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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

Click to view larger image
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)

Click to view larger image
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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  1. j bean Sunday 9th Dec 2012 at 08:27

    For me mario party 4 was the best of the mario party games and I've also got a lot of fond memories of mario kart double dash. Really hoping that both these games get a virtual console release on the wii u.

  2. vtheyoshi Sunday 9th Dec 2012 at 08:42

    No Mario Kart: Double Dash? For shame!

  3. Pyron12 Sunday 9th Dec 2012 at 09:31

    The bottom screenshot on Page 3 is Mario & Wario

  4. Herbert_Rarr Sunday 9th Dec 2012 at 10:01

    No Mario Kart: Double Dash? For shame!


    I have to agree. Mario Kart 7 just doesn't feel right to me: whether it's the lack of fake item boxes or the abundance of silly little ramps on grassy verges being passed off as short-cuts, I don't know. But something just isn't kosher in that game. It also feels like it's missing some of it's crucial Mario charm. In Double Dash there were Mario references all over the place, from the track names, to the obstacles to the things in the background, but Mario Kart 7 doesn't seem to have all that many in comparison. It started in this way in Mario Kart Wii with some courses only containing one or two Mario things in it - like Grumble Volcano, in which all I found were Podoboos - and has become worse in MK7.
    Double Dash is by far my favourite Mario Kart game. Sure it wasn't perfect - it didn't have all that many tracks, but they were almost all excellent; the drifting system was a bit awkward, but it could really help if you knew how to properly use it; it wasn't as fun as on Wii or 3DS where you could play with any amount of other people, be it your friends or just anyone - but for me the design and novelty of Double Dash (two characters in a kart was a genius idea to add some risk/reward to the double item box collecting) made it brilliant.
    It's what Mario Kart designers should look to for everything.

  5. shy guy 64 Sunday 9th Dec 2012 at 10:28

    the RPGs are my favrouite spin offs

  6. danbish Sunday 9th Dec 2012 at 11:23

    My favourite Mario spin off has to be the Paper Mario series! :D

  7. CDS Sunday 9th Dec 2012 at 12:29

    Having really only played the Karting games, I'd have to give it this order.
    1] Double Dash
    2] 3DS
    3] N64
    4] Wii
    5] DS

    Double Dash took the top spot as it was, to me, the best Mario Kart game there is available as it had the most amazing features, as mentioned before Mario references at every turn, and wacky races with a range of special moves for each character set.
    The 3DS version had those Spotpass and Streetpass features, and physhics in turning that sort of resembled Double Dash . The customisation options were good as it meant more variety in the stats, but once you'd found the perfect options, you wouldn't be likely to swap to anything else. Also the lack a versus mode.
    The N64 version had the most challenge, even at 100cc. The graphics haven't aged well, but that's understandable.
    The Wii version had a good variety of tracks, introduced tricks, but the turning circle on manual was awful. And while it was good, it's not one I come back to.
    The DS version has been entirely forgot about, and was bland, but still fun to play.

  8. CraigEmberson Sunday 9th Dec 2012 at 13:09

    You labelled Bowsers Inside Story as a 3DS title... It's a DS title - they do not equal the same console :P

  9. TheNUKEnukeM Sunday 9th Dec 2012 at 14:23

    Mario Kart Wii is hands down better than 7. This list just makes you think how over used Mario is. :P

  10. K-tet Sunday 9th Dec 2012 at 16:56

    Mario Kart-wise: Can't argue with 7 and Wii being the top two. MK7 had the best circuit selection to date despite lacking in certain areas (no Waluigi, why the hell are Honey Queen and Metal Mario in this game), although characters like Lakitu and Wiggler were warmly received, and the new diving and gliding mechanics added some fun along the way. MKWii did customisation better than MK7, and there was a great balance of characters to boot. Bikes also get a perfect mention for hardcore competitive play. How many of you know of the Super Mario Excite Bike game that was released via the Bandai Satelleview X? No? There's your reference.

    Sports-game wise: No Mario Sports Mix? That's a shame. Personally I'm not a massive fan of the sports genre but those I did play I did enjoy. Strikers Charged Football was a lot of fun, and the 3DS Mario Tennis is really good too. Good move not to count the Mario & Sonic Olympic Games though.

    Puzzle-game wise: Dr. Mario is better than Picross. Those two need to be swapped round. While Mario & Donkey Kong have charm, you missed out on Yoshi's Cookie (has Mario in it), Mario & Yoshi, and while technically isn't a Mario game, Wario's Woods was a very fun puzzler in its own right. I'm not counting Tetris in this, but if we were going by Mario-character puzzlers, then Tetris Attack (Yoshi's Panel de Pon) is right at the top bar none.

    Party-wise: The first one holds a special place in my heart, but I have no complaints on the select list.

    As for the RPG's: Super Mario RPG in my list is at the top. Absolutely superb game from start-to-finish. Super Paper Mario hits second on that list, and M&L Bowser's Inside Story is a definite third.

    Best Mario-featured spin-off however? Super Smash Bros. I'll say no more.

  11. NintendoForLife Sunday 9th Dec 2012 at 17:12

    Would anyone dare to say that the Paper Mario series is better than the main series?

  12. King Slazo Sunday 9th Dec 2012 at 17:50

    Yes. Because it is.

    Or at least, was. Mario RPGs have gone a little downhill since the peaks of Thousand Year Door and Superstar Saga.

  13. pikachu101 Sunday 9th Dec 2012 at 23:29

    No Mario Kart: Double Dash?? A selection of the mario party's also have to be included somewhere... :)

  14. Commandervideo Monday 10th Dec 2012 at 11:12

    The DS version has been entirely forgot about, and was bland, but still fun to play.


    MKDS is a classic.
    I pesonally think MK:DD is a horrible MK. Handling was like driving on a perma-oil slick, powersliding wasn't any better and the boost that came from it was pathetic. Giving certain items to specific characters mean't no gold mushroom and no triple shells. And co-op gave you half a job to do. Drive or items. Although MK:DD did have some of best track design, like Waluigi stadium and DK mountain. But that's all it had going for it.

    Kart: MK7 and MKDS
    Sports: Strikers charged football and Mario golf GBA
    RPG: Mario and Luigi 3
    Puzzle: Wrecking crew > Than all mario puzzle games

  15. imbusydoctorwho Monday 10th Dec 2012 at 12:48

    No Mario Kart DS?

  16. thenintendoer Monday 10th Dec 2012 at 18:42

    wow onms top 2 mario kart games are my 2 least favourite in the series

  17. 3DSRulesO.K Wednesday 12th Dec 2012 at 21:38

    No Mario Kart: Double Dash? For shame!


    I have to agree. Mario Kart 7 just doesn't feel right to me: whether it's the lack of fake item boxes or the abundance of silly little ramps on grassy verges being passed off as short-cuts, I don't know. But something just isn't kosher in that game. It also feels like it's missing some of it's crucial Mario charm. In Double Dash there were Mario references all over the place, from the track names, to the obstacles to the things in the background, but Mario Kart 7 doesn't seem to have all that many in comparison. It started in this way in Mario Kart Wii with some courses only containing one or two Mario things in it - like Grumble Volcano, in which all I found were Podoboos - and has become worse in MK7.
    Double Dash is by far my favourite Mario Kart game. Sure it wasn't perfect - it didn't have all that many tracks, but they were almost all excellent; the drifting system was a bit awkward, but it could really help if you knew how to properly use it; it wasn't as fun as on Wii or 3DS where you could play with any amount of other people, be it your friends or just anyone - but for me the design and novelty of Double Dash (two characters in a kart was a genius idea to add some risk/reward to the double item box collecting) made it brilliant.
    It's what Mario Kart designers should look to for everything.


    Mario Kart 7 just felt more realistic, I always thought that Double Dash was way too kiddy in its visuals, it was the only mario kart game to be likr this, the original, 64, 7 and Wii ones were much more realistic, but they will always be Mario games at heart.

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