to get your hands on this over-looked classic.

7. Super Mario Bros. 2

Another highly under-rated Mario game, this one definitely deserves a major shout-out. In 1988, Nintendo had to make up for the gap in the Mario franchise left by the fact that Super Mario Bros.2, a.k.a. Lost Levels, was never released outside Japan. Nintendo took another one of their games, Doki Doki Panic, and redesigned it somewhat to turn it into a new Mario game.

As a result, Super Mario Bros. 2 plays very differently from the rest of the franchise, but that’s what makes it so great. It’s new and different with a total of four playable characters with their own distinct attributes. It also has a unique cast of enemies and an extremely memorable soundtrack.

This game receives a lot of undeserved hatred for not being a “true” Mario game, but I think it’s infinitely better than Lost Levels.

6. Mario Party (any version)

One thing that Mario games are always… is fun. That is also very true for the Mario Party games. There’s no reason for me to choose a favourite since whichever instalment of the series you pick it’s bound to be enjoyable.

Mario Party is essentially a virtual board game with intensely competitive mini-games to spice it up and make the competition for collecting stars more interesting. Despite its simplistic concept, Mario Party never gets tiresome, and sometimes the competition can get super-brutal with everyone doing their best to either get to the stars first or to steal stars from other players.

Mario Party basically created the concept of party-games, and it’s still the king of its kind.

5. Super Mario World

Mario’s jump to 16-bit was in my view very successful. Super Mario World offered new exciting levels and enemies while still bringing back timeless classics from titles past. Plus, the game introduced Yoshi, one of the most useful and adorable supporting characters in the Mario franchise.

On top of just providing a massive and great game, Nintendo also hid surprises and secrets into the game-world, allowing for far more exploration than the prior Mario games.

However, on the front of new features and power-ups the game didn’t perhaps offer anything revolutionary and there were certain aspects of the game’s predecessors that I would have liked to have seen in this instalment as well. It’s a super solid title and definitely deserves its spot in the Top-5, but slightly lacking in certain areas.

4. Dr. Mario

Mario is even cool in games that don’t involve action but instead thinking. Dr. Mario was Nintendo’s early attempt at cashing in on the emerging puzzle game craze created by Tetris. What sets Dr. Mario apart from the competition is that it was actually a very solid concept.

Dropping three of the same coloured pills on top of viruses is a simple idea but the challenge is not dealing with the viruses but the left off parts of the pills that start to pile up and endanger your chances of success. It’s also a game where you don’t need to start from the easiest level but can jump to anywhere on the challenge scale if you want to be challenged. And to top it off, it’s one of the most fun puzzle games to play in multiplayer.

Dr. Mario has been ported and updated several times but I still think the original with its two alternate tracks of music is still the best version of all though the remake for the SNES is decent and even comes with Tetris as a complementary game.

3. Super Mario Bros. 3

In my view, 2D Marios have never gotten better than this. SMB3 took what made the original Super Mario Bros. great and made everything bigger and better. From the game worlds that now appear as huge maps and with varied themes to the power-ups which are hands down the most memorable from any Mario game, SMB3 just did everything right.

Not only that, the game had a bigger variety of enemies than the original, impressive as SMB1’s enemy cast was very varied and memorable in its own right, but the game had a greater variety of excellent music from Koji Kondo.

The feature which I felt SMB3 had over Super Mario World was that you could carry multiple items with you and therefore had more resources open to you during this epic adventure.

2. Mario Kart 64

Super Mario Kart was a great idea that perhaps didn’t reach its full potential on the SNES, but as soon as the Mario racing title hit the full 3D 64-bit console what was born is hands down one of the best racing games of all time.

With a memorable cast of playable characters, a great set of power-ups and absolutely the best tracks from any Mario Kart game, Mario Kart 64 is one of those games that I love coming back time and again. Who doesn’t love rushing through Donkey Kong’s Jungle stage, the icy level or heading down Toad’s Highway? Despite the characters still being 2D sprites, they made the driving challenging and added much more varied land-scape than the flat-plains of the original Super Mario Kart. Plus, the game also has great multiplayer features.

Each consequent sequel has been flashier and more audio-visually impressive than Mario Kart 64, but to my eyes, it’s still the most fun game from the franchise.

1. Super Mario 64

Mario made one of the most solid jumps from 2D to 3D. It didn’t simply introduce players like myself to a completely new dimension of gaming but also brought all the charm of prior Mario games along with it.

Excellent levels, coupled with almost limitless exploration possibilities and the most responsive play and camera controls of any 3D platformer I’ve ever played. It still puts most other 3D platformers to shame and not even the later 3D Marios have managed to match its awesomeness. Not to mention, it has easily the best soundtrack of any Mario game to top it all off.

Super Mario 64 is simply a game I never get tired of. It’s one of my favourite games of all time and nothing will ever change that.