What's the best Mario game ever? We at Nintendo Life wanted a definitive answer to that question, so we worked hard to figure it out. It's far from an easy undertaking when so many of the entries are the best games of their generation. Where do you even begin?
Well, by applying science to it. We've tracked review scores across the web alongside our own personal score and your user scores. We then collated them, sprinkled a little bit of our own secret sauce into it, and came up with this definitive list of every single Super Mario game ever ranked.
Disclaimer: this is for the mainline Super Mario platformer series only, so you won't see any remakes, spin-offs, sports titles, or the likes of Mario Kart here.
The Lost Levels is a bit of a novelty for us westerners. It's the true sequel to Super Mario Bros. and was released as Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan, but Nintendo of America deemed it too difficult for western players.
So instead, we got a reskinned Doki Doki Panic as our Super Mario Bros. 2, and it wasn't until Super Mario All-Stars on the SNES that we got to experience the true Bros. 2, where it was renamed The Lost Levels.
Sadly, it did ultimately prove too difficult for most, hence its place at the bottom of this list. It's without doubt an intriguing entry though.
Next up is Super Mario Run, which served as Nintendo's first foray into mobile gaming (unless you count the ill-fated Miitomo), and it was a solid effort. Compromises had to be made to allow for the one-touch control scheme though.
Mario now runs automatically and vaults over enemies and small obstacles, but it still felt very expressive. You could pull off tricks by tapping at the right moment and could jump high or low depending on how long you hold on the screen for during a jump.
Ultimately, the compromises and some unnecessary additions like building towns and Rally mode led to this being nothing less than a novelty for true Mario fans.
Super Mario Land was the first portable entry in the franchise, and Nintendo absolutely nailed it. It played much like the original Super Mario Bros., but shrunk onto a smaller screen. Critics lauded it, with the only real complaint that it didn't last very long. You could even take that as a compliment!
The reason for its low place on this list is down to the fact it just hasn't aged as well as the others. Time has been very harsh on the many compromises it had to make to fit on the Game Boy, and it doesn't really hold a candle to any of the entries above, but it will be remembered very fondly for its impressive achievement.
Super Mario Bros. 2, or Doki Doki Panic to those in Japan, was the follow up to the original Bros.. It introduced the abilities to lift and throw objects and scroll left and right, and increased the verticality, as you could now travel up waterfalls and caves.
Despite the fact it was based on another game entirely, Super Mario Bros. 2 remains very well regarded in the west. It's seen as a big improvement over the original, and interesting due to its many differences.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is the 3DS follow-up to the DS original, which revived the classic 2D Mario gameplay in gorgeous 3D. Just like its predecessor, it provided exceptional 2D platforming, and is still lauded as arguably the best of its genre on the 3DS.
So why is it so low on this list? Well, it didn't really do anything to deviate from the original, which launched six years prior. That's not really the Nintendo way.