The 8 Ball 07.01.14: Top 8 Mario Games
Posted by Marc Morrison on 07.01.2014
From Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 3 to Mario Paint, Mario 64 and more, 411's Marc Morrison counts down the top 8 Mario games of all-time!
Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week, I'll be talking about games with Mario in them and not Mario games. There is a distinction to me, a game can have Mario in it and not BE a Mario game, just look at Smash Bros. So while most of the games on my list are pretty "pure" Mario games, a few of them are, explicitly. Hopefully you can understand the line I've drawn. Anyways, let's begin:
8. Mario Paint
It's a bit of a stretch to call Mrio Paint a "game", but I did love it at the time. It was just a very simple, stamp/paint based program on the SNES where you could be creative in that toolset. It's primitive as all hell now, but back then, it was pretty much all console kids used to have. The most fondly remembered aspect for me was the music creator. Me and my friend would create simple, looping tunes that would end up driving each other crazy. It's such a revered part of the game though, that people have re-created it for the modern computer so you can make/listen to music like you would on the SNES. Thankfully, the interface for that program is worlds better than the original game, but it is a damned impressive feat of nostalgia and programming.
7. Donkey Kong Jr.
I love this game BECAUSE Mario is the bad guy! It, was and still is, such a delightful concept as to be heralded alone for it. The game involved you as the titular Donkey Kong Jr. trying to rescue your father who has been imprisoned by Mario. You do this by going through various levels as Mario summons monsters and animals to fight you, as you climb chains/ropes and send down fruit to kill enemies. This game has some extremely quirky controls/rules to it that can make it seem "cheap" even now. I guess that would have partially been the point, given its original arcade nature. Still, Donkey Kong Jr. remains a classic if for no other reason than Mario being an enormous dickhead in the game. There is absolutely no way this game could get made today, given the icon Mario is.
6. Mario Galaxy 1 and 2
Both games are low on my list, but for a general reason: I didn't play much of either of them. I played a few hours of Mario Galaxy 1 and just kind of thought "Well, this is enjoyable, I guess, but it feels kind of light." This feeling returned when I booted up Mario Galaxy 2, but occurred in about 20 minutes, and not two hours. Both games seemed well made, and I'll likely go back to them eventually, but I just didn't have it in me. Also, with both of them, I know the control system was relatively easy, but I never quite mastered it. I always just felt like using a Classic Controller, regardless if the game wasn't built for it or not.
5. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Yep, one of the old Gameboy ones. Like with Mario Paint, I have some good fond memories of this game. Considering the technical aspects of Super Mario Land, SML2 was light-years ahead, having on-par graphics of the NES versions and a lot of moxie. The art and imagination in the game was rather crazy, including a giant robot-Mario world, going into space, and being shrunk down inside a house and having to fight evil ants. The coin aspect was neat because you could use them in the roulette pipe room to get extra lives if you were lucky. Also, Bunny Mario was superb, and I used him 99% of the time in the game. The only time to use Fire Mario is underwater, or when you need to clear out some blocks to get to secret exits.
4. Mario 64
Now we're getting into the classics, Mario 64, to me, remains the best 3D Mario game that was made. Mario moved/acted great, the music was superb, the camera was actually functional (an impressive feat in that time), most of the worlds were distinct and the game had the usual Mario secrets to be found. It was a breath-taking game in 1996, impressing audiences all across the world. I would stay there are two minor "knocks" against this game, one is that the flight controls are kind of weird. And the other is that the hats aren't just continual power-ups (until you get hit) but are timed powers to activate a specific goal. Still, Mario 64 is fantastic and was the beginning of the end for the Sonic franchise/fight.
3. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Mario RPG s still one of the greatest SNES games and greatest RPG's ever made. I tend to rag on Square quite a bit, but goddamn were they in full effect here. Having the Princess actually be useful (as opposed to a damsel to be rescued) was good, and hopefully taken a bit from Mario 2. The same thing goes for Bowser, he didn't have the greatest character arc in the game, but I appreciated the moments he and Mario, and Bowser and his underlings had as they had their adventure. The music was catchy, the battle system required your actual input, and the new characters they introduced; Geno, Mallow, Frogfucious, AXEM Rangers and Smithy, are still memorable. Also, Boshi is the man.
2. Super Mario Bros 3
Super Mario Bros 3 is among one of the best games on the NES, period. As opposed to SMB2, SMB3 went back to the idea of having power ups and suits (tripling what SMB 1 had, at least), having classic enemies like Koopa Troopers and Goombas, and a return of Koopa (or Bowser) returning in the villain role. There are a ton of secrets, classic gameplay, and just a fun time to be had by all. There are two small criticisms of this game: 1. You don't get access to fun suits (Tanooki, Hammer Bros) till pretty late in the game. And 2. Only one level has Kuribo's Shoe. What the hell? Kuribo's Shoe should have just been another suit to use throughout the entire game.
1. Super Mario World
In a lot of Mario games, you get the power of flight. In most of these games though, this is a bit limited, either by a power/stamina gauge or just a hidden timer. NOT SO in Super Mario World, the minute you get flying, it's entirely up to your skill level if you want to keep flying. You can literally breeze through about 80% of the levels (if not more) if you know what you're doing with the feather. The game has warp zones (the Star Road), if you just really want to break the progression, but it is impressive that the designers could let you break the game in this way. Mario World is the pinnacle of being a Mario game to me, it's not as overtly experimental as Mario 3 was, but it makes up for it in being, I think, a smoother overall game experience, that has a lot of hidden depth to it, if you truly want to go exploring. This is a Mario game I will go back to every year or two, just to replay again, that is how good it truly is.
The Better Half with Liana K
Well, no Liana list this week, or (foreseeably) ever again. I won't get into specifics here, but her insights and work will be missed. I'm not sure if I'll replace her or not, but for now it'll just be my lists for a while.
My real big honorary 9th pick would probably be Mario Kart 64. I thought that might be a bit too on the nose though, and everyone seems to have different thoughts on what is the best Mario Kart game. Also, Mario has been in a ton of crap over the past 30+ years. Narrowing the list down to just 8 games was a bit of a challenge. Still, here were some of the games (and/or series) that didn't make it: Smash Bros Melee, Mike Tyson's Punch Out, Mario Tennis, Dr. Mario, Mario Party, Metal Gear Solid (Remake), Mario Teaches Typing, Sonic & Mario Olympics, Super Mario Bros 1 and Super Mario Bros 2
The General Roundup
There weren't a lot of comments from last week, but I'll address some of what there was. The first thing that made me chuckle was, in one of the other sections (might have been Complainer's Corner), there was an editing/formatting gaff, where the same few sentences were repeated at least three times, in succession. Of the 15 or so (at the time) comments, no one actually pointed this out. I noticed it, when I did a re-check of something and fixed it. Anyways, yeah, Cuphead's name is Cuphead, and not Cupman. Still, it does look just like a Mega Man game, done in that old art style. Someone else said "The announcement of an open-world Zelda game should have been number one." I guess I had two thoughts on that: 1. It depends on the definition, but most Zelda game could be considered open-world. They just gate your progress into what you can/can't do, given your inventory. And 2. I think I saw someone from Nintendo saying that the new Zelda game would be like the first Zelda, if I remember right? That wasn't open-world either. You could do some dungeons out of order, but I think past dungeon 4, you actually started needing certain items to progress (like the ladder and raft). Lastly, both Liana and I did mention a lot of games that were already announced before E3. That is because E3 isn't meant to only showcase new games, but also to show the progress of ones in development. If the topic was "Only new games shown at E3", my list would've just been Mortal Kombat, Forza, Splatoon, Cuphead and Grim Fandago, and hers would've been Splatoon, Battlecry (I think), Yoshi, and Rainbow Six: Siege (again, I think). Not exactly a full list from each of us.