Super Mario Sunshine

As such, although Super Mario Sunshine is most of the times an excellent display of platforming greatness both in its open worlds and in its linear portions, it presents a few rough edges that can make it more frustrating than it should have been. Its controls, its camera (though not perfect), and the variety of its objectives show greater maturity in relation to Super Mario 64, but – at the same time – the excess of direction that its episodes possess takes away much of the joy that comes with the unexpected discoveries of unguided exploration. Nevertheless, the game is undeniably fun, often inventive, very challenging to those who want to fully complete it, and quite welcoming to anyone who just wishes to get to its end. Alongside those qualities, its brightest spot may be how even though it drinks heavily from Super Mario 64 in terms of structure, it is able to give its adventure a completely unique tone and feel within the franchise’s canon due to its great relaxed setting and F.L.U.D.D., its key gameplay component. Because of that, it is a must-play for absolutely everyone, as the well-designed experience found here cannot be had anywhere else.

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Mario Tennis Aces

With a good deal of extra care, Mario Tennis Aces could have easily been the best entry in the franchise’s history. Unfortunately, it is considerably held back by the fact many of its offline modes suffer from issues that are so primary one has to wonder how it was possible for a company as big and quality-focused as Nintendo to overlook them. Therefore, while the gameplay itself is stellar, presenting a perfect mixture of solid basics of the sport that are implemented in simple ways and absurd quirks that add a whole lot of excitement, splendor, and strategy to this world of rackets and courts, the content that surrounds it is, at best, problematic. As such, the recommendation of Mario Tennis Aces comes with massive caveats. If one is willing to jump into the game’s online mode and soak in all of the thrill and brutality of those courts, or if one wants to enjoy a great – though limited – multiplayer sessions beside great friends, the game has quite a bit to offer despite its hard-to-ignore faults. If one, on the other hand, is looking for a meaty single-player experience that brings equal levels of challenge, value, and enjoyment, Mario Tennis Aces will not satisfy.

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Super Mario Kart

And, in a way, that statement nicely sums up playing Super Mario Kart from a modern perspective. It is clear the franchise has greatly and naturally advanced since its first installment: graphics have become better, songs and scenery have become more varied, races have included more competitors, tracks have grown to outstandingly insane levels of design, and the experience has become more polished. However, Super Mario Kart – as the game of the series that is truest to kart racing itself, thanks to its simplicity – packs an exciting challenge of a kind that cannot be found in any of the other installments. Surely, Super Mario Kart will not blow the minds of those who have gone through more recent entries of the series; yet, the game will likely be able to entertain and make one look rather fondly to the franchise’s very well-designed beginning.

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Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

It is pretty obvious, from everything it does, that a spectacular amount of work, dedication, and creativity went into the making of Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. Its addition of collectibles and its focus on more intricate levels showed the Mario 2-D games had the capacity to be far more than a straightforward race to the finish, and its artistic prowess created a visual masterpiece that succeeded in topping even the graphics of games that took the hardware of the era to the edge of their technical limits. It is true it carries some easily avoidable design issues that end up being the cause of some frustration, and it is arguable some of its worlds could have benefited from more of a thematic cohesion between levels, as sometimes it feels like backgrounds are used randomly rather than to form a uniform term. Nonetheless, Yoshi’s Island is by all means a spectacular achievement that still plays as well as it did when it was released and that retains its capacity to amaze. And those are the biggest statements that can be made about the brilliancy of the content within.

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Super Mario Odyssey

Thanks to the impressive quantity of items to acquire in each kingdom (the dozens of moons and regional coins), Super Mario Odyssey often feels like a collectathon, but one that merges the exploration aspect that reigned over Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine with the linear goodness found in the most recent 3-D outings of the plumber. The meticulous design of its kingdoms, the cleverness of the capture mechanic and the doors of gameplay possibility that are blasted open due to it, and the fact secrets and new objectives are uncovered with every passing minute make Super Mario Odyssey an utter joy to play through, whether it is to those who will just clear its fifteen-hour adventure or to the daring gamers that will sink more than fifty hours into the experience to seek full completion. Super Mario Odyssey’s ridiculous abundance of ideas more than justifies the spectacular size of the quest Nintendo has put together.

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Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Simply put, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a fun, unexpected, unlikely, and very welcome addition to the Nintendo Switch’s catalog. At this point, it is unknown how many years the console’s lifespan will last and how much support it will get from third-parties; regardless of the value of those variables, though, it is pretty clear Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle will stand as one of the console’s finest overall entries. A product of Nintendo’s pleasant recent tendency to be less protective of its franchises and to open up its business model, it is a sign that – when handled by other parties and with the proper oversight – those properties can be taken to interesting places. If Mario + Rabbids is the first of numerous unforeseen partnerships, Nintendo fans are in for a treat. All that it takes is for those someones who are somewhere to step up to the plate with their courageous ideas; may the doors of opportunity be forever blasted open.

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The Wild, The Innocent And The Mushroom Kingdom Shuffle

More importantly than being interesting, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is great. The madness of its plot and of the way through which both universes are joined works because Mario and the Rabbids exist in worlds where events do not need to make sense. Moreover, the concept is supported by solid gameplay. Alternating exploration segments where Mario and his two partners of choice need to solve puzzles in order to progress through one of the four worlds; and strategic and challenging shooting affairs where alternatives need to be analyzed if players are to succeed, the game clicks and finds a way to embrace newcomers to the genre, which its charming presentation and colorful characters are bound to attract, and veterans too, who will flock to it once they hear of the tight design of its strategy gameplay.

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Forgiving The Unforgivable

Through so many years of so many letdowns, it is clear that some fans turned their backs on Nintendo either due to one of those doubtful moves or because of the sum of all parts. However, the number of people who decided to forgive, wait and develop – once more – trust in the company’s abilities were fairly rewarded. For every appealing Eastern game that was not localized to the West there was an incredible RPG; for every year that Samus stayed in the limbo there were five hours of gameplay in the fantastic trilogy that followed the lull; for every horrible Mario game there was an adventure featuring the plumber that blasted into historical greatness; for every ridiculous song in Donkey Konga there was a stage exploding in creativity in Donkey Kong Country Returns and its sequel; for every CD-i Zelda game there were many unforgettable Hylian adventures; for every inadequate Star Fox game there was a new IP or a fun adventure starring a reborn Kirby; for every botched up relationship with third-parties there were unexpected partnerships that resulted in incredible titles; and for every disastrous system there were more than plenty of successful ones.

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Mario Party 3

Although it takes a fair shot at fixing the series’ lack of an engaging single-player experience, Mario Party 3 does not succeed in that regard, just like all of its sequels eventually would. However, even if it does not do as much as Mario Party 2 did for the formula, it is able to – through the punctual polishing it gives to the visuals, boards, and mini-games – take the franchise to its Nintendo 64 apex. Some of the Mario Party games may have done one or two things a little bit better – such as the orb system introduced on Mario Party 5 or the boards governed by different rules of Mario Party 6 – but Mario Party 3 was the very last time (to those who have been following the series since its inception) in which it felt like the franchise took a good step forward, consolidating what had been done before it and propelling the package to a new level of quality.

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Mario Party 2

In other words, Mario Party 2 is a game that gives players way more tools to mess with their dearest friends than its predecessor did, something that will inevitably work, at some point, both for and against all players regardless of their level of expertise, as even though experienced gamers will have more control over their fate here, they will still be quite vulnerable to the turns destiny loves to take. And that factor will make its skirmishes far more fun, hilarious, exhilarating, and infuriating; making Mario Party 2 quite easy to recommend to anyone who has neither a weak heart nor a short temper.

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