Mario’s been a few games over the years. We list some of the best…
Weird things happen when you turn 35 – you might take a lot of flak for just being ‘an emulation’ of your former self, or maybe people will start to point out your flaws, claiming “you’ve been this way for over 20 years, isn’t it about time for a new look?” As rude as it might seem they’re really just trying to look out for you. Clearly they’ve stuck with you for a long time and they definitely love you for all the cool things you did in the past. The most important thing to remember is that you only need to be true to yourself; don’t do things just to make others happy, but also be prepared for backlash when you don’t put a great deal of effort in and try to sell yourself as something fresh.
What was this about again? Oh yeah —
This year marks Super Mario’s big 35th anniversary, and what better way to celebrate the last few decades we’ve spent with him than taking a look at some of the best appearances he’s made in video games! Mario has certainly spent a lot of time in the limelight, every so often letting Luigi take a chance at being the hero, but it’s not often Mario moves off centre stage and takes the much sought after role of playing the tree. From Super Mario Bros. on the NES, all the way to Super Mario Maker 2 on the Switch, we’ve had plenty of time to get to know the bloke, so join us as we explore a handful of our favourite video game appearances of the universally loved (sorry 360 fanboys) Super Mario.
In what barely registers as a Mario appearance but still counts, Alleyway was one of the first Game Boy games I recall owning, which is more or less the only reason it’s making its way onto this list.
Alleyway is a clone of the familiar and entertaining Breakout genre, but with one crucial difference – Mario is inside the paddle. Or, at least that’s what could be inferred from the box art. It’s hard to tell on the Game Boy’s screen since the paddle takes up only a handful of pixels, a featureless block shooting left to right at the player’s command.
Still, I recall spending a lot of time on this game when I was a lot younger during a trip to Scotland. It was great for passing around the family, and because there was no save feature you were always fighting for the best score possible in one sitting.
It’s hardly Mario’s finest (or debatably a real) guest appearance, but the box art with Mario sitting at the helm of his spaceship launching that ball to and fro permanently etched itself into my admittedly terrible memory.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (2003)
Here’s a little known factoid – RPG’s come in two varieties; Pre-Superstar Saga, and Post-Superstar Saga.
True? I guess not.
A fever dream RPG puzzle platformer combo? Well, that one’s at least accurate.
I honestly think this may be one of the best Super Mario (& Luigi) titles to have been released ever. In what might be the funniest and most whimsical game of its era, you’d be forgiven for dismissing this as just another game for kids, but in actual fact I think those who grew up with the Super Mario Bros. series would appreciate it more than anyone else.
Playing as the titular duo, you’re tasked with saving Princess Peach’s voice from the evil Cackletta, who intends to use it to open the Beanstar, granting her one wish to rule the world. The two must travel to the Beanbean Kingdom in order to stop Cackletta, learning new powers and making friends along the way.
The two almost-silent protagonists convey emotion and feeling so acutely and effectively, you’d almost swear the pair had dialogue here. Not only do the duo bounce off each other literally and figuratively, they also have their own little solo moments that really showcase their potential as individuals. A visually unique spectacle, this game was hilarious in every respect you can imagine. Although developer Alphadream unfortunately went bankrupt last year, they still managed to release 3DS remakes of the first two games in the Mario & Luigi series, so now you don’t have to dust off your Gameboy Advance if you feel the urge to pick up this masterpiece.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008)
The only 3D Mario game I’ve played is Super Mario Galaxy, and whilst I remember enjoying it at the time, I’ve got no real lasting impressions of it. Every 2D Mario game I’ve ever played I’ve found to be, frankly, pretty dull. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say that, as a character and a protagonist, Mario isn’t a character I like all that much.
You wanna know what I do like? Being able to beat the ever-loving shit out of his smug little plumbing face. Seeing his face everywhere can really wear you down, but jumping into Smash Bros. and setting up a 1v1 against a level 1 CPU Mario that I can wail against endlessly just really tickles my giblets. Years of repressed frustration at this little Italian man who thinks he’s better than me all suddenly dissipated on the day that I brought Super Smash Bros. Brawl home. Yes, it’s true, maybe this isn’t the best Smash Bros. game, but it was the first one I ever played and I put many hours into it, so it’s the one I’ve picked.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (2018)
You wanna know what I like even more than getting to ferociously pummel Mario’s face into the ground? GETTING TO FEROCIOUSLY PUMMEL MARIO’S FACE INTO THE GROUND WITH ALL THE POSSIBLE SMASH BROS. CHARACTERS ON EVERY POSSIBLE SMASH BROS. STAGE WITH AS MANY DIFFERENT WEAPONS AND ITEMS AS POSSIBLE.
I also really liked the World of Light mode in this game.
Mario Party 8 (2007)
Ok look, even I can’t deny that Mario’s name is attached to some really fun games. In fact, I think the best games using his name to bolster sales are the ones you play when you get your friends over and get really mad at each other. Yes, I’m talking about the Mario Kart and Mario Party series! But I guess based on the title of this subsection, you know that more specifically I’m talking about Mario Party 8.
Again, I’m sure this isn’t the best Mario Party game, but it was my jumping-on point for the series and therefore comes with a swell of nostalgia. It had some great boards to play on, the minigames were really good fun (even, dare I say it, making good use of the Wii’s motion controls) and on the whole it was just a lovely and bright way to spend a couple hours. I must have spent countless hours playing this game, setting up a CPU version of Mario at the Very Easy difficulty level, and just constantly winning and stealing stars from him. Oh, what a joy it was! Once or twice I was even lucky enough to actually play the game with my real friends. It wasn’t the same.
Mario Teaches Typing (1991)
A real relic of the early 90s, Mario Teaches Typing is worth picking up purely for its novelty factor, as it’s one of the series’ big anomalies. Released in 1992 for MS-DOS, it’s one of the very few licensed Mario games, back from a time when Nintendo were a little more open to collaboration.
As for gameplay, it’s visually the same side-scrolling platforming that the series is known for, however you control Mario by inputting the right key at the right time. Presumably, this was to try to build up the muscle memory to use a keyboard, although if this was the aim it was a pretty inefficient technique.
As I said, the real appeal for searching out this game is how weird it is. Mario has the Swiss flag on his hat, rather than his iconic M for some reason. The moustachioed plumber isn’t voiced by long-serving actor Charles Martinet, but rather by a man named. Ronald B. Ruben, who aside from having the coolest name I can remember, doesn’t seem to have any other credits to his name. It might not be a good game, nor one often remembered, but it has a charming uniqueness to it that makes it worth checking out.
Mario’s Picross (1995)
One of the weird Mario puzzle games for the GameBoy that all seemed to come out during the mid-90s, Mario’s Picross is another inclusion based purely on how strange it is.
The gameplay is based on the paint by number puzzles known as nonograms, and essentially has you uncovering a hidden image by selecting the correct squares in a grid. It’s simple, addictive gameplay, but that’s not why I’m selecting it here.
No, I’m selecting Picross because Mario wears a darling little safari costume that’s so fetching, it would resurface in Mario Odyssey. You can’t put a rating on looking nice.
Tetris is the best video game ever invented. Ever. Over the years different concepts and themes have been added to Tetris and if it doesn’t deviate from the original formula you are going to have a good time, it’s just a fact.
Being the most famous Game Boy game just the mention of Tetris makes us recall the anxiety of pieces getting faster and faster until our inevitable demise. But we all must agree that music was some of the funkiest for video game music in that time period. Iconic in fact.
Mario does appear in the original Tetris but only if you have a friend. If you played a two-player linked game of Tetris for the Game Boy, player 1 would be Mario and player 2 would be Luigi. Here you would play competitive Tetris and the anxiety would start all over again except this time with added bragging rights and a raised heartbeat.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (2007)
When I grew up my household had a Sega Mega Drive so having Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is a vivid childhood memory. Years went on and I was lucky enough to get a Game Boy and played a variety of Mario on that useless screen with no backlight. Being a stupid kid, I was completely caught up in the commercial rival that Sega had portrayed against Nintendo and believed it was absolutely wild that these mascots hated one another. Despite the fact they did not, and console wars are dumb (Sorry Fanboys!)
Fast forward and Sega stopped their hardware pursuits and became a software only developer/publisher, it was here we saw Sonic games come out for Nintendo consoles and thus softened the blow of their much-overhyped rivalry. Years passed and it was the norm to see Sega games on Nintendo platforms, but no one saw the WTF moment when they announced Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games for the Nintendo Wii. It was awarded “Best Wii Game of 2007” at that year’s Games Convention at Leipzig and signified the end of the manmade “rivalry”.
Sega turned the games into a series and released a new entry every time the Olympics came round. Bizarrely at one-point Sega created the most graphically complex Mario model with the most “tris”. Who would have thought that after all these years Sega does what Nintendon’t?
What’s your favourite Super Mario apperance in a video game? Do you know where Mario is? We’re very worried about him! Leave us a comment below if you have the answer to either of those questions.
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