7. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 15th Nov 2009 (USA) / 20th Nov 2009 (UK/EU)

The first 2D Mario game to come to a home console in many years, New Super Mario Bros. Wii brought chaotic local multiplayer to the series and gave old-school fans yearning for a side-on Mushroom Kingdom adventure something to chew on. The stylings of the 'New' series might not have been everyone's cup of tea, but anyone put off by the 'wah's and cuteness missed out on a real platforming treat.

6. Super Mario Bros. (NES)

Super Mario Bros. (NES)Super Mario Bros. (NES)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 17th Nov 1985 (USA) / 15th May 1987 (UK/EU)

So much of the foundation of the series — and the medium of video games at large — was put down in Super Mario Bros. that it's tough to evaluate all these years later without considering its historical importance. This game, perhaps more than any other in history, has passed into the popular cultural consciousness and would go on to influence countless other games and developers since 1985. It's the kind of release you use to delineate historical eras; when it comes to video games, there was 'Before SMB' and 'After SMB'.

You've played this many, many times before, no doubt, and you'll play it many, many times again. Good game.

5. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (GB)

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (GB)Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (GB)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Release Date: 2nd Nov 1992 (USA) / 28th Jan 1993 (UK/EU)

The original Super Mario Land was a solid start for the series on Nintendo's Game Boy system, but nothing could prepare gamers for what the developers were able to do with this sequel. They managed to improve every aspect of the game and even made the adventure a much longer and more rewarding experience this time around. The difficulty is perhaps a bit on the easy side, but it's still one of the best Game Boy titles ever released and a testament to just how capable a game system the Game Boy truly was. If you're a Super Mario fan, you absolutely must play this game; if you're not, this legendary release is good enough to make you one.

4. Super Mario Maker (Wii U)

Super Mario Maker (Wii U)Super Mario Maker (Wii U)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 11th Sep 2015 (USA) / 11th Sep 2015 (UK/EU)

Super Mario Maker is so much more than a simple level creation tool, as Nintendo clearly invested great time, resources and thought into making it greater than its core concept. The user interface, the creativity of the tools that feed the player's imagination, and the overall polish are a testament to the development team's efforts. Whether creating, exploring or just playing, Super Mario Maker provides an exceptional experience that is tailored perfectly to the second screen of the Wii U GamePad — it was arguably the system's 'killer app' which simply arrived too late to save it.

Super Mario Maker 2 might have added slopes and other fun doohickeys on Switch, but the base course creation experience is arguably still at its most intuitive on Wii U with its GamePad. If you've ever enjoyed a 2D Mario game and have a creative, playful spirit, then the original Mario Maker deserves your attention.

3. Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)

Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 28th Jun 2019 (USA) / 28th Jun 2019 (UK/EU)

Super Mario Maker 2 takes everything you loved about Super Mario Maker and turns it up to eleven. It's got more of everything that made the original so phenomenal: enemies, themes, game styles, gizmos, powerups, the Story Mode having an actual story, multiplayer, and more (and slopes, of course). The list of additional gubbins is truly massive when you take a step back. There are a few small issues here and there — the online is still hilariously obtuse in a way only Nintendo could make it, and the slight awkwardness of button-based building is disappointing after how natural it felt on the Wii U GamePad — but they're overwhelmingly dwarfed by the sheer joy and unbridled freedom that exceeds the original in spades. Realistically this game poses the question as to whether Mario Makers are the future for 2D Mario as a whole.

2. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 12th Feb 1990 (USA) / 29th Aug 1991 (UK/EU)

As toweringly important as the original Super Mario Bros. was, Super Mario Bros. 3 was a colossal leap forward in practically every way. It refined the basics, switched up the visuals and added more mechanical variety and one-and-done elements than any video game to that point; so many that even today there are certain suits, stages or secrets that fans of the game may never have found.

So many ‘old’ games are best approached with historical context in mind, or come with caveats when playing them years after release, but SMB3 needs none. It's just as boundingly inventive and fresh as the day it was released, and easily one of the very finest games ever made, let alone on its host system. Play it, now.

1. Super Mario World (SNES)

Super Mario World (SNES)Super Mario World (SNES)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 23rd Aug 1991 (USA) / 11th Apr 1992 (UK/EU)

There is endless debate about whether Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World is the better game. For our money, they are two sides of the same coin — two faces of the same monumental peak in the video game landscape. This remains an incredible achievement of invention and sheer entertainment that the 2D platforming genre has been struggling to live up to ever since. Three decades on, it still doesn't get much better than this. All games have flaws, but if there's an exception to that rule, Super Mario World is it.


Surprised by the result? Feel free to let us know your thoughts on the ranking above and share a comment about your personal favourite below. Wa-hoo!