Partly prompted by last year being the launch year for Super Mario Galaxy 2 and the 25th anniversary of the Super Mario series, partly by my wife and I being bored out of our minds with this year’s terrible to-date game lineup, I’ve taken the time to play through each and every game in the console series in the last twelve months. It’s been a wild ride: despite being four console generations behind us, the Super Mario Bros. games for NES still stand up as some of the best games in history, Super Mario 64 still reminds me that Mario’s just as cool in 3D, and the two Super Mario Galaxy games have shown me that a series can go way outside its traditional mold and still deliver brilliant gameplay experiences.
But which Mario game is best? Now that’s a tough question. I have a hard time deciding personally since the 2D games are definitely the ones I keep going back to, but the 3D games are the ones that tend to leave the best impressions. I’ll do my best (see what I did there?) and I’m curious to see you guys do the same.
It’s an extremely close call between Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Galaxy 2. These are the two games that I think achieved the sweet spot of solid level and enemy design, powerups, and tough but not unfair difficulty for both 2D and 3D Mario. Both games have their imperfections – some levels in Mario Bros. 3 feel more like a chore than like a solid platforming experience, and Mario Galaxy 2 relied a bit too much on revisiting old levels between the Prankster Comets and Green Stars – but they both offer the most fun I’ve had with the series in its twenty-five year history.
In the end, though, I lean more towards Super Mario Galaxy 2. Why? There’s just so much damn content. Sure, like I said, not all of it is super solid, and Super Mario Bros. 3 definitely wins in the replay value department, but the game’s still huge by comparison. It’s like Iwata said at this year’s GDC keynote: “Content is king.” Forget the graphics, music, and powerups – when it comes down to personal preference, I’ll almost always err to the side of content.
But this isn’t really about me – I’m more interested in what you think. What’s your favorite Super Mario game, and why? I’m thinking mostly about the core platformers here, not the sports games, Party series, or the RPG spinoffs, but feel free to mention those if they stick out to you as well. Let us know in the comments!