We’ve certainly been enjoying our time with Super Mario Maker, Nintendo’s robust level editor/tribute to the Super Mario series (which celebrated its 30th anniversary this past weekend). In honor of the game’s release, the staff have ignited the age-old debate: which 2D Mario title is the best? Read on to find out which ones we like most!
Super Mario World is my favorite 2D Mario game. Everything about it is, to me, near perfection: the soundtrack, art style, the complexity of the overworld map, the number of secrets the game holds– I could go on. This game introduced us to Yoshi, who has become such a huge part of the franchise, and to Mario’s cape, an item we have yet to see make its return in a main Mario game (I’m not counting the fact that Baby Mario gets it when he becomes invincible in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, either). Though as an aside, the cape does appear in Super Mario Maker!
Super Mario World’s “!” Switches made for some really interesting changes to the overworld and to individual stages that encouraged exploring in a way I would argue the first three Super Mario Bros. games didn’t. Backtracking to stages that now had different paths available to you wasn’t as simple as it sounded, because reaching these new paths often also required the aid of the cape and/or Yoshi.
Ghost Houses with multiple exits and circular paths, the Forest of Illusion’s puzzling road that doesn’t seem to provide a way forward, discovering the powers of Star Road and searching for all of the levels with two exits, and of course, discovering the special star that leads to the Special World and its crazy-difficult levels named using ’80s and ’90s slang. Super Mario World housed a number of secrets that made the game not only massive, but extremely challenging, not to mention rewarding every time you made a discovery or solved one of the game’s many tricky puzzles.
Aside from Yoshi, Bowser’s iconic Koopa Clown Car/Koopa Copter came from Super Mario World, most recently adopted by his son in the latest Smash Bros. For me, the amount of content, the wealth of secrets to be found, and the characters borne from this game all make Super Mario World really special. It’s incredibly fun and I’ve spent hours at a time blasting through levels and then getting crushed in others, and there’s nothing like being Cape Mario riding Yoshi.
Nintendo, give us another return to Dinosaur Land in the Super Mario World art style! Bring back the cape! That’s all I ask (for Mario games, at least)!
While I’d have to call Super Mario World the best in the franchise (in my opinion), the original Super Mario Bros. is probably my personal favorite. It’s the first video game I ever played, and it’s the one that spawned my love of gaming. I was three- or four-years-old when my parents brought home an NES, and I can vaguely recall a bunch of kids from the neighborhood coming over to check it out. The one thing that will always stick with me is the way that I could not figure out how to move and jump at the same time. That first hole in the game was perilous for me, and resulted in an awful lot of deaths. Luckily I got a copy that also had Duck Hunt, which helped when I’d get frustrated!
As an adult, it’s amazing to look back at the game design in the original Super Mario Bros. It’s so simple, yet brilliantly elegant. At the time, there was nothing like it, and even today, few games are anywhere near as clever or well designed. It has aged incredibly well, too! Not a lot of classic games hold up, but the entire Mario franchise manages to feel timeless, and it all goes back to that original NES game.
After spending some time with Super Mario Maker, my answer remains the same: Super Mario World! That it’s the first Mario game I ever played probably leads to some bias on my part, but every time I play it, I always feel like I’m being welcomed home. Everything from the entire soundtrack to the super-clean 16-bit visuals are so tinted with nostalgia I fall into utter bliss every time I play it. Seriously, I think it’s impossible to even pick my favorite song!
Of course, the game plays great, too. Some complain the cape is broken, and it is a tad overpowered, but does that apply to most, if not all of the underwater/castle/ghost house levels? Never mind that it’s a complete joy to control. Angela’s already touched upon most of the other positives, so I’m not sure what else to say except that I love how interconnected the world map is, particularly in relation to the euphoric Star Road.
I plan to experiment with all the aesthetics in Super Mario Maker, but the Mario World one will definitely get the most use from me. After unlocking it, I’m already in love!
Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3 are tied as my all-time favorite 2D Mario games, but New Super Mario Bros. U carved a special place within my memories. Contributor Angela (my sister) and I were at a Wii U launch event in San Francisco, competing in a NSMBU contest. Teams of two squared off, one controlling Mario with the Wii Remote, the other using the GamePad to create platforms.
Round one: I, in my infinite arrogance, told Angela, who was commanding the GamePad, to not make any platforms, fearing she might throw off my groove when running through the level. She begrudgingly agreed, and I dashed like a madman through the stage, reaching the end unscathed. Our competitors fought to match our effort, eventually dwindling down to one lone duo, and the final round was upon us.
Arrogant-bert made his way through the stage, Angela again on GamePad duty. As I careened from point to point, however, I hit a jump that I badly misjudged and began plummeting to my certain doom…
… Until Angela plopped a platform beneath me at the exact, perfect moment! I was saved, not to mention rejuvenated, and made my way to the goal. In that brief moment we were the Mario masters of the universe, but only because Angela ignored my smug braying. NSMBU isn’t the best 2D Mario, but it is the source of a moment of gaming glory I’ll never forget, and thus a personal favorite.
I’m surprised by the lack of love toward Super Mario Bros. 3 by my fellow staff members! Super Mario World definitely perfected the 2D Mario formula, there is no doubt about that. For me though, Super Mario Bros. 3 was the game that really established the 2D Mario franchise and everything afterward simply follows in its footsteps!
The overworld design (which let you choose levels and move independently on water, finding secrets in the process), power-ups, general jumping physics, levels, and also the enemies went far beyond what had come before it. So much of the game became established “Mario” in a way that very little before it had.
But I could only say that it is still the best 2D Mario if I was wearing my nostalgia goggles. As I said, Super Mario World improved on it in many ways, and New Super Mario Bros. will also hold a special place in my heart for reinvigorating my interest in 2D games and also for its role in a certain holiday I took to the U.S.
Still, for me, I think Super Mario Bros. 3 will always be one of the most important 2D Mario games in the series. Certainly, it transformed the series and, in any event, it set a very high standard which subsequent games will always have to try and match.
Which 2D Mario game is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!