Well I imagine most Nintendo fans are now or soon to be knee-deep in the new Super Mario Galaxy 2 game. So in honor of all that, here’s a blog about my favorite Mario games and other fun Mario moments.
Mario Games I do like:
Just about all Mario games are great in their own way. But there are a few standout games in the series that are very dear and special to me. So here they are:
Super Mario World
I don’t really have a number one favorite Mario game. So just because I listed World first, doesn’t mean I like it best. I guess it just depends on my mood, so today I’m in a SMW mood! I liked this game better than other SMB platformers such as the original and SMB3 for various reasons. One, I thought the levels in World were much more fun to explore. They were bigger with more secrets and multiple exits. Two, I liked the play control in World better. It felt tighter than before. And three, even though the power-ups in SMB3 were more creative, I felt the cape and Yoshi powers in World were more versatile. And finally, it had Bowser in a clown copter car. How cool is that? The final boss fight in SMW is still one of my favorites ever!
I know some may not consider this a TRUE Mario game, but I’m putting it here anyway. This game came out late on the SNES, when everything was going 3-D elsewhere. So to make a 2-D game with preschool-looking crayon graphics seemed almost rebellious for Nintendo back then. And the new gameplay elements like throwing eggs were new and fresh. They used the Super FX chip in many smart and subtle ways and I consider Yoshi’s Island to be one of the best 2-D platformers around. Right on up there with Klonoa!
Yoshi’s Island is also a special game to me personally because when brother Jeff was very little, he used to love to watch me play it. And in college, Yoshi’s Island was the game that got my roommate’s girlfriend (now wife) into playing video games herself. So I always associate Yoshi’s Island with good times with friends and family. I miss those days sometimes.
Super Mario Bros. 2
Yeah I know I’ll catch flak about this. I actually like Mario 2 better than SMB1 or SMB3. I know, I’m weird. I know it’s not a TRUE Mario game, but back then I didn’t care. I just loved the catchy music and more colorful graphics and tighter play control and new gameplay and the fact that you could play as other characters besides Mario. My favorite was Toad, but Luigi and Peach were fun to play as, too.
Super Mario 64
I know a lot of people who don’t like the 3-D Mario games, and say that Mario 64 is the worst of them. But I don’t fall in that camp. I really liked it back then! I truly got into it and it’s one of the few Mario games I’ve completed 100 percent! Yes, I got all 120 stars. I think the only other Mario game I’ve done that with was World. I got all 96 exits in that one. Anyway, seeing Mario in 3-D was very awe-inspiring back then. The first time I had Mario dive into the water in Jolly Roger Bay and heard that serene music in the background…well, if you’ve played it, you know what I mean.
I like Mario 64 better than the other two main 3-D Mario games: Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2. But Sunshine and Galaxy are great games, too. While I felt the water gun in Sunshine was a bit too gimmicky, my favorite part of that game was it really made you feel like you were on a tropical vacation resort. Whether it was exploring the hub world market, shopping at the port, kicking back at the juice bar near the beach, or tromping around the amusement park, every level felt connected to the island you were on. Heck, even the ‘ghost house’ level was a haunted resort hotel!
Mario Galaxy was better, and I loved the creative, gravity-defying levels. But I just didn’t get into it as much as I did Mario 64. But that’s not entirely the game’s fault. When I was in college, I had more free time and less life commitments than I do now. So it’s harder to really master a game like I used to.
While I’m on the subject of Galaxy, here’s a mini-review of Mario Galaxy 2. It’s pretty much more of the same, but that’s OK because the first one was so much fun. I think my favorite new power-up is the drill. You could make a whole game out of that power alone! Of course, my most preferred thing about Galaxy 2 is the orchestrated music. I’m just a sucker for that stuff. My favorite song is from the Puzzle Plank level. It sounds like my favorite video game music composer, Go Shiina, trying to play Dixieland. Like in the first game, a second player can pick up a remote and help the other play defeat enemies or collect star bits. Perfect for younger gamers, as they’ll feel like they’re helping the other player!
Mario Games I don’t like as much as others
Now, just because I say I don’t like these Mario games as much, it doesn’t mean I HATE them. I still enjoy nearly all Mario games, but there are a few in the series that I don’t hold in as high regard as others do. So I thought I’d explain myself a bit.
Super Mario Bros.
Most people have fond memories of this game. And sure, I was impressed when I first saw it in an arcade (yeah, I didn’t play it on the NES first). And I did enjoy playing it on my friend’s NES. But it didn’t impress me enough to want to buy a NES of my own right away. I was still perfectly happy playing Pengo on my Atari 5200. The game that made me HAVE to have a NES was actually The Legend of Zelda.
Super Mario Bros. 3
Most people would say that 3 is their favorite. But not me. Yes, I did love all the weird powers and how vast this game seemed on the NES. But I thought the controls were looser than what they were in SMB2, and the stages, while fun, were a lot shorter, too. And like SMB1, 3 was really hard!
New Super Mario Bros DS
It’s not a bad 2-D Mario game, but I couldn’t stand how they limited how you could save in this game. I know old Mario games wouldn’t let you save all the time either, but this was a handheld in the 21st century. Come on.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
There is a lot to like about this game. So don’t think I’m knocking it. Saving was improved slightly; favorite classic elements came back, like my favorite: the Koopa Kids. But while the multiplayer was fun, it was near impossible to make any progress this way. And like Mario 1 and 3, I felt the play control was too slippy-slidey and hard to stop.
But again, I’ll reiterate that while the above games aren’t my favorites like most people’s commonly are, I’m not saying any of those are bad games at all.
I have to talk a little bit about Mario’s RPG outings, as I’ve enjoyed them a lot, too. My favorites are the ones in the Paper Mario series. Especially Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door on GameCube. It’s one of the most solid RPGs I’ve ever played, with never-boring gameplay and clever writing. The Mario & Luigi games are my second favorite Mario RPG series. Controlling both Mario & Luigi in action packed battles at the same time was pretty ingenious. And the third game in that series, Bowser’s Inside Story, might be considered to be the villain’s true starring role. And while Partners in Time may be the weakest in the Mario & Luigi series, the Mario babies were just so gosh darn adorable!
Even though the original SNES Super Mario RPG is my least favorite of the role playing bunch, it’s still a GREAT game. It’s just that the other ones felt more naturally like Mario. Mario RPG just felt like Square trying to be like Mario but couldn’t shake their Final Fantasy roots (though the FF reference in Mario RPG was excellent). Actually I guess my least favorite Mario RPG would be the 2-D action platformer Super Paper Mario. I still like it, but it felt like it really should’ve originally been on the GameCube instead of the Wii.
I think Mario’s been in more spinoffs than ‘main’ games. But some of the spinoffs are just as good, so here are a few of my top picks in those.
I think my favorite of the spinoffs are the Mario Karts. I still like the original, flat SNES Super Mario Kart the best, because back then it was more about driving skill instead of being lucky with items. My second favorite Kart game is the GBA one, Super Circuit, because it feels more like a direct sequel to the SNES classic, due to the flat graphics and inclusion of all the original tracks. And while it’s in 3-D, the N64 Mario Kart game holds a place in my heart, too. I love the neon lights in the 64 Rainbow Road.
I think my favorite Mario sports game is Mario Golf on GameCube. It’s amazing how much control you have over the ball in that one. I also liked the Mario Baseball games, as they were made by video game baseball masters Namco (makers of RBI Baseball on NES and Family Stadium on Famicom). I also enjoyed Mario Tennis on N64 quite a bit with friends, too.
I really only liked the first Mario Party game. The rest were way too much of the same thing. I loved Mario Paint on the SNES, and even used it to make school projects back then! If you want to know the truth, I actually prefer Wario’s platformers over Mario’s. Especially Wario Land 2, 3, and 4. Heck, I even liked Master of Disguise and Wario Land: Shake It. And the WarioWare series is pure genius. I wish Nintendo would make a Wii sequel to the GameCube’s Luigi’s Mansion. I actually really enjoyed that one. Luigi is cooler than Mario anyway. And the Super Smash Bros. games are some of my favorite fighters around. Finally, puzzlers like Dr. Mario, Yoshi’s Cookie, and Wario’s Woods are some of my top picks for that genre. I wish they’d make a DS Yoshi’s Cookie game. And I have many fond memories of playing Wario’s Woods in college. It was funny seeing my roommate and his girlfriend get into competitive fights over that game! Plus, it starred Toad, my favorite Mario character.
And that’s all I feel like talking about Mario right now. I guess you can say people my age kind of grew up with Mario. I think he was actually more popular back then than he is now. Believe it or not. Back then we had the Mario cereal, fruit snacks, a cartoon (which was awful yet we all watched it anyway). And the only reason why I saw The Wizard in theaters was to see the sneak peek of the upcoming Mario 3 at the end! That’s how much of a grip Mario had on us as kids! Even if I like Pac-Man better.
Speaking of characters better than Mario, his games actually aren’t my favorite Nintendo franchise. That honor goes to Kirby, but I also like Zelda and Metroid games better than Mario ones, too! In the comments section, share your most memorable Mario moments with me! –Cary