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Best Mario spin-off games

From Mario Kart to Paper Mario, these are some of Mario's finest moments

From racing to tennis and even dancing, the plumber has indulged in a number of extra-curricular activities (and, if you count Mario's Early Years: Fun With Numbers, a number of activities that are on the curriculum). We don't blame him, after saving princesses and Paulines so many times, the plumber needs a break. So, with Paper Mario: Sticker Star being released in the past week, it's time to look back at Mario's best spin-off games.

We've split it up into categories so you've got three of his finest Mario Kart moments, puzzle games, sports titles, role-playing games and parties. Sorry, there's no room for edutainment. We'll begin with his most famous spin-off series of them all. the mighty Mario Kart.

Mario Kart

1. Mario Kart 7 (3DS)

The latest, greatest Mario Kart game introduces gliding and underwater racing as well as a bunch of social options, such as the trading of StreetPass and SpotPass ghost data. The online multiplayer will have you playing for months and months.

2. Mario Kart Wii

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The first Mario Kart to get the whole family involved, thanks to the Wii Wheel peripheral. Serious gamers may prefer to use a controller and it may just have been a plastic shell, but it made things accessible enough for new gamers to get into the series. Once they were into it, they'd find a great and manic racer. For those who have followed the series from its early days, it dropped the extra racer from Double Dash and returned to the simplicity of one racer, one kart. Or bike. Wonderful no matter how experienced you are.

3. Mario Kart 64 (N64)

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The first Mario Kart to feature four-player racing is still a treat to play 15 years after its release, despite its dated visuals and choppy frame rate. If you've never experienced its simple charms it's currently available to download on Wii's Virtual Console service.

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