Super Mario is undeniably at the top tier when compared to other video game series. It is Nintendo’s second most profitable franchise, behind only Pokémon, with dozens of titles distributed across multiple platforms. Then there’s the franchise’s impressive ability to branch out into other genres, such as sports games, racing games, role-playing, turn-based strategies, and puzzle games. Finally, the characters of Super Mario are so well-known that they are instantly recognizable even by those who have never played a video game. We’re not just referring to the main mustachioed man here, but many of the recurring foes as well.
Since this year marks the 40th anniversary of the first Super Mario game, it seems the right time to reflect on the series’ history and pay respect to our favorite little stompers. While Mario is the main attraction and the bosses get all the glory, we cannot ignore the villains who add thrills to the game. So, here are the top 5 Super Mario Villains to countdown.
The Koopa Troopas, the slithering turtles of the sewers who work for the mighty Bowser, are perhaps the most recognizable villains in the entire Super Mario series. Even though the Koopas just started walking on two paws in Super Mario Bros., the shelled menaces were already in the game back in 1993, albeit under a different name (Shellcreepers). In the modern era, the Koopas are a part of a huge kingdom ruled with an iron fist by Bowser and his army of turtle enemies. These Koopas may not be as advanced as the Troopas, but they’re still a formidable opponent for Mario. The more formidable Troopas are equipped with the following deadly features:
- They can hide inside their shells.
- They can launch at lightning speed against Mario.
- Capable of surviving outside their external protection.
- They come in different shades, indicating their behavior patterns.
- The Koopa Troopas served as models for later, more powerful Koopa adversaries like the Hammer Bro, Chargin’ Chuck, Lakitu, and Magikoopa.
Turning your back on a Boo will only lead your Mario to trouble. Originally introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3, these ghosts are opponents that sneak up on Mario while he and the player aren’t paying attention. However, their first significant upgrade was in Super Mario World, though. Super Mario World. Super Mario World features not only entire haunted house levels devoted to Boos but also enormous Boo monsters who are immune to harm when they are transparent. Over the course of the Super Mario games, Boos would be used in various ways, from serving as platforms to just sticking their tongues out as grab points. However, the Boos truly shine in the Luigi’s Mansion series, where they appear in a wide variety of forms. Recently, Bonneters, a benevolent subspecies of Boos who wear hats and ride atop other creatures, were featured in Super Mario Odyssey. Their noticeable features are:
- They sneak up when the player and Mario are not attentive
- Enormous Boos monsters are immune when transparent.
- They can turn into platforms for Super Mario to climb higher.
- They occasionally stick out their tongues which is their grab point.
- They appear in all sizes and shapes in Luigi’s Mansion Franchise.
Super Mario Bros. would introduce Piranha Plants, a new type of carnivorous enemy that lurks in pipes to devour a plumber if he comes too close. For the first time in the 1990’s Super Mario World, Piranha Plants gained the ability to be climbed, helping the players to reach higher levels. Piranha Plants were released from their pipes and spread all over the world with the release of Super Mario 64 in 1996. Then, Super Mario Sunshine, released in 2002, debuted Petey Piranha, a walking Piranha Plant that would become a staple Super Mario boss. Piranha Plants have developed a wide range of offensive abilities throughout the series. The takeaway is that Piranha Plants can be used in a wide variety of ways and are simple to update. So different games can have their own unique take on this recurring foe. Surely, Piranha Plants may be found in Link’s Awakening as well. Their formidable upgraded features are:
- In Super Mario Bros. 3, Piranha Plants gained the ability to spit fireballs, adding to their already well-known reputation.
- The upgraded version can spit poison, blast ice, leap through pipes, and launch spiked balls in Mario’s direction.
- There is a Petey Piranha that can walk, the freedom allowing it to be more fatal for our Mario
In Super Mario Universe, Chain Chomps are balls of steel. Super Mario Bros. 3 introduced Chain Chomps in 1988 as dangerously aggressive foes for Mario to face. The chain that holds them in place, stopping them from wreaking havoc elsewhere, symbolizes their might. Since then, Chomps have solidified their status as pets, and their behavior increasingly resembles that of actual dogs. Chomps will be submissive to their masters if they are kind and considerate but will turn hostile and unpredictable under poor caretakers. The Chomps were previously seen to be free of their chains, ablaze, and come in various sizes and shapes. However, the one constant is their irrational zeal for protecting the treasures, making Mario and his friends tread carefully when they try to steal something from them. Link’s Awakening also features a Chain Chomp, which is used to access one of the game’s major temples. Their key features are:
- They are chained
- They protect the treasures with all their might
- They turn very hostile under a careless master.
Goombas made their debut in 1085 through the first Super Mario Bros., setting the tone for the gameplay for decades. The mushroom foes were not planned from the start but were added in at the last minute to balance the game’s complexity. The decision of their inclusion was made when testers complained that the game was too challenging without a basic foe. Over 30 years later, Goombas still serve with pride as the henchmen of every villain, providing a safe environment where players can hone their jumping skills. Several changes were made to the Goombas after Super Mario Bros., making them more formidable foes for Mario. Goombas are one of the classic enemy gangs that Link faces In Link’s Awakening. The key evolved features are:
- The addition of Paragoombas who can fly.
- Some Goombas have spikes on their hats, so Mario can’t trample them.
- Following the Super Mario 3D Land release in 2011, Goombas can climb each other’s backs, creating spectacular Goomba Stacks.