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Spinoffs. Remasters. Side-games. These exist outside the realm of core games. It’s the difference between a Final Fantasy VII and Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon. But for a series as vast and old as Mario, it can be difficult to figure out exactly which games earn that core distinction.

This whole thing started as a debate on Twitter that we carried over to our podcast. You’d think that saying only 2D and 3D platformers that star Mario and were made by Nintendo should count would work, but even then you have problems. And some (crazy) people even want to exclude seemingly obvious choices like Super Mario Bros. 2 or Super Mario 3D World.

So we’re just gonna go ahead and decide this ourselves. You can hear our thoughts about core Mario games by clicking play on the video clip above or check out the whole podcast episode right here:

So, here’s our list of core Mario games:


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  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario Land
  • Super Mario Land 2
  • Super Mario 64
  • Super Mario Sunshine
  • Super Mario Galaxy
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2
  • Super Mario 3D Land
  • Super Mario 3D World
  • Super Mario Odyssey

At least that’s what we agreed on. There’s still debate over Super Mario Maker‘s validity as a core game. But Yoshi’s Island? Sorry, playing as Mario for a few seconds every time you touch a star in a game that is mechanically different from every other 2D Mario platformer doesn’t count.

Of course, this argument is ultimately arbitrary. We all have our own criteria, and it ultimately doesn’t matter if a game is core or not. But it sure makes you appreciate franchises that neatly number all of their core entries, like Final Fantasy.

Wait … is Final Fantasy X-2 a core Final Fantasy game? Nah. Yes?

Damn it.

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