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This is Nintendo at its very best. Combining a character's 2D heritage with the possibilities opened up by 3D gameplay, Paper Mario is awesome. And what's even better is that not only is he a joy to play, he's a joy to look at too.
There's nothing not to like. The way he trots happily along while barely moving his upper body, the way he turns sideways to fit through bars in the background... the fact he doesn't look like Mario does in practically every other modern game is one of the reasons we like him so much. Hooray for Paper Mario - and long may he reign.
Above: We'd like to see Mario Party Mario try that. No, really. Mwahahaha
Super Mario World
Before you accuse this writer of hypocrisy after slamming Super Mario World in our recent Week of Hate, be aware that the problem I had there was with the game and not the character (apart from his stupid little legs - that still applies). But if you're looking at which version of Mario is the best one to play as, even I can see this has to be in the top 5.
His movement is, without question, sublime. Pixel perfect in its precision, with beautifully weighted acceleration and momentum, this handles like a deluxe version of Super Mario Bros 1. Then there's the versatility, with swimming, climbing and even flying all handled effortlessly. Looks-wise... well, he's cute enough, and there's more personality in him than the latest 3D Marios. If only he'd been given a better game to run around in (hehehe).
Super Mario Galaxy
While there's little to distinguish this Mario from the Mario Party 8 model we were just whining about, it's the lighting effect that wins us over (well, that and the phenomenal gameplay). Take plasticky modern Mario, add a gleaming white outline to him as well as reflecting the nearest light source and you've got yourself a winner. Mario + stardust = win.
There's a lot to be said for great art direction and Galaxy is full of it. And when you've essentially got Mario 64's Mario with even more moves and better looks, there's no question that Galaxy's Mario is the better of the two.
Above: Everything reminded Mario of his poor, abducted Princess
Mario vs Donkey Kong
This has got to be one of the greatest platform heroes ever. Like Mario Kart 64, he's pre-rendered so the graphical sheen is high, but the GBA's low-res screen undoes all the gloss to give us a proper game sprite.
His animation is amazing, with so many frames for every motion. He's also got pretty much every technique Mario 64's Mario has, complete with a higher jump on the turn. Uber cute, uber controllable and in a fantastic game to boot, this is the best Mario of all. Bar one...
Super Mario Bros. 3
Ah, Super Mario Bros 3 Mario. He's better-drawn than his SMB1 counterpart, with defined facial features and a black outline, making him look much more like a playable cartoon (a holy grail to gamers back then... for some reason).
Yet despite these technical advances, he still looks pleasantly primitive and videogamey. He moves well too, with more moves, thanks to the power-up items he can collect, culminating in one of the most iconic images of our generation:
Above: Quite why raccoon ears and tail make you fly is beyond us
Which is your favourite Mario? Let us know in the comments below.
03 April, 2009
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