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Before 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie,' replay the 10 greatest Mario games ever made

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is based on the most iconic game series of all time. These are the best games. 

By James Grebey

The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which opens exclusively in theaters on April 5, marks the first time since the somewhat infamous 1993 live-action film that the iconic video game franchise will be adapted for the big screen. The movie, which was made by Illumination and Nintendo, stars Chris Pratt as the voice of the mustachioed plumber, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Charlie Day as Luigi, and Jack Black as Bowser. 

Trailers for the film make it clear that The Super Mario Bros. Movie will be full of Easter eggs (or should we say Yoshi eggs) referencing the many Mario games that have come out since the character’s first appearance in the 1981 Donkey Kong arcade game. With that in mind, it seems like a good time to look back at more than 40 years of Mario games and round up the 10 best titles, in preparation for the movie.

RELATED: The final 'Super Mario Bros. Movie' trailer is here


10. Mario Party 2 (Nintendo 64)

It wouldn’t be a list of Mario games without some Mario Party representation, as the minigame-filled board game series is both extremely fun and has probably caused more IRL fights than maybe any other video game. The sophomore title, Mario Party 2, is probably the best of the bunch, as it perfected the format the original established and contained some of the series’ best minigames. (Just make sure you don’t break your controller’s joystick.)

9. Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo Switch)

Mario Kart 64 holds a special place in many gamers’ hearts, and other Kart titles like the GameCube’s Double Dash or the Wii’s Mario Kart 7 have their strengths. Still, it’s just hard to deny how much stuff there is in the Deluxe Switch re-release of the originally Wii U title. With the DLC, there are 96 tracks in the game, many of which are old favorites from past titles. There’s a reason why it is the best-selling Mario game of all time. 

8. Mario Golf (Nintendo 64)

Mario has a lot of hobbies, and it’s nice to see that he and Bowser can bury the hatchet get together to play some friendly sports. Of the many Mario sports games, the N64’s Mario Golf is one of the best, expertly combining 18 holes with the vibe and gameplay of the Mushroom Kingdom.

7. Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo Switch)

Past 3D Mario titles tended to feature distinct environments in various levels. (A desert level! A lava level! A snow level!) Super Mario Odyssey ups the ante with levels that have wholly different and exciting visual styles. There’s nothing like jumping around New Donk City, contrasting Mario’s cartoon bounciness with an otherwise realistic-looking metropolis. 

6. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (GameCube)

The sequel to the N64 Paper Mario, which put a cute 2D spin on a delightful and unique RPG, builds on and perfects the formula. It’s gorgeous, fun-to-play, and it’s got a great story and memorable characters. Later Paper Mario titles have shifted away from the pure turn-based RPG aspects of the first two games, instead opting to be platformers with RPG elements instead of the other way around, but none of them surpassed The Thousand-Year Door.

5. Super Mario Bros. (NES)

The first Super Mario Bros., released in 1985, doesn’t have a lot of the features that subsequent Mario games would have. That’s okay, and Super Mario Bros. still deserves a high ranking because not only is it responsible for all of the classics that came after it… but it’s still really fun to play nearly 40 years later. As soon as you load up World 1-1, it’s all right there, effortless platforming perfection. 

4. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

Super Mario Galaxy took the 3D platforming excellence that was the Super Mario 64 and turned it on its head — literally. The game (and it’s sequel, which arguably improves on the gameplay of the original but can’t surpass in sheer wonder) have Mario jumping through the stars, orbiting planets and playing with gravity in a truly gorgeous environment. Accompanied by perhaps the best score of the entire series, Super Mario Galaxy takes the pumber to the final frontier and makes it feel like he should’ve been there the whole time. 

3. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

In third place, fittingly, is Super Mario Bros. 3. Released in Japan in 1988 and in America two years later, Super Mario Bros. 3 takes everything about Super Mario Bros. and elevates it, improving the visuals, adding future stapes of the franchise like an overworld map and the Koopalings, and generally packing the game with so many details and features that it’s hard to believe it’s only came out a few years after the first one — or that it’s such an old game. It feels perfectly up to modern standards. 

2. Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)

Adapting Mario’s side-scrolling, 2D platforming gameplay into three-dimensions was no easy feat. And yet, some minor quibbles with Lakitu’s camera work aside, Super Mario 64 pulls it off with astounding success. Every level of Super Mario 64 — including Peach’s Castle, the hub world — is instantly iconic.

1. Super Mario World (SNES)

Though younger gamers, spoiled by open-world games with advanced graphics, might not realize it withough picking up a controller themselves, 1991’s Super Mario World truly does feel like a whole world. It’s colorful, sounds amazing, features Yoshi, and there are so many secrets and tricks hidden in its immaculate platforming gameplay that every playthrough still feels transportive — like you’re stepping into Mushroom Kingdom.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie opens in theaters on April 5.