This past week brought us Mario Day, or 'Mar10 Day' as Nintendo of America promotes it. Goofy campaign it may be, but it's nevertheless an excuse to celebrate the mascot and his many, many games.
Having already extensively covered the series for its 30th Anniversary and having considered our favourites out of the plumber's platformers, we took the opportunity to ask you to pick your favourite Mario spin-offs. The rules were simple - Mario needed to play a leading part in the games (so no Luigi's Mansion) and we included both series and individual games.
Plenty of you took part in voting and the results are a mix of the inevitable and surprising. Without any more pre-amble let's get to the top 5.
In light of the presence (in this top five) of series that owe their existence to this SNES classic, it's pleasing to see it getting recognised by the Nintendo Life community. The final full Mario game on the 16-bit system and developed by the RPG masters at Squaresoft, this brought the cast of Nintendo's key franchise to life. The characters were portrayed brilliantly and with humour, and the key mechanics here would evolve into new franchises; when we talk about Mario RPGs, this is the title that laid the groundwork and remains a wonderful experience.
This writer's relieved to see this in the top 5, as AlphaDream's portable-only series was a key part of rekindling a personal love affair with Nintendo - kicking off with the outstanding Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga on Game Boy Advance, it then had two games apiece on DS and 3DS. It's a franchise that has thrived on quirky scenarios and timing-based battles, and though some have criticised the recent Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam for lacking a creative spark, it still arguably provides plenty of fun. It'll be interesting to see what AlphaDream does next with the series.
It was a mini-debate within NL Towers whether to include this game, as it's a game centred around classic 2D platforming from across generations of the main series. Of course, its nods to Mario Paint show what this one is really about - creativity. Released as the centrepiece of Nintendo's 30th Anniversary celebrations of the main series, this gives users the tools and sharing options to create levels that are well structured, anarchic, weird or whatever they want them to be. Regular updates only strengthen what is one of the Wii U's finest titles.
The Nintendo 64 original was apparently once planned to be branded as a direct sequel to Super Mario RPG, but with Intelligent Systems at the helm and in light of 'issues' with Square Enix, it established itself as a new franchise. Just as well, too, as its unique visual style and the scope it's given for creative gameplay has evidently proven popular with plenty of you in the Nintendo Life community. Each home console since the N64 has had an entry - with Paper Mario: Color Splash recently announced for Wii U - while it also arrived on 3DS with Sticker Star and crossed over with Mario & Luigi in Paper Jam. Evidently a key series for Nintendo, we look forward to seeing more of the Wii U title.
Unsurprisingly the runaway winner, ever since this series began on SNES it became a central franchise in both multiplayer and for solo players keen to master every track and bring seconds off their times. After a drastic evolution on the Nintendo 64 it's been a series that's both maintained traditions and revolutionised its approaches through the generations in terms of visuals, controls and mechanics. Though portable entries have proven hugely popular, it's in multiplayer through home consoles where it's perhaps at its strongest, and with the introduction of DLC taking things up a notch in Mario Kart 8 we have much to look forward to - we assume - in the next generation's entry.
So there you have it, your top five Mario spin-off games and franchises. Are you surprised at the absence of the likes of the Mario Party series, or do you think the list is right on the money? Debate it all in the comments.