Super Mario Sunshine
There's a lot of hate for this version of Mario and we have to say we don't think it's wholly justified. The game is way better than most 3D platformers and we had fun playing it, even if the water jetpack contraption unbalanced Mario's normally untouchable moveset.
That said, just look at it. Mario spends the majority of the game carrying around FLUDD on his back, making him look like a tech-happy gardener with too much time and money on his hands. If the designers thought Mario looked cool like this, they were wrong. Take it off, put it down. Go walk on some planets instead.
Above: Ah, the indignity of climbing a tree only to be humped by a robot
Mario vs Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis
OK, so these are meant to be wind-up Mario toys and not the man himself, but we just hate the graphical style of this game. Everything's so... 'turned down'. Not in terms of volume or colour saturation, but like the corners of a mouth.
It must have been difficult to take all the joy out of the first Mario vs Donkey Kong, but they managed it here with aplomb. Well done.
Super Mario Bros.
Ironic, really, that one of the greatest games of all time has one of the worst character sprites. Iconic? Yes. Loved? Double yes. But good? No way. Even the most die-hard Nintendo fan will have to admit this Mario sprite is awful.
We can excuse the colour palette, as it was an early NES game. We can excuse its size, as the hardware isn't known for shoving huge images around the screen.
But we can't excuse the crudeness of the drawing, nor can we excuse the shambling animation. Sorry, 'running' animation. He always steps forward with the same foot! Nobody does that, unless they're suffering from horrible ailment, or doing it for a bet. Maybe in Mario's case it was both.
Mario Kart 64
Never mind the fact that it's easier to pick up items on your left by turning right. Or the way the N64 blurs everything so much you have to squint to see it properly. No, what really bugs us about the N64 Mario Kart sprite is that it is a sprite. It's flat. It's no more 3D than NES Mario is, yet it's in a 3D game.
Back around the time of the game's release, Nintendo thought it looked good to use super computers to pre-render all of their characters in 3D and then put photos of these models into the game. Problem is, when you move the camera to a point that wasn't pre-rendered, everything looks wrong. And when the less-powerful PSone was doing full 3D karting with Crash Team Racing, there's no excuse for this:
Above: As if we wouldn't notice!
Mario Party 8
The problem with modern Mario like the one in Mario Party 8 is that he's just so... neutered. He's completely inoffensive and looks like he's made of plastic. A big, shiny plastic figure with over-emphasised facial expressions like the scary drama teacher you had at school.
But he's now so iconic, with every moustache hair groomed to perfection, he's never going to change... at least not in mass-market Mario games. He's the very definition of a cash cow - and this face will sell anything. So excuse us for being just a little bit tired of it. After all, there are some wonderful alternatives, even modern ones, as you'll see over the page...