Mario is one of the most iconic characters in the land of video games. From his roots as Jumpman in Donkey Kong, all the way to his latest games on the Wii U, Mario is a staple in the world of video games. It’s almost impossible to talk about Nintendo without having Mario come to mind. We’ve covered the history of Mario before, and as our own Justin Pot has made clear, Mario has a long and storied history in the world of video games.
Besides the platformers that Mario is known for, there are a ton of spinoffs that feature the famous plumber’s name and face attached to them. Almost all of the franchises with Mario’s name are of an incredibly high quality, so picking the best is no simple task. However, I have a great deal of experience playing all of them, so I am going to really think hard and choose the Mario spin-offs that are the top of the heap. Of course, this is my opinion, and yours might differ. Feel free to sound off in the comments section if you think another Mario spinoff deserves to be on the list.
Super Mario RPG
The Super Mario RPG games are odd, because it is not the way we are accustomed to seeing Mario, but the fact is, they are incredibly well-made role playing games that stand among the best classic RPGs of yesteryear. The Super Mario RPG series, (and some respects, the Paper Mario series) takes your favorite Mario characters, plucks them out of their comfort zone, and smacks them squarely into a role playing game, and that is just awesome.
The gameplay in the Super Mario RPG series is not really revolutionary, as it’s a style of game that has been done limitless times before. That said, it is executed flawlessly, and it is just so awesome to see these beloved characters in a completely different type of game. If you own a Super Nintendo, you absolutely need to play Super Mario RPG Legend of the Seven Stars.
If you’ve ever played a video game before, you are probably familiar with Mario Kart. It has become a staple of Nintendo’s lineup, and every major console release since the Super Nintendo has had a Mario Kart game on it. Of course, the cart racing genre has been borrowed by other franchises for years, and this trend all started because of the staggering success of Mario Kart.
Mario Kart is one of the most fun games for playing split screen with a friend. Getting the friends together and racing in Mario Kart is about as much fun as you can have playing a video game.
Super Smash Brothers
Super Smash Brothers took the video game world by surprise when it hit the Nintendo 64. Gamers thought, “oh my gosh, we can fight with all our favorite Nintendo characters! This rules!” The game came out, and it lived up to, and probably exceeded, the expectations. All the most beloved Nintendo characters were featured in the game, and the gameplay was so incredibly fun that it became one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises.
Instead of a traditional fighting game with a life bar, Smash Brothers used a mechanic where you knock your opponent off the stage to their demise. Super Smash Brothers Melee came out for GameCube a few years after the original, and it was, in my opinion, the best of the series. In fact, it is easily in my top three favorite fighting games ever made.
Mario Party is another instance of Nintendo launching an entire genre. The party game, which is one of the most popular types of games on the Nintendo Wii, and any console with motion controls, was spawned from the Mario Party series. The Mario Party main series is currently on its ninth release, and each one offers some incredibly fun, albeit not so innovative, gameplay. Getting a group of friends together and playing the hilarious collections of mini games always makes for a great time.
Like Mario Kart and Smash Brothers, Mario Brothers brings a slew of awesome Nintendo characters that are sure to tickle the nostalgia bone of any gamer. If you’ve never played a Mario Party game, you are missing out. Grab your favorite Nintendo console, call up some friends, and have a blast!
So there you have it, it was a tough call, but these Mario spin-offs have withstood the test of time, and even all these years later, gamers still love and admire the games. Most of these spinoffs are still actively being made by Nintendo all these years later, which just goes to show you how amazing they are.