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GamePro's List of Terrible Mario Games Is Shocking
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 16, 2016   |   Episode 16 (Show Archive)  

With dozens of sequels, spin-offs, sports games and memorable cameos, I think it's safe to say that Super Mario is a great character. He's starred in some of the best games of all time, rewrote the rules of racing games and remains one of Nintendo's most popular characters. In an industry where heroes are often forgotten after a month or two, Mario has managed to withstand the test of time and be as relevant today as he was a quarter century ago.

But even gaming's most recognizable mascot character has starred in a few stinkers. A quick search of YouTube will bring up a bevy of videos listing terrible Mario games, almost always hammering the same few releases. This is a topic GamePro magazine decided to tackle a decade ago. In an article cleverly titled 10 Mario Sellout Moments, GamePro decided to look at what they called the "lowest moments in Mario history." It's a list so ridiculously baffling that it's still worth talking about ten years later.

It doesn't take long for the list to fly wildly off course. Forget Hotel Mario or Mario's Early Years: Pre-School Fun, this list kicks off with Super Mario Sunshine on GameCube. While I was never a huge fan of this iteration, it's shocking to see it on a list of Mario's worst moments. It's even more surprising when you realize that GamePro magazine game this game a 5 out of 5 when they first reviewed it in August of 2002.
What could possibly be worse than Super Mario Sunshine? Super Smash Bros., of course. Complaining that Hal was following the post-1995 Saturday Night Live rule by resorting to fighting when all else fails, GamePro had no love for this super-popular fighting series.
Up next, Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix on GameCube. While certainly not a bad game from a technical level, I'll confess that this is one of Mario's most embarrassing moments. The corny remixes of Mario music couldn't hold a candle to the traditional Dance Dance Revolution soundtracks, and the rest of the music just felt out of place (and old-timey). That said, it's still better than Hotel Mario.
Number 7 brings Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, a game I, like most sane people, have great nostalgia for. Their sole complaint? Mario didn't fit as the referee. Maybe I've lived a sheltered life, but I've never once heard somebody say, "Gee, this Punch-Out game would be so much better if Mario wasn't hogging all the attention."
Another curious choice is Mario Paint, which they added to this list because, and I quote, "Mario wore a sideways cap on the box. Nuff said." No. Not enough said. I'm sorry, but in a world where Wrecking Crew, Mario Teaches Typing and Hotel Mario exist, you can't use up a slot because you didn't like the way the guy wore his hat.
In GamePro's defense (and at this point it's clear they need one), they did include the Super Mario Bros. movie at number 5. While I know people love it in the it's-so-bad-it's-good sort of way, but this really was one of Mario's lowest moments. It barely made $20 million in its theatrical run and was panned by critics and fans.
If you think the rest of the list is going to make as much sense as their last pick, then guess again. Their next selection was Mario Party 4, a game they called "stale and uninspired," noting that it was just more of the same. Apparently "more of the same" was good enough in 2002, when GamePro gave the sequel a 4.5 out of 5. Calling the controls "sharp as ever," the magazine argued at the time that this was another winning entry in the popular franchise.
This trend of giving games high scores one year and then immediately turning on them continues into the final three games on the list. Instead of naming a game for the third spot, GamePro named Baby Mario as one of the hero's lowest moments. I guess that's literally true, since he was a very small baby, but the magazine complained that he was too cutesy and obnoxious. Two things they didn't have a problem with when they gave Yoshi's Island a near-perfect 4.5 out of 5.
Their penultimate choice was none other than Super Mario 64 DS, an admittedly crummy port of one of the best reviewed games of all time. They didn't like the D-pad controls, a common complaint. But they gave the game positive scores at the time and recommended it as a launch game. Just a few months later, here it is as the second worst Mario game of all time.
But here's the thing, there's no time to wrap your head around addition of Super Mario 64 DS, because GamePro's lowest Mario moment will blow your mind. By now you've probably guessed that it's not Hotel Mario or any of the other games that everybody accepts as being bad Mario releases. Instead they went a different direction. They went with Mario Kart: Double Dash!! To quote GamePro: "Without a doubt, the biggest letdown in Mario land was Mario Kart: Double Dash!!" They complained that not much has changed since the original Mario Kart and the sense of speed is mediocre. To make matters worse, the magazine moaned that little was done to compensate the lack of online multiplayer. Harsh.
Of course, if you've made it this far, you already know what I'm about to say. Only 30 issues earlier, GamePro called Double Dash "fast and furious." Giving it a 5 out of 5, they concluded that this Mario Kart sequel is a reminder "why we should play GameCube games." They loved the "myriad of multiplayer modes" and never once complained about the lack of online multiplayer.

The truth is, it's okay to think that Double Dash was a huge letdown. I mean, it's certainly not one of my favorite Mario Kart outings. But for a magazine so steeped in the history of the games industry, you would think they might remember some of the Mario games they hated. When half of the games received perfect scores one month and then are bashed as Mario's lowest moments the next, it calls into question GamePro's already dubious reviews.

In case you're wondering, GamePro's lowest rated Mario games include Hotel Mario on CD-i with a 2.5 out of 5, as well as Mario is Missing on Super NES and Mario Clash on Virtual Boy, which both received a 3.5 out of 5.


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