Mario is a man of many hats. No, seriously, he’s worn a boatload of hats over the years, along with various costumes, accessories and bizarre contraptions. The best thing about Mario’s many forms, though, is that they grant him special abilities to help battle Bowser and his army of minions. But out of all of those super-powered forms Mario has taken over the years, which 10 are the absolute best?
With Super Mario Maker set to hit the Wii U next Friday, Sept. 11, we’re reminded just how varied Mario’s life has been over the past 20-plus years. The guy’s been to lots and lots of bizarre locations and, along the way, he’s taken on many forms to help him travel more easily or put the hurt on goombas or koopa troopas aplenty.
To celebrate the many forms of Mario, we decided to rank our top 10 favorites from throughout the mustachioed plumber’s illustrious career.
10. Bee MarioIntroduced in the Mario Galaxy games, Bee Mario is only one of the more recent critter-themed transformations Nintendo’s mascot has become famous for. Not only does the Bee suit give Mario the ability to fly for a short time, but it also lets him walk across flowers and clouds, as well as climb along honeycombs. While many of Mario’s forms are just slightly different versions of his original transformation, the Bee suit stands out because it grants multiple new abilities in a single, pretty adorable, costume.
9. Frog MarioWhile the Frog suit from Super Mario Bros. 3 may make getting around on land a bit more difficult, it greatly improves Mario’s mobility underwater. One of the most dreaded level types in any game is the “water” stage, but the Frog suit actually makes those stages in Mario games a lot of fun.
8. Metal MarioPick up a Metal cap in Super Mario 64 and you’ll be introduced to our eighth favorite Mario form, Metal Mario. Not only does the Metal form look shiny and cool, it just about makes our hero invincible. Mario dishes out more damage in this form, and the only real way to hurt him is to fall a great distance. This power became so popular that it eventually became a pick-up ability in Super Smash Bros.
7. Boo MarioWhat do you get when you cross everybody’s favorite video game ghost with everybody’s favorite plumber? Boo Mario, of course. Another multi-faceted ability from Mario Galaxy, Boo Mario gains all of the powers of a Mushroom Kingdom specter. Not only can he understand their language, but they’ll also follow him around to assist in solving stage puzzles. Boo Mario can also levitate off of the ground, as well as pass through various walls and gates. Spooky.
6. Cat MarioIf you prefer Mario characters that look positively precious, then you’ve got to get your hands on one of those Cat suits introduced in Super Mario 3D World. The Cat suit gives Mario and Co. plenty of extra mobility, as it grants a boost of speed, as well as the ability to slide and climb various surfaces. You can “Catwheel” into enemies, too, as well as scratch them with your claws.
5. Kuribo MarioAlso known as Goomba Shoe Mario, this ability was introduced in Super Mario 3 and gave Mario the ability to hop all over the place. Okay, so maybe it’s not as flashy as some of the other abilities, but Mario riding around in that big green shoe is a pretty classic image and, hey, is let you destroy tricky enemies and move across dangerous terrain.
4. Cape MarioUnlike most Mario abilities, the Cape upgrade required a heck of a lot of skill to actually control. Anyone could get the hang of running fast and leaping high into the air, but a true master of the cape could carefully guide Mario through the air for extended periods of time, as well as dive-bomb your enemies. The cape was also introduced in Super Mario World, which many still hold to be the best game in the entire series.
3. Raccoon MarioFew images from 1980’s gaming stand out quite like the iconic image of Mario soaring majestically through the sky donning his fancy new Raccoon suit. Along with giving Mario the ability to smack enemies with his tale, the Raccoon suit was the first time Mario was granted the ability to fly. If you knew how to use the suit to its maximum potential, you could bypass entire levels by cruising through the sky.
2. Fire MarioOutside of your standard Mushroom, the Fire Flower was the first item in a Mario game to give the legendary hero a special ability. Compared to some of his later forms, Fire Mario may not appear all that powerful but, back in the day, being able to take an extra hit and hurl deadly fireballs at your enemies was considered a huge upgrade.
1. Invincible MarioThe best ability is always the one that makes you practically untouchable. So long as you don’t run off of a cliff, the Invincibility Star turns Mario into an unstoppable force. He runs much faster and can literally sprint through any foe, destroying them on contact. The Invincibility Star is perhaps the most legendary ability from the entire franchise, introduced in the original Super Mario Bros. and popping up in nearly every main entry, as well as multiple spin-off games, that followed.