Best Super Mario Games Of All Time
Image: Nintendo Life

Happy MAR10! Well, almost. Mario Day takes place on March 10th, so we're republishing our list of the very best mainline games starring the plumber.

What's the best Mario game ever? Where do you even begin to rank all the Mario games?

Let's face it, any of the top 10 could justifiably take the top spot. Any of them could easily and understandably be somebody's 'best game of all time', and there'll always be someone who believes the series peaked with The Lost Levels. That's an opinion, and you're entitled to it!

So, go get the definitive 'Best Mario game', we've asked you lovely Nintendo Life readers to rate the mainline Mario games you've played and the result is the ranked list you see below. Remember: the order below is updated in real time according to each game's User Rating on Nintendo Life. You can affect the ranking of this list at any point! Feel free to rate the ones you've played with a score out of ten by clicking the 'star'. And, if you're interested in Team Nintendo Life's personal takes, check out our video at the very end of the article, but the list below is based on the opinions of you lovely lot. Enjoy!

You can check out our selections of the Best Zelda Games and Best Pokémon Games elsewhere, but without further ado, we present our list of the Best Super Mario Games — as rated by you, dear readers...

Note. We've included all mainline Super Mario platformers (both 2D and 3D), plus Mario Run (hey, it's an official Super Mario platformer!), but you won't see any spin-offs or sports titles here. We've excluded Yoshi's Island, despite its official title, for the same reason Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 doesn't feature — both games are spin-offs that, names aside, are distinctly lacking in the Super Mario department.

We've also taken the liberty of excluding compilations and certain ports to avoid repetition (the GBA 'Advance' ports, for instance), plus we've gone with the Switch versions of New Super Mario Bros. U and Super Mario 3D World.

23. Super Mario Run (Mobile)

Super Mario Run served as Nintendo's first foray into mobile gaming (unless you count the ill-fated Miitomo). On its own terms, it's a solid effort with clever compromises to allow for the one-touch control scheme, and a great translation of the plumbers' 2D oeuvre into the smartphone space. Mario runs automatically, vaulting over enemies and small obstacles, and you pull off tricks by tapping at the right moment, jumping high or low depending on how long you hold your finger on the screen. The fact that it looks so much like an entry in the 'New' branch of 2D Marios perhaps set expectations higher than they might have been for the first Mario game to appear on non-Nintendo hardware (for a very long time, at least), but this is a classy example of transitioning a beloved character and series to a totally different platform while embracing the differences of that platform with a tailormade experience.

In the Mario canon, Super Mario Run might be an also-ran, but it's a polished little experience that's pleasantly free of microtransactions, currencies, and cooldown timers. This game was never going to trouble Mario World in the plumber's platforming pantheon, but it was never supposed to; it offers short bursts of fun perfect for situations where cracking out your Switch isn't an option. Super Mario Run does what it set out to do, and well — for that, we admire it.

22. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (NES)

The 'proper' Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan, this direct sequel was once ‘the grail’ for gamers in the West who had utterly exhausted the first Super Mario Bros. and wanted more of a challenge. The Lost Levels certainly provides that. In fact, Nintendo of America deemed it too difficult to release, and to an extent, you can see where they were coming from. It's a sequel in the truest sense of the word; difficulty-wise, it picks up where World 8-4 left off in the original game and is definitely best enjoyed by seasoned SMB veterans. Players new to the world of Mario (yes, they do exist) will likely find it bewilderingly, hilariously tough.

It wasn't until Super Mario All-Stars on the SNES that the wider world got to experience this game (which is where it picked up its 'Lost Levels' moniker). It's not bad by any means, but it's the sort of thing that would be a New Game+ mode in a modern game. It's incredibly unforgiving and lacks the careful, considered balance of risk and reward associated with Mario platformers. It's available on Switch for anyone with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, so test your mettle with it there if you dare.

21. New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)

A rare numbered Mario sequel, this is one from a series which continues to divide gamers to this day. New Super Mario Bros. 2 doubled down on – of all things – coin collection to create a strangely compulsive platformer in the familiar mould. Although hardly revolutionary, the autostereoscopic 3D was a nice touch and if you can embrace the banality of its obsession with gold, it’s a very solid, very enjoyable 2D Mario.

20. Super Mario Land (GB)

Super Mario Land was an impressive accomplishment in 1989. The sequel might have made this first shot at translating the plumber's platforming to the overworked, underpowered handheld seem quaint by comparison, but it's still a fun Super Mario experience, albeit a short one. Crafted by Gunpei Yokoi's R&D1 rather than Shigeru Miyamoto's team, it's a surreal yet compelling take on the template which takes some adjusting to nowadays. And just when things are really getting good, the credits roll.

If you haven't played Super Mario Land before, you owe it to yourself to try this — it's worth playing through at least once to see where Mario's portable adventures began. Cracking music, too.

19. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (Switch)

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is an impressive package, offering madcap multiplayer and glimpses of the outrageous invention that was to come in Super Mario Odyssey. It's a top-drawer 2D entry and arguably the best of the 'New' branch whether you play on Wii U or Switch, although ageing visuals and the irritation of being kicked back to the world map after every death stand out as things that could have been finessed in this Deluxe version. Still, with New Super Luigi U included, this is a very fine 2D Mario (and Luigi) package, even if Wonder makes everything that came before look a little staid and static.

18. Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)

Super Mario Bros. 2 (or Super Mario USA when this famously reskinned, plumberised form of Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic made its way back to Japan), was the follow-up to Super Mario Bros., with platforming mechanics quite different from the original. It introduced the ability to lift and throw objects and a screen that scrolled left and right and up and down.

The verticality of levels and ability to play as different characters was a profound change from the first game, but despite being the odd one out in its homeland, Super Mario Bros. 2 ended up having an enormous influence on the iconography of the series. The game is definitely worth revisiting — Nintendo Switch Online is the easiest place to find it these days — if only to remind yourself just how different it is from what came before and after.

17. Super Mario 64 DS (DS)

If you've never played Super Mario 64, you'll probably want to begin as nature intended with the home console version due to its vastly superior control system. This remake controls too awkwardly on original DS hardware to compare favourably to the N64 launch title. Still, Super Mario 64 DS takes a stone-cold classic and augments it with new characters, minigames, and tweaks that make a playthrough more than worthwhile, especially if you've played the original to death.

The DS controls might be suboptimal, but we'd argue that 3DS' analogue nub transforms the way this game plays, placing it much closer to the feel of the N64 classic. If you're going to play Super Mario 64 DS — and how else are you going to play as Luigi and Yoshi and Wario in an official release of Mario 64? — we'd highly recommend playing on the biggest 3DS or 2DS you can find. It's an intriguing twist on a genre-defining classic.

16. New Super Mario Bros. (DS)

While divisive among fans of the 8- and 16-bit classics, there's no denying the popularity of the 'New' series. The original New Super Mario Bros. opened up 2D Mario to an entirely new generation, even if gives off a 'been there, done that' vibe these days. We dinosaurs can pine for our pixels and the 'classic' games, or wax lyrical about the myriad enhancements Mario Wonder brought with it, but that shouldn't detract from this remarkably solid Mario platformer. Absolutely essential it is not, but there's plenty to like in Mario's oldest New adventure.

Is that enough qualifications?