Super Mario games go back to nearly the beginning of video games themselves with only a couple of properties surviving alongside the eponymous plumber, and most of those also flying under the Nintendo flag. He has been attached to well over 100 games since his arcade debut and another huge amount of re-releases, selling nearly 1 billion software units alone for Nintendo when digital sales are included. Of course, some of those sales have come from offshoot games, and the plumber has had many unofficial vocations over the years, and some of those Super Mario games have gone underappreciated even as time marches onward.
Super Mario core titles are beleaguered for being “the same game” by those inside and outside the industry, but each of them have aimed to build upon what is already a perfect system of controls. The couple that have varied from the normal palates and worlds, then, have become ridiculed by fans, even though their quality remains at the same standard. Below are three of the best, underappreciated core Super Mario games, in no particular order, that a lot of people did not like at release.
One of the most divisive titles in the series, Super Mario Sunshine is still one of the best Gamecube games and one that many fans say is too different. Introducing a water mechanic exclusive to this game, Mario was tasked with navigating Delfino Island to clean pollutants and stop a mysterious enemy—spoiler: it turned out to be Bowser—from destroying the locals. There was a sense of difficulty to Sunshine that seemed to turn away some fans, but very few other entries have tested the platforming acumen of players on such a consistent level as each world has at least one challenging stage placed as a skills quiz for would-be Mario users. Many were not looking for that challenge on the Gamecube, thus leaving this title to fulfill less than its full potential.
Another title that many players feel is a misstep for the franchise is Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. This and Sunshine are, arguably, the most story-centric games from the entire Mario franchise with this one serving as a prequel to the entire lineage and putting Yoshi in the spotlight. Many fans were driven off by carrying the baby Mario across what boils down to a babysitting adventure, but the Nintendo brand of variation between levels and worlds brought the colorful land to life while game-play, while a bit different, was still entertaining. Another argument against this particular game has to do with the previous title, Super Mario World, being one of the best games of all time to many people, serving to ratchet up the feeling of disappointment with this sequel.
One of the most famous video game stories of all time deals with Super Mario Brothers 2 and how Nintendo believed that what would become The Lost Levels—the original Super Mario Brothers 2 in Japan—was too difficult for American gamers. Instead, a game titled Doki Doki Panic was re-skinned and shipping to American players. The art style and imagery came off as a side-stepping sequel that turned fans away and drove this entry to sell the least amount of any of the Nintendo Entertainment System trilogy. Many consumers, in a time when back-of-the-box descriptions were held in high regard, saw this is a radical change that was not the Mario they wanted to play. However, this is still a graphical and design upgrade from the original and introduced several series mainstays in the end.
Super Mario games have continued to evolve in both the three and two-dimensional planes, taking even from these three underappreciated wells of game-play and design. The Galaxy games were considered by some critics to be the best games of all among the last generation of gaming, the longest ever for the industry while the Wii side-scroller sold well over 20 million copies. With their favorite mascot still so marketable, fans can rest assured that it probably will not be long before another Super Mario title is on the way from Nintendo for their Wii U system.
Opinion by Myles Gann