Friday, June 27, 2008

Mario: A Man of Many Genres

Mario is an iconic figure. I read that more kids can identify him than Mickey Mouse. He is practically the face of video gaming. And for a good reason: most of his games revolutionize the industry. But only some (such as the hardcore crowd) knows just how many games he's in. Today I'll be covering the different series of Mario, from platforming to puzzles. Enjoy!

I'll be rating each of the series, rather than the games individually. I'll have three different ratings. Here they are and what they mean:
Star: Truly the best of both Mario games and video games themselves.

Flower: Not extraordinary, decent fun nonetheless.

Mushroom: Not good at all, unworthy of having Mario in it's name. Nothing good here... move along.

Super Mario series
The obvious place to start, where Mario started: Platforming! The true gem of Mario games, rarely do you find a game in this series that is bad or even average. From the originals of Super Mario Bros and Super Mario Bros 3 to the newly, critically aclaimed, Super Mario Galaxy this series is ridden with great games. Almost every title in this series has changed the industry. Super Mario Bros. started the NES world out with platformers. Super Mario Bros. 3 stunned the world with one of the most advanced and addicting platformers of that time. Super Mario 64 set the bar for 3D platformers to come. And recently Super Mario Galaxy brought back the genre of platformers to an industry which practically has none right now. These games are all must haves, every one of them.

1. Donkey Kong (Arcade/NES)
2. Mario Bros. (Arcade/NES)
3. Super Mario Bros. (NES)
4. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (NES)
5. Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES)
6. Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
7. Super Mario Land (GB)
8. Super Mario World (SNES)
9. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (GB)
10. Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (GB)
11. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)
12. Super Mario 64 (N64)
13. Super Mario Sunshine (GCN)
14. New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
15. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)


Mario Kart series
The racing genre of Mario is filled with fast (but not super speedy) races and crazy, yet strategic items. Another of the great series of Mario, but it is lacking. There are especially annoying items that are actually really cheap, such as the POW block and the blue shell. Another gripe of mine is the speed. Though Nintendo put in different speeds (50 cc, 100 cc. etc.) the overall speed of the game is slow, even the fastest speed (150 cc) feels slow. But so what? The games are still great multiplayer and really can keep a group of kids, or even college students, huddled around a TV, firing red shells and cleverly laying bananas and bombs to obtain the lead.

1. Super Mario Kart (SNES)
2. Mario Kart 64 (N64)
3. Mario Kart Super Circuit (GBA)
4. Mario Kart Double Dash (GC)
5. Mario Kart DS (DS)
6. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)


Paper Mario/Mario & Luigi Series
These series cover the RPG genre of video games for Mario. The Paper Mario series are 3D games with 2D characters, items, and NPCs. The first two Paper Marios used the classic turn-based stratagy combat while the newest (Super Paper Mario) combined RPG elements with platforming. In the Mario & Luigi games, Nintendo emphasizes timing and reflexes versus the more classical turn based strategy of early RPG's. The games are fun and have quite a bit of depth to them.

1. Paper Mario (N64)
2. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GCN)
3. Super Paper Mario (Wii)

1. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (GBA)
2. Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (DS)


Mario Party series

The Mario Party games are pretty much the fun and fast minigame side of Mario.
A party game at heart, the games are best played with friends. The single player options are very limited and are almost the same as playing multiplayer just with AI instead of your friends. While the some of series shine as remarkably fun games, the overall feel the of franchise lately isn't appealing to me. With more dependence on luck than skill, I have skipped several of the latest games entirely. But I will admit all of them still possess a party quality to them.

1. Mario Party (N64)
2. Mario Party 2 (N64)
3. Maroi Party 3 (N64)
4. Mario Party 4 (GCN)
5. Mario Party 5 (GCN)
6. Mario Party 6 (GCN)
7. Mario Party-e (GBA/e-reader)
8. Mario Party Advance (GBA)
9. Mario Party 7 (GCN)
10. Mario Party 8 (Wii)
11. Mario Party DS (DS)


Dr. Mario series
The puzzle side of Nintendo's overals wearing mascot is basically the same game with some updated graphics and several minor modes slapped on with each version. Yet every game still seems to keep me hooked for a long periods of time. The games feature unique, gravity-based puzzles, in which the objective is to clear away the viruses in the jar by lining up lines of four or more colors. Simple and very fun, these are pretty good games overall.

1. Dr. Mario (NES/GB)
2. Dr. Mario 64 (N64)
3. Dr. Mario Online Rx. (Wii, available through WiiWare)
Note: There have been a half-dozen or so remakes and ports of Dr. Mario, but listed above are those considered the main entries in the series.


Other Mario Titles
While I couldn't include all of Mario's games, I hope I included all the main series. I know I didn't talk about the Mario sports titles. But I believe that they're so varied to be considered in one series and to few of each of the sports to be multiple series. I will say most of the Mario sports games are entertaining. Another game I didn't mention because I didn't consider it in a series is Super Mario RPG. Developed by Square, SMRPG is a very unique role-playing game that combines aspects of RPGs and platformers. Plus it has an interesting, useful mechanic in battles that allows you a second hit.

That rounds up my article and my week dedicated to Mario. I don't know if you noticed, but every post this week had to do with Mario. A classic Mario game reviewed, the newest Super Mario game reviewed, and a Mario article. Hope you enjoyed them. I'm thinking about doing something like this again, maybe along the lines of Metroid or Zelda.

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