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For many, Mario is the embodiment of great gaming. In the vast majority of video games featuring the bouncing plumber, the game-play has been life absorbing and the graphics have often pushed the boundaries of technology in their time. They have been the beating heart of the continuing success of Nintendo consoles and dominate the gaming world with powered up brilliance all of their own. However, the fact of the matter is that there are so many great Mario games that it’s always going to be controversial to pick out a top ten, but here goes…
As Mario’s first entry into the computer games rock and roll hall of fame, you can’t really have a Mario top 10 without including the place he first jumped into to life, Donkey Kong. However, the reality is that back then he was a pixilated blob of a carpenter called Jumpman battling a giant barrel-throwing ape to recue his girlfriend, Pauline. It was and still is infuriatingly addictive and helped to bring the wonderful world of Nintendo to the masses. Luckily for us the US office handyman inspired a name change not too long afterwards and Mario was born.
9.Super Mario Land
Another “first” comes in at number 9 with Mario’s first entry into the world of hand-held games consoles as we know them. While Mario featured on the old Game & Watch series put out by Nintendo in the eighties, it wasn’t until 1989-1990 that his first truly cartridge based hand-held game hit the shelves in Super Mario Land on the original Nintendo Gameboy. Once again it had simple graphics, though impressive at the time, maybe even more simplistic that Donkey Kong with their grey scale color palette, but the same addictive platform jumper game-play made it a classic.
8.Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games
Perhaps the most controversial of all the “firsts” that Mario has ever had has got to be his first game with Sonic the Hedgehog. Throughout the 1990s Nintendo’s and Sega’s official mascots were bitter digital rivals, but here they seem to have put that behind them a little and downgraded to healthy Olympic Games competition. To be honest, it’s just good to see them communicating after the badland days of the ‘90s. The game itself is brilliant and pits Mario and Sonic characters against each other in a huge variety of Olympic Games using the genius of the Nintendo Wii motion censor controllers to throw hammers, run races and fire arrows. There’ even a Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games coming out at the end of 2011, as well as the Winter Olympics follow up.
7.Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Super Mario Land 2 was the next incarnation for Mario on the Gameboy and it was a bit of a platforming classic. As well as being the first game to feature Wario, it was also one of the first games out on the Gameboy where the graphics incorporated elements of the higher quality SNES animation, instead of being more similar to Tetris in terms of simplicity.
6.Super Mario Bros 2
Super Mario Bros 2 was mental. It was like Mario in a freaky surreal dream. It was a massive departure from previous Mario games and there has not been one like it since its release in 1988. Set in Subcon and facing Wart, a game boss like no other, Mario had to throw vegetables to deliver his hot plumber justice.
5.Super Mario Bros
Super Mario Bros is where it all changed. Out went Donkey Kong and Pauline and in stepped Bowser and Princess Toadstool. Suddenly the Mario game landscape that we all know and love came to be, and it was a blisteringly addictive game to boot. Cross scrolling through mushroom madness and lava pit castles, it was a game of narrow scrapes and exciting boss battles.
4.Super Mario Bros 3
Not everyone will agree that Super Mario Bros 3 is a better game than the earlier games, but with it’s attention to graphic detail for a NES game and its new power up additions, it was one of the biggest joys in childhood for many. It had some of the most amazing bosses in Bowsers child underlings, and the final level was infuriatingly difficult, which made victory it all the more sweeter when you finally made it to Bowser and kicked his reptilian tail.
3.Super Mario 64
Mario went 3D in a big way with the launch of the Nintendo 64. With 64 bit brilliance, the ingenious analog stick and a lush 3D world to explore, Super Mario 64 changed the face of platform gamers, spawning a whole new direction for the genre. Instead of just facing Bowser in the old side-scrolling manner, you could suddenly and literally run circles around him, grab his tail and swing him around. It was sheer gaming excellence.
2.Super Mario World
To be fair, the main reason for Super Mario World edging out the might of Super Mario 64 is that it had some of the best little baddies of any game ever produced. The Bob-bomb’s, the caterpillars, giant Bullet Bills, they were all sort of endearing. Especially when you could clamber on top of Yoshi’s back and gobble them up and spit them back out. The final battle with Bowser was epic and beating him in Super Mario World is singularly the most impressive thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s sad, but possibly true.
1.Super Mario Kart
Though Super Mario Kart is a big departure from the usual Mario games that have ever been released, it is arguably the best of them all. Devilishly simple and wickedly addictive, it consumed your life in a way that doesn’t look likely to end. It started out on the Super Nintendo, but on every Nintendo console since then there has been a version of Super Mario Kart. While they’re all great, they can never replace the heart pounding adrenaline rush of making it around Rainbow Road for the first time on the old SNES version of the game. The haunted houses were sublime and the concept of firing things at your opponents in a racing game gave the genre a new set of possibilities that has helped to bring us games like Diddy Kong Racing and Sonic Sega All Star Racing.
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