Best Super Mario Games

Updated February 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

17 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
328 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best Mario games

Last Updated February 2020

Mario has been a beloved classic video game character since his 1985 debut. Since then, he’s saved Princess Peach countless times and emerged victorious in the Olympic games. It’s time to join him in his next adventure, which is why you need a new Mario game.

If you’re new to Mario games, you’ll appreciate how easy it is to learn the controls and make small victories on each board. For Nintendo loyalists, a new Mario game feeds an addiction by welcoming a new challenge. In fact, Mario’s universal appeal is what drives its game sales to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. Of course, it certainly helps that people of all ages — from 2 to 102 — can enjoy adventures with the mischievous yet good-natured Mario.

Wondering how to explore new worlds with Mario from the comfort of your couch? Take a look at our buying guide on Mario games and check out our favorites. You’ll be hooked on your next Mario game as much as we are.

If you’re worried about sold-out Mario games, preorder your title to make sure you get it on release day.

Key considerations

Age and skill level

Mario games are considered appropriate for all ages. Even kids as young as three, who aren’t fully independent readers yet, can navigate the menus. Gameplay is relatively self-explanatory, and there are helpful tutorials along the way, which means gamers of any age can learn how to play. As any seasoned gamer can tell you, though, Mario games are easy to learn, but mastering them is an art form.

ESRB rating system

Video games are rated according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) system. This organization assesses virtually every video game and assigns each a rating, which takes into consideration humor, violence, and the game’s graphic nature.

Mario games, like the majority of Nintendo titles, are rated E or E10+. An E rating means the content is suitable for all ages and has mild cartoon violence and humor. Video games given the E10+ rating have a higher prevalence of these themes, as well as mild language or minimally suggestive themes.

System

Always make sure you’re buying the right Mario game for your system. There are Nintendo Switch consoles, as well as Nintendo 3DS or 2DS handheld systems. Some Mario titles are blanket releases, meaning they’re available on more than one system, like Mario Kart and Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games 2016. Other titles are released on only one console, such as Super Mario Odyssey or Super Mario 3D Land.

Race happy and mind the banana peel

Compete with 12 players in go-karts as you fly around racing circuits while dodging banana peels and other obstacles. You’ll meet new characters while still enjoying every track from the Wii U version of the game. Enjoy new music, new sound effects, and fancy tracks that light up as you race. Before you know it, you’ll acquire a need for speed that can only be satisfied with more races, and, of course, a few trophies and medals along the way.

 

Features

Types of Mario games

If you’ve seen the long list of Mario game titles, you might be wondering what the difference is between them. There’s some category overlap in Mario games, though given the dynamic nature of their design, it’s to be expected.

Here are four popular categories of Mario games, though keep in mind that there are many other Mario games that fall under role-playing games (RPG), music, or strategy, just to name a few.

Action-adventure platformer: Many Mario games, such as Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Odyssey, fall under the category of action-adventure platformer, which is a gameplay amalgamation of three genres. In these games, you have a combination of reaction-driven tasks in an episodic narrative, all while jumping on platforms that are elevated or suspended.

Multiplayer: If you’re interested in competing against friends or the CPU (an opponent that is controlled by the software), multiplayer games like Super Mario Party and Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are the way to go. In these, you can either break off into teams or compete against one another individually. These games often have short, timed challenges, and have self-contained games as opposed to larger narratives.

Racing: As the name implies, racing games are those that let you race various vehicles against others on a course, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Like multiplayer games, each race is self-contained. Races can have various objectives, and new racetracks or new boards are typically unlocked when you meet criteria or win. Mario Kart is one of the most widely played, best-selling racing games.

Fighting: In fighting games like Super Smash Bros., you compete against one or more players in a battle. The game ends when the clock runs out or when one player is left standing. Like multiplayer and racing games, fighting games are quick and isolated, so it’s easy to steal five minutes to play a game. 

Other types of Mario games

Sequels: If you enjoy a Mario game, there’s always a possibility that there is a sequel or one is in the works. These aren’t the same as rereleases; they’re stand-alone games with new features, worlds, and even characters.

Spin-offs and crossovers: Mario encounters a variety of characters in his games, many of whom have spin-off character games. Mario’s sidekick Luigi, for example, is the focus of Luigi’s Mansion 3. There are also crossover titles that include Mario and other Nintendo characters. In Super Smash Bros., for example, Mario competes alongside Samus of the Metroid series. Mario also tries his hand at the Olympics with Sonic the Hedgehog and has gone on adventures with the Raving Rabbids.

Mario’s motley crew

Pals: You probably recognize Mario’s main pals, such as Luigi, Toad, and Yoshi. These characters can accompany Mario on adventures or compete against him. Some characters like Princess Peach drive the adventure since they need constant saving from precarious situations. 

Nemeses and bosses: Mario’s best-known nemesis is Bowser, who is usually up to no good and kidnaps Princess Peach on a fairly regular basis. He’s considered a boss, or a character who Mario must battle in order to win a board or finish a game. Other antagonists include Goombas, the insidious sentient mushrooms, and Shy Guys, the dreaded masked marauders.

DID YOU KNOW?

It’s common for kids to try their hand at drawing characters from the Mario games. There are plenty of online tutorials and Nintendo-licensed coloring books to foster their talent.

DID YOU KNOW?

Nintendo releases a Mario and Sonic game for every winter and summer Olympic game. Every release features new games and challenges and often retains classic ones.

Mario game prices

Mario games usually cost between $20 and $60, which mostly depends on how new they are. The games rarely go on sale, so if you want to catch a deal, you’ll need to either buy an older title or wait for a flash sale.

Inexpensive: Nintendo 3DS and 2DS Mario games cost between $20 and $40. Older, less popular titles are on the lower end of the scale. Expect to pay top dollar for new releases and hot titles.

Mid-range: Mario games for Nintendo Switch cost between $20 and $60. Pricing follows the same model as the handheld systems.

Expensive: If you’re getting a collector’s edition of a Mario game or one with downloadable content (DLC), expect to spend up to $100. System bundles with Mario games, regardless of the system, cost between $300 and $450.

Neither Mario nor any other characters in his games have voices. Instead, there are text boxes, sounds, and garbled grunts.

Tips

  • Practice good sportsmanship. When playing with others, always be fair and respectful. Remember to leave the battle in the game.
  • Follow Nintendo news for the scoop on Mario releases. If you want to know about all things Mario, follow Nintendo on social media to hear it from the horse’s mouth. You can also tap into the gaming community on Twitch or attend gaming conventions like E3.
  • Try more than one Mario game. Game choice is highly personal, so if you don’t like the gameplay of one Mario game, try another one. You might prefer an action-adventure Mario game over a multiplayer one, or vice versa.

Momentous return for Tanooki Mario

Considered the ultimate game for the Nintendo 3DS, this game features a 3D mode that brings the game to life through special glasses. You’ll have a blast with the return of Tanooki Mario, who races to new heights while jumping on platforms. If you prefer to play the game on 2D settings, you’ll still enjoy the full experience and all the excitement of dodging Goombas and the like. Parents are also big fans of the parental controls, which are easy to adjust.

Other products we considered

Don’t see what you need in our matrix? We found a couple more for you. Experience Mario on a new competitive level with Super Mario Party for Nintendo Switch. Excitement builds as you and up to three players compete in mini-games or challenges as you progress through a board game-inspired video game. Super Mario Party is also considered ideal to engage those who prefer short games, as well as anyone new to gaming.

We had a blast with Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle in which Nintendo’s top characters team up in an action-packed adventure. Enjoy solving puzzles, searching for treasure, and watching character arcs as you progress through the game. With four worlds to explore and plenty of laughs to be had, it’s an experience that belongs in every gamer’s collection.

If you’re new to Mario games, stick with those that have self-contained challenges, like races in Mario Kart or games in Super Mario Party. You’ll quickly be able to get your bearings with the controls while having carefree fun.

FAQ

Q. Why are Mario games so expensive?
A.
Nintendo spends top dollar in development, especially when it comes to Mario games. The games frequently sell out or remain hot titles, so there’s little incentive to lower the price. With that said, when you pay $60 for a Mario game, you know it’s been designed and engineered by some of the most talented developers in the gaming industry, so it rarely disappoints.
 

Q. I used to play Mario games on Nintendo 64 and other older systems. Is the gameplay much different now?
A.
It’s dramatically improved to provide a seamless gameplay experience, as well as an overall better interface. The Switch’s Joy-Con controllers are also much different than previous Nintendo controllers, but major buttons are in similar locations. Graphics have also made great strides, and you’re able to see far more detail in Mario games than ever before.
 

Q. What’s the best Nintendo 3DS Mario game for intermittent gaming sessions during a vacation?
A.
Since you’ll be focused on other activities on vacation and probably can’t commit to a major game, choose a Mario title with short games. Mario Party Island Tour is a fun choice. It has the game brevity of regular Mario Party games with an island theme, which might be very appropriate for your temporary locale.

The team that worked on this review
  • Arnold
    Arnold
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer

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