The best Super Mario Bros. games, including ‘Wonder,’ ‘RPG,’ definitively ranked

The best Super Mario Bros. games, including 'Wonder,' 'RPG,' definitively ranked

The best Super Mario Bros. games, including ‘Wonder,’ ‘RPG,’ definitively ranked

Mario, the central character of Nintendo’s Super Mario video game series, is considered a mascot of the company alongside Link of “Legend of Zelda,” Kirby and Pikachu from “Pokemon.”

Since the first Super Mario Bros. game was released in 1985, there have been dozens of games in the main series, as well as remakes (e.g. “Super Mario All-Stars”), spinoffs and minigames (e.g. “Luigi’s Mansion,” “Mario Party,” “Wario, Paper Mario”), and Mario appearances in other games (“Donkey Kong,” “Super Smash Bros.”). Mario franchise games also are among the top selling for Nintendo’s consoles.


“Super Mario RPG,” released Nov. 17 for Nintendo Switch, is the latest of several Super Mario-related games to come out this year, with other titles on the way in 2024.

Now that we’ve played “Super Mario RPG” and last month’s “Super Mario Bros. Wonder,” let’s see how they stack up. Note: We’re looking at the games in the main series, so fantastic entries like “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” (2017, Switch) won’t be here, unfortunately.

Here are some of the best main series Mario games, ranked:

9. Super Mario 64

'Super Mario 64' (1996) for N64

This 3D platformer (1996) for N64 gave Mario more movement abilities and cap power-ups instead of the familiar ones from previous games.


8. Super Mario RPG

This is a bit of a cheat since this one is a spinoff and not a main series game. “Super Mario RPG” for the Switch is a remake of the 1996 game for Super NES (SNES). Since it’s the newest, we decided to include it in the ranking.

In this role-playing game, Mario and an eclectic — and unexpected — group of other characters are teaming up to save Star Road from the Smithy Gang.

The gameplay feels fresh, and while some of the battle mechanics get a bit repetitive, it’s still relatively fun.

7. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury

“Bowser’s Fury,” bundled with a re-release of “Super Mario 3D World,” is an open-world game (2021) for Switch where Mario, joined by Bowser Jr., must free Lake Lapcat and Bowser from a black sludge infecting the land and turning Bowser into a furious version of himself.

6. Super Mario Bros.

The original. The legend. The theme that launched a thousand Koopas.

“Super Mario Bros.,” a follow-up to the arcade game, was released in 1985 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Mario takes on enemies in the Mushroom Kingdom to defeat Bowser and save Princess Toadstool in this challenging side-scroller.

5. Super Mario Odyssey

“Odyssey” (2017) is a near open-world 3D game for Switch that teams Mario up with Cappy, a hat character that allows Mario to turn into other objects or characters and different locations, ranging from Cap Kingdom to New Donk City.

While the over-reliance on the cap to advance in the game can get a bit old, the sandbox setup and exploring the different areas keep the game interesting.

4. Super Mario Bros. Wonder

It’s back to basics with a twist in this side-scroller for Switch (2023). The game takes Mario through Flower Kingdom regions, collecting Wonder Seeds, and using new power-ups (make Mario an elephant!) in order to free the kingdom from Bowser’s imprisonment.

You can play as any one of eight Super Mario Bros. characters, with the ability to switch easily at each level, and you can save power-ups to use later and earn and equip different badges.

3. Super Mario Galaxy

Mario heads to space in this epic 3D game for Wii (2007). The journey to rescue Princess Peach — and the universe — takes players to different planets across galaxies, collecting stars, completing missions and fighting minibosses.

2. Super Mario World

“Super Mario World,” also known as “Super Mario Bros. 4,” is a 2D platformer (1991) for SNES that takes players to Dinosaur Land. With new power-ups and a less linear map, the game builds on its predecessors and introduces new features and a new companion, Yoshi the dinosaur.

1. Super Mario Bros. 3

This iconic entry in the series for NES (1990) and later for GameBoy Advanced, took Mario through a series of different themed kingdoms, such as Big Island/Giant Land and Sea Side/Water Land, using an overworld map.

The game also introduced new power-ups, including the leaf, frog suit and Tanooki suit, Bowser’s children, the Koopalings, serving as mini bosses for each kingdom. Easter eggs, secret tunnels and unique power-ups abound throughout the levels.

The new abilities and new challenges, music and the details of the different kingdoms only add to how replayable this game is, even today.


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