Writing about the best Mario games isn’t work; it’s an absolute pleasure. There are so many amazing titles featuring everyone’s favourite hatted-hero that some people might find it daunting, but not this nerd.
I grew up with Mario, fighting Bowser at every turn and racing laps around Wario whenever I got the chance.
It’s fair to say from the off that Mario is an institution. Mention Mazza, and everyone thinks of Nintendo. He’s an instantly recognisable mascot and one that symbolises good, honest fun that can be enjoyed by all the family.
Mario games define generations; I bet all of you can remember the first time you played one or all of the games below. They stick with you and are accessible to everyone.
Not bad for a guy who spends more time saving Peach than fulfilling his actual plumbing job. How does he keep his contract?!
So, without further ado, let’s kick off and check out the best Mario games of all time!
20. Mario Party 4
Mario Party 4 isn’t just one of the best GameCube Games ever made, it’s also one of the best party game on any Nintendo console.
I know, that’s pretty high praise. Still, I’m sticking with it. It’s the first Mazza board game extravaganza I ever played and I loved the gameplay mechanics and all the crazy mini games. The shop system works flawlessly, and the magic lantern and genie who looked a lot like my uncle felt so exciting to use.
I reckon paying 20 coins for a star is still one of the best deals I ever made.
For anyone new to Mario Party, let me explain. Players move around an interactive board in turn-based gameplay. Chose a favourite Nintendo character, collect coins, dodge obstacles, and purchase stars to win.
Minigames that pit players against each other and occasionally require them to work together end each round. Play Party Mode with friends or Story Mode to unlock a sixth level, Bowser’s Castle! That place would have made even the devil feel hot and frightened!
My mum and I used to play this when I was younger. Nintendo games are all about making memories, and I’ve certainly got some incredible ones from battling against Yoshi, DK and the gang. It’s a perfect multiplayer and guaranteed to bring laughter to any gathering.
19. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Next up on our list of the best Mario games is Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. This game never left my GBA SP back in the day and I played it over and over again!
Our red-hatted friend has certainly earned his stripes through all of the games in this compendium. We know he’s a force to be reckoned with, but it’s also true that brothers-in-arms get the job done a whole lot quicker.
That’s especially true when your brother is Luigi, as Signor Green Hat is keen to point out whenever the opportunity arrives.
Superstar Saga is an RPG with a difference. It features all the same turn-based battling one might expect from a role-playing title, but the comedy elements between Mario and Luigi sets it apart from other games.
And talk about tough enemies. Players need to time solo and ‘bros’ attacks well to inflict maximum damage on big ghoulies and evil minions at every turn.
As for the graphics and gameplay, they are exactly what gamers expect from a Mazza title. Bright, vibrant scenes mixed with well thought out gameplay that makes flicking the off switch impossible. Don’t get me started on the epic moves too! This is one of the best Game Boy Advance games that you need in your collection.
18. Super Mario Kart
Super Mario Kart is one of the best Mario games ever made; surely I don’t need to talk about this one?
(Edit – Brandon says I have to or face instant dismissal, so here goes!)
The tried and tested Mario Kart format started right here on the SNES. It’s a formula that is not only used by Nintendo to this day, but one that every other company copied from there on out!
Fire weapons, steer, fire weapons, drift, and try not to brake while firing weapons. That’s basically everything gamers need to know to play Mario Kart. It’s the most accessible franchise of all time, and while a certain 64 title may rank higher in my list, Super Mario Kart will always have a special place in my heart.
Tattooed steampunks who play Dark Souls and pampered pups who participate in Nintendogs competitions all love Mario Kart. It’s one of those games that’s hard not to love, and the SNES version of Rainbow Road still gives me goosebumps to this day!
So the graphics are a little dated and Yoshi looks more like a frog than a lizard, but none of that matters. The gameplay is the same, and this timeless classic is one that I will be forcing my future kids to play.
If you’re reading this, future kids, then you’re welcome.
17. Dr Mario
Dr Mario takes the 17th spot in this list of the best Mario games of all time!
If I had a pound, dollar, euro or yen for every hour I put into this game, then I’d be one rich virus-killing machine.
Forget Pfizer or AstroZenica jabs; Mazza could sort out Covid in a heartbeat with his colour-matching skills and arsenal of falling pills!
Fans of Tetris, Bubble Bobble, and Beehive Bedlam will love Dr Mario like a long lost brother. It’s the perfect game to play on the toilet… if you can see your TV screen from there, that is.
How does it work? Well, players connect coloured medicinal pills to make them vanish. Trapp a virus in the middle ‘ala Mario and Yoshi egg-style’, and BAM, the virus disappears too.
I like to think that I’m curing every disease on the planet while playing this game; it’s the small victories that count.
If any readers wish Columns looked and played like a totally different game starring Mario as a doctor, then this is the title for you!
16. Super Mario Maker
Next up is Super Mario Maker, one of the best Mario games for getting downright creative and playing your own way.
Taking homage from the level creation feature in Little Big Planet, players finally have the chance to create their own Super Mario Bros side-scrolling levels.
The game dropped on the Wii-U and instantly gained critical acclaim (unlike the Wii-U), and gamers loved the ability to upload courses for others to play. What’s more, players can download other courses and play an endless stream of ever-changing levels!
Super Mario Maker released in September 2015. Eight months later in May of the following year, over seven-million courses existed on the internet. Imagine how many there are floating around there now!
The part I love the most about Super Mario Maker is having the option to choose a specific ‘Mazza style’. Levels can be anything from old school stages like the Super Mario Bros. arcade days to new, richly textured scenes on New Super Mario Bros U.
Make enemies appear from power-up blocks, stack 20 goombas on top of one-another, or make Monty Mole ginormous. The power is in your hands, along with a chance to see if you have what it takes to become a Nintendo developer!
15. Super Mario Bros. 3
No matter how young you feel, just remember that Super Mario Bros. 3 came out in 1988. Take a second out from this best Mario games list to think about that… It came out 33-years-ago, before I was even born!
This Mazza title was like looking into the future of gaming, a snapshot of what was to come. It released around the middle of the NES’s life and mentally prepared us for the glory of the SNES.
It’s fair to say that Super Mario Bros. 3 prepared the floor for Super Mario World, and it’s one of my favourite side-scrolling adventures for the NES. Heck, it made our best NES games list for a reason, after all!
What do you think to Mario’s look? Reckon he looks the same today? Many gamers cite Mazza’s appearance here as the quintessential look, though he looks a little sunburnt to me.
Gamers play as either Mario or Luigi in this NES classic. I always love seeing Luigi helping to save Princess Toadstool; he’s just as good as his more famous brother.
This was the first time players met the Koopalings too, all the weird characters on Mario Kart 8 Deluxe that no one ever uses. I’ve never seen a Mrs Bowser… weird that…
14. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Speaking of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the famous Switch racing title takes the 14th spot in our list of the best Mario games ever made.
Not only is this one of the best Mario Multiplayer games, but it’s also hella addictive in solo-player mode. We’ve already discussed how it’s the most accessible game ever, but seriously, it’s a joy to play.
My Grandma used to have a go at racing with DK back in the 64 days, but I think flying cars might have been a bit too much for her!
Finally having the chance to play Mario Kart on a on a plane, on a train, or in a hot air balloon with such stunning graphics still feels like some sort of Voodoo magic. I even challenged some Polish campers in the Italian mountains to a few laps around Hyrule circuit once!
The deluxe version of the Wii-U game boasts all the Wii-U tracks as well as providing additional DLC tracks and characters. Splatoon’s famous Inklings drop by for a race, and the game looks crisp and glorious in 1080p HD.
New gamers not used to playing in the big leagues benefit from smart steering functions and auto accelerate. Honestly, it’s impossible to fall off with these things turned on! With the hard stuff catered for, all that remains is blasting opponents sky high with red shells.
Compete online against kids across the globe that make you feel rubbish and old, or play mates in the same room on the big screen. This game continues to draw in new players every month, proving itself as a worthy addition to the best Mario games collection.
13. Super Mario: 3D World
Super Mario 3D World takes the Number 13 spot in this list of the best Mario games!
Everyone is getting exited over the new Super Mario 3D World + Bowsers Fury title for the Switch releasing this month, including us. The RD team continuously clock watch, counting down the seconds until we can get this game.
But today, we’re focusing on the Wii U version, a classic 3D title with goomba stomping, cat scratching action.
Fed up of fire plants and star power-ups? No worries; just find yourself a Super Bell and and become a cat for a bit instead! Super bells give players cat-like abilities, allowing for climbing up blockages and scratching enemies into dust.
Super Mario 3D World is vibrant and immersive adventure that up to four people can play. That means everyone in the same household can have a go, or you can play with mates online.
Gamers choose from Mario, Toad, Peach, or Luigi while aiming for that all important high score at the end of each level. Stomp Goombas, collect coins, travel through warp pipes – that’s a Mario game alright!
And, shock horror, Bowser isn’t trying to capture Peach in this game. I know, who would have thought it.
Peach is part of the gang in Super Mario 3D world and can finally taste the action. I guess it beats being locked up in a fiery chasm of doom or being carted off to the moon, right?
12. New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe
New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe takes us back to the Wii U once more, though this time with a Nintendo Switch Deluxe release.
It’s such a shame that the Wii-U didn’t sell as it had some amazing titles under its belt. Super Mario Bros U remains one of the best Mario games in existence, and the Deluxe Nintendo Switch port makes it even more enjoyable to play.
Like Super Mario 3D World, up to four players can take part in the action. Five characters take to the field this time with the inclusion of Nabbit and Toadette! Nabbit is impervious to enemy attacks too, which can prove mighty useful in hairy situations!
With Toadette becoming Peachette and Bowser creating crazy obstacles along the way, there are plenty of surprises to uncover throughout the 164 courses.
Plus the game comes with a souped-up version of super Luigi U too, Luigi’s first platforming adventure. That’s what I call value for money!
11. Super Mario RPG
I bet a lot of you never knew that Super Mario RPG even existed, but it’s one of best Mario games ever made, in my opinion!
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is an RPG title that would later go on to influence both the GBA Mario & Luigi series and the Paper Mario series. It’s basically Final Fantasy with Nintendo characters… which makes it the ultimate turn-based battle game!
The isometric 3D graphics allow for a whole new viewing angle and type of gameplay. Mario battles enemies with a party of up to three people, taking it in turns to fight just like in any RPG you’ve ever played.
Just like the Mario & Luigi series, this game is comical and features lots of funny moments for players to enjoy. Critics went crazy for it, and it proved a huge success with Mazza fans too.
The game recently received a boost thanks to the SNES mini classic console, one of our favourite and best mini consoles on the market today. Save Peach, defeat Bowser, job done.
10. Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey is Mario’s latest adventure for the Switch and one that I soaked up like a sponge.
Not only does this game play like a classic Mario title, but it looks superb. Just check out the crystals in the pic below, the textures in the sand and the vibrant buildings. Nintendo really aced this one, and giving Mario a sidekick that isn’t Luigi for a change was a nice touch.
Cappy is a talking hat that Mario can use to hit enemies and reach difficult places. It ties into the different costumes Mario collects, some of which gain entry into previously inaccessible areas.
Bowser’s trying to Marry Peach on the moon, and Mario must stop the wedding from happening. His spaceship, the Odyssey, needs power moons to run, however. More power moons equals new planets to explore.
Mario interacts with the worlds in this game like never before. Stopping by a radio will see him do a jig, and Cappy allows Mario to take over certain objects and enemies too. Make a goomba tower, become a tank; the possibilities are endless!
9. Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Sunshine takes the 9th spot in our list of the best Mario games. It also marks Mazza’s debut Gamecube adventure, which makes it a huge deal!
While taking a well deserved break from Bowser bashing, Mario makes a trip to Isle Delfino with Peach and a bunch of Toads. But who’s that; ‘Shadow Mario’? What’s he up to? Why can’t a plumber take a break! MAMMA MIA!
After Mario finds a water-jetpack called FLUDD (once a plumber, always a plumber) he must clean up Shadow Mario’s graffiti from Isle Delfino and find 120 shine sprites to bring light back to the grubby island.
The gameplay in Super Mario Sunshine follows Super Mario 64 very closely, though the power of the Gamecube makes for some neat differences. For starters, the graphics are ten-times better. Mario has a round nose now, and he can move much more freely.
Features such as racing on bloopers and the vast height of the levels make exploration more fun too, though the same collectible action that we know and love from these games remains a prominent part of the story,
Isle Delfino makes a nice change from the usual setting of the Mushroom Kingdom too. This game proved that we don’t need Peach’s castle to feel at home with a Mazza title, and the islanders are all very jolly and fun to watch.
When things get tough, Mario can call Yoshi into the fray to help out. FLUDD nozzle upgrades remain hidden throughout the levels for gamers to find too. It’s a classic, and it’s one of my favourite Mario games of all time!
8. Super Mario Allstars
Super Mario All-Stars is one of the only games that provides four epic Mazza titles for the price of one.
Where I come from, that’s what we call a ‘bloomin’ good bargain!’
Super Mario All-Stars remains one of the best and most sought after SNES games ever to drop from Ninty HQ. This title is sill loved by gamers, critics, and moustache fans alike. It’s a work of art, and having four of the best Mario games in one place is always going to be a winner in my book.
Like Toys ‘R’ Us or Walmart, the ‘everything under one roof’ motto applies to Super Mario All-Stars. Swapping and changing through my all-time favourite Mazza adventures without even crossing the room made me feel invincible. And with Peach, Luigi, and Toad joining the Mushroom Kingdom mayhem, who knew what was going to happen!
Super Mario All-Stars features remastered versions of the original four Mario home console games. After the groundbreaking success of Super Mario Kart, Shigeru Miyamoto knew it was time to capitalise on the Mario bug with a vibrant new SNES offering for the new Nintendo fans.
All-Stars sold a whopping 10.5-million copies, making it one of the most successful and best SNES games featuring Captain Moustache!
Listen; bonafide Mario fans probably already own this title. Still, for anyone joining the M train at Super Mario Odyssey, go back and give this classic compendium a go. You won’t be disappointed!
7. Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario Galaxy 2 marked Mario’s second intergalactic adventure for the Wii, and boy was it an action packed rollercoaster ride.
I know it’s controversial, but I still prefer the first Mario Galaxy title to the sequel. I may be the only person who thinks this, but it’s my list, so back off, capish?
Don’t get me wrong, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is still a cracking game, made all the better by having Yoshi in it!
When playing the ‘Galaxy’ series, it’s not hard to see where Nintendo got the idea for Odyssey from. The format is a brilliant one and a nice change from the usual Mushroom Kingdom scene of yesteryear.
Don’t worry, Mario still has to save Peach from Bowser. The only difference is that this time it’s happening in space! Mario glides through galaxies and planet hops while collecting Power Stars, saving the universe from Bowser’s evil claws.
What is it with King Koopa; can’t he take a day off for once?
6. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door takes the 6th spot in this list of the best Mario games of all time. It’s the first Paper Mario title I played and man was it hard to put down!
The dynamic of a flat Mario in a 3D world really works well. The old school ‘save cubes’ and simple layout twinned with big battles and bigger ideas made for a compelling game, and one that I often go back to.
Glide across gaps as a paper airplane, slip into secret areas; being paper-thin has its advantages, you know!
The Thousand Year Door is the second game in the series, the first making its debut on the N64. Critics went ape for it, with the title wining an award for Best RPG in 2005.
Oh, I didn’t mention it was an RPG?
That’s right; gamers take part in turn-based battles against new and old enemies while trying to (ten points for guessing the correct answer) save Princes Peach. This time she’s been captured by the Xnauts, and our paper pal has to save the day.
Maybe Nintendo should make a game where Peach has to rescue Mario for a change… just sayin’.
5. Mario Kart 64
Walk up to any stranger and ask if they’ve played Mario Kart 64. 99.87% will say yes, they’ve taken Mazza around Moo Moo farm a few times alright!
What’s not to love about Mario Kart 64? Get from A to B without crashing into other opponents or bananas. It’s a game that doesn’t need a degree in neuroscience to figure out and remains a right of passage into the world of Nintendo gaming.
Is a gamer truly a gamer without achieving gold in all four cups? Sure, people might be able to play Dragonforce on Guitar Hero, but does it even matter if successfully navigating Rainbow Road on 150cc remains out of reach?
I think we all know where I’m going with this one.
My favourite weapons were always the red shells, that impenetrable barrier that stopped anyone from driving anywhere near me. Of course, the blue shell usually got me in the end, but I felt like a king with those bad boys circling around my kart.
Listen; the Switch version with its flying cars and upside down tracks is great, but there something so satisfying about the simplicity of Mario Kart 64. One car with no extra fiddly bits cruising down the open road. That’s what it’s all about.
I’m going to pause here and go play a few rounds myself before carrying on. DK, don’t let me down!
4. Super Mario World
So, DK let me down, but at least now I get to talk about the next title on our list of the best Mario games of all time; Super Mario World!
I think we’ve established by now that Mario is one of the most famous video game characters of all time. For many people, including me, the nine worlds and 96 levels in in Super Mario World brought hours of joy. It’s one of the pivotal titles in the franchise, and it takes the Number 4 slot with pride.
The characters, the world map, the levels; everything about Super Mario World is superb. Even the way he jumps is perfect. This is my favourite colour Mario side-scroller without a doubt.
That might sound very specific, but you’ll see why in a minute.
With 20 million sales under its belt, Super Mario World is the best selling SNES game ever made. The plot won’t be hard to guess for Mario fans (seriously Peach, get some Bowser-proof locks or something), though the setting provides a nice twist.
While saving Peach, players must save Dinosaur Island at the same time. Mario has Yoshi to help him get around this time, and he can also draft in Luigi when he needs a break!
If this title doesn’t currently sit in your collection, then sort it out. Get onto eBay after reading this article and right that wrong immediately!
3. Super Mario Land
Super Mario Land is the reason why I specifically stated Super Mario World was my favourite colour side-scroller. Yes, the third title in this list of the best Mario games was the first Mario game I ever owned.
I remember getting a grey Game Boy DMG and Super Mario Land, playing through the Desert levels and dodging fire breathing Sphinxs while trying to save Daisy.
The Submarine levels were fantastic too; everything about this game opened my eyes to the world of Nintendo. I guess it’s safe to say that this game started everything for me.
The DMG launched with this title, and the game sold over 18 million copies. The graphics might look simple and the game is pretty short, but this is the game that cemented Nintendo as the king of handhelds.
How many more reasons do we need to put this game in our list?
At just 12 pixels high, Mario still packs a punch in the game that saw Daisy’s debut and eventually led to the Wario Land spin off series.
What would the world be like without Super Mario Land? You might not have me writing these articles for a start… hopefully you think that would be a bad thing… right?
2. Super Mario Galaxy
Mazza fans can put down the pitchforks and call off the angry mob; Super Mario Galaxy has finally arrived and takes the second spot in this list!
I know many people consider the second Galaxy title as the better of the two, but I guess I’m just different. I didn’t find the first game as insanely difficult, and it felt a lot more enjoyable to play while being so much different to Super Mario Sunshine.
Super Mario Galaxy was new and fresh; the idea just wasn’t as impactful on the second game. The original title knocked my Nintendo-themed socks off (currently wearing now), and it was like a trip down memory lane when I played it for my Super Mario 3D All-Stars review!
It’s weird to think that this was only the third 3D Mario game to come out for home consoles. It had to bring the thunder after the success of Super Mario Sunshine, and it didn’t disappoint. Plus, while I liked the brief change of having Baby Bowser as the antagonist in Sunshine, it was nice to see big daddy Bowser back on the scene again.
So what’s the deal with Super Mario Galaxy? Well, Mario must once again save Princess Peach, though this time he’s doing it in space. Collect power stars while trying to figure out what’s going on with the gravity, running around planets and sometimes battling upside down!
The planets, enemies, and scenery are all beautifully created, and Mario’s looks feel finished in this title. He could have just stepped off the Odyssey, in fact! Players with enough power stars can also use Luigi too.
This is the game that keeps on giving!
1. Super Mario 64
And finally, Super Mario 64 takes the top spot in our list of the best Mario games of all time!
(Trumpet fanfare please!)
Yes folks, Mario 64 rightfully takes the Number 1 position in our best Mario games of all time because it’s still an absolute classic in 2021.
This game has everything, and I mean everything. From the very first encounter with King Bob-Omb to navigating those insanely difficult dungeons to reach Bowser, Mario 64 is the ultimate Mario adventure title.
There’s a reason it ranked so highly in our list of the best N64 games… but what beat him to the top?
This title had little secrets hidden everywhere in it. How many readers found the secret short cut on Bob-omb mountain or the teleportation spot in Snowman’s Land?
Whether racing Koopa the Quick or Battling King Boo, this game is a treasure trove of Nintendo goodness. Soaring through the sky or navigating the depths of the castle with the Metal Cap; that’s the stuff of legends
Some people believe Super Mario Sunshine to be the best of the best Mario games of our time, but this N64 classic does it for me. I still can’t enter a castle without hearing Bowser’s ‘Gwa-ha-ha-ha’ ringing around my head, and why can’t we all jump into paintings too? It’s just not fair!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 31 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.