5. Super Mario Bros. (1987, NES)
How do you rank one of the most important and influential games of all time? We were tempted to put it up top, but on a list like this, the competition is stiff (yet so very friendly).
Super Mario Bros. essentially defined the platformer template for countless games to follow, with each side-scrolling sprint delivering the right blend of challenge and fun. Later games took the design to new heights, but the original remains utterly essential.
4. Super Mario World (1992, SNES)
Released alongside Nintendo's 16-bit juggernaut, Super Mario World was the culmination of the series in its classic state.
It took advantage of the new hardware for improved graphics and a superb soundtrack, but also expanded the game design with fresh power-ups, level themes, and everyone's favorite rideable dinosaur, Yoshi. Best of all, it was huge, delivering an engrossing adventure to get lost in with your shiny new console.
3. Super Mario Galaxy (2007, Wii)
If you needed proof that the Mario platform design can be twisted into pretty much any wild, winning concept by Nintendo's geniuses, then Super Mario Galaxy is it.
The outer space theme and globe-like, camera-twisting stages showed that Shigeru Miyamoto and crew could still reinvent the game, and it truly is one of the most joyful, boundlessly creative games we've ever played. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is equally amazing, but these two tend to occupy the same space in our minds, so consider this pick a two-fer.
2. Super Mario Bros. 3 (1991, NES)
Can you believe that Super Mario Bros. 3 came out on the same system as the original game (and the weird mess that is Super Mario Bros. 2)? It's such a huge advancement in terms of gameplay design and aesthetic, and the impact was incredible.
Some 25 years later, it holds up as a paragon of platform game design, with some of the most memorable stages you'll ever play and creative power-ups aplenty. Plus, it set much of the thematic tone still used in the series today.
1. Super Mario 64 (1997, Nintendo 64)
Some might call it heresy to not pick a 2D game for the top slot here, but after nearly two decades, we're still in awe of Super Mario 64.
It not only brought the most important series in gaming into the third dimension, but once again set the template for the entire genre. And best of all, Super Mario 64 did it with so much infectious and imaginative charm that it still holds up strong today.
It's a legendary game in a series absolutely stocked with them. Roll on Super Mario Holographic 8 on the Nintendo 5D MegaBrain VR...