Mario's become one of the most famous faces in modern media, and it's undeniable that he's the biggest star in the gaming world. Naturally, a figure with that kind of status is going to be the star of dozens of great games, but how do you tell which ones are the best of the best? Well, that's a question that's hard to answer, but below, you'll find my personal top five favorite Mario spinoffs, and be sure to share your own in the comments!
5) Mario Golf (GBC)
Mario Golf is one of the shining stars in the Game Boy Color library. While NES Open introduced us to the world of tournament golf and Mario Golf on Nintendo 64 showed us what it would look like in full 3D, Mario Golf in the Game Boy Color offered a rich gameplay experience combining the serious suspense of virtual golf with even more serious training regimes. In the end, Mario Golf on the Game Boy Color is just a fantastic handheld golfing experience, and my personal favorite of all the Mario sports games.
4) Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga
Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga for the Game Boy Advance applied the RPG formula to a wonderful slapstick cartoon world full of memorable characters and totally zany scenarios. Superstar Saga introduced us to the new world of the Beanbean Kingdom and had a distinct Mario charm that its sequels have somehow never quite matched. And of course, who can forget the almighty harbinger of ultimate evil, Fawful?
3) Mario Kart Wii
Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart: Double Dash!! both get a lot of fan attention for being excellent Mario Kart games (though I personally believe that Super Circuit had the best course design in the series). One title that people often overlook, perhaps for its modernity or perhaps for its commonness, is Mario Kart Wii. Mario Kart Wii has a huge selection of excellent courses and a wonderful soundtrack, both of which are huge factors in its overall quality. But Mario Kart Wii also revolutionized the party racing genre by adding motion-controlled steering, which captivated thousands of new players while also making the experience even more fun for us veteran Karters.
2) Fortune Street
I’ve got to admit, it was tough to decide if Fortune Street counted as a Mario spinoff or just a game with Mario characters in it, especially when I’m treating Yoshi and Luigi’s Mansion as their own series. Nevertheless, Fortune Street is a unique and exciting party game experience. Because it combines the best experiences of Monopoly, Mario Party, and the New York Stock Exchange, Fortune Street provides countless hours of unending fun for you and your friends. It may not be one of the Wii’s best sellers, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best party games of all time.
1) Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door takes the cake as not only the best Mario spinoff title, but also as one of my favorite games of all time. The Thousand-Year Door revisits the stellar RPG-style gameplay of the original Paper Mario and fuses it with a creative new world to explore and dozens of side-characters with quite well-developed backstories. Intelligent Systems gives its players a massive world to explore, with dozens of nooks and crannies, and pulls off a charming papercraft aesthetic with great aplomb. Here’s to hoping that The Thousand-Year Door gets the same treatment as The Wind Waker HD, or at the very least, a re-release on the Wii U Virtual Console.
Honorable Mentions: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Dr. Mario
So these are my top choices! What are your five favorite Mario spinoffs?