Points are units of score in the Mario games. They are acquired by defeating enemies or bosses, collecting coins, etc. The total of all received points is usually called the score. The first Mario game to include points was the original Donkey Kong arcade game, where they determine the player's ranking.
In most 2D Mario platformers, the player can earn a consecutively increasing number of points by chaining certain enemy-defeating actions without stopping (like jumping on multiple enemies without touching the ground, or kicking a shell to clear a line of foes): 100 - 200 - 400 - 500 - 800 - 1000 - 2000 - 4000 - 5000 - 8000 - 1UP - 1UP - 1UP ... in Super Mario Bros., while in later games, the chain is different: 200 - 400 - 800 - 1000 - 2000 - 4000 - 8000 - 1UP - 1UP - 1UP ... (it is preceded by 100 in Super Mario Bros. 3), and it also applies when defeating enemies with invincibility, starting with Super Mario World (However, the chain becomes 4000 - 8000 - 1UP - 200 - 400... in Super Mario 3D World in this state.), as well as slope sliding, as of New Super Mario Bros. A chain started with any member of the Hammer Bro family starts at 1000, as do enemies defeated by touching Goals. However, certain items can affect these chains, as stomping enemies while using a P-Wing in Super Mario Bros. 3, Shell Dashing into foes in New Super Mario Bros., or running into foes in the White Raccoon or White Tanooki forms in New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario 3D World, respectively, only grants the initial point value for each enemy beaten.
Points are useful in various games. For example, in Super Mario Land, they let Mario continue after a Game Over for earning 100,000 points; in Super Mario Bros. 3, they spawn a N-Mark Spade Panel for every 80,000 points earned; and in Super Paper Mario, points are used to level up the characters, replacing Star Points from the first two Paper Mario games. However, they are useless in most other games and serve only as a secondary goal, such as in Super Mario World and the New Super Mario Bros. games. In Super Mario 3D Land, points are replaced completely by coins. In Super Mario 3D World, they reappear, though they only have a role in multiplayer mode: The game keeps track of the points each player gains (though any points earned while riding Plessie are awarded to all players), and displays the totals at the end of each level. The player with the most points gets a crown as a prize, which is worth 5000 points if an active player wears it to the end of the next level. It can be lost if the player who holds it gets hit by an enemy and can be stolen if another player ground-pounds the crowned character. If the crowned player grabs a Double Cherry, only one instance of their character wears the crown.
Certain games and items may also affect the score. Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 features two point-changing e-Cards: a Japan-only one that doubled any points gained, and an unreleased one that made the point chain start at 4000 instead of 100. Super Paper Mario features Speed and Slow Flowers, which speed up or slow down gameplay, respectively, and also triple any points gained while the items are in effect. The game also subtracted points instead of giving extra lives when the point chain got that far; this is because the game has no extra life system.
In the Mario Kart series, the Grand Prix and Versus modes award points based on the player's finishing position. At the end of the course/tournament, the player with the most points gets a gold Cup, and the second- and third-place finishers receive silver and bronze trophies. Points are also used in Battle Mode, with different uses throughout the games. In Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Kart DS, the player can set a rule that makes the winner gain a point, and (in Mario Kart DS only) win the match when reaching a predetermined number of points. In Mario Kart Wii, the player earns a point for every balloon popped or coin collected. At the end, the teams' points are totaled and the team with more wins the match. Winning a predetermined number of matches means winning the battle. In Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8, points work as in Mario Kart Wii but are summed individually. In Balloon Battle, players can earn an unlimited number of points, but in Mario Kart 7's Coin Runners game, a player can earn only 10 points per battle due to the game's limit of 10 coins carried at a time.
Various Mario sports titles use the same point system as in the real sport depicted, like shooting a basketball into the net in Mario Hoops 3-on-3 and Mario Sports Mix, scoring goals in the Mario Strikers series, and trying to get the lowest score in the Mario Golf series.