Oh Mario, you have been around seemingly all my life, providing some of the greatest games known to man, inventing numerous genres and sub-genres and killing literally thousands of turtles and mushrooms by jumping on their heads. I love Mario, I love Mario games, and it occurred to me that I haven’t really written a great deal on plumbing in general, and Italian Plumbers specifically. Now it must be said, in recent times I haven’t kept up with the adventures of Mario. I don’t own a 3DS, although I really want one, and thanks to the fact I fell out of love with the Wii, the last Mario game I played was New Super Mario Bros, which I absolutely loved. Time then to write a little something something about Mario, and what better way than a Top 5 Mario games? Before we start, how about we step back in time with a look at the intro to the Mario cartoon, good times…
SUPER MARIO BROS
Not the first Mario game, Donkey Kong and Mario Bros had come before, but this was the game that revolutionised platforming as we knew it. A magical world, of pipes, killer mushrooms, turtles, toadstool people, a beautiful Princess, and dangerous fire breathing monsters, and of course, a portly Italian Plumber called Mario Mario. Created by the great Shigeru Miyamoto, Super Mario Bros is a stone cold classic and is the first game I played on a Nintendo Console, and put every game I had thus played in the shade.
Jumping, running, smashing turtles heads in with your feet, or burning mushrooms to death with the fire flower power up, Mario is fun for all ages, and is still fun, the first, or thousandth time you play. Do you know where the warp pipes were? Where the secret extra life was in the World 1-1? Then there was the music, what amazingly catchy tunes, it is no surprise my message and email tones on my phone are all Mario sounds. This game established Nintendo as place where dreams and adventures could come true, in your living room or bedroom, and you could play them, and it was awesome. Save the Princess, win the day, oh what’s that? Your Princess is in another castle? Good, more levels to explore and turtles to smash.
SUPER MARIO BROS 3
The first Mario was genius. Read about it above, but what started as a fine idea, and a fine game, was perfected in this sequel. Super Mario 2 was a bit of a departure for the series, as it was based on a game called Doki Doki Panic with altered sprites. SMB3 was a return to form and a game so bursting with ideas I can barely conceive of a way they managed to cram it all on to the humble NES. For the first time, Mario was able to fly, unaided by transport, by use of a leaf, which obviously turned Mario into a part plumber, part raccoon hybrid, that could obviously fly by running fast and wagging his tail, perfectly sensible.
The fire flowers and mushrooms were back, but now we had frog suits, that made swimming a breeze, or the hammer suit, that turned Mario into a hammer throwing maniac, dealing death to all enemies that dared defy him. Also, Mario could ride around in a gigantic green clockwork boot, mental, but in a way that was genius, like Batman. This game was simply the best thing on the NES, and that is saying something. It defined Mario as the leader and innovator for all video games, and proved that blue hedgehogs absolutely suck, no matte how fast they can go. The finest 8-bit platformer there will ever be, and one of the finest games committed to cartridge, you must play it.
SUPER MARIO WORLD
With the dawn of a new console generation, a new era of Mario began. How could Nintendo top the amazing success and quality of SMB3? Well, make everything bigger and better, with better graphics and sound, with more power ups, secrets and surprises, and one more thing… you can ride a bloody dinosaur, that can eat all enemies. Yoshi was a stroke of genius. The sexually ambiguous green dinosaur was a whole host of fun, gulping enemies, spitting fireballs, or even growing wings like some sort of lizardy pegasus.
Bowser was back, and once again had taken Peach, and that son of a bitch was going down, if it was the last thing Mario did. The game was a whole lot bigger and better, with genius level design, fiendish secrets and a map world that was almost as fun as the actual levels. The power ups were down significantly in this game, however, al the favourites reappear. Leaves are out, feathers are in, and this time, Mario has a cape, like Superman, but yellow. SMW is one of the best games ever made, and is as fun to play now as it was back in the day.
SUPER MARIO KART
Mario has appeared in countless different genres in his time, but this game was the one that convinced me that he could do far more than just murder mushrooms mercilessly. Mario Kart on the SNES is one of the greatest multi-player games ever made. Countless hours, and days, and probably weeks have been spent playing Battle Mode, or trying to beat a time trial time, or racing the Grand Prix a few hundred times. This game brought the good guys and bad guys together for a few races around the mushroom kingdom, or a friendly game of battle mode.
A great racing game, with great power ups, who hasn’t thrilled to a brilliant bank shot from a green shell? Or a last second shot from a red homing shell, separating first and second? Tactical and fun, Mario Kart is a great way to pass an afternoon, or a morning, or all night. There have been other iterations, but this is perhaps the purest and as the first, it deserves its place in the annuls of history.
SUPER MARIO 64
I simply could not believe that Nintendo was going to allow me to play as Mario in a 3D environment. Until I played it. Then I couldn’t believe how amazing the game was. This is in my top 10 games of all time, no doubt. Everything that made Mario games so awesome and magical in 2D, was transferred perfectly into 3D worlds that, although a bit blocky now, were amazing back then. From the first few minutes running around Peaches’ Castle, to the last epic showdown with Bowser, this game was one of the most fun games out there.
I still enjoy a little run around every now and then through my favourite worlds, shell surfing, cannon firing, riding on the back of gigantic plesiosaurs, this game has a little something for everyone. Still, in my view, the greatest 3D platformer ever, you must play this game.
So there we are, 5 of my most favourite Mario games, that everyone should have a go at, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.