Nov 12, 2007
When it comes to running and jumping, Mario is the undisputed King of Hop. Every five years or so Nintendo gets around to releasing a new platformer, and each and every one is something special. Super Mario Galaxy is the latest in a long, long line of ultra-successful entries, but how does the plumber fare when he's taken out of his hop-n-bop element?
Surprisingly well, actually. Despite the choking amount of Mario-related products, many of them are quite good and deserve to be elevated above the rest. Which, as you may have guessed by now, is precisely what we're doing this week - counting down the seven best Mario spin-offs. None of the main games are eligible, nor are their numbered sequels (sorry, Yoshi's Island). These have to be true spin-offs, separate from the platformers. Entries also had to be post-Super Mario Bros. - otherwise it would all lead back to Donkey Kong.
Fair warning, Mario Party fans - that dreadful series is nowhere to be found.
7 - Mario Clash (Virtual Boy)
A solid arcade title updated and brought back to life, sadly on a doomed system.
Mario Bros. was a single-screen action title that had you attacking enemies from underneath. You may know it from the Virtual Console or as a tacked-on minigame from the GBA days. This kinda-sorta sequel had Mario throwing koopa shells at enemies deep in the Z-axis and diving in and out of the screen to avoid attacks. It was one of the few Virtual Boy games that actually conveyed a sense of three-dimensional depth, and most importantly, was fun.
This was exactly what the Virtual Boy needed - simple games that anyone could play, delivered in a way that we hadn't seen before. Hopping in a pipe wouldn't just move you to a new location; it'd also shunt you into the background or up high, forcing you to accurately judge a proper distance to throw the koopa shells. Levels started off quite easy, then become more and more difficult, throwing many more layers of enemies your way.
It doesn't look like much now (hell, it didn't then either), but it's damn fun. We're still taken with it to this day.