The Top 7... Mario spin-offs

1 - Mario Kart DS (DS)

Was there even any doubt about this?

Mario Kart is the most revered of all Mario spin-offs. Each release ushers in a new wave of brilliant course design, catchy music and devilishly addictive multiplayer. We thought about going old school and giving the top spot to the very first game for creating a gaming phenomenon, but there's no denying it: Mario Kart DS is the best of the best.

First, online races make it immensely replayable. Yes, there are several aspects we don't care for (no online battle, tracks missing, rampant snaking), but that never once stopped us from logging on for a quick race or two... or 10. Local multiplayer is even better, ridding us of the Link Cable-addled Super Circuit once and for all.

Offline, the game's 16 tracks are some of the most creative in the series. If that's not enough, there's a collection of 16 more tracks from previous Kart games, making this a one-stop-shop for the entire franchise. There's just no need to mess with anything else - unless Mario Kart Wii manages to outperform early next year.

When you factor in the game's mission mode, emblem editor and exclusive characters, there's simply no argument for any other game in the series. We love them all, and were part of countless MK64 tournaments back in the day, but MKDS leaves all other competitors in the dust.

Did we leave something out? Honor a game you think is crap? Head into this story's thread and sound off.

For more Top 7 goodness, head to our Top 7 Compendium.


Top 7


  • 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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