Ranking of Marios

All Mario Games worst to best.

What's a Mario game? Any game where you play as the one and only Mario Mario, and primarily you'll be doing the platforming. So not Mario & Luigi (mostly RPG), not Smash (mostly throwing items at each other), not 3 on 3 Basketball (tho it does have a lot of jumping).

Why? Because I hadn't done it before, I'm bored, and I wanted to know how far up Super Mario Land 2 would be cause that game is fuckin great.

List items

  • 26. Mario Bros.

    It's shit.

  • 25. Super Mario Run.

    The worst thing that a Mario game can be is Mario Bros.

    The second worst thing a Mario game can be is an endless runner.

  • 24. New Super Mario Bros 2.

    The third worst thing a Mario game can be is so boring that I wouldn't even play it if you gave it to me.

  • 23. New Super Mario Bros. Wii

    Designing a Mario game around multiplayer sounds like a good idea until you realize people are assholes.

  • 22. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels

    Designing a Mario game around cut features sounds like a good idea until you realize game designers are assholes.

  • 21. Donkey Kong

    It's okay. You know, it's *early*. It's got those early game jank, where it doesn't quite feel right or could be improved by, I don't know, a sequel/remake 13 years later.

  • 20. Super Mario Land

    Speaking of jank, Super Mario Land is stinking of it. It's got the jank coming out of every pore. But it's still oddly amusing and has halfway decent music.

  • 19. New Super Mario Bros.

    From jank to junk. New Super Mario Bros. is the video game equivalent of a ironed out, dewrinkled, uninteresting, flat white t-shirt from Wal-Mart that came in a package of 11 others just like it.

  • 18. Super Mario Galaxy

    Tim Rogers (now at Kotaku) once described Galaxy in his review as "a game about looking for parking spaces" and that has stuck with ever since I played and beat Galaxy.

    You're on a planetoid and your only goal on that planetoid is to find the thing that you have to do to get from that planetoid to the next planetoid. You repeat this until you are done the game.

    Looking and listening to Mario Galaxy is a joyful jaunt through space, but playing it is like a cold, repetitive, cubicle office job nightmare.

  • 17. New Super Mario Bros. U

    Turns out that adding more screen real estate allowed for the game design to both be not as insufferable in multiplayer or as boring in single player.

    The key being "as boring". It's still boring.

  • 16. Super Mario Sunshine

    I think it says a lot about my feelings Super Mario Sunshine that I forgot to add it to this list until about an hour after I finished it, posted it, and walked away from it.

    I really just want to, deep down, forget it ever existed. It was bad when it tried to be a 3rd person shooter. It was bad when it tried to be an on-rails shooter. It was bad when it tried to be anything other than a 3D platformer. And it controlled like the worst one of those in the series.

    Hell, it's only higher than Galaxy because there are some neat mechanics and levels here and there that I can actually remember enjoying if I think hard enough.

  • 15. Super Mario Galaxy 2

    They remade Thwomp's Fortress and that was kinda cool so points over the original, I guess.

  • 14. Super Mario 64 DS

    The analog thumbstick as we know it was created specifically to play Super Mario 64.

    The best SM64DS could do was putting a stylus on your thumb and using a 2004 touch screen.

    Yet it was still better than almost half this list.

  • 13. Mario vs Donkey Kong

    Is this where I start liking the games yet?

    No. It's not. And 15 years later I still don't have an answer as to why I don't like Mario vs. Donkey Kong.

    I just... don't. I can't even find a reason why I don't. I just don't.

  • 12. Super Paper Mario

    By my definition of what a Mario game is, Super Paper Mario is that.

    Even if takes place in the middle of the horrifying reverse metamorphosis of the series from a JRPG (beautiful butterfly) to a platformer (largely inoffensive chrysalis) to an adventure game (disgusting creepy crawling caterpillar).

    I highly await the reversal of Paper Mario into the egg state (match 3 puzzle game).

  • 11. Super Mario Bros. 2

    From completely inoffensive to so surprisingly strange. Why does it play like complete booty water? Why is it so unique and refreshing? Why is Mario's main weapon throwing bombs, mushrooms, and eggs?

    I don't like it, but I sure as hell respect it.

    (and yes, I know the reason to all of those answers is "it's a reskin of a different game", but it's still fucking strange).

  • 10. Super Mario World

    Super Mario World is a tragedy.

    It should be the top game on this list.

    It really should be.

    But the cape exists.

    And when you tell your player "the best solution to every problem in this game is to be far above the screen so nothing can touch you and you don't have to actually play the game", you've failed as designers.

    Maybe one day I will learn to hack SNES games just so I can remove the cape and, I don't know, put the tanooki suit in or something.

  • 9. Donkey Kong

    Yes, we've finally hit the point where we can talk about the good Marios. Which means, yes, there are less than 10 good Mario games (and this one doesn't even have his name in the title).

    But instead of booing me for saying the truth, cherish the nine we have. For we have just jumped the wide gap from tragedy to serendipity. And even if Donkey Kong '94 is the bottom of those nine good ones, it is still very, very good.

    It captures the original puzzle-like platforming of the original, remakes it to play more smoothly, and explodes with creativity afterwards, offering a full sized game out of the humble original that never stops adding new twists and turns on a formula over a decade old at that point.

    But it also never stops being fucking difficult. Frustratingly so.

    Hence the bottom position.

  • 8. Super Mario Bros.

    I can't say anything about this game that hasn't been said before.

    It's iconic.

    It's also a game made in 1985, which is both an achievement and a curse.

  • 7. Super Mario Maker

    I loved Mario Maker when it came out, but going back to it post-Wii U death shows a few glaring flaws, especially in highlighting the best the community had to offer. A lot of bad levels were made in this game and trying to find those excellent ones is a fucking chore, especially with Miiverse dying too.

    Also, the physics were not quite right for any of the older games and I blame New Super Mario Bros. because of course I do.

  • 6. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

    Oh, I was right at my guess at #6. Look at that.

    This game is fucking rad.

  • 5. Super Mario Odyssey

    So Odyssey being the 5th best Mario game ever made sounds a lot more believable when you frame it as "there are 4 great mario games worse than it and 4 great mario games better than it".

    And I'm not trying to justify this to you, dear reader.

    I'm trying to justify this to *myself*. Because I sure loved the hell out of this game, but hearing "Odyssey is the 5th best Mario game" still sounds so strange to me.

    I mean, the game is stupendous. It says something about how great 2017 was for games that it wasn't automatically my game of the year. But the 5th best Mario game? Of all the Mario games?

    It's more likely than I thought, apparently.

  • 4. Super Mario Bros. 3

    Again, it's hard to say anything new about a game this old other than it holds up.

    Go play it on your Switch.

  • 3. Super Mario 3D World

    It's a crime that more people weren't able to play 3D World because it was on the Wii U. There is no game on the system needing a Switch port more than this.

    SM3DW is simultaneously the best multiplayer Mario game and an exceptional single player experience, something prior to this game I thought NSMB had proven impossible. Hell, I was initially devastated to hear that the game was multiplayer, thinking it would destroy the tight, cozy level design that made SM3DL such a delight.

    I was half-right. The levels did expand outwards, but the higher definition and addition of depth to the levels kept multiplayer manageable while allowing for tons of opportunity for hidden secrets in single player.

    No, it turns out a different design change was what kept World from living up to Land...

  • 2. Super Mario 3D Land

    ...which was the removal of the stereoscopic 3D.

    Yes, the gimmick that was eventually so poorly supported that it was removed from the system altogether, leading to the confusingly named "2DS" and more SKU's for the console than you could shake a stick at.

    That was the true highlight of SM3DL.

    Okay, stop laughing. Stop laughing. I'm serious here.

    Okay, look. I know that gimmick sucked in every other game on the 3DS, usually resulted in plunging frame rate, and didn't even work for people depending on their eyesight.

    I know that.

    But for me, during my time playing the game, for the first time ever in a 3D platformer, I didn't have to rely on guesswork as to where my character was in the foreground/background. I didn't have to look at shadows. I didn't have to parse depth information on nearby elements. It was all just... second nature.

    And every single time I expertly landed on a Goomba's head without even thinking about where I was, it felt like magic.

    Also, it helps that the actual game is fucking amazing and too many people overlooked it.

    Maybe when they port 3DW to the Switch, they'll bring this with it. Because even without my favourite feature, this is game that should not be missed.

  • 1. Super Mario 64

    Still the fucking king after all these years.