Over Mario’s 26 years (isn’t it sooooo weird that’s canon?), he has embarked on some incredible adventures. This includes, you know, completely inventing and reinventing the concept of 3D platforming time and time again. From his start in Super Mario 64 to his current standing in Super Mario Odyssey, Mario continues to be the bar for what a 3D platformer should be. His seven 3D outings are all classics, but there are certainly some that are better than the others. Thus, we have the definitive ranking of every single 3D Mario title, which is guaranteed to make absolutely no one mad at all. In the slightest… enjoy!
7 Super Mario 3D Land
Super Mario 3D Land is by no means a bad game, but it just isn’t the greatest of the 3D Mario games. 3D Land functions as a 2D Mario game in 3D. This means that the game isn’t an open sandbox 3D game like most of the other titles, but is rather linear, and is almost a sidescroller with a bit more depth. This is absolutely not a criticism, but instead a trait that sets it apart from the rest of its 3D brethren.
The title was notable for being one of the few titles that actually made use of the 3DS’s namesake, with the 3D features looking great. It also featured the return of Tanooki Mario. The title is filled to the brim with content, and is really a necessary purchase for any 3DS owner.
6 Super Mario 64
Take off your nostalgia glasses, this game is not that fantastic. Super Mario 64 essentially invented 3D platforming, yes, but that doesn’t make it perfect. In today’s standards, this game does not hold up as well as the others on this list. The controls can be a bit clunky, and Mario looks… well we aren’t here to criticize people based off their looks. However, the title certainly isn’t bad.
There are tons of beautifully designed levels that aren’t named Tiny Huge Island (the level’s painting of two Goombas screaming at each other is fantastic though), with a variety of different missions to complete in each one. The castle is intricately designed with tons of secrets, and the soundtrack is still iconic to this day. Not at all a bad game, but certainly not the best of the best. Also, big shout-out to the fantastic DS remake!
5 Super Mario 3D World
Super Mario 3D World took everything that made 3D Land a great game and turned it up to eleven. More playable characters, wider, more expansive levels, new power-ups, a great soundtrack and an interactive overworld. The title is full of charm. It truly is a better version of 3D Land, and is one of the few titles that still remains trapped on the Wii U.
However, we would be remiss if we did not bring up the two most important things that this game brings to the table, with the first being playable Rosalina. Do you have to play through literally 100% of the game to play as her? Yes. Is it still amazing to finally be able to play as Better Peach in a mainline Mario game? It sure is. The second most important thing? C A T S. Psssh, 2D Mario could never. Have fun with your weird Peachette abomination.
4 Super Mario Sunshine
While certainly not the most polished of all the Mario games (that plinko level can ROT), Sunshine is an absolutely fantastic 3D platformer that is an absolute must have for any GameCube library. Sure, the story was certainly odd at times, like, all of the times… but the great platforming the series is known for was there.
F.L.U.D.D. was also an excellent addition to Mario’s usual repertoire, and was a fantastic mechanic that allowed for a lot of creative level design that wouldn’t be normally possible with Mario’s usual wahoos. While flawed in certain areas, a great game overall.
3 Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario Galaxy is an absolutely fantastic game. While certain areas do feel a bit clunky (it was a Wii title after all) when returning to it nowadays, overall this game is stellar. The music is instantly recognizable, the hub area is a complete blast, it introduced Rosalina, who would end usurping Daisy as #2 lady of the Mushroom Kingdom, and the gameplay, well it’s great.
The galaxy hook of the game provided for some absolutely great platforming and ideas to be incorporated. The small planetoids and shifty mechanics introduced in the game are completely unique to the title. While Galaxy is certainly more in the 3D World linear format, that is not at all a negative. Super Mario Galaxy is an absolute gem of a title.
2 Super Mario Galaxy 2
In all honesty, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is little more than a level pack for the original game that takes everything that made the title great and well, made it better. While the story is essentially gone, if not massively stripped back, that’s not a huge problem in the context of any Mario game.
What matters is the rock-solid platforming that this title has. Fantastic new power ups, the introduction of Yoshi, Galaxy 2 does a lot of things that the original Galaxy didn’t. It’s certainly the superior title of the two, even if it wasn’t responsible for the revolutionary gameplay of the original.
1 Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey is without a doubt the best 3D Mario title there is. As per usual, the platforming is absolutely incredible. Everything feels fluid and perfect, everything functions as it should. The level design is incredibly varied, Mario goes just about anywhere you could imagine, from a kingdom looking straight out of Dark Souls to a city filled with… humans? We're not even going to begin to dive into that mess of a situation.
What matters is the incredibly fun gameplay, the massive amount of areas to explore in each and every kingdom, the sheer amount of moons there are to collect everywhere, and the ability to put Mario into a wedding dress. Super Mario Odyssey pushes 3D Mario to the best it’s ever been, which obviously places it as the #1 3D Mario game of all time.