The Greatest Mario Power-Ups of All Time

When Super Mario 3D Land hits in a couple of weeks, it will be bringing with it a bunch of familiar old power-ups for Mario along with some newfangled ones as well. The world’s greatest plumber has seen his share of power-up innovations over the years. Sometimes they’re great, but occasionally they turn out to be pretty lame. Do you remember Metal Mario, who existed entirely to show off the Nintendo 64’s reflection-mapping? Of course you don’t. It sucked. We do have high hopes for Mario 3D’s Boomerang Suit, but it has a lot to prove before it can triumph over the great powers and abilities that have come before it.

We took a quick survey of the 1UP’s staff’s favorite Mario skills over the years and came up with the following list. Do you agree? Disagree? Our website is designed as a two-way conversation, so share your thoughts and proclaim your love for your own favorites in the comments section below. And now, as Casey Kasem used to say, on with the countdown. (You should sing each number for full effect!)

Blimp Yoshi

7. Blimp Yoshi (Super Mario Galaxy 2)

Maybe including a power-up for Yoshi in this list is kind of stretching the rules a bit, but since Yoshi himself is effectively a power-up — a semi-sentient, fruit-gobbling power-up — for Mario, we’ll allow it. That makes Blimp Yoshi a sort of adverbial power, modifying a modifier. Anyway, Super Mario Galaxy 2 did an XZibit and put together this power-in-your-power feature that basically worked as if someone had mashed together Super Mario World’s Blue Yoshi and P-Balloon into a single skill. It allows Mario to fly around on Yoshi, but only by grabbing a special fruit that temporarily inflates the dinosaur. We especially like the way it reminded us of Mario’s number-one jerkass move from Mario World: Once you were done using Yoshi as a tool for reaching new heights, you could kick off over a pit, leaping to safety while letting your dino-pal plummet to his death.

Fire Flower

6. Fire Flower (Super Mario Bros.)

Sometimes, there’s just no substitute for the classics. The Fire Flower is an old standby for Mario, as iconic as the Mushroom and even more versatile. Whether running, jumping, flying, or even swimming (no, don’t ask us about the physics of that), the Fire Flower is Mario’s most trustworthy way to go on the offensive. Even in Super Mario Bros. 3, where our hero commanded a legion of superior special powers, it was always useful (except maybe in Super Mario Galaxy, where it was on a lame timer). But can anything top the way the Fire Flower worked in Super Mario World? There, it didn’t just torch enemies, it also turned them into coins… and by executing a spin jump, Mario could blast a flurry of fireballs in either direction, drilling into the ground while frying all foes. That was 16-bit power, friends.

Penguin Suit

5. Penguin Suit (New Super Mario Bros. Wii)

The Penguin Suit from New Super Mario Bros. Wii was a succinct solution to one of platform gaming’s enduring frustrations: Slippery ice stages. Dressing up as a Penguin allowed Mario to grip the ice as if it were normal ground, though a good running start would also allow him to slide freely along the low-friction, icy surfaces (a little like the Blue Shell in New Super Mario Bros. for DS, except not guaranteed to send you plummeting to your death). To top it off, the Penguin suit also allowed him to fire bursts of ice, like fireballs, that would freeze enemies in blocks of ice that could be climbed or tossed. Samus Aran would be proud.

Amit Teli