Ashton Raze provides a full run down of his Top 10 Mario Power Ups across the history of the series. What are yours?
10. Blue Shell
If you’re flagging in 8th place, having a run of bad luck, the blue shell is a lifesaver. Of course, it makes races vastly unbalanced and removes much of the skill, but come on. It’s a giant flying blue shell that nukes the person in first place. If you regularly find yourself in first place in Mario Kart though, feel free to regard this as the worst power-up of all time.
9. Bee Mushroom
Not only is this power-up’s functionality awesome, it also turns Mario into a cute bee. Bees are great. Even Charmy Bee is jealous of this power-up. The bee mushroom, which first appeared in Super Mario Galaxy, allows Mario to hover and climb honeycombs. It’s not just the power-up which is fantastic; Honeyhive Galaxy from Galaxy 1, and Honeybloom Galaxy from Galaxy 2, are both excellent areas; beautiful blue skies gaming locations that you get to hover around dressed as a bee. A bee!
8. Penguin Suit
The penguin suit from New Super Mario Bros. Wii is another excellent addition. Not only does it keep Mario stable while on ice, it also allows him to slide along on his stomach and hurl ice projectiles. It’s like a killer penguin, then. Like the one from Batman, but nowhere near as ugly. Oh, and the fact it improves the swimming is an added bonus. Take that, rubbish-yet-cute frog suit!
7. Wing Cap
Used heavily in promotional art for Super Mario 64, the wing cap nevertheless appeared sparingly. But once you got to use it, soaring through the air, deftly manouvering the plumber through the skies on a 3D plane for the first time, it was one of the defining moments of this seminal classic. It could be over far too soon though, with the wing cap’s power expiring and Mario plummeting back to earth like a moustachio’d apple.
6. Super Leaf
While the cape feather may have usurped this humble leaf, you can’t beat the first time you grab one of these in Super Mario Bros. 3, grow a tail, then realise you can take to the air. One of the most magical events in SMB3 is sailing up into the clouds and discovering a wealth of coins. Of course, trying to tail-whip enemies can often lead to a sticky end, but you can’t win ‘em all.
5. Red Shell
The homing red shell from Mario Kart is a perfect lifeline for when you’re in second place, nearing the finish, and bastard Yoshi is about to win. Slam one of these beauties up his rear fender, watch him go spinning out, and the victory is yours. The fact it homes in on your target and won’t ricochet into your own face, makes the red shell vastly superior to its green counterpart.
While there have been numerous ‘invincibility’ powerups in the series over the years, the star is the most well-known. It allows Mario to go charging through enemies with reckless abandon, simply destroying them with his awesome star power. It also has that fantastic music, which is a plus. Turning Mario into a glowing, invulnerable killing machine earns the star a place in the top three. Falling down a gap still kills you though. Not so invincible now, hey?
3. Fire Flower
The fire flower first appeared in Super Mario Bros, and since then has refused to go away. It’s like a weed, no matter how many times you pull it up, it just grows back. Only, this weed lets you shoot fireballs from your hands, so maybe it’s more like an orchid or something. A flaming, lethal orchid. The fire flower is so powerful that it opens up an alternative means of beating Bowser.
2. Super Mushroom
The most iconic Mario power up of all, the super mushroom transforms the brothers into their Super counterpart, otherwise known as ‘getting big’. The super mushroom is a hugely recognisable piece of Mario lore, and without this humble mushroom, Mario would remain squat and vulnerable. Apart from in the 3D games, of course. He’s rather buff there. Fun fact: it’s impossible not to pick up the first super mushroom in Super Mario Bros. Go on, try to avoid it.
1. Mega Mushroom
How do you improve the super mushroom? By making it even more super. This is the super mushroom of super mushrooms. The mega mushroom transforms Mario into a giant, able to stomp through entire levels, decimating everything in his path. They first appeared in Mario Party 4, but had a makeover and became more iconic for the New Super Mario Bros. games. Turning Mario into a giant, invincible powerhouse is a stroke of genius. We salute you, mega mushroom.
Special mention: Goomba’s Shoe
The Goomba’s Shoe appears here not because it’s a great power-up, but because it’s ludicrous. It’s essentially a giant clockwork wellington boot that allows Mario to hop onto spikes safely. It only appears in Super Mario Bros. 3 and rightly so, because it’s hardly the most useful thing. As far as we’re aware, this is the only power-up in existence that transforms you into wet weather footwear, and as such it deserves a special mention.