With Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury release today, I figured it was time to sit down and finally rank all of the 3D Mario games. Look, this will get ugly. Many of you will probably be upset with this list, but just know that this is the definitive list, and I will not be taking any questions.
7.Super Mario Sunshine
It shouldn’t be a surprise that this is at the bottom of the list. It’s a bad Mario game. The F.L.U.U.D controls rob this game of feeling like a true Mario game. The only great levels in Sunshine are when they physically rip your water spraying companion off of your back.
That’s not to say the environments aren’t great or that the music is lacking, but Super Mario Sunshine is the worst controlling 3D Mario game as an overall package. If it doesn’t feel good to jump in a Mario game, what are we even doing here?
Not to mention that the camera is also a nightmare to try and control. Levels like the lilypad and Pachinko machine are just frustrating, and Noki Noki Bay might be one of the ugliest Mario levels ever designed.
6.Super Mario 64 DS
It’s not easy to recreate Super Mario 64, but this DS remake has some interesting ideas. Playing as a fire-breathing flying Yoshi is a pretty good start. This game was one of the first titles on the Nintendo DS and was a showpiece for using the dual-screen features. Between fun mini-games and being able to explore Peach’s Castle again, it was a nice piece of nostalgia. A mix of the old and the new.
It’s not perfect, and purists will tell you it’s pretty rough around the edges. They are not entirely wrong, which is why it’s on this part of the list.
5.Super Mario 3D Land
While not as good as 3D World, Super Mario 3D Land is an excellent bridge between 2D and 3D. Using a lot of the power and functionality of the 3DS Super Mario 3D Land offers the best Mario experience on a pure handheld device. It is filled with fun levels, beautifully colored vistas, and tight controls.
It’s a middle of the pack game, but one you shouldn’t skip if you have a 3DS and for some reason haven’t picked it up yet.
4.Super Mario Galaxy 1+2
I know what you’re thinking, how could you put both of them together? Well, while Galaxy 2 edges out the original by a little bit, it’s easier to put them together because otherwise, Galaxy 2 would just go above Galaxy on this list.
Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel are incredible video games. Mario glides across planets, and it’s a true sense of adventure. Created for the Wii Galaxy takes full use of the motion controls of the Wii. Using the Wii Remote to collect Star bits throughout a level while you control Mario with the Nunchuck is just magical. When Super Mario Galaxy is firing on all cylinders, it’s hard to be matched, except by the games ahead of it on this list.
The sequel expands on this in every way: more levels, more fun, more variety. Sometimes more of the same is exactly what the doctor ordered.
3.Super Mario 3D World
Super Mario 3D World never got the love it truly deserved. Although with the Nintendo Switch release, it seems people are finally singing its praises. The levels are clever, interesting, and the addition of Cat Suit Mario is an incredible power-up.
It adds a co-op element that is incredibly fun as it is sinister. Competing for the highest score and who will hold the crown at the end is a sick twist on a rather calming game.
Champions Road is an excellent difficult platforming level that puts even the best Mario fans to the test.
Mario 3D World is easily one of the best Mario games, and its Switch release will finally prove that.
2.Super Mario 64
Look, the original Super Mario 64 proved a concept nobody thought was possible. A fully explorable Peach’s Castle. It was the dream no one could have ever imagined. Jumping into a painting and suddenly being transported to Bomb-Omb battlefield or Dire Dire Docks is magical.
It’s iconic, filled with secrets, and provides a pure sense of discovery. In a world before being able to look everything up, it was a challenge to try and collect every star in the game.
This isn’t just a nostalgic look back, though. Super Mario 64 controls very well, even still to this day. It’s not perfect, but it’s consistent. Once you learn how to play by its rules, Super Mario 64 sings.
1.Super Mario Odyssey
This is definitively the best Super Mario game by a wide margin. Its adventure and discovery boiled down to its purest form. Each world is more interesting than the last. Whether you’re climbing a skyscraper in New Donk City or completing a Dark Souls styled boss fight against a dragon, Super Mario Odyssey isn’t afraid to go places unseen by the franchise before.
Cappy and the ability to take control of Mario enemies and friends is by far the coolest power-up to exist in a Mario game. It changes the gameplay, adds a new depth to puzzle solving, and allows the level-design to be built around entirely new concepts.
The music in Odyssey is some of the best in the series. The final K-pop song to Jump Up Superstar runs the gamut of tunes to listen to.