top of page

A comprehensive review of Mario's classic 2D platforming adventures

Artwork by Alfonso Marone

Super Mario Bros, one of the most iconic franchises in gaming history and one arguably responsible for resurrecting the North American video game industry after the infamous Video Game Market Crash of 1983. There are 10 games across the arcade games, Gameboy, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) included on this list. These were some of the highest selling games on their respective platforms, a must have for gamers at the time, and in this review we’ll be discussing, reviewing and ranking each one.

These titles are all playable via the Nintendo Switch Online service. While some are being played on other hardware, some are included with free libraries of NES and SNES games. These games are going to be ranked by the playability of the game at it’s time of release and by modern standards, as well as where I feel the game stands compared to others in the series. To be included on this list, the game must involve platforming as a main part of gameplay as well as star Mario as a central character.

#10 Super Mario Bros 2: The Lost Levels (Japan only release)

Image Credit: Nintendo

Image Credit: Nintendo

It feels strange ranking a main series game so low on the list, especially the SEQUEL to the first Super Mario Bros game. However, those who have played the game might see why this game is ranked so low. This game’s difficulty sometimes even feels almost unfair. The game was released on the floppy disk based expansion of the Famicom (the Japanese version of the NES). This expansion was called the Famicom disk system and allowed users to have games written onto floppy disks at a much cheaper price than the typical game cartridge. Super Mario Bros 2 was only exclusively released on the Famicom disk system and only in Japan. Seeing as the first Super Mario Bros game was released to massive success in Japan, Nintendo felt most people buying the sequel had already become proficient at playing and completing the previous game. This prompted Nintendo to up the difficulty on the next game so much so that the original game cover included a “for super players” stamp on the front of it. The game does not do much to update the graphics from the previous installment looking almost exactly the same. The game is almost unfair and takes everything you’d expect from the first Super Mario Bros game and throws it out the window. The game makes you take leaps of faith where you aren't sure if you’ll land safely, enemies are given much more difficult attack patterns, and there are even levels where you need to find hidden secrets in order to complete them or else you’ll simply be stuck in the same level. There are even deceiving items like the poisonous mushroom which is similar to the original power up mushroom, except contact with it kills you immediately. Even worse is that with a sequel to such a popular game, many would buy it, including new players. The game’s increased difficulty surely must have been an unpleasant surprise for new players who might have had little experience with the previous game or were not expecting the extreme difficulty increase.

#9 Mario Bros. (arcade and NES release)

Image Credit: Nintendo

Mario Bros is an arcade platformer starring the 2 brothers Mario and Luigi, coming before Super Mario Bros. Rather than playing through the long levels in the mushroom kingdom as you would in later Mario games, you play in small levels contained in the sewers. Here you must clear out enemies not by jumping on them, you knock them over by flipping them on their backs by hitting the platforms they walk on above you.