Mario is one of the biggest video game franchises ever created. In fact, the entire franchise has accumulated a staggering 675 million-unit sales. That’s over 300 million more than Pokemon and almost 400 million more than Call of Duty. However, not every game in the Mario series has gone down well. Several decent titles in the series ended up underappreciated and lost in history. It’s time to go back and give them the credit they deserve. We have listed 5 Mario Games that were underappreciated.
Super Paper Mario
Super Paper Mario is a classic 2D platformer with a twist. You have the ability to flip the camera from a 2D view to a 3D view, yet the levels themselves remain 2D by design. This allows the player to come up with some creative answers to bypass areas that otherwise seem impassable.
Whilst it sits at a very fair 85 on Metacritic, many fans were not so pleased with it. Rather than an attack on the game itself, they didn’t like its affiliation with Paper Mario. Old school Paper Mario was supposed to be a turn-based RPG. Moving away from that formula was brave but still widely criticized by many. Super Paper Mario’s case probably wasn’t helped by being the direct successor to The Thousand-Year Door. You know, one of the best turn-based RPGs ever made.
Over the years I think many have come to appreciate Super Paper Mario. It has a very unique story that even sees Bowser teaming up with Mario’s crew. Like classic Mario platformers, you can choose to play as several characters and they all have various special abilities. The best part is that a regular playthrough can easily take in excess of 25 hours to complete. A solid amount of content to couple with its innovative platforming fun.
Mario Strikers Charged
It was only just doing some research on this game I realized I’ve known it by a different name for years. Apparently, only in Europe was it called Mario Strikers Charged Football. In North America they just dropped the football bit entirely. I get that it may have been confusing with the NFL and all but calling it Charged Soccer couldn’t have hurt, right? Either way, I guess North America wasn’t their primary audience for this game.
As the European name would suggest, Mario Strikers was Nintendo’s attempt at creating a football game. Mario has been golfing, played tennis, and now was his time to give the world’s biggest sport a crack. Like many Mario sports games, it suffered from its mediocre single player. However, it did have something not exactly typical of a Nintendo multiplayer experience.
It’s net code was sensational. Especially for 2007 Nintendo Wii’s standards. What this meant was that Strikers Charged Football had a weirdly strong competitive scene. Nothing like modern eSports of course, but you could get a legitimate tournament going if you looked in the right places.
Unfortunately, Nintendo hasn’t shown Strikers much love over the past decade. It did find its way onto the Wii U Virtual Console but never got an actual Wii U game. Similarly, we have yet to see a Switch entry either. It’s difficult to see this changing anytime soon.
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
Low-key, the Mario & Luigi games are some of the best in the entire franchise. Despite this, their recent sales have been pitiful. Did you know that the Bowser’s Inside Story remake on 3DS only sold 9,500 units in Japan in its first week? Its failure likely caused developers AlphaDream to file for bankruptcy just 10 months later.
Regardless, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad series. In fact, that very game that failed in itself was still a pretty good title. It’s just that Nintendo released it on a dead console and didn’t market it. Seriously, who is going to buy a 3DS game in 2019?
The pinnacle of the series for me was Partners in Time. Released in 2005 on the Nintendo DS, Partners in Time is the prequel/sequel to Superstar Saga. As the name would suggest, you travel back and through time to see the events that happen both before and after Superstar Saga.
It was a wacky game that focused on aliens and time travel. Most that have played it will agree it was something special. Another brilliant addition to Mario’s vast RPG collection for sure. But not many have played it since Nintendo, once again, didn’t market it properly and it was overshadowed by other more mainstream games. After all, this was the year of God of War, Shadow of the Colossus, and, perhaps worst of all, Animal Crossing: Wild World.
When put in the face of an Animal Crossing game, no one cared in the slightest for Partners in Time. It’s a tragedy, really. If there’s one game on this list I encourage you to give a try, its this one. It deserved so much better.
Super Mario Bros. 2
Coming in as the oldest entry on the list, Super Mario Bros. 2 originally released in 1988 for the NES. However, it wasn’t actually a Mario game at all. The real Super Mario Bros. 2 was very similar to that of the original. Effectively, it was just a slightly harder version of the same game. Nintendo decided that the recently crashed American market wouldn’t buy into such a similar and difficult product.
Their plan then was to reskin another Japanese platformer called Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic. They slapped on some generic Mario visuals and sold Doki Doki Panic as Super Mario Bros. 2 in the western market.
When gamers later found out they had been robbed of the real version, they weren’t happy. Everyone could tell Mario Bros. 2 in the west didn’t quite feel like a Mario game. Despite all this, I’d argue it’s a far better game than people give it credit for.
The gameplay and platforming as a whole are both incredibly polished. Also, despite being a reskin, it did still feature several characters all with unique abilities. For example, Luigi jumps higher than the others, Princess Peach glides with her Parasol, and Toad can move quicker. Having unique playable characters back in 1988 is a bigger deal than it might sound.
Nintendo must have realized it had some potential since Super Mario Bros. 2 was later remastered on the SNES. Equally, the Japanese version was released as The Lost Levels in the west in 1993.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games
Unlike the other four entries on this list, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games is not overly slept on. It tends to sell well and has functioned well as a fun party game across several Nintendo platforms. Instead, it’s here because I think a lot of people don’t realize how good it actually is.
Mario & Sonic is not just a good family game, it’s a great sports game. Over the years it has declined, likely due to AlphaDream’s financial issues, but the early titles were fantastic. They took a wildly abstract idea and pulled it off in the face of doubt.
Who would ever have expected to see these age-old video game rivals competing not over sales, but to win a 100m sprint? These games also use the Nintendo console’s various signature traits better than most other exclusives. From motion controls to the Wii U’s tablet, they’re all integrated one way or another.
Given AlphaDream’s closure, I’m not sure what to expect from this series going forward. If I had to guess, SEGA will probably take over again and assign one of their teams to the job. Perhaps Sumo Digital could be a good candidate given their excellent work on Sonic Racing.