10 Super Mario Spin-Offs That Are Nothing Like The Main Games – TheGamer

Mainline Super Mario games are typically the most groundbreaking titles on Nintendo consoles, but there have been several Mario spin-offs over time.

Nintendo has dozens of different intellectual properties that have been able to achieve deep levels of success, but its unlikely that anything is ever going to dethrone Super Mario as the companys most popular mascot and series of games.

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The mainline Super Mario gamesare typically the most groundbreaking titles to appear on Nintendo consoles, but there have also been an increasing number of spin-off efforts that try to push the character into a different direction or genre. Many of these are successes in their own rights, but its shocking to see just how far off base theyve become from the standard expectations of Super Mario games.

One of the earliest forays of Mario stepping outside of his standard world of platforming comes in the shape of the successful series of minigame compilations, Mario Party. Now that the series is in double digits, the games have hit diminishing returns and feel like their best days have passed them, but theres no denying that the initial games were a revolutionary surprise and started a massive trend that Nintendo still hasnt entirely left behind. Now the idea of putting Mario and his friends in weird minigames feels like a standard shift in gameplay rather than anything radical.

The sports genre of video games is often an area that feels dominated by Sony and Microsoft as they indulge in making their titles as realistic as possible. Nintendo tapped into something special when they decided to cross Mario over with various sports and create an entertaining alternative to the norm. It initially seemed ridiculous to have Mario engaging in things like golf, tennis, or baseball, but its now become a mainstay for Nintendo. Mario has proved his proficiency in many fields, but its Mario Golf that helped advance these spin-offs in considerable ways.

The Mario Kart games are now just as popular as the proper Super Mario series and theyve turned into an excellent equalizer for both seasoned gamers and newcomers. The initialSuper Mario Kart for the Super Nintendo started off as an experiment that didnt even originally involve Mario and his friends, but its turned into one of the best decisions that Nintendo has ever done.

Related: The 5 Hardest Mario Games (& The 5 Easiest)

The whole concept of racing and confining Mario to a vehicle is completely foreign to where the series began, but its been a shift that audiences havent struggled to accept.

Super Smash Bros. is likely the only offshoot from Super Mario thats actually grown more popular than the original games. Nintendo had no idea that this series of crossover fighters would turn into such a phenomenon where gamers can never get enough. At this point the Super Smash Bros. series effectively represents the bulk of Nintendos franchises, as well as characters that dont even come from Nintendo properties, but its always been sure to feature many faces and locations from the Super Mario games. Its surprising to see how many of Marios platforming mechanics naturally translate over to fighting games.

For decades Mario has always been positioned as the friendly rival to Segas Sonic and the prospect of seeing these two characters work together in a video game seemed impossible even after Sega got out of the hardware business. Its truly surprising that not only do Mario and Sonic have their own spin-off series together, but that its a celebration of the Olympic Games of all things. This is a bizarre mix of both sports and minigame aesthetics to put Mario in an environment thats oddly become popular and spawned several follow-up titles.

There are many different Super Mario spin-offs that embrace a foreign genre or play in an entirely contrasting manner to the core games, but Paper Mario is also a series thats so visually distinct.

Related: Every 3D Super Mario Platformer, Ranked From Worst To Best

There are several different franchises that push Mario into an RPG setting and even though Paper Mario games have slightly lost their way in this regard, theyve still never stopped being visually exciting. The style of these adventures and the partners by Marios side would have been impossible to predict after playing the original Super Mario titles.

Its easy to forget that Mario actually got his start in the arcade classic, Donkey Kong, before he actually got his own series. Nintendo decided to return to Marios true roots with the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, which doesnt just make Mario and Donkey Kong rivals again, but it leans into a puzzle-based style of gameplay. This slows down Mario and puts more of an emphasis on problem solving. The games in this series are completely different than the main platformers, but its still interesting that this radical deviation can still in a way be honoring Marios past.

Its kind of incredible to see how many popular puzzle games have been born by just taking the basic concept behind Tetris and then marginally tweaking it. Dr. Mario is Nintendos attempt to launch a new puzzle series, but with the strength of Marios character to anchor it. Dr. Mario is simple, yet addictive, in its structure. Clearly this strategy worked because not only are there still Dr. Mario games that are happening, but the figure has even showed up as a playable character in other spin-offs, like Super Smash Bros.

There are a series of Super Mario spin-offs that have more of an educational aim rather than to purely entertain its audience. Many of the examples of this for the CD-i are disasters, but Mario is Missing! is a more subtle example that did come out on the SNES. The game stars Luigi and tries to give out a rudimentary geography lesson as he attempts to locate his brother. Its a nice change of pace to take control of Luigi, but the game feels like such misguided manipulation. Picture Luigi's Mansion, but without the ghosts or the fun.

It would have been a fair gamble to bet that a new Super Mario game isn't going to equip Mario and his friends with guns, let alone have strange and disturbing creatures cosplay as them, but that's exactly what's going on in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. The inexplicable crossover from Ubisoft turns Mario into a turn-based tactics title that morphs the Mushroom Kingdom into a strategy game. Oddly enough, this game actually works and even though the Rabbids are still creepy on every level, this is a very fun Switch game.

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Daniel Kurland is a freelance writer, comedian, and critic, who lives in the cultural mosaic that is Brooklyn, New York. Daniels work can be read on ScreenRant, Splitsider, Bloody Disgusting, Den of Geek, and across the Internet. He recently completed work on a noir anthology graphic novel titled, "Sylvia Plaths The Bell Noir: A Rag of Bizarre Noir and Hard Boiled Tales" and hes currently toiling away on his first novel.

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10 Super Mario Spin-Offs That Are Nothing Like The Main Games - TheGamer

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