Genres are different types of video games classified by gameplay. With over 250 entries, the Mario franchise has included a variety of different genres. The oldest Mario games started out as platformers, but with the introduction of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Nintendo 64, many new genres of Mario games were created.
Types of Genres
Platform games (often known as platformers) consist of going through levels to reach a goal. The majority of Mario games fit under this category. This genre can be divided into two sub-genres: sidescrollers and three-dimensional platformers. Sidescrollers are the most common type of platform game and usually allow travel in only one or two directions. Three-dimensional platformers allow travel in any direction and usually consist of the newer Mario platform games. A sidescroller may have three-dimensional graphics, like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but it is still classified as a sidescroller.
The 3D platformers have a feature that brings up a menu of what Power Star (or Shine Sprite in the case of Super Mario Sunshine) to get whenever Mario enters an area (except Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World, where levels are instead completed by reaching the Goal Pole). The player can select a star they have gotten once before, and fight any of the bosses as many times as they want.
Most Mario platformers are part of the Super Mario series. The only exception is Super Paper Mario, which is the only platformer from the Paper Mario series, being a mixture of platformer and RPG genres.
For the list of platform games, see Category:Platforming Games.
Role-playing games (often abbreviated as RPGs) place Mario in a major role. Common gameplay features in RPGs include detailed storylines, a large cast of characters and the ability to level up. Mario's first appearance in an RPG was in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Later, the Paper Mario series and Mario & Luigi series were introduced. Another common feature in RPGs is the ability to use items and equip weapons, armor, clothing, badges, and accessories. These items can be bought at shops or be found in blocks and treasure chests. RPGs often have multiple playable characters with unique stats and abilities. Mario role-playing games often contain platforming elements.
The battle system usually involves Mario, his partner(s), and enemies taking it in turns to attack, with action commands to every move. The Paper Mario series differs slightly from the other RPGs because the damage and HP ratio is lower and Mario and his partner will always attack first, and attack power is achieved by getting hammers and boots rather than leveling up. Paper Mario is also split into chapters for which stars Mario must get, and has chapter bosses, with minibosses along the way, while neither really exists in the other RPGs; only bosses, identifiable by different battle theme and higher HP (and often they are characters). Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door make it possible to completely defend against attacks (excluding magic attacks in Super Mario RPG), or at least reduce the amount of damage taken. In the Mario & Luigi series it is possible (and often necessary) to avoid enemy attacks altogether.
With the exception of Paper Mario, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Mario and Luigi: Dream Team, and Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam, Bowser is never the antagonist in RPGs, though he fights Mario in all of them. Two of them (Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and Super Paper Mario) even have him join Mario's team (though usually his intent is to take over the world himself once the greater threat is out of the way). He is also a playable character in four of the RPGs: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Super Paper Mario, and Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. Out of these four, only Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars and Super Paper Mario actually has him join forces with Mario, even though in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story he is fighting against the same enemies as Mario. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door simply had Bowser (and Peach) being playable in intermissions between the main chapters.
Luigi had major roles in all five Mario & Luigi games, and Super Paper Mario, although the earlier games did not involve him as much. He only had small cameos in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, and though he does appear in the first two Paper Mario games, Luigi has no role in the plot. He is off on his own adventure in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and frequently recounts his experiences to Mario.
Various other games have RPG elements fused into them, but are not traditional RPGs in the sense the aforementioned series are. One example is being some of the handheld Mario Tennis and Mario Golf games, namely Mario Tennis and Mario Golf for the Game Boy Color, and Mario Tennis: Power Tour and Mario Golf: Advance Tour for the Game Boy Advance, where they fuse their respective sport with RPG-like mechanics. Another example is Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition, where the game is a puzzle game with a heavy emphasis on RPG elements.
For the list of role-playing games, see Category:RPGs.
Party games are multiplayer games usually involving short minigames. This genre is dominated by the Mario Party series, but the WarioWare series and Itadaki Street DS are also part of it. While most party games involve multiple players, some party games are single player, like certain WarioWare games. Luck is a large factor in party games, but players must also have a certain degree of skill. Party games are rarely played competitively and are usually played casually, although many also have story modes that can be completed.
Racing games involve speedy competitions with other characters. The main objective in racing games is to reach the finish line before the other racers and attain first place. Nearly all Mario racing games are part of the Mario Kart series, except for Diddy Kong Racing, Diddy Kong Racing DS, and Donkey Kong Barrel Blast. All racing games in the Mario series involve items or power-ups which can do various things like slow down the other racers or speed up the player. Racing games also build on this by providing battle modes in which items are used as weapons. Online racing was introduced with the release of Mario Kart DS and is integrated in every Mario racing game since.
For the list of racing games, see Category:Racing Games.
Sports games, like the name implies, are games based on sports. Unlike most conventional sports games, Mario sports games feature items and obstacles. Racing and fighting games are sub-genres of sports games. The genre started with Golf for the Nintendo Entertainment System. This genre of Mario games did not become well known until the release of the Nintendo 64 with games like Mario Tennis 64 and Mario Golf (Nintendo 64). Currently, Mario sports games include golf, racing, tennis, soccer, basketball, fighting, baseball, and Olympic events. There is only one game that has four sports and that is Mario Sports Mix. In addition, Mario Sports Superstars features five sports: golf, tennis, baseball, horse racing and soccer.
For the list of sports games, see Category:Sports Games.
Puzzle games test the player's reflexes and knowledge. The objective in most Mario puzzle games is to clear the screen of various objects similar to Tetris. However, a few Mario puzzle games incorporate different types of gameplay such as Mario's Picross and mahjong. Games belonging to this genre include the Dr. Mario series, Wario's Woods, Yoshi's Cookie, and Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition. Other than the latter, unlike most Mario games, puzzle games do not have items. However, they generally have a large cast of characters.
For the list of puzzle games, see Category:Puzzle Games.
Fighting games pit characters against each other in combat. The objective of most fighting games is to knock out the other characters. Fighting games are a sub-genre of sports games. This genre has exclusively been a part of the crossover Super Smash Bros. series.
Mario's first appearance in a fighting game was as a referee in Punch-Out!! (arcade game) (the latest installation in that series features Donkey Kong as an opponent). Mario's first playable role in a fighting game was in Super Smash Bros., along with Luigi, Yoshi, and Donkey Kong. Fighting games in the Mario series have significant differences from arcade fighting games. Bowser, Princess Peach, and Dr. Mario later appeared in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Wario and Diddy Kong appeared alongside all of them (except Dr. Mario) in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and Rosalina and Bowser Jr. made an appearance in Super Smash Bros. 4. Instead of depleting the enemy's health, the player must knock the enemy off the screen. Items and obstacles are also available whereas most fighting games do not have them.
Edutainment games are meant to both educate and entertain the player. Compared to the other genres in the Mario series, the number of edutainment games is relatively small. The purpose of edutainment games is to solve mysteries or simply learn how to do something, like typing or math. Games belonging to this genre are usually developed by a third party company. Due to this, characters may have different personalities. For example, Mario has full dialogue in Mario's Time Machine, despite the fact that he rarely speaks in other games.
For the list of edutainment games, see Category:Edutainment Games.
Dancing games are games where the player must step on the arrows of a dance mat according to in-game instructions. There are only two Mario dancing games: Mario Unkurukai and Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, based on the Dance Dance Revolution series.
Rail shooter games are games where the game follows a specific route and that the player must shoot all the enemies on the screen. The only Mario rail shooter game to date is Yoshi's Safari. To play it in single player, the player must use the Super Scope.