Mario is known around all around the world for starring in decades of unforgettable and creative gaming experiences. Whether he is featured in platformers, racers, RPGs, or game creators, the Mario franchise rarely gives his fans poor experiences. The 2010s have not disappointed Mario players using Nintendo’s many systems, with a wide variety of genres showing off the plumber’s skills.
Even in such a legendary series, some games stand over the crowd. All of these games are worth playing if you have the right systems, and some of them may even make getting a new console worth it on their own. (Scores via Metacritic)
9 New Super Mario Bros. U (84)
A popular Mario platformer that originally debuted on the Wii U system, the title has also appeared on the Switch as the lower-rated New Super Mario Bros. Deluxe (a still respectable 80 on Metacritic). The game allows up to four players to explore the 2.5 world; a fifth can participate by affecting the environment and enemies on a Wii U gamepad.
New Super Mario Bros. U sticks to the beloved formulas of the Super Mario series while giving players great options for cooperative play. It succeeds by being an interesting albeit somewhat complacent entry in the Super Mario series.
8 Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (85)
Mario and the Rabbids clash in Kingdom Battle as the chaotic bunnies create pandemonium in the Mushroom kingdom. The RPG gives fans an interesting crossover with Ubisoft’s popular mascots. While video games may not be the most common space for different franchises to cooperate, Mario + Rabbids is a quality combination.
While many Mario games stick to tried and true formulas such as platformers and Mario Kart, Mario + Rabbids imbues more strategy into the franchise than its traditional entries. Its different approach only serves to diversify the already impressive Mario catalog.
7 Mario Kart 7 (85)
Mario Kart 7 introduced several new mechanics into the ultra-popular driving series such as hang gliding and underwater racing. The 3DS title also made groundbreaking improvements to player customization, providing the option to change aspects of the player’s kart for the first time.
While Mario Kart 7 did not shake up the formula of the racing series, it continued to move the series forward and introduced fresh mechanics that still enhance the playability of more recent titles with its innovations. This game is proof that not every change in a series needs to be earth-shattering to improve a series.
6 Super Mario Maker + Super Mario Maker 2 (88)
While there are certainly differences between the two entries in the creative sub-franchise, their close relation and equal scores demonstrate consistent excellence in the series. By enabling fans to create their own maps ranging from peaceful nostalgia to bullet hell mania, The Super Mario Maker games foster the imagination of players in a way that few major games do.
By creating a platform in which gamers can create and share their own maps inspired by the Mario franchise, Nintendo allows a hypothetically infinite amount of content to be made for fans to enjoy.
5 Super Mario 3D Land (90)
Super Mario 3D Land was one of the first 3D Mario platformers on Nintendo’s handheld consoles. It does not embrace an open-world concept but still offers more freedom to players than the traditional 2D games.
Even though the 3D of the game (and of the entire 3DS platform) may not work as well developers probably hoped, Super Mario 3D Land is a great evolution of the Super Mario franchise. The best Mario game of this decade for the 3DS, 3D Land is one of the best games of all time for Nintendo handhelds.
4 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (92)
While the Wii U version earned a highly respectable 88 on Metacritic (and would have qualified for this list on its own), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch took notes from the Wii U game and made improvements to the already great game. The changes were so effective that 8 Deluxe is the second-highest scoring Mario Kart game of all time on the review site, only trailing Super Circuit (93) by merely one point.
The game was the first Mario game released for the Switch platform and is deservedly one of the best selling games for the Nintendo console.
3 Super Mario 3D World (93)
The sequel to the 3DS’s Super Mario 3D Land, 3D World was released for the Wii U and improved the mechanics from 3D Land. The superior hardware of the Wii U compared to the handheld 3DS only improved the core gameplay experience.
By expanding the playable characters to include Peach, Toad, and Rosalina, 3D World gives Mario fans a unique experience with plenty of content. With the added replayability from the characters’ varied playstyles, this game is a must-play for all fans of the plumber and his cast of allies.
2 Super Mario Galaxy 2 (97)
The only game from the Wii era to appear on this list, Super Mario Galaxy 2 represents its system well. Bringing back its predecessors’ new characters, including Rosalina and Baby Luma, and its astronomic flair, Galaxy 2 took what made the previous entry legendary and stuck to it.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 can capably be defended as one of the greatest Mario games of this decade or even the entire franchise. In fact, Super Mario Galaxy 2 deserves serious consideration to be placed among the best game of all time.
1 Super Mario Odyssey (97)
Super Mario Odyssey introduces Cappy as a new ally of Mario. The throwable friend is able to aid the hero by extending his reach and controlling enemies, making Odyssey perhaps the most innovative Mario game to arrive on the Switch.
The sandbox elements of Odyssey, reminiscent of Super Mario 64, brings a rarely used dimension to the Super Mario games. With the added mechanics brought by Cappy, Super Mario Odyssey ranks as a truly special chapter in the Mario franchise and competes as one of the best games of the Switch.
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