It seems no matter where you go, you’ll always find Mario. With the release of Mario Tennis Open we thought it’d be fun to find our favorite Mario games that aren’t traditional “Mario games.”
10) Mario Paint
The Renaissance is considered one of the best and most important periods in art history. Where did it start? . What is Mario? Italian. So it was a natural fit to see Mario move into the art world, right? Right? Ok maybe not, but Mario Paint offers a lot of fun in creating and making visual and audio treats. If you couldn’t put together anything worth while it was still a blast to play that fly swatting game.
9) Donkey Kong ’94
Donkey Kong ’94 is in a weird limbo along with Donkey Kong 3. It’s not really a Mario game and not really a Donkey Kong game. It is, however, great. Featuring scores of levels that each provide a unique puzzle experience it’s a precursor to the awesome Mario vs Donkey Kong series. Well the Mario vs Donkey Kong series before it turned into a Nintendo sponsored Lemmings.
8 ) Mario Strikers Charged
For a portly guy Mario sure is athletic. The Mario sports games are some of the best of the bunch and Mario Strikers Charged is no different. Featuring simple arcade gameplay with the added wackiness of the Mario universe, Charged is a great example of distilling a complex game into something easily enjoyable. While “gritty” versions of characters can get to be too much, the more extreme version of Mario is surprisingly entertaining.
7) Mario Party 2
It seems that there’s a new Mario Party almost every other year. Of all the parties thrown, Mario Party 2 is the easy favorite. It featured all the ridiculous fun of the first game, minus the awful control stick spinning, and expanded on it. The boards were fun without getting too ridiculously crazy and out there. Who doesn’t love throwing a milk themed hootenanny in Western Land? The improved single player mode allowed for fun during any “me party.”
6) Mario Power Tennis
One of the best parts of Mario spin offs is the crazy and uniqueness that the Mario universe can add to any game genre. One of the best parts of Mario Power Tennis is the ability to turn all the wackiness if you don’t want it. Playing tennis with enhanced super moves on courts with hazards and moving parts is great fun. Sometimes it’s nice to settle in for a simple game of tennis and this game can provide that as well. Personally though, I’d rather smash a tennis ball with a giant hammer against a massive squid.
5) Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
One genre Mario has seen amazing success in is the RPG. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door took everything that was great about the first Paper Mario game, like the quirky sidekicks and timing based battles, and wrapped it up with a stronger emphasis on the “paper” theme. Instead of being just a graphical design, Mario could now fold, curl, and bend just like a sheet of paper. This added a new dimension to what could otherwise be a flat sequel.
4) Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Mario may shine in RPGs but he does his best work with his brother. The Mario & Luigi series combines the overworld questing and turn based battles with more traditional platforming puzzles. That combination would be enough to please many a gamer but the series’ first installment went the extra mile to make a game that was literally laugh out loud funny. All of the different Mario RPGs may be a delicious sandwich but Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is the mustard of that sandwich. The mustard of your doom.
3) Dr. Mario
Of all the occupations that Mario has had, doctor may be his most prestigious. Of all Mario’s spinoff games Dr. Mario may be the most addictive. Some may say it’s just another Tetris clone but the matching pieces adds a level of strategy to it. It’s also nice to see a puzzle game that has some semblance of a story to it, albeit a goofy one. Even still the viruses are stars in their own right. If you had an NES and friends this game’s multi-player was mandatory to own.
2) Mario Kart 7
Everybody knew that Mario Kart was going somewhere on this list. It was just a question of which game and where on the list. Mario Kart, as it’s own series, is absolutely massive. Choosing a favorite is incredibly difficult but if pressed we have to go with Mario Kart 7. The track design is absolutely superb and the game feels as balanced as a Mario Kart game can feel. A slew of characters, customization options, and the ability to race players across the entire world is hard to argue with.
1) Super Smash Bros. Brawl
It’s debatable as to whether or not Smash Bros. is a “Mario game” but you can’t deny the influence the plumber has on the series. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl eight of the thirty five characters are Mario characters, twelve of the forty one stages are Mario stages, there are more songs and items from Mario games than any other series, and Mario is the first character you can play as in the story mode. Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a simple to play but constantly fun experience. The wealth of characters, stages, modes, and options ensures that no fight is the same twice. It’s that unexpected nature that makes this game a constant winner.
Well that’s our list of the best non-Mario Mario games. There are still so many many more. Leave a comment or stop by our forums and let us know what you think.