In honor of the release of Luigi’s Mansion 2: Dark Moon, we felt it was only fitting to take a look at some of the best spin-off titles to come from the Super Mario franchise.
For the purpose of this article though, we are going to place two main limitations. The first, this will be for all non-sports related Mario spin-off titles (yes there are that many) and second because it would literally be half the list, we have decided to enforce a 1 per franchise rule especially in regards to the various Mario RPG series.
With that in mind, let’s get to the list!
7) Mario Party 4- The Mario Party franchise is one of the, if not the best, party games to play. It is easily the best drinking video game on the market. Much like the Mario Kart franchise though, I feel like the “best” Mario Party simply happens to be the one you spent the most time with. They are all familiar similar. For me, Mario Party 4 defined a huge part of my life, and in some ways continues to do so. Countless hours were spent playing this game with people who would become some of my closest and dearest friends. Put whichever Mario Party you want here, but they are all fantastic party games.
6) Luigi’s Mansion- It wasn’t Luigi’s first starring role, but it was his best. This GameCube launch title did a lot to show off the possibilities of the console, but most importantly it really began to define Luigi as a character, and give Mario’s younger brother the limelight that he deserved. The game is also unlike anything else on the market, even 12 years later, there’s only one other game that compares and it’s the sequel that releases soon.
5) Super Princess Peach- Mario is the King of the platformer, so it is only fitting that in 2006 Princess Peach attempted to become the Queen of Platformers. In this very intriguing game, the damsel in distress finally gets her own starring role. She harnesses the powers of her emotions to combat enemies and solve puzzles, and of course her trademark parasol was introduced here as well. If you haven’t played it, should look for it, one of the DS’ most charming games.
4) Dr. Mario- Mario is quite the Renaissance Man, never quite content with being just a plumber, he apparently got his doctorate somewhere in-between rescuing the princess. The Dr. Mario games are some quality puzzling with that added twist of Nintendo multi-player mode. Dr. Mario on WiiWare added online play, which just added to the already addictive formula for one hell of a game. Here’s to a Wii U version in the future!
3) WarioWare, Inc: Mega Microgames- I feel like of ALL the picks on this list, this will be the one that causes the most grief. Wario has starred in quite a lot of amazing games with a ton of variety. He gets his platforming on in the WarioLand games, he made the jump to 3D in Wario World and was one of the most compelling motion-based games on the Wii in Wario Land: Shake It!, but for all of his titles, only one game has really ever been top of its class. WarioWare is perhaps gaming at its core essential. Boiling down mini-games into 5 second “micro”games which have you reacting with a single button press. It’s simplicity is its charm. It’s a title anyone can play, but it offers a level of skill and cunning that most games never touch. While the series has been hit or miss recently, the original, especially on the Gamecube, was an amazing experience.
2) Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door- Everyone will have their opinion on which is the best Paper Mario game, but just think about this, over 14 years and 4 games, Intelligent Systems has crafted more of the best, and most diverse franchises in all of gaming. Sure some people take issues with the constant switch in style, but the look and fall of the Paper Mario games is what keeps gamers coming back to the series. Of all the games though, I found that Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door offered the right mixture of Mario charm, unique personalities, a fun Luigi side story and of course compelling battle system to be considered the best of the bunch.
1) Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story- This won’t surprise many, but the Mario and Luigi games ran fairly neck to neck with the Paper Mario series until Bowser’s Inside Story. Bowser’s Inside Story made excellent use of the Mario universe, added memorable characters (friends and foes) and took you deeper inside Bowser than ever before. Beyond that though, it is a well-written game that is quite funny (Which is a rare feat for games if I am to be honest) and mixed up the formula with both Mario and Luigi segments and Bowser segments, which included some great boss battles that made excellent use of the DS’ functionality. If there’s one Mario spin-off you try, make it this one!