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The Top 7... Mario spin-offs

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.

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15 comments

  • radishboy - May 30, 2010 7:01 p.m.

    GalenMarek: This wasn't really a list of the best mario games ever made, it's just eh best "spin-offs" of mario. Mario Galaxy is definitely one of the best, but i's not really a spin-off, it's a regular contiuation of a mario game. a spin-off is something has to do with mario on some level, (usually just the inclusion of the mario cast and the mario "mushroom kingdom" setting) but the core game mechanics differ greatly from the classic sidescrolling platformer for the 2D games, and the platforming adventure mario 64/sunshine/galaxy type for the 3D titles. Smash brothers brawl doesn't count either, as it's more of a spin-off of every nintendo character, not just mario. tennis isn't something that you would ever do in a "regular" mario game, ever. so a mario game all about tennis would be considered a "spin-off" game, not a true mario game. The idea of a spin-off is to use a set of characters and themes that have already proven to be popular, and use those aspects as a selling point to promote a different idea. if someone made a Tennis game for 64, that played/looked/felt the exact same way as "mario tennis" did, but with normal looking people and courts instead of using mario characters, there's no doubt it would not have sold nearly as well, ya know? a kid goes to a store with is mom, sees "Tennis 64!" meh..... but throw mario in there: "Mario tennis!" OHMYGOD MOM MARIO TENNIS ME WANT SO BADDUUUHNNNNUNUNUNNUUUUNNNUHHH mario sells stuff, so they use him to sell games that would normally have nothing to do with mario. just because mario is in it, doesn't automatically mean it's a "Mario game." you also have to factor in the gameplay. if the gameplay is traditionally "un-mario," but mario is is still in it, it becomes a "spin-off game" like, if they made a "HALO Snowman building" game, you wouldn't consider it a true "Halo" game, it's a spinoff, using the popular Halo brand in order to sell a different product. ugh. the end.
  • FanofSaiyan - December 19, 2009 9:59 a.m.

    Was it really that shocking that Mario Kart would make the top slot? Of course not, that game sold millions!
  • FanofSaiyan - December 19, 2009 9:58 a.m.

    The music creater for Mario Paint is so awesome and complex. Wonder how Nintendo managed to fit that into the game?
  • zeetlock - November 5, 2009 12:11 p.m.

    does paper mario series count as spin-off?Because that was pretty awesome and i don't think it really counts as a traditional mario game
  • Cogglesz - October 11, 2008 10:54 p.m.

    Alot Of The Mario Games Shown Here Are Pretty Underated, Especially Mario Golf And Tennis, I Only Played It This Year Because It Looked Really Bad In My Opinion When The N64 Was The Kick Ass Console But I Was Highly Mistaken, Although I Still Don't Like DR. Mario, I Was Never A Fan Of Tetris, Even When Grandma Tried To Get Me To Play It On The SNES
  • katwood92 - October 29, 2008 12:07 a.m.

    I remember playing Mario as a kid with my brother and cousins (we couldn't even read it) on the SNES. I don't remember which one (it's somewhere...). Good times...
  • brothir - October 18, 2008 2:58 p.m.

    What about Super Smash?
  • cultofbananas - October 10, 2008 5:20 a.m.

    I have to agree on Mario Kart DS.. That game truly defines the Mario Kart series. I however LOVED the first Paper Mario for 64, it wasn't really that chatty when compared to the sequels. They should beef up the core game and rerelease it for the DS! Speaking of Mario + DS, where the heck is New Super Mario Bros 2?? I think we need some Yoshi this time around..
  • cricket0 - September 22, 2008 2:59 a.m.

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! 1st!!!Mario is cool and all, but he has strayed WAAAAAAAY 2 far from his roots. Its always "save Peach" or "collect all 120 stars just to play as luigi" or something. Even so, Super Mario Galaxy is still awesome.
  • Gsindahouse - May 29, 2009 8:29 p.m.

    Ha haaa! GOOD JOB!! You didn't miss Superstar Saga! I'll tell you that was a pretty decent game, you know. Not to mention 'Partners in Time' for the DS. Masterful RPGs, them both.
  • toadettefan37 - January 19, 2009 5:35 p.m.

    i love all the mario kart games! they did a good job! i havent played the SNES or the 64 in years!lol
  • thephntm - January 16, 2009 2:05 a.m.

    i wouldn't be suprised if soon there's Mario Ice Hockey. x_x'
  • GalenMarek - June 3, 2009 3:26 a.m.

    this list is SO WRONG!! Dr. Mario sucked. Mario Superstar Saga was definitely good but not better than Super Mario Galaxy. Mario Kart DS SO doesn't deserve first. First should be Galaxy, Brawl, or something. Don't get me wrong it was good but not that good.
  • leavemealone - March 26, 2009 6:36 p.m.

    Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga was HILARIOUS! I lol'ed thruout nearly the entire game. I'm not normally a fan of RPG's, but this game was so different. I also liked the fact that you don't have to fight random invisible characters, which I loathe doing. My only real problem with the game is its lack of replay vaule, like most RPG's. PS loved the Paper Mario tunes and Dr. Mario on the guitar was SWEET. But what's up with that guy's sideburns?:)
  • thephntm - January 16, 2009 2:07 a.m.

    also i agree w/ cultofbananas: we NEED NSMB2!

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