This is Objection Network’s countdown of the top 25 video game series of all-time. We’re counting down to the best franchise ever on March 31. For more info on the voting process, click here.
2) Mario (6 votes, 450 points)
Chris: I mean, come on. This is a no-brainer. The only real question when this topic came up was the order of the top-two finishers. And keep in mind, this doesn’t include any of the eight million spinoffs that have spawned enough titles to become their own series — no Mario Kart, no Mario Party, none of the Mario sports games, no Smash Brothers, no Dr. Mario, no Paper Mario, no Mario & Luigi, no Olympics, no Mario Teaches Typing. (But if you count all of those, the franchise has sold more than a half-billion games.)
Nintendo’s ubiquitous mascot has the unique distinction of defining a genre on multiple occasions. The original Super Mario Brothers, all the way back in the mid-’80s, epitomized 2D platforming. There have been essays and thousands of words written about all of the meaning in the first screen of level 1-1 — how it teaches players without them knowing they’re being taught. How high can I jump? What’s this enemy? What does that mushroom do? Is it good or bad? Mario levels have continued that innovation, of introducing a new concept or power-up in a safer area and then saying “okay, now here’s a whole level of it, good luck.” It’s remarkable design.
You can fight over whether SMB3 or World was better, but they were both phenomenal games that offered a ton of depth and introduced a number of concepts (powerups, Yoshi, secrets, etc.) to the franchise.
Not content with his domination in one dimension, Mario decided to pioneer 3D platforming as well. Super Mario 64 was a launch title, but it had a huge influence on game design. I remember being blown away by this as a kid — Mario had a voice, the worlds were bright and vibrant and felt huge, and the gameplay felt great. Punches, kicks, long jumps, side jumps, backflips, wall jumps…this was a big deal.
Since then, Mario has gone into space, teamed up with his friends to do cat cosplay, become a coin millionaire and been subjected to other creators’ hellish levels. Assuming it releases on time, he’ll hit the streets with regular humans in Odyssey by the end of the year. There’s no end in site for the rotund plumber who can jump four times his height, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Michelle: Pretty sure I discovered my true love for video games the first time I played Super Mario World on the SNES. I had played the Mario Bros games on NES previously, but they didn’t really captivate me. Fun, absolutely. But Super Mario World transported me. I have such fond memories playing that game. And over time it turns out that these games all pretty much stand the test of time and have ridiculous replay value. And it doesn’t even really need to be repeated that the influence of the Mario franchise is pretty much unprecedented; without these games, video games wouldn’t be what they are today. Or anything at all? Sounds like #2 series of all-time is a perfect place for Mario to be.
Cary: I’m finding that the farther we get into this list, the less I have to say, because it seems like the ranking should be completely obvious and without question. So what’s there to say? Of course Mario ranks highly here. He’s MARIO! Can you imagine a video game landscape without Mario? Can you picture what we’d all be playing today if it hadn’t been for Nintendo’s efforts some thirty-four years ago?? Can you fathom the video games becoming a billion-dollar industry on Space Invaders and Pac-Man??? No, you cannot. Because there would have been no industry. Nothing. Just a complete wasteland of dead arcades in a world where we’d all be reading and writing on paper and talking to each other face-to-face. Blech. ALL HAIL MARIO!
Christine: I think Mario being so close to the number one spot on this list is sort of an indication of how timeless and classic this game series is. Mario is so well known that even non-gamers know who he is. Mario is such a prevailing presence in pop culture and it already cemented its place in video game history. No matter how many iterations of the game we get, whether it’s a new take on a classic like Super Mario Bros. or an entirely new game like Super Mario Galaxy, Mario will always remain a constant in games that’s fun for all ages. I can’t imagine a world without Mario. We may not even have the games we have now if it wasn’t for this average Joe plumber winning our hearts and TV screens to save a princess. We owe a lot to this series.
(3) Ace Attorney
(4) Final Fantasy
(5) Mass Effect
(8) Kingdom Hearts
(9) Mario Kart
(10) Smash Brothers
(11) Fire Emblem
(12) Street Fighter
(13) Batman: Arkham
(14) Metal Gear
(18) Saints Row
(20) The Sims
(21) Grand Theft Auto
(23) Animal Crossing
(24) Silent Hill
(25) Donkey Kong