After having played and beaten all of the Mario titles currently available, including the recently released New Super Mario Bros. Wii, I would like to put together a list of my top five favorites.
5) Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
This game is incredibly difficult and offers a steep challenge after the third world. With checkpoints few and far between you will oftentimes find yourself frustrated. It also doesn’t have the visual charm found in other entries, but this entry makes the cut because of its creativity in level design and power-ups such as the Tanooki Suit, Hammer Bros. Suit and the Frog Suit. I also happen to like being punished in games.
4) Super Mario Bros. (NES)
This game started it all. One of my earliest gaming memories, and fondest. It also features a fairly even difficulty curve unlike Super Mario Bros. 3, and while difficult it much more manageable. Iconic graphics, sounds, music and enemies make this a game everyone should experience. Its game play is timeless, and remains largely unchanged in modern releases like New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
3) New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)
The perfect evolution of classic Mario platforming, featuring hectic four player co-op and difficulty that harkens back to the series infancy. I wasn’t sure I’d ever see another 2D Mario on consoles again and this was a welcome surprise. It features new power ups like the propeller hat, penguin suit, advanced techniques such as the wall jump, taking the series to new heights. Much improved over the New Super Mario Bros. available on Nintendo’s handheld the DS, this is an entry that any gamer hankering for an old school challenge would be foolish to miss.
2) Super Mario World (SNES)
In my opinion, this entry features the best mixture of gameplay and graphics found in 2D Mario. It may be nostalgia talking, but I find the presentation much more alluring than that of Super Mario Bros. 3, and while a bit easier, still offers a challenge to seasoned gamers, especially if you intend to uncover the games many secrets. This was where Yoshi made his first appearance, adding variety that had not been found in previous Mario games. This is probably the title I have replayed most due to its high level of accessibility.
After Super Mario 64 and Mario Sunshine, I was wondering if we were ever going to get a true 3D platforming Mario game. The former games, while good, featured more adventure aspects than true platforming, relegating the running and jumping to a few small stages. While some might like the adventure aspects, I think the first two 3D entries missed the essence of what a Mario game was. Super Mario Galaxy delivered what I had been waiting for.- beautiful graphics, a soaring orchestrated soundtrack, the return of classic enemies and power ups, and most of all platforming. The bite size galaxy set up allowed developers to basically do whatever they wanted because they didn’t have to stick to any particular theme. There is little in the way of wandering around, instead offering a world that is a virtual playground that you must traverse to reach your goal. While lacking much of the difficulty of its 2D brethren, it did offer a decent challenge if you went for all 120 stars. Super Mario Galaxy 2, due out in 2010, promises to up the ante, offering an increased difficulty and the return of trusty sidekick Yoshi.