New Super Mario Bros. Wii hits store shelves in North America today, so since now we can play it together, let's say it together... Rank Up! The Mario series has been around for more than two decades, so let's celebrate by listing the best and worst (like there's actually a worst) game from the Super Mario Bros. franchise. We will not be listing anything other than official Super Mario Bros. games, so no 3-D Mario and no Yoshi's Island.
Here are the games we'll be ranking:
Super Mario Bros. (NES)
Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)
Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels (NES/SNES)
Super Mario World (SNES)
New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
In 1981, a carpenter set to rescue his girlfriend Pauline was merely called Jumpman in the arcade classic, Donkey Kong. It wouldn't be until Mario Bros. that the character would be called a plumber and given the name Mario. His first breakthrough console outing was none other than Super Mario Bros., a game that is credited for revitalizing a dying gaming market. Now Mario is a household name appearing in over one-hundred games from standard 2-D and 3-D platformers to racing to fighting to sports to refereeing to... you get the idea. His latest title, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, releases today in North America. What's old is new again.
6) Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels (NES/SNES)
The Lost Levels is merely Super Mario Bros. 2 for Japanese audiences. It was deemed to difficult for North Americans, so a little known game called Doki Doki Panic became the US's Super Mario Bros. 2. The Japanese version was devilishly difficult with warp pipes that would send you back a world or two, poisonous purple mushrooms that would revert back to Mario or Luigi's previous form, and levels so fiendishly crafted that they'd make an expert weep with rage. The first time players were able to take on the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was in the Super Nintendo collection, Super Mario All-Stars.
5) Super Mario Bros. (NES)
The one that started it all, Super Mario Bros. is the game that revitalized a dying game market in the United States. While this Mario is obviously easier than the dastardly Lost Levels, it's still challenging as a Mario title. The physics are completely different from future Super Mario Bros. titles with its slipperiness which I didn't prefer. Regardless, this was the game that brought warp pipes, mushrooms that made Mario or Luigi bigger, secret blocks that would give players extra lives (1-ups), and enemies like goombas, piranha plants, bloopers, koopa troopas, bob-bombs, lakitus, bullet bills, and yes, King Koopa (who we would later simply call Bowser).
4) Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)
As stated already, the US version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was created from the Japanese game, Doki Doki Panic as what we now know as Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels was way too difficult for gamers coming off the original Super Mario Bros. Nonetheless, I really dig this game. It may not be socially correct to say so, but deal with it. The gameplay was a drastic departure from any other Mario game. Jumping on enemies didn't destroy them. Instead you could lift them over your head like vegetables and chuck them at other creatures. In fact, all bosses could only be defeating by lifting up projectiles and tossing them at foes. Super Mario Bros. 2 was also the game that brought us shy guys as well as Birdo. Take that as you will.
3) New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
The game that brought 2-D Mario out of retirement, New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS is loved and disliked by many. Some call it uninspired, lacking "soul", lacking the creative flair of past Mario titles. I chalk it up to nostalgia as this game has it all. It has interesting levels with plenty of new challenges and obstacles constantly being thrown at the player, new items, eight new worlds to explore, three star coins hidden away in each level to collect, secret exits to warp cannons, mushroom houses, and new areas, and a fun diversion in the multi-player mini-games and modes. Some may not love this game as much as I, but hey, some people actually like the FPS variety on the 360.
2) Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
The battle between second and first places was tough. There were many casualties, but Super Mario Bros. 3 was edged out barely by our next game. Nonetheless, Super Mario Bros. 3 for many is the pinnacle of any and all Mario games. Who as a kid didn't suffer through The Wizard just to see the first glimpse of this game? It brought with it cool power-ups like the hammer suit, tanooki suit, frog suit, and tanooki suit, it had a very cool overworld structure that would be used in every Super Mario Bros. game since, a massive amount of secrets, challenging and well-designed levels from ghost houses to fortresses to scrolling airships. Super Mario Bros. 3 has it all, but only one title could outshine it.
1) Super Mario World (SNES)
Here it is-- the piece de resistance. It's the creme de la creme, the best of the best, Super Mario World, known as Super Mario Bros. 4 in Japan. I love this game. It brought everyone's favorite ride-able dinosaur, Yoshi, into the world, it gave players eight worlds (one hidden and super hard) to play through, it brought with it secret exits that actually listed whether or not the level had a secret exit or not (take that, New Super Mario Bros.), and it was the last time we'd see all of the koopalings together in one game for more than a decade. It's a bittersweet adventure as this would be the very last game in the New Super Mario Bros. in over ten excruciating years.
That's all, folks! Wait, that isn't a Mario saying. Do you have a series you'd like to see get the Rank Up! treatment? Let me know via e-mail or in a comments section near you!