Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Tuesday 10s: Mario Games

Welcome to a very special edition of The Tuesday 10s! This past weekend saw the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., and this Friday, Nintendo kicks off the full celebration of its 35th anniversary festivities with the launch of Super Mario 3D All-Stars on the Nintendo Switch.

What better time to run and jump into action, pop out of a warp pipe, and do some celebrating ourselves, together on SuperPhillip Central, with a special Tuesday 10! This particular list of ten games features my absolute favorite Mario games of all time, spin-offs included! With over one-hundred games with Mario as the prominent player in them, this was definitely quite a challenge--moreso than Super Mario Galaxy 2's Grandmaster Galaxy Daredevil Run or just beating Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels without save states!

After you've read my ten picks, I encourage you to share your favorite Mario memories and games below in the comments!

Super Mario Odyssey (NSW)

Let's begin The Tuesday 10s Mario Edition with the newest 3D Mario game, one that released on the Nintendo Switch during its launch year. It's Super Mario Odyssey, and the main mechanic featured in this Mario installment was Cappy, a talking hat with multiple in-game uses. For one, Cappy could be tossed into enemies to "capture" them, giving Mario not only their appearance but also their arsenal of moves. Speaking of an arsenal of moves, Mario himself had a move set that was both bigger and better than ever before--and a good portion of this comes from Cappy. Mario can launch his cap forward and serve as a launching point when on the ground, or when in the air, use it as a method of gaining more distance via second jump. The many collectible Power Moons in Super Mario Odyssey brought plenty of opportunities to use both capturing and using Mario's enhanced move set. For a completionist like me, more 'Moons meant more fun, and more replay value in the long run. Super Mario Odyssey was an adventure like no other on the Switch and one of Mario's best 3D outings.

Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

This next 3D entry will be part of the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection, launching on the Switch this Friday, and you can bet that I'm quite excited to play through it all over again. This time in high definition and higher resolution! Super Mario Galaxy opened up the universe as Mario's platforming playground, bringing planets and planetoids with their own physics and gravity. It was seamless jumping from one planetoid to another. Certainly not a Sonic Adventure 2 Mad Space level implementation! (To be fair, Adventure 2 had Galaxy beat by over five years in the concept.) Super Mario Galaxy impressed with its jaw-dropping visuals, elegant platforming, insanely creative levels, and bombastic orchestral score, all offering one truly sensational, totally unforgettable adventure.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

Super Mario Galaxy 2 continued the gameplay premise of its predecessor, and it's the rare instance of Nintendo directly following up with a numbered sequel for a 3D mainline Mario entry. The game somehow brought even more creativity and cleverness to the entire gaming package: in gameplay, in level design, in ideas, in execution, in its music--you name it. Perhaps the only part of the game that didn't get improved or iterated on was the story. Still, what Super Mario Galaxy 2 consists of is ideas that were left on the cutting room floor of the original game, as well as ideas held over for this sequel. Some could consider Super Mario Galaxy 2 to be an expansion kit of levels to the original Galaxy, but I think that does this excellent sequel a disservice. Either way, what you get with Super Mario Galaxy 2 is Nintendo and the Mario series at their most creative, most amazing, and most impressive.

Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

Coming to the Nintendo Switch (finally) in early 2021, Super Mario 3D World originally released on the Wii U. Like the Galaxy games and Super Mario 3D Land before it, it eschewed the sandbox-style structure of 3D Mario games like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine and opted for a more traditional "run to the goal" experience of games like the Super Mario Bros. series. 3D World introduced multiplayer into the fold, bringing with it utter chaos and hilarity, but also great teamwork and co-operative play, depending on who you played with. Up to four players could enjoy the immaculately designed levels of the game. 3D World also added the Cat Bell, turning Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, and the fifth playable character (don't want to spoil it for those who might be experiencing the game for the first time on the Switch next year) into cat versions of themselves, able to scamper, claw, and climb up walls. Super Mario 3D World looks to only improve upon itself with this upcoming Switch version, featuring faster running, a dive maneuver, and an extra mode called Bowser's Fury. I'm excited to once again revisit this gem of a 3D Mario game.

Super Mario 64 (N64)

The first 3D Mario game, Super Mario 64 was obviously a revolutionary title. I don't think I'm telling any tales out of school here with that shocking revelation! It popularized an immense number of things in gaming that a lot of us take for granted now. The fact of the matter is that Super Mario 64 still holds up to this day. Whether you're soaring through the skies of Bob-Omb Battlefield with the Wing Cap, or slipping and sliding down the icy and snowy banks and hills of Cool, Cool Mountain, there's definitely a good time to be had. With its impending re-release as part of the Super Mario 3D All-Stars collection this Friday, I look forward to again saying "bye-bye" to Bowser as Mario grabs him by tail and chucks him into a mine, and racing against Koopa the Quick in both of his footraces. It's going to be a good time, indeed!

Super Mario World (SNES)

Let's shift from 3D Mario to the more simple and accessible 2D Mario games with my favorite of the 2D bunch: Super Mario World. I loved the new additions to this Super Nintendo launch title over its NES predecessors. From the world map with myriad secrets exits and levels you could revisit and return to playing, to the new Cape power-up and of course, my main bud Yoshi, Super Mario World greatly expanded on what was found in previous Mario games up until then. It's a game you can speed through in about fifteen minutes if you take the quickest path through the world map, or you can opt to experience every level and secret in the game--my personal favorite way to play. Either way, players like myself found themselves happily losing dozens of hours wandering through the worlds of Dinosaur Land, and many also like myself still do to this day. The definition of a classic, for sure.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (NSW)

This might be sacrilege for most Super Mario Bros. fans, but yes, I'm putting New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe on this list and NOT Super Mario Bros. 3. Rather than delve into defending my choice, let me just say why I love NSMBU and its Deluxe version. The level design is some of the greatest in 2D Mario series history with clever secrets abound, smart level gimmicks, and fun to find collectibles with the three Star Coins and occasional secret exits. I love the overworld map, reminiscent of the aforementioned Super Mario World, as it houses plenty of paths and ways to make progress. I also enjoy playing multiplayer with friends and family. The former is more chaotic than with the latter! The included New Super Luigi U offers challenging bite-size levels that offer fiendish takes on the formula. While the art style is no doubt bland after three previous New Super Mario Bros. games with the similar visual design, I feel that in this case gameplay conquers all. So, while Super Mario Bros. 3 is a terrific title, one very much deserving of a spot on a list like this (and it would be #11 if this was The Tuesday 11s), I prefer New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe over it as my second 2D Mario platformer pick.

Super Mario Maker 2 (NSW)

Ending our look at 2D Mario games is an entire toolkit for making Mario levels. Super Mario Maker 2 has had me basically chained to it for a better part of a year now, whether that's making my own levels or playing the community's. Either way, over 220 hours of my life has been dedicated to the game. Far more than Super Mario Maker 2's Wii U predecessor--that's for certain. With all five game styles, including the added Super Mario 3D World, and the immense number of tools available to makers, there is an impressive amount of freedom in creating and designing your own levels. The final major addition to the game, World Maker, allows players to craft their own Mario games, which is literally dream come true for a Mario fan like me. Super Mario Maker 2 is one of my favorite Mario games of all time for many reasons, but the main one is that is allowed me to channel my creativity into making levels--and helping me do so with its easy to use tools.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (NSW)

Of all of the Mario Kart games Nintendo has made and released, the latest installment of the series is without question my favorite. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe features the most tracks, the most characters, and the most fun (though the last one is subjective) in series history. With incredibly engaging multiplayer, the return of the tried and true Battle Mode (and not the poorly repurposed tracks of the Wii U original version), new mechanics such as double items and pink boosts, and helpful accessibility options like auto acceleration and steer assist, this Mario Kart is close to the most fully featured yet. While Mission Mode originally from Mario Kart DS is still absent, I'll take 48 tracks over a mode I'd play through once and then move on from. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe dazzles with its easy to play and pick up gameplay, gorgeous graphics and catchy musical jams, and content that will keep players coming back time and again. I know it certainly has for me!

Mario Golf: World Tour (3DS)

Rather than delve into the world of Mario RPGs, which I can normally take or leave, I'm a much bigger fan of many of Mario's sports outings, namely golf. The Nintendo 64's Mario Golf is an entry that like Super Mario 64, still holds up to this day, and still gives me an insane amount of warm nostalgia. I remember playing that game during the summer of my middle school days, doing my best to unlock Metal Mario. I never imagined that Nintendo 64 golf game wrapped up with so much nostalgia would ever get its crown taken away. Especially not by a future game in the Mario Golf series, but it finally happened and unexpectedly on the Nintendo 3DS of all places.

Mario Golf: World Tour features a robust lineup of characters, courses, and content, both online and off, and it gave me hundreds of hours of fun. Whether I was customizing my Mii with unlockable gear, playing a round on one of the realistic courses or the more fantastical Mario-themed courses, or participating in an online tournament for prizes, my experience with World Tour was an amazing one. The mechanics and course design are masterful, the course concepts are clever, and the amount of characters to play as and unlock are terrific as well. I normally shy away from paid DLC, but I immediately leaped on the Season Pass for World Tour, which brought me full circle with my love of the Mario Golf series. The pass gave me all six courses from the Nintendo 64 game, fully redone, as well as four new playable characters. As you can probably tell, Mario Golf: World Tour satisfied me to a "tee".

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