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Published on August 29th, 2013 | by Don Parsons

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Three for Thursday: Greatest Mario Games

Picking the three greatest Mario games is no easy feat, and this list actually evolved in my head over the course of the week (except for the number one, which has always been near and dear to me). But after a lot of time mulling the thought over in my head, I can finally say that the following are the three greatest Mario games to me, and I can say it with confidence.

3. Super Mario Bros. 3

Mario3

The original Super Mario Bros. certainly set the bar for platforming games, but Super Mario Bros. 3 really laid the groundwork for all future iterations. It was the first game to have a level select screen, which continued into most standard Mario titles afterwards. Mario 3 also had the Kooplings, Bowsers wacky, evil kids. And while all Mario titles have some epic and catchy music, SMB3s music has always stood out as a personal favorite. I’ve finished this game more times than I can even remember, but it was always such a great way to spend an hour or so in front of the TV as a kid (and even as an adult). I have so many great memories of sitting over at a friend’s house, drinking beer, and plowing through Super Mario Bros. 3. Oh, and it has the best suits, period. The tanooki, raccoon, and frog suit are some of the best in the series.

2. Super Mario 64

Mario64

Some, well many, would argue that Super Mario Galaxy is better than Super Mario 64. I never could get past the Wiimote controller, and just wasn’t comfortable playing it. Of course, those same people would probably argue that the Nintendo 64 controller was just as awful, but different strokes for different folks. Super Mario 64 was released in that awkward era of 3D games where most things coming out looks absolutely awful. Yet, Super Mario 64 was still charming – polygons and all. The levels were crafty, and it really ushered in a new style for Mario.

1. Super Mario Bros. 2

Mario2

Out of all of the other great choices to end this rather short list with, why would I pick the odd-duck, Super Mario Bros. 2? Super Mario Bros. 2 was one of those games that defined my love for Mario. Compared to the first game, it was warm and colorful, it was a treat to your eyes after spending dozens of hours in the bleak game before it. I had scary-ass masks chasing me while running with a key, which were some of my first utterly-tense moments in games, period. Super Mario Bros. 2 also had the most coolest boss ever, Mouser. Without a doubt, Mouser is one of my favorite boss characters based solely on how absurd he is: a mouse wearing sunglasses – throwing bombs. Super Mario Bros. 2 stands out of the long list of Mario games, and yes, I know it was not originally a Mario game. But as a kid, it was the sequel to the original game that I also loved. And it felt so fresh, and so new, that it cemented itself as not just a great Mario game, but my favorite Mario game.

What are the three greatest Mario games in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Author

got into podcasting in 2007, and transitioned into writing in late 2008. In late 2011, he went from blogging to writing for a small site called Vagary.tv. Don attended E3 for Vagary.tv in 2012. Now, Don is one-fourth of the foundation of Critically Sane.



  • Chris Scott

    I swear to god you were dropped on your head as a child.

  • Napoleon1066

    I’d probably go:

    3. New Super Mario Bros DS
    2. Galaxy 2
    1. Super Mario Bros 3

    And I agree with Chris. THUMP! Right on the head.

    • I really did enjoy the first New Super Mario Bros.

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