There is not a name more iconic in video games than Mario. The ol’ Jumpman has been the shining star of Nintendo since 1981, with no signs of him stopping any time soon. There have been hundreds of Mario games in the decades since his debut, with countless memories made along the way. Here are our picks for the ten 10 Mario games from least favorite to best.
Related: The ten best Mario spin-off games
The best Mario games of all time, ranked
10. Super Mario Maker 2
Everyone knows how iconic 2D Mario levels are, but what if you had the chance to make your own? Super Mario Maker 2 gives you access to tools unavailable in the first game to create the Mario level of your dreams and share it so other players can try it. Additionally, Nintendo worked in a mini-campaign of their own created levels, so you get the community’s creativity and professional design of the real deal.
9. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins was a massive jump forward from the original game released on the Game Boy. The level design was more inventive, and the pixel artwork improved exponentially. Having a true Mario game that you can take with you anywhere is something you can easily do today, but back then, it was not the case. This game also introduced Wario to the world, who quickly became a mainstay in Mario spin-offs and got his own line of games in the Wario Land and WarioWare titles.
8. Super Mario Bros. 3
The third Super Mario Bros. game on the NES showcased how creative Mario games would be going into the future. Of course, the first game is one of the most important video game releases of all time, but this game introduced many power-ups that fans adored. The level design and environments also became the staple for future 2D Mario games, and at the time, it was particularly fresh and exciting.
7. Super Mario World
Super Mario World is one of the most iconic games released on the Super Nintendo and 2D Mario games at its absolute best. The level design here is unparalleled and has not been close to being touched by the New Super Mario Bros. games. The feather cape was a fun power-up that lets you fly all around the area, and this game introduced us to Yoshi as not just a Mario staple but a helpful tool for getting through these levels. 2D Mario games may never reach the heights that Super Mario World got to again.
6. Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2
Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 are two of the best Wii games ever and a testament to how good Nintendo designs these games when they commit to doing something new. Having Mario fly between minor spherical planets and see him run around their gravitational pull is a unique experience that is a lot of fun to play.
These linear levels are unique and show that even the unwieldy space environments can offer a fun playground for Mario to leap around in. We also got a rare look at actual lore with the introduction of Rosalina and seeing her backstory through her Luna bedtime stories. While meant for families, the Mario Galaxy series is one of the best space operas of the early 2000s.
5. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
The Thousand-Year Door is the game that fans everywhere wish the Paper Mario series would return to. This RPG featured a great long-running story with fun locations to run through and memorable, unique characters that were much more than the basic Toads you see in the series now. Both Mario and your allies had fun, special abilities that made the turn-based combat feel rewarding and fun to get into. It was much more than a forced ring system or awful sticker collection.
4. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
Super Mario 3D World was a massively undervalued game on the Wii U because of the failure of that platform. Like so many other games, when it got a new lease on life on the much more popular Switch, many players got to see how great this game could be either with friends or playing on their own.
The Switch version added online multiplayer and included a new side game in Bowser’s Fury that brought back the sandbox fun of traditional 3D Mario games to sit alongside the linear experience in the main game. Whichever way you go here, you are in store for a memorable time playing alone or with a friend.
3. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
The Mario Kart games are generally considered the best Mario spin-off games, and the Switch release of Mario Kart 8 is easily the best in the series. Not only does it feature the great tracks that the Wii U version released with and came out as DLC, but they fixed the Battle Mode that was pretty bad in that original release with one that is more in line with the traditional model in past games.
After years of being on Switch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also began bringing more tracks to the game with the Booster Pass, making this the ultimate collection of Mario Kart races.
2. Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 is one of the most essential 3D games ever made. At the time, developers did not understand how to make a camera work with a third-person perspective, but Mario laid the groundwork for what has led to your favorite games these days. It has not aged perfectly since its release, but collecting stars in these giant sandboxes was, and still is, tons of fun.
1. Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey brought back the sandbox gameplay people have been waiting for for a long time. There are thousands of Power Moons to collect, littered everywhere. The collection process never gets old for people who love to explore. The addition of Cappy and being able to take over the body of so many enemies and objects brought in tons of variety in gameplay that genuinely makes this Mario game stand out from everything else.