#10: Mario Golf (N64)
We start out the list with Mario Golf for the N64. This game combined classic golf with some of your favorite Mario locations and characters. It also involved quite a bit of strategy by adding draws and fades to a character's swing along with hazards like piranha plants and bullet bills. Unlockable characters, speed golf, and ring shot made the game an addictive and memorable experience.
Why the original Mario Golf and not Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour? Two words. Mini Golf! I played miniature golf in this game more than I did the regular courses. It was an extremely well done and challenging mode. There was nothing quite like the satisfaction you got when you finally got a hole in one on a difficult hole. I was extremely disappointed when I discovered that there was no mini-golf mode in Toadstool Tour, which is what keeps that game off of this list and allows Mario Golf to take the #10 spot.
Mario Tennis was a game that managed to make a sport that I never had any interest in whatsoever into something that held my interest for weeks. The game had a huge cast of characters to choose from and several different classes (all around, power, tricky, speed). Modes for the game included returning favorite ring shot, tournaments, and the Bowser stage where you use power-ups to knock your opponent off the court.
Why Mario Tennis and not Mario Power Tennis? While they were both great games, Mario Tennis was the first game to include everyone's favorite nobody: Waluigi! That's right! The anorexic, purple clad, twisted mustache "villain" made his triumphant debut and changed the Mario universe forever! And with 12 years of existence under his belt, he's bound to become the star of his own game very soon. Or at least be mentioned... in... something.
Super Princess Peach was a bit of a surprise when it first came out. In this game, the tables are turned and Peach has to try to save Mario, Luigi, and Toad from Bowser and his minions. With the help of a magical umbrella named Perry, Peach must go through 8 worlds to save the day. The game has a unique "vibe" system that give Peach 4 different power ups as long as you have power in your "vibe meter."
This game is the only game on my list that up to this point in time has never received or currently have plans in place for a sequel. I think having Peach as the main character made the game come off as girly and probably hurt sales. While the main character may be a girl, this game still has all of the fun that you would expect from a regular Mario game. If you haven't played it yet, you should!
Ahh, Mario Party. The number one cause of homicide in America. Nintendo first brought their brand of skill/luck board to the world in 1999, and chances are, you're still not on speaking terms with someone because of it. No mater how good you are at these games, there's still an incredible amount of luck involved based on what spaces you land on the board. One person could be in the lead for the entire game and have the whole this wiped away on the last turn by landing on a Bowser space or Chance Time. What follows is a court ordered 6 week anger management course. But it's all in good fun.
The original Mario Party had some issues with the mini-games causing friction burn, blisters, and broken controllers because these games forced you to rotate the analog stick. Mario Party 2 was chosen because it had similar mini games to the original with minor improvements and got rid of the controller breaking games. The series is still going strong with Mario Party 9 releasing just last year.
Mario and Luigi is a series of RPG's released for Nintendo's portable systems. The games pair Mario and Luigi in a turn based battle system with an emphasis on timed hits. As you progress through the games, both Mario and Luigi gain certain cooperative powers that help you advance past the puzzle like environments of the game. The games also have the added benefit of being absolutely hilarious with their strange sense of humor.
Bowser's Inside Story in my opinion is the best game out of the 3. In this game, returning favorite Fawful takes over the Mushroom Kingdom and tricks Bowser into eating a vacuum shroom, which causes Bowser to inhale Mario and Luigi. Inside of Bowser, the brothers find ways of controlling the giant Koopa. This allows you to not only take control of the Mario Bros, but Bowser as well. The gameplay, puzzles, and humor place this game at #6 on my list.
The Gamecube marked the first time a Nintendo home console launched without a Super Mario title. In its place, fans were treated to this hidden gem of a game. As the name suggests, Luigi is the star of this game while Mario takes more of a minor supporting role. In this game, Luigi wins a mansion from a contest he never even entered. Being the gullible person that he is, he decides to invite Mario to the mansion to celebrate his "victory." When he arrives at the mansion, he discovers that Mario has gone missing and that the mansion is haunted by ghosts.
This games marks the first appearances by both Professor E. Gadd and King Boo. Professor Gadd arms Luigi with the Poltergust 3000, a high powered vacuum device designed to suck up all kinds of ghosts and ghouls. In this way, the game kind of feels like a mixture between Super Mario and Ghostbusters. One can only hope that Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd make a cameo in the highly anticipated sequel which is set to launch on March 24th on the 3DS.
Super Paper Mario is the third entry into the popular Adventure/RPG Paper Mario series. In this game, a new villain known as Count Bleck captures Peach, Luigi, and Bowser. Through the power of hypnosis, he forces Bowser and Peach to marry which in turn summons the Chaos Heart. The power of the Chaos Hearts allows Bleck to open The Void: a black-hole that will eventually engulf everything. Mario must once again save the day.
I have to admit that I never actually got to play Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (I know, I'm a terrible person), but out of the other 3 titles in the series, I found this one to be the most fun. Being able to switch from 2D to 3D at will with Mario really added to the enjoyment of the game and made the puzzles more challenging. This game is also more of a platformer because you never actually enter battles, but you still gain levels and stats (something I felt took a giant step backward in Paper Mario: Sticker Star). You also have the ability to switch between Mario, Peach, Bowser, and Luigi whom all have their own set of unique abilities. The game has been re-released as a Nintendo Selects title, so if you've never played it before, do yourself a favor and pick this one up.
Of all the spinoffs that Mario has had over the years, Mario Kart is the series that probably has the most popularity and the biggest audience. For more than 20 years now, Mario has been racing, battling, and leaving strategically placed bananas throughout his Mushroom Kingdom themed courses. Rather than having a typical racing game where it's all about driving skills, these games add in a bit of luck with the introduction of items. The items lower the learning curve and make the game more addictive, as anything can happen at any time. You can use a mushroom to zoom past the leader, use your lightning just as your opponent is about to jump a ravine, or throw out the infamous blue shell to help even the odds.
If you were to ask 5 people what their favorite Mario Kart game was, you would probably get 5 different answers. Having played every single Mario Kart game, I can say that my definitive favorite one was Mario Kart Wii. The game plays smoother than any of the other games, it has a huge roster with even more kart and bike options, 32 courses, and the added difficulty of having 12 racers. This was a close one for me since I've had a lot of great memories with Mario Kart 64, but Mario Kart Wii edged it out. As of now, there are no announced plans for a new Mario Kart game, but it's only a matter of time before we hear something about Mario Kart coming to the Wii U.
The Super Smash Bros series is one of the greatest series of games of all time. The games have a wonderful simplicity where anyone can pick up and play it, but also have an amazing amount of depth where an advanced player can hone his skills and really become great at the game. The game's concept is essentially having characters from all of Nintendo's franchises cross over and beat the crap out of each other. Your fighter has a percentage meter that builds up over time as you take damage. The higher your percentage, the more likely you are to get smashed off the stage. The goal of the game is to keep yourself alive while knocking off as many opponents as possible.
Picking Brawl was probably a controversial call as many people believe that Melee is the greatest game. I played Melee for almost 300 hours, and while I agree it was the game that brought the most innovation, I still believe Brawl to be the better game. The game flows better, has a bigger roster, a more engaging story mode, more item options, and more ways to control the game. The Smash series is one of the most innovative and most fun series of all time, and Nintendo has already announced a Super Smash Bros to be released on both the 3DS and the Wii U.
Here it is. The #1 Mario spinoff game of all time. Super Mario RPG was a collaboration between Nintendo and role playing game masters Squaresoft. The game starts off with you having to save the princess from Bowser again, but quickly switches gears when a Giant sword crashes into the castle, knocking away Mario, Peach, and Bowser. The sword also cut through the Star Road and scattered the seven star pieces throughout the land. Without the star pieces, there would be no way for wishes to be granted. Mario must travel the land, collect the star pieces, and stop Smithy and his gang from taking over the world.
Mario RPG was very innovative for a Mario game at the time. It was the first time Mario had starred in a role playing game, the first time Bowser had become a playable character, and had the best graphics to date. Players are still pining for a direct sequel to the game and the return of favorites Geno and Mallow to the Mario universe. I rated this game #1 because of the wonderful story, gameplay, and the amount of nostalgia that this game has for me.
There's no denying that Mario has a ton of spinoff games. This list could have easily had 10 different games representing it. These 10 are just my personal favorites and are not the definitive top 10. If there's a game on this list that you haven't had the pleasure of playing yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up. You will be glad that you did!
List by Dangerer (01/25/2013)
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