21 Super Mario Games Ranked Easiest to Hardest

Super Mario Bros

Super Mario Run

Super Mario Run is included in this list despite its relatively low ranking and unique gameplay style. While it is considered part of the Super Mario franchise and has some basic platforming elements, it falls short compared to most other games on this list. Billed as a one-handed Super Mario game, Super Mario Run lives up to its hype in terms of overall difficulty, but is still less challenging than most other auto-runners on the market.

Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey, released in 2017 for the Nintendo Switch, has garnered widespread acclaim and is often hailed as one of the finest entries in the Super Mario series. Its strengths lie in its innovative gameplay mechanics, captivating world design, and charming aesthetic.

One notable aspect of Super Mario Odyssey is its accessibility. Unlike some of its predecessors, which could be notoriously difficult, Odyssey caters to a wider audience by providing a more forgiving experience. This makes it an excellent choice for players who may not be as experienced or adept at platforming games. The emphasis on exploration and experimentation allows players to progress through the game at their own pace, unraveling its secrets and uncovering hidden treasures.

While Super Mario Odyssey offers challenges for those seeking a greater test of skill, its primary focus is on the joy of discovery and the delight of exploration. Each kingdom within the game is meticulously crafted, offering diverse environments and a plethora of collectibles to find. These collectibles, such as Power Moons, are scattered throughout the kingdoms, encouraging players to thoroughly explore every nook and cranny. Obtaining 100% completion in Super Mario Odyssey requires a significant investment of time and effort, as players must embark on numerous quests, solve puzzles, and complete various missions.

The game’s controls are intuitive, responsive, and well-suited to the Nintendo Switch’s hardware capabilities. Mario’s signature moves, including the iconic triple jump and long jump, feel satisfying to execute, adding a sense of fluidity and momentum to the gameplay. Additionally, Odyssey introduces a new gameplay mechanic called “Cappy,” a sentient hat that Mario can throw and use to possess enemies and objects, providing a fresh twist to traditional Mario gameplay.

Furthermore, Super Mario Odyssey features a rich and diverse cast of characters, each brimming with personality. From the ever-loyal companion, Cappy, to the enigmatic and flamboyant antagonist, Bowser, the game presents a colorful ensemble that contributes to its lively and vibrant world.

In terms of visual design, Super Mario Odyssey delivers a visually stunning experience. The game showcases a blend of imaginative and realistic environments, seamlessly transitioning between distinct art styles. Whether exploring the bustling streets of New Donk City or venturing into the depths of an ancient forest, the attention to detail and the vibrant visuals create a captivating and immersive world.

Finally, the game’s delightful soundtrack adds another layer of charm and nostalgia. The memorable tunes, composed by Naoto Kubo and Koji Kondo, perfectly complement the gameplay and contribute to the overall magical atmosphere of the game.

In summary, Super Mario Odyssey stands out as a remarkable addition to the Super Mario franchise. While it may not provide the same level of challenge as some of its predecessors, it excels in its ability to offer an accessible and enjoyable experience for players of all skill levels. With its emphasis on exploration, experimentation, and a wealth of content to discover, Super Mario Odyssey remains a must-play title for Nintendo Switch owners and Mario enthusiasts alike.

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Super Mario 3D Land

Super Mario 3D Land, initially released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2011, presents a unique blend of 2D and 3D platforming elements, making it a standout entry in the Super Mario series. The game strikes a balance between accessibility and challenge, catering to both newcomers to the franchise and seasoned Mario veterans.

One notable aspect of Super Mario 3D Land is its approachable nature, which makes it an excellent starting point for players who may be less experienced with 3D platformers. By incorporating elements reminiscent of the classic 2D Mario games, such as linear level design and straightforward objectives, the game eases players into the world of 3D Mario in a comfortable and familiar manner.

The challenges in Super Mario 3D Land, while enjoyable, do have a tendency to feel somewhat restrained. This design choice can be attributed to the game’s development for the Nintendo 3DS, which featured a smaller screen size and limited processing power compared to home consoles. As a result, some of the more intricate and demanding platforming sequences found in other 3D Mario titles may be less prevalent in Super Mario 3D Land. However, this streamlined approach allows the game to shine in its own right, emphasizing precise jumps, timing, and clever use of power-ups to overcome obstacles.

As players progress through the game, they will encounter a gradual increase in difficulty. The initial stages serve as a gentle introduction, gradually introducing new mechanics and enemies. However, the later levels present a more significant challenge, requiring players to showcase their platforming skills and quick reflexes. This difficulty scaling ensures that new players can comfortably adapt while offering enough complexity and variety to engage experienced Mario players.

Although Super Mario 3D Land may not offer the same level of difficulty as some of its counterparts, it compensates with its tight level design and creative use of stereoscopic 3D technology. The game takes full advantage of the Nintendo 3DS’s capabilities, leveraging depth perception to enhance gameplay mechanics and provide an immersive experience. This utilization of 3D technology adds an extra layer of visual appeal and precision to the platforming sequences, enhancing the overall gameplay experience.

In terms of visual presentation, Super Mario 3D Land boasts vibrant and colorful graphics that showcase the capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS. The game features a variety of themed worlds, each with its distinct style and atmosphere, ranging from lush grasslands to fiery lava-filled caverns. This visual diversity keeps the game feeling fresh and engaging as players traverse through different environments.

The soundtrack of Super Mario 3D Land contributes to the overall charm and excitement of the game. The catchy tunes, composed by Asuka Hayazaki and Mahito Yokota, capture the essence of classic Mario melodies while introducing new and memorable tracks that complement the gameplay and enhance the sense of adventure.

In summary, Super Mario 3D Land strikes a delicate balance between accessibility and challenge, offering an enjoyable experience for players of varying skill levels. Its blend of 2D and 3D platforming elements, coupled with the creative implementation of stereoscopic 3D technology, creates a unique gameplay experience. While it may not reach the same level of difficulty as some other entries in the Super Mario series, its refined level design, gradual difficulty progression, and charming presentation make it a worthwhile addition to the library of any Mario fan or Nintendo 3DS owner.

New Super Mario Bros.

At number 18 is New Super Mario Bros., which marks Nintendo’s attempt to bring back the classic 2D Super Mario platformer formula in a 2.5D format for the Nintendo DS. Despite featuring the familiar perils that made earlier Super Mario games so challenging, this game was designed to be notably easier than its predecessors, relying on power-ups to offset some of the obstacles. While it’s a fun game, it’s clear that it was intended to be more accessible.

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Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

At number 17, we have Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, which is a relatively short Game Boy title that is not particularly challenging, except for the later levels that feature a significant spike in difficulty. These challenging sections are made even more difficult by the Game Boy’s small screen and controls. While the game can be completed in a few hours, players will likely spend most of that time attempting to beat the final levels.

New Super Mario Bros. U

Number 16 is New Super Mario Bros. U, which poses a few surprising challenges throughout the game. Despite being underrated in terms of its difficulty, the game attempts to ease players into the process with relatively easy platforming levels at the beginning. While there are certainly challenges to be found, this game is not one of the most difficult in the franchise.

Super Mario Bros. Wii

At number 15 is New Super Mario Bros. Wii, which is more challenging than New Super Mario Bros. U. However, ranking it against the rest of the franchise is somewhat complicated. Despite the optional four-player modes’ intentional insanity, the New Super Mario Bros. games typically offer enjoyable challenges without being overwhelming. These games provide solid platformer gameplay that is difficult enough to keep players engaged but not so challenging that they’ll frequently hit a wall.

Super Mario Land 2

The challenges of developing a Super Mario game on early Game Boy technology made Super Mario Land, like Super Mario Land 2, a slightly difficult game to play. Despite Nintendo’s attempt to make the game similar to an NES Mario game, some of the physics and visuals did not quite fit, resulting in a game that always feels a little off. Players familiar with other Super Mario games will need more than a few minutes to adjust to the timing of the movement system. Expert players can finish the game in less than 30 minutes, but new players will have to adapt to this surprisingly tricky part of the franchise.

Super Mario Bros.

The original Super Mario Bros. still proves to be a surprisingly challenging game, even after all these years. Although it practically set the standard for many of the concepts we talk about when discussing other Super Mario games, it still packs a genuine punch, especially in the World 8 levels, which can be a nightmare. However, its ranking is held back by the fact that Nintendo soon grew more confident in both its abilities and the player’s ability to handle this type of gaming experience, which led to much more challenging adventures.

New Super Mario Bros. 2

For the most part, the base game of New Super Mario Bros. 2 is easier than its predecessor. However, Nintendo released a series of downloadable levels called the “Impossible Pack,” which is designed to push platforming veterans to their limits. While the rest of the game is shockingly easy, the audacity of the Impossible Pack deserves some recognition.

Super Mario Bros. 2 (U.S.)

Super Mario Bros. 2 (U.S.) is often remembered as being difficult, but it is more accurate to describe it as “different.” It is actually based on a non-Super Mario game (Doki Doki Panic), which makes it unique compared to its predecessor and other 2D Super Mario games. It is more of an adventure game that asks players to navigate slightly more elaborate levels. It is not as difficult as other platformers of its generation, except for the ice levels and the pursuing stone faces.

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Super Mario World

Super Mario World is not as tough as some of its predecessors, but it features some truly difficult Super Mario levels that are still infamous today. It was the game that really started to experiment with subtle movements and slightly more complex controls that are now the basis of challenging fan-made Super Mario levels. Super Mario World evolved the concept of a difficult Super Mario game in some interesting ways.

Super Mario Galaxy

Super Mario Galaxy is not designed to challenge veteran players, but its combination of motion controls and slightly more traditional platforming challenges make it slightly more daunting than some of the other games on this list. It occasionally demands a level of precision that some other slightly more modern Super Mario titles do not always require, making it generally well-balanced in terms of difficulty.

Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64’s controls and camera were miraculous in 1996 but feel slightly cumbersome today. Modern gamers who play this classic for the first time will find it surprisingly difficult due to the lack of modern conveniences. Although collecting every star is daunting, the base experience is not as difficult as it is remembered to be. Super Mario 64 emphasizes experimentation and exploration over pure platforming mechanics.

Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D World emphasizes platforming over collectibles, which makes it stand out from other 3D Super Mario games. However, the game’s nightmare-inducing challenges, known as Champion’s Road, make it one of the most difficult Super Mario games. The Champion’s Road challenges require a great deal of skill and patience, pushing

Super Mario Bros. 3

At number 6 is Super Mario Bros. 3, a game that pushed the limits of the franchise and presented players with new ideas and challenges that they had to overcome. Its diversity is what makes it so difficult yet so good.

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2 comes in at number 5, featuring some of the most challenging levels in any 3D Super Mario game. Shigeru Miyamoto’s philosophy of making the sequel much more difficult is evident in this game, with Grandmaster Galaxy being one of the most difficult 3D Super Mario levels ever constructed.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

4. The unlikely sequel to Super Mario World, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, puts Yoshi in the starring role and features some of the most unique obstacles in the franchise. Its special levels, including The Impossible? Maze, make it a real nightmare to play.

New Super Luigi U

3. Released as part of Nintendo’s “Year of Luigi,” New Super Luigi U surprised players with its shocking difficulty. Its hardest levels demand perfect timing and trial-and-error gameplay that we don’t see much of from Nintendo these days. If you’re looking for the hardest official Super Mario games, this one is a must-try.

Super Mario Sunshine

At number 2 is Super Mario Sunshine, the hardest 3D Super Mario game with notable challenges in two distinct ways. Its FLUDD-equipped levels present unique navigation mechanics that can be awkward and tricky, while its non-FLUDD levels bring 2D-like platforming challenges to a 3D Super Mario game.

Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels

Topping the list at number 1 is Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 that was deemed too difficult for the West. This game is made for Super Mario veterans, with challenges that are genuinely difficult to this day. It became the template for every difficult Super Mario game that followed.

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