Super Mario Odyssey
Image: Nintendo

While the Super Mario series was born in the era of 2D gaming, more recently the Italian plumber has scored notable commercial successes with his 3D outings, including the likes of Super Mario 3D World and Super Mario Odyssey. Even so, the character has continued to appear in 2D titles, the most recent of which is the smartphone title Super Mario Run, and the New Super Mario Bros. series was a notable success for the firm.

During Nintendo's recent financial results briefing Q&A, Shigeru Miyamoto was quizzed on the differences between 3D and 2D Mario games, and the industry veteran took it as a chance to explain the company's approach in recent years – and where it sees the series heading in the future:

As for the difference between 2D Mario and 3D Mario, let me explain by describing the background for the development of the Wii game New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which was released in 2009. At the time, it felt like each time we created a new installment in the Super Mario series – which by then had expanded into 3D – it became more complicated. After the release of Super Mario Galaxy in 2007, the goal was to develop a more accessible 3D Super Mario game, and the result was New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a basic side-scrolling Super Mario game that even new players could easily play. That later led to the release of the even simpler Super Mario Run game (a mobile application released in 2016.) When we develop software, we strive to incorporate new elements, but at the same time we want to make it easy for even first time players to have fun. Recently, people of all generations have been enjoying the 3D Mario game Super Mario Odyssey (released in 2017,) so for 3D Mario going forward, we want to try expanding further in new ways.

We've taken the liberty of ranking Mario's 2D and 3D games, so be sure to check those out.