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.
Related: 10 Best Super Mario Sport Games, Ranked (According To Metacritic)
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.
Next: 10 Super Mario Fan Games Every Nintendo Fan Should Know About
Next 10 Minecraft Steve Smash Bros. Memes That Are Too Hilarious For Words
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.
- The R of R.B.G. - The New York Times - December 1st, 2020
- Five new Steam games you probably missed (November 30, 2020) - PC Gamer - December 1st, 2020
- Starry Garden: Collect Constellations and Adorable Animals - TechAcute - November 29th, 2020
- Every Xbox Series X Launch Game Ranked from Worst To Best (According To Metacritic) - GameRant - November 29th, 2020
- Games with Gold: Gat out of Hell, The Raven Set Their Sights on Xbox Series X Owners - CBR - Comic Book Resources - November 27th, 2020
- 9 Online Puzzles That Will Give Your Brain a Workout - Study Breaks - November 27th, 2020
- SwitchArcade Round-Up: 'Girabox', 'More Dark', and Today's Other New Releases and Sales - Touch Arcade - November 27th, 2020
- Itch.io's Black Friday sale has Among Us and loads of indie goodies - Rock Paper Shotgun - November 27th, 2020
- The Legend of Bum-bo emerges from the sewer after a very difficult year - PCGamesN - November 27th, 2020
- Global Games and Puzzles Market 2020 to Witness Splendid Growth by 2027: Trefl SA, Springbok Puzzles, Eurographics, Inc., Ravensburger AG, Heye Puzzle... - November 27th, 2020
- Ten Puzzle Games You Must Have Played - Gameindustry.com - GameIndustry.com - November 26th, 2020
- Cook up a storm with this feast of games - Nintendo - November 26th, 2020
- Babe in the Woods - The New York Times - November 26th, 2020
- 'Spirit Of The North Enhanced Edition' Review: An Ethereal Escape - Electric Bento - November 26th, 2020
- Bored Of Playing Multiplayer Games? 7 Alternatives For You To Try - Our Culture - Our Culture Mag - November 26th, 2020
- 5 Memorable Viral Video Games (& 5 That Were Overhyped) - FandomWire - November 26th, 2020
- Home for the Holidays - toys and games | Holiday | unionleader.com - The Union Leader - November 26th, 2020
- First-Person Games vs. Third-Person Games: What Are the Differences? - MakeUseOf - November 26th, 2020
- Local Toy Store Thrive Amid Pandemic's Return To Board Games, Chess And Card Collecting - Rockland County Business Journal - November 26th, 2020
- Conferences join forces on virus testing procedures for refs - The Coastland Times - The Coastland Times - November 25th, 2020
- Xbox Live Games with Gold reveals final batch of games for 2020 - SlashGear - November 25th, 2020
- Buffalo Games adds pieces to its puzzle through two deals - Buffalo News - November 25th, 2020
- Satisfying Puzzles And Tunes Make 'Carto' Perfect On The Switch - UPROXX - November 25th, 2020
- Best new mobile games on iOS and Android - November 2020 round-up - Metro.co.uk - November 25th, 2020
- Everyone Has Gone Missing In Point And Click Tiny Room Stories: Town Mystery - TheGamer - November 25th, 2020
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War review: a game as bloated and overwhelming as its name - The Verge - November 25th, 2020
- United Way of Berks County guide has ways you can volunteer or give gifts this holiday season - The Mercury - November 25th, 2020
- The Best PSP Games of All Time - Best gaming pro - November 25th, 2020
- The Latest Games To Play In Indonesia & Win - Inside Pulse - November 25th, 2020
- We reviewed (nearly) every game out now for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X - The A.V. Club - November 25th, 2020
- Tristan Thompson is the missing piece to the Boston Celtics championship puzzle - NBA IN - November 25th, 2020
- More Dark Is A Puzzle-Platformer 'Intended For Adults', And It Launches On Switch This Week - Nintendo Life - November 25th, 2020
- STAFF OPINION: Hop in, loser. We're warping our sense of reality - The Beacon - November 23rd, 2020
- Rez and Tetris Effect Producer Tetsuya Mizuguchi Working on a "New Adventure with Synesthesia" with Enhance Games - Niche Gamer - November 23rd, 2020
- Mourinho: When the puzzle around him is perfect, Kane is fantastic - AS English - November 23rd, 2020
- Quick Trip to a Store and Back - The New York Times - November 23rd, 2020
- 10 Holiday Gifts to Give Any Game of Thrones Fans Missing the Show - Winter is Coming - November 23rd, 2020
- 'Call of Duty Mobile' & 'Among Us' Will Fight For The Title of Best Mobile Game 2020 - Digital Information World - November 23rd, 2020
- The Greatest Google Stadia Video games for 2020 - The Shepherd of the Hills Gazette - November 23rd, 2020
- Impact of Covid 19 On Augmented Reality Gaming Market 2020 Industry Challenges Business Overview And Forecast Research Study 2026 - The Market Feed - November 23rd, 2020
- Everything Else Leaked in the Capcom Hack | Game Rant - GameRant - November 23rd, 2020
- 5 Most Memorable Viral Video Games Of All Time (& 5 That Were Really Stupid, Now That We Think About It) - Screen Rant - November 21st, 2020
- TouchArcade Game of the Week: 'Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead' - Touch Arcade - November 21st, 2020
- Tetris movie officially in the works, will star Rocketman's Taron Egerton - Destructoid - November 21st, 2020
- 3 Of The Hottest Video Games Dropping In December 2020 - Gstyle magazine - November 21st, 2020
- SwitchArcade Round-Up: 'Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity', 'Micetopia', and Today's Other New Releases and Sales - Touch Arcade - November 21st, 2020
- Behind the mask: A chat with the developers of Maskmaker - Blogdottv - November 21st, 2020
- The 30 best iPad games you need to play - The DHT News - November 21st, 2020
- Review: Microsofts new Xbox consoles are powerful and speedy, but are they necessary? - The Dallas Morning News - November 21st, 2020
- Can You Pass The Cranberry Sauce? - FiveThirtyEight - November 21st, 2020
- How a Solo Indie Developer Built the Best Rated Game on Oculus Quest - Road to VR - November 19th, 2020
- DREAMO, A LOVE LETTER TO THE NARRATIVE PUZZLE GENRE - Gamasutra - November 19th, 2020
- Blair Witch: Experience the Horror of the Movie By...Solving Puzzles? - CBR - Comic Book Resources - November 19th, 2020
- Out Now: 'Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead', 'The First Tree', 'Moonlighter', 'One Night at Flumpty's', 'Tomb Toad', 'DeLight: The Journey Home',... - November 19th, 2020
- Elite Dangerous and The World Next Door are free on the Epic Games Store this week - Neowin - November 19th, 2020
- The Pathless review: The joy of the unknown | Entertainment - UT Daily Beacon - November 19th, 2020
- Every PS5 launch game ranked worst to best - Looper - November 19th, 2020
- Call of the Sea sets sail in December - Gamesradar - November 19th, 2020
- 'When the Past was Around' confirmed for launch on Switch / PlayStation and Xbox mid-December 2020 - Gamasutra - November 19th, 2020
- 'Myst' (yes, that 'Myst') is coming back as an Oculus VR game in December - Mashable - November 19th, 2020
- It's Hitman's 20th anniversary, so here are 20 facts about the silly stealth sim - Rock Paper Shotgun - November 19th, 2020
- Xbox head Phil Spencer on video games as a way of life, even for the powerful - CNET - November 18th, 2020
- Agate, Telkom team up for Bali-themed puzzle adventure game - The Jakarta Post - Jakarta Post - November 18th, 2020
- Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 Hands-On Preview (PS4) - Still A Very Good Puzzler At Its Core - PlayStation Universe - November 18th, 2020
- Call of the Sea is an adventure inspired by Lovecraft, but it's no horror game - PC Gamer - November 18th, 2020
- The best family board games - PC Gamer - November 18th, 2020
- Here Are The Games Coming Out In December 2020 - IGN India - November 18th, 2020
- 10 Puzzle Games That Are Impossible To Beat Without A Guide - GameRant - November 15th, 2020
- Video Games to Relax - The New York Times - November 15th, 2020
- Announcing Light The Fires, an award-winning hypercasual puzzle game - Pocket Gamer - November 15th, 2020
- Telling the Difference Between PS5 and PS4 Games Is Next-Gen's Toughest Puzzle - Push Square - November 15th, 2020
- Why the PS5 and Xbox Series X need to break the video game mold - CNET - November 15th, 2020
- Video Games for Relaxation - The New York Times - Aviation Analysis Wing - November 15th, 2020
- WiiWare's Greatest Hits. A celebration of the indie games of | by Shawn Laib | SUPERJUMP | Nov, 2020 - Medium - November 15th, 2020
- Bugsnax review you are what you eat | Games - The Guardian - November 15th, 2020
- Games And Puzzles Market Analysis, COVID-19 Impact,Outlook, Opportunities, Size, Share Forecast and Supply Demand 2021-2027|Trusted Business Insights... - November 15th, 2020
- Arkansas women to be tested early in SEC play - Arkansas Online - November 15th, 2020
- The Xbox Series X and the PS5 need to make video games weird and interesting - CNET - November 11th, 2020
- Game IQ the Gold Standard for game analytics and classification - MobileMarketing Magazine - November 11th, 2020
- The Digital Fix Gaming's Generation Awards: Best Puzzle, Simulation, PSVR, and RPG - The Digital Fix - November 11th, 2020