Mario is, undoubtedly and unequivocally, the flagship stand-out character for the Nintendo video game company. For every new generation of console, portable and home alike, he stars in many enjoyable titles. By now, Nintendo has been cranking out quality systems and gaming choices for over two decades, offering a veritable plethora of Mario-themed titles to choose from. From racing to board games, from platform adventures to role-playing adventures, Mario the plucky plumber has traversed the grand landscape of hero quests and blessed us with his gifts of multi-generational fun.
But when the smoke has cleared and all factors are considered, which Mario game is the best?
Could it be Super Mario Galaxy? His entry on the revolutionary Nintendo Wii system, Galaxy offers a starscape-spanning tale with the dazzling graphics of the seventh-generation system, along with a remarkable number of brand-new power-ups for our legendary hero, along with innovative gameplay and a perfect degree of difficulty. Widely hailed as a more worthy successor to the lineage than previous forays such as Super Mario Sunshine, the Galaxy title is already among the top-selling video games of all time.
Or could it be Mario Kart 64? When Super Mario Kart launched on the Super Nintendo, players found a quirky new spin on the Mario story: He and his friends racing around on go-karts on imaginative tracks with plenty of weapons and other fun strewn about. Whereas Mario’s sports games were usually hit-or-miss, his Kart games were always surefire hits, and the version released for Nintendo 64 is arguably among the best, still enjoyed by many for multiplayer madness.
Perhaps it could be one of the RPG selections? Nintendo took a creative risk by teaming up with brilliant developer Squaresoft in order to offer a true role-playing game starring Mario for the Super Nintendo, the now-classic Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. By seamlessly blending the canon Mario setting and characters with an all-new environment and cast, it was a richly fulfilling game that boasted some of the best graphics and sounds of its time to complement a twist on the rpg-battle system and loads of overall replay value.
The inevitable fact is that when it comes to any endeavor that strives to name the best of anything, one always strikes the hurdle of subjectivity. In other words, no matter what selection is named as the all-time greatest, many will disagree. How can one objectively, quantifiably, justifiably, fairly choose the true best of anything? It is an impossible process, wrought with biased opinions and uncomfortable compromises.
So, discussions must often resort to considering contextual factors. For instance, though Mario has appeared in innumerable cartridges and disks, and will continue to do so, have any had a notably more significant impact on our culture as a whole? Did any one game completely revolutionize the video game industry? Was there ever an entry that, in fact, saved the industry from near collapse? There is such a choice: A Mario game that stands alone as the essential option, the one video game that blew up the Nintendo world and shook our entertainment options to their core.
Super Mario Brothers, for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Yes, in all its 8-bit glory, Mario’s original romp still reigns supreme. Nowadays we take Mario’s mustache and antics for granted, but back in the 1980’s it was an original idea. In the midst of an industry still reeling from the results of the downfall of Atari, Nintendo was the bold new player who entered the market with Mario. Did anyone really think a plumber who ate mushrooms and stomped on monsters could really change the way we looked at gaming?
And we are grateful for it. More so than any other Mario game, Super Mario Brothers single-handedly changed the console gaming landscape, and every title afterward owes its existence to the original. It is very difficult to overstate its importance in history, and current players should realize that without one pixelated, fire-shooting little jumpy warrior, we may not have the same enjoyable culture we have easy access to today. For the reason of cultural paradigm shift, industry importance, and the fact that it was actually a good game too, Super Mario Brothers is the best Mario game of all time.