5. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
After Super Mario RPG established Mario into the RPG formula, Nintendo has published a number of Mario RPG games, the best of which so far is probably Dream Team. Taking place on Pi’illo Island, the brothers are swept into a quest to save the island from the evil Antasma, who is after the Dream Stone. Utilizing Luigi’s uncanny ability to fall asleep nearly instantly (narcolepsy) and a special ability all Pi’illo’s have, Mario is able to enter the Dream World to battle Antasma, with a Dream version of Luigi called Dreamy Luigi assisting him with various special abilities only useable in the Dream World. Dream Team has been touted as one of the most fun games in the series, and after playing for a few hours, it’s easy to see why!
4. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Paper Mario took the “arts and crafts” look used in some previous Mario titles, like Yoshi’s Island, and went all the way with it. Being the first true RPG in the franchise since Super Mario RPG, the anticipation for this game was palpable. Flash forward three years, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is released and melts the gaming community’s collective mind. The signature art style has been damn-near perfected and looks gorgeous. The plot is fleshed out and unique, establishing a distinct universe, lore and characters. The combat has been expanded upon and refined, to create a solid traditional turn-based RPG. Not to mention, that fighting arena sequence of the game is totally awesome and worth sinking quite a bit of time into. The Thousand-Year Door did exactly what a sequel should do; take everything right its predecessor(s) did and improve on it, while innovating and finding its own home in the echelon of fantastic Mario titles.
3. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Released in 1996, Super Mario RPG came very late into the SNES’ life. Since then it has become somewhat of a cult classic. It’s the first entry in the esteemed Mario franchise to adopt the RPG approach, and it still holds up to this day as one of the finest examples of RPG gaming. Even though there has not been a direct sequel, Super Mario RPG spawned a new series deeply rooted in its history: the Mario & Luigi series. Super Mario RPG utilized a simple timed button press mechanic in battles that made combat a lot deeper than you’d think. It also featured some brand new characters, such as Mallow and Geno, both of which have not been seen outside of this title, much to fans’ dismay.
2. Super Mario Maker
Mario Maker is a relatively new title in which players can create their own levels in a few different styles, and can use the particular version’s unique power ups and mechanics to make unique levels. Not only can creators make their own levels, but they can also share them with anyone else who has purchased the game, receive comments, have their level starred, and of course they can play levels created by others as well as comment on them and star them. The level designer is incredibly intuitive so most anyone can use it. Of course, you certainly don’t have to build levels in order to enjoy the game. You can, much like I did, dive right into the endless amount of levels and play to your heart’s content. During your play time, you will find levels that are wildly varying in difficulty: some are incredibly complex and some are very simple. Mario Maker allows for an almost endless amount of fun and is definitely worth grabbing.
1. Mario Kart 8
Mario Kart 8 is the latest installment of the well-known and widely-loved kart racing franchise. Mario Kart 8 stays true to the fundamentals that Nintendo has created. However, Mario Kart 8 towers over all the others on this list simply due to the improvements and new additions added to the game. Most additions to the game are relatively standard, a few new courses, some new and returning characters, and of course some new carts. Although, through DLC, some of the characters and stages that have been added to the game aren’t ones that I would have ever expected to make an appearance in Mario Kart. Quite frankly, seeing Link, and the Villager and Isabelle from Animal Crossing in the game, along with courses that either take place in an Animal Crossing village and The Hyrule Kingdom, is very refreshing. The F-zero courses and karts that were added are also a huge breath of fresh air and the courses themselves are definitely more difficult than the average track. Unfortunately, the Captain himself has yet to find his way into the game. Mario Kart 8 also brought an entirely new speed to the game with 200cc. This brings a lot of new difficulty to the game, especially if you’ve become accustomed to how to drift in 150cc over the years. In our opinion, Mario Kart 8 is the best title in the series yet.
(Honorable Mention — NBA Street V3)
Not a Mario game, I know. But, try and tell me that packing someone’s lunch as Mario and then dunking over Kobe Bryant wasn’t the funniest thing you’ve ever seen.