1985: Super Mario Bros.
This is it, Nintendo luminary Shigeru Miyamoto's zany-looking masterpiece that launched a platforming revolution. It first appeared in Japanese and U.S. arcades in 1985, though Mario's debut was years earlier--in 1981's Donkey Kong, where he was known as "Jumpman."
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1988: Super Mario Bros. 2
The original version of Super Mario Bros. 2, released in Japan in 1986, was deemed so difficult by Nintendo that the company took another game--dubbed Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic and intended as a tech expo tie-in--and converted it to the critically acclaimed version the U.S. got to play first in 1988, and Japan, second, in 1992.
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1989: Super Mario Land
Another platform-launcher, Super Mario Land helped Nintendo's Game Boy rocket to stratospheric heights, selling more than 18 million copies (more than Super Mario Bros. 3). It was also the first Super Mario game developed without series creator Shigeru Miyamoto's involvement.
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1990: Super Mario Bros. 3
Originally released in Japan in 1988, Super Mario Bros. 3 is lauded by some as the series' finest installment. It's also the entry known for introducing iconic series power-ups like the Super Leaf, Tanooki Suit and Goomba's Shoe.
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1991: Super Mario World
First released in Japan in late 1990, Super Mario World--bundled with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System--wound up defining next-gen platforming during the 16-bit console era. It introduced Yoshi (Mario's dinosaur sidekick), showcased series' music composer Koji Kondo's most memorable tunes, and ranks among the most acclaimed entries in the franchise.
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1992: Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Mario's second Game Boy foray, Super Mario Land 2 pushed the handheld's cartridge format to capacity, weighing in at a then-whopping 4 megabits--eight times larger than its predecessor.
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1995: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
This prequel to Super Mario World challenged players to take the reins as Yoshi, schlepping a toddling Mario through dozens of beautifully hand-drawn levels, in order to rescue Mario's brother Luigi.
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1996: Super Mario 64
A revolutionary Nintendo 64 system-launcher and the first fully three-dimensional Mario game, Super Mario 64 did for 3D gaming what Super Mario Bros. had for sidescrollers a decade prior, ushering in a 360-degree control scheme that became the genre standard.
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2002: Super Mario Sunshine
Nintendo's pollution-sluicing followup to Super Mario 64 sold less well than it might have (just over 5 million copies, the worst-selling Super Mario game), in large part because the system it debuted on--Nintendo's GameCube--couldn't compete with Sony's market-dominant PlayStation 2.
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2006: New Super Mario Bros.
A decade after transitioning to 3D, Mario returned to his side-scrolling roots in 2006 with Super Mario Bros.' debut appearance on Nintendo's fledgling DS handheld.
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2007: Super Mario Galaxy
Imagine the planetoids in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince with Super Mario 64's 3D controls meets all sorts of gravitational zaniness, and you get Super Mario Galaxy, Miyamoto protégé Koichi Hayashida's ingenious means of sending Mario on an interstellar romp.
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2009: New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Like New Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo's DS handheld, this Wii-based sidescroller laid 3D characters and objects against 2D backdrops, but also built on the Wii's local multiplayer capabilities with 4-way cooperative play--a first for the series.
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2010: Super Mario Galaxy 2
Nintendo's second planet-pinballing 3D platformer proved two assumptions wrong: First, that a company obsessed with trailblazing wouldn't repeat itself, and two, that repetition (based on a fantastic idea) is necessarily a bad thing.
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2011: Super Mario 3D Land
Nintendo's 3DS had a rough, almost disastrous start, but after a hardware price cut and the arrival of this cleverly wrought, quasi-3D vamp on classic Mario gameplay tropes (it mixed 2D and 3D level design), sales soared.
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2012: New Super Mario Bros. 2New Super Mario Bros. 2 was the second 3DS Mario, and a sequel to the 2006 DS game. Generally well-received, critics nonetheless worried the Mario games were relying too much on past ideas.
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2012: New Super Mario Bros. U
Benefitting from the Wii U's higher-definition visual output, New Super Mario Bros. U is one of the prettiest Mario games Nintendo's released, and though it relies heavily on series tropes, contains some of the smartest levels Nintendo's yet designed.
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2013: Super Mario 3D World
Extending ideas introduced in Super Mario 3D Land two years earlier, Super Mario 3D World combines 2D and 3D levels with the option to play as Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad (each with unique abilities, essential to obtain all of the games hidden items).
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2015: Super Mario Maker
Three decades after a mustachioed Italian plumber captured our imaginations and changed the course of gaming, the series has come full circle with a Mario creation tool that finally unleashes armchair Mario designers, using an interface ideally suited for Nintendo's tablet-driven Wii U.
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