Best Mario RPGs of all time
Image: Nintendo Life

Updated with the recent Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door remake. Enjoy!

There's a question on many people's lips — what is the best Mario RPG ever?

Well, we assume people are asking this now more than ever — Super Mario RPG just received a remake on Nintendo Switch, and 2024 saw the release of a remake of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door on the console, too. Basically, there's no better time to be in the middle of the Mario / RPG Venn diagram right now.

Since 1996's Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Mario has been experimenting with the turn-based genre — and, sometimes, hopping out of it too. To date, the plumber has been in 17 different role-playing games, ranging from button-prompted combat to action platforming, and even strategy (yes, including the Rabbids).

We asked you lovely readers to rank all of the Mario-starring RPGs you've played. The list includes remakes, the Paper Mario series, Mario & Luigi, the Rabbids sub-series, and that stand-alone classic that started it all. That's nearly 30 years of role-playing goodness to get through, and you can't really go wrong with most of them.

Don't forget, you can rank all of these Mario-starring RPGs whenever you want. The order below is updated in real-time and changes depending on the overall User Rating in our secret little database. So you could make a significant tear in the list. If you haven't had the chance to press the Action Command and vote, click the star by the game you want to rate below and assign a score right now.

Want to see where you're favourite landed? Carry on below...

18. Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS)

Paper Mario: Sticker Star is often funny, thoroughly charming and a joy to play, but it's also a touch too familiar and unwilling to go out on a limb and do something crazy, even if the potential to do so is immense. Despite its inhibitions, the game keeps a pace so delightful and fun that you can't help but crack a smile at the metric ton of whimsy folded into its rock-solid foundation, rendered all the more impressive thanks to beautiful use of stereoscopic 3D. Sticker Star might elicit some déjà vu from veterans of the series, but a memory this vivid and bright is worth remembering.

17. Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U)

Paper Mario: Color Splash isn't just painting by the numbers. The series still straddles that awkward middle ground between pure RPG and adventure title, but this entry found a comfortable niche that silenced many of our gripes. Almost everything was polished to a papery sheen, showcasing some of the series' best writing and presentation to date. The battle system and the overall plot are the weaker aspects of the experience, unfortunately, but even when we were left unsatisfied by enemy encounters, Prism Island was always a joy to explore, with diverse environments and catchy tunes to keep you engaged from start to finish. It's a game of memorable moments and, taken as such, and you might just find it to be a messy work of art.

16. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (3DS)

Adding Paper Mario into AlphaDream's Mario & Luigi mix, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam totally succeeds as an accessible, entertaining and lengthy crossover for fans and newcomers alike. This is an enjoyable romp that introduces a solid list of mechanics, plays with the battle system in exciting ways, and breaks exploration up with random quests. Although it doesn't quite nail its environmental design and storytelling, Paper Jam's simplicity makes it a great starting point for people looking to dip their toe into either series. Fans should be aware, though, that this crossover is closer to a mainline Mario & Luigi game than an entry in the Paper Mario series.

15. Paper Mario: The Origami King (Switch)

Paper Mario: The Origami King tries to do something different with its combat system and, to be honest, we aren't really feeling it. That doesn't mean the rest of the game isn't thoroughly entertaining, however, and while the puzzle-based battles aren't quite what a new Paper Mario game needed, they aren't so awful that everything else shouldn't be experienced as a result. It still isn't the new Thousand-Year Door fans will have been hoping for, but it's still one of the funniest games in the series and it's got a truly likeable companion character, and while the combat is far from ideal the fact that we still thoroughly recommend the game regardless should speak volumes.

14. Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope (Switch)

Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope’s battles suffer from an imbalance between the vast array of options available and the difficulty – a stark contrast to Kingdom Battle’s challenging, curated fights. This doesn't mean it isn't an enjoyable strategy game in its own right; the battles are less an evolution of what came before and more an impressive shift toward freedom and creativity that, unfortunately, can sometimes trivialise Cursa’s attempts to take over the galaxy. An extra couple of notches on the difficulty meter might have forced us to experiment and dig deeper to find winning strategies. However, Sparks of Hope shines in most aspects outside of these Darkmess bouts. Delightful little puzzles, quests, and memorable locales abound, which yet make this Rabbid-themed adventure a must-play for Mario and strategy game enthusiasts alike.

13. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (3DS)

In the hands of Mario & Luigi enthusiasts and those up for an epic but light-hearted quest, this is an indispensable must-have for the 3DS. In a universe apart from any other series starring the famous brothers, this once again shows the merits of a studio investing itself whole-heartedly not just in one game, but a whole franchise. It can be a glorious contradiction at times; simple but complex, accessible but lengthy, varied but familiar.

The enthusiasm and unrelenting creativity behind Mario & Luigi: Dream Team means that it flirts with going too far, truly being an adventure for those willing to stick it out over the long haul, which perhaps dents its ability to appeal to all 3DS owners. Yet such is the obvious talent and commitment to the project and its unique style that it's still an adventure worth embarking upon.

12. Super Paper Mario (Wii)

Super Paper Mario blends classic platformer with some of the RPG elements of its predecessors and throws in a world-flipping mechanic that gives you a whole new perspective on traditional 2D platforming courses. Originally planned as a GameCube game, it perhaps makes more sense that it diverges from Thousand-Year Door's way of doing things, and it certainly divides series fans. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of fandom, the Wii entry is a beautiful game with fiendish puzzles and an intriguing, unique flip mechanic.

11. Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time (DS)

Although everyone has an individual preference, and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time may not be the strongest game in the series, that's more a reflection of just how great the Mario & Luigi games are. While the story might hover just below the level of other instalments, it's still creative, appealing and laugh-out-loud funny, and mastering the four-button setup of battles is as fun as ever. Bowser's Inside Story might have the edge, but it's tough to go wrong with this series.

10. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch)

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a must have for Switch-owning fans of turn-based tactical games. More importantly, such is the style and depth on offer that it's also ideal for those that haven't played much of the genre, for whom 'X-COM' sounds like a silly acronym from a war movie. It introduces the concept in the best possible way, and then utilises its own ideas for what becomes a smart, surprising and, at times, deliciously challenging experience. Even if you don't actually like the Rabbids, this game — and its familiar Mario cast and setting — is so good that Ubisoft's mascots become likeable. Well, almost.