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.
The majority of Mario games fall within the platformer genre, which itself can be divided into two sub-genres: side-scrolling and three-dimensional. Side-scrollers usually allow travel in only one or two directions towards a Goal Pole. Three-dimensional (or 3D) platformers allow travel in any direction and usually consist of objective-based level completion. Classification is based upon movement style, so games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii with modern three-dimensional graphics are still classified as side-scrollers.
Most 3D platformers in the Mario series feature a menu for selecting what objective is to be achieved (or objectives in Super Mario Odyssey) whenever Mario enters an area (except Super Mario 3D World & Land, in which levels are completed by reaching a traditional Goal Pole). The player can also select objectives they have previously completed, including re-fighting bosses.
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 special moves, and equip weapons, armor, clothing, badges, and accessories. These items can be bought at shops or be found in blocks and treasure chests, while special moves are learned by the characters as the player progresses through the game and consume points (e.g. Bros. Points in the Mario & Luigi series) when used. 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 always attacks 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.
Various other games have RPG elements fused into them, but are not traditional RPGs in the sense the aforementioned series are, such as some of the handheld Mario Tennis and Mario Golf games; namely Mario Tennis and Mario Golf for the Game Boy Color, Mario Tennis: Power Tour and Mario Golf: Advance Tour for the Game Boy Advance, and Mario Golf: World Tour for the Nintendo 3DS. In these games, 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:Role-playing games.
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.
The Mario franchise contains a large amount of 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 for the Nintendo 64. Currently, Mario sports games include golf, racing, tennis, soccer, basketball, fighting, baseball, and Olympic events. In addition, separately from those series are the games Mario Sports Mix and Mario Sports Superstars, which feature four and five sports respectively.
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!!. Mario's first playable role in a fighting game was in Super Smash Bros., along with Luigi, Yoshi, and Donkey Kong. Bowser, Princess Peach, and Dr. Mario were later playable in Super Smash Bros. Melee and the former two returned in Super Smash Bros. Brawl along with Wario and Diddy Kong appearing as newcomers. Dr. Mario was readded as a fighter along with all aforementioned characters in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, which also introduced Rosalina and Bowser Jr. as fighters, and Princess Daisy, King K. Rool and Piranha Plant made their appearance as newcomers in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. 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.
Educational games are meant to both educate and entertain the player. Compared to the other genres in the Mario franchise, the number of educational games is relatively small. The purpose of educational 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 educational games, see Category:Educational 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 Undoukai 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.
These games involve turn-based gameplay (similar to an RPG) in a warfare-like scenario, involving the player tactfully positioning their characters to attack and defend against enemies. This genre is exclusive to the Mario + Rabbids series.
The Mario Party series does also include game modes which merge aspects of both the turn-based tactics and party genres, specifically Toad Scramble in Mario Party: Star Rush and Partner Party in Super Mario Party.