Jeremy enjoys gaming when not helping manage the college he graduated from.
Mario's Usual Games
From platforming to kart racing to sports, Mario has dominated Nintendo's video game market for generations. The red-capped Italian plumber often works alongside his brother Luigi to save Princess Peach from the evil clutches of Bowser. So when you pick up and play a Mario game, you can usually bet it'll either test your platforming, racing, or sports-playing skills. Some Mario games even involve role-playing elements, where you'll level up and engage in turn-based combat.
All well and good, but have you experienced any of the oddball Mario titles? These games star Nintendo's mascot, yet probably aren't what you'd expect. What do I mean? We'll find out by examining Mario's six most unusual games to date!
6. Mario Party
Just because there's a lot of Mario Party games doesn't mean they aren't a weird idea. Four players pick a Mario character, then travel across a game board collecting coins and stars to determine the winner. Each character rolls a die to determine their movement, then land on spots with a variety of effects (some helpful, some detrimental). After all four have had a turn doing so, one of several wacky mini-games occurs, the winner of which earns some coins.
Mario Party games can be fun, but the people behind them must hate camaraderie. You see, an incredibly large part of winning (and losing) these games involves luck. Maybe your die rolls barely advance you across the board. Maybe you consistently land on spots that make you lose coins. Maybe your opponents choose to gang up on you when using items. Only the mini-games rely on skill, and sometimes even they are simply coin tosses to determine the winner. You may dominate the mini-games, but be ready to smash a few controllers when sheer luck boosts someone ahead. Basically, if you ever need an unusual way to start fights between the best of buds, these are the games for you.
The game Fortune Street also features our somewhat portly plumber in a Monopoly-like title heavily reliant on luck.
5. Yakuman DS
Next up, we have Yakuman DS. What the heck is a Yakuman, you may ask? Apparently, it means something along the lines of "large score." Perhaps a better title would be Mahjong DS, because Mahjong is the game you'll be playing here. If you're not familiar with Mahjong, check your computer's default games—many will include the tile-based strategy game.
And what does any of this have to do with Mario? Curiously, Yakuman DS stars Mario and his pals as the players in the game. They don't really impact gameplay; they're really just there to make the title appeal to a broader audience. You can play several different modes of Mahjong here, and utilize many features, so it's a decent game—but I highly doubt it's what you think of when you hear "Mario".
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4. Mario Paint
Next up comes Mario Paint, a game released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in 1992. This title came with a mouse and pad to help interact with the game. In Mario Paint, users can draw using a variety of tools, and even create simple animations. A variety of features and mini-games are also included. Heck, even the title screen of the game can be fooled around with.
Today, it may not sound all that exciting (we've had Microsoft Paint for years), but at the time, Mario Paint was revolutionary and bridged the gap between creating and playing with a game. Many of last generation's gamers fondly remember this odd title, despite its weirdness. Hopefully, Nintendo will keep producing bizarre gems like these! Update: With items like the Labo, crazy ol' Nintendo's still at.
3. Mario's Time Machine
Yes, that is indeed President Lincoln appearing on a video game box with Mario. Need I say more? Still, let's discuss the game. The experience to be had differed depending on which system you bought Mario's Time Machine for; it could be purchased for the SNES, NES, or Microsoft Disc Operating System, each with their own tweaks to the game. Still, they had one thing in common: Mario's Time Machine was an educational game that taught about history. The plot sounded pretty cool: antagonist Bowser builds a time machine and uses it to steal artifacts throughout history, altering the flow of time. It's up to Mario to take control of the time machine and use it to undo the damage to the timeline.
Unfortunately, the game falls flat on several fronts. You answer trivia questions to proceed throughout various lands. Along the way, enemies hamper your progress.. kind of. Unlike normal Mario games, you can't be hurt or lose lives from Bowser's minions, making their presence somewhat pointless. All in all, definitely an unorthodox Mario title. It's great to teach young children about history, Nintendo, but games also need fun gameplay if they're going to capture our interest.
2. NBA Street V3
NBA Street V3 was a basketball game released for Gamecube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. It featured three-on-three street basketball. When shooting hoops, you can pick from a plethora of skilled NBA players. Oh, and (if you're playing the Gamecube version), Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach. Now don't get me wrong, we've seen our favorite plumber compete in many sports games throughout the decades.
However, seeing him alongside actual NBA athletes just looks a little odd. Mario's body proportions just don't align with an actual human's, and seeing the two together makes Mario almost appear as some freak of nature. Despite this oddity, keep your eyes peeled for V3. It's widely praised as being a great basketball title. Plus, seeing Princess Peach out-play Michael Jordan is a surreal experience we all need to have at least once. Check it out if you get a chance!
1. I am a Teacher: Super Mario Sweater
Based on the title of this game, do you have any idea what playing it involves? If so, contact me—you're gonna be the one picking my lottery numbers from now on. Super Mario Sweater is basically a sewing game released in the late '80s for the Family Computer Disk System (often called the Famicom). Both the Famicom and Super Mario Sweater were only released in Japan, so many Westerners never heard of either.
Similar to Mario Paint, this title is more a creative tool than an actual game. You'd boot it up, spend time designing your own sweater (some Mario-themed patterns are available if you'd like), and then you could send in your design to the Japanese company Royal Industries. For 2900 yen ($24), the company would knit your custom sweater for you. Seeing your design come to life must have felt great, but this game stands as the oddest yet in the Mario series.
More Unusual Mario Games
There certainly are some unique games with our chubby platformer, huh? Keep on the lookout for him—sometimes he shows up in titles you'd never imagine him in. For example, as an NPC (non-playable character), he flies a plane in Super Scope, and acts as referee in Punch-Out. He even showed up in a game designed to teach children how to type! Mario's best known for his dangerous platforming and racing, but don't miss out on where the real action's at—board-gaming, mahjong, and sweater-knitting.
© 2015 Jeremy Gill