Ten Favorite Games Starring an Italian Plumber (in order)

List items

  • My favorite* video game of all time. Certainly the most technically proficient game in the franchise, Galaxy is the zenith of Mario platforming controls, level design, variety, creativity, and most of all, fun. 242 stars later, it remains the most complete Mario game in my collection. The soundtrack, graphical detail, animation, and accessibility are, by an astronomical margin, far ahead of its pedigree.

    *Okay, it's between SMG and Half-Life 2.

  • Boasting level design and nuance far beyond to its 2D counterparts, Yoshi's Island's boss fights, in particular, are unrivaled in their scope and inventiveness. It is also an audio-visual splendor, with an excellent soundtrack and unique visual styling. Had its predecessor been a worse game, Yoshi's Island would probably top the list.

  • While its soundtrack may be relatively primitive to its offspring, and its controls somewhat looser than Super Mario World, Bros. 3 earns its rank by boasting Mario to superstar status, no pun intended. The variety in levels and worlds is ghastly, and the introduction of a world map and memory saves were essential innovations. And don't get me started on all those powerups.

  • Love him or hate him, Yoshi finally saw the light of day in Super Mario World, a pitch-perfect launch title bundled with every new Super Nintendo. 96 levels across almost a dozen worlds, and countless secrets, World is certainly the most evolved entry in the series.

  • Paper Mario is an RPG for people who don't play RPGs. Chuckle-inducing writing and a charming art style are one thing, but Paper Mario also sports one of the better Mario tales, with a much more developed and personable Bowser, and a truly heinous take-over-the-Mushroom-Kingdom scheme.

  • If asked to name the greatest, most important game of all time, I wouldn't hesitate to campaign for the plumber's first outing. Super Mario Bros. has the single most recognized soundtrack in gaming, even deductible from people who don't even play games. The controls and level design are still some of the finest to be found.

  • One of the hardest games in the series, Land 2 is the inauguration of Wario as a villain. While lacking the spot-on platform controls even the likes of Super Mario Bros. has, Land 2 is the best portable Mario experience available.

  • While I understand the importance and brilliance of Super Mario 64 ushering in the 3D revolution, and simultaneously obliterating the 2D gaming sphere, Mario 64 is an uncharacteristic Mario game, and one that prioritized exploration and camera control over true Mario platforming. This game, more than any other on this list, was severely hindered by existing technology.

  • An underrated game in retrospect, Sunshine was and is still absolutely beautiful and, given its limited palate, a suitable heir to Super Mario 64. Some of the boss fights were pathetic, and the game didn't run very smoothly, and many levels were unapologetically difficult, and the soundtrack was mostly forgettable, and the camera system wasn't bug free, but Sunshine remains a shockingly addictive entry.

  • More of a cheap imitation of classic 2D Mario bliss, New Super Mario Bros. is hands-down the easiest title in the franchise, and the shortest as well. It is, however, a better singleplayer game than New Super Mario Bros. Wii.