My Ten Favorite Mario Power-Ups
I've spent plenty of time discussing my love for the Mario series in articles and on Replay, and playing through Super Mario 3D Land brought back lots of great memories. Nintendo fans are thrilled about the game's inclusion of the classic Tanooki suit, so I put together my ten favorite Mario power-ups in honor of its return.
10. Wing Cap
If you saw our Replay of Super Mario 64, you'll remember that I was the only one defending the wing cap. While the other guys on that episode seemed to have issues with the control, I thought flying over the Mushroom Kingdom in 3D for the first time was a great experience. You never really did much other than soar around and collect coins, but it was fun while it lasted.
9. Boomerang Suit
Super Mario 3D Land isn't all about nostalgia and fan service, as it introduces some new suits to the mix. My favorite of the new power-ups was the boomerang suit, which you can acquire from a boomerang flower or the occasional Hammer Brother. The blue projectile works great for taking out enemies, and you can even hop over its return trip if you want to whip it around like that sweet throwing star in Ninja Gaiden.
8. Invincibility Star
One of the few power-ups with its own (unmistakable) theme song, the invincibility star is a staple of the Mario series. Outside of an awesome somersault jump in Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario 3D Land, it doesn't change the way Mario moves at all. Instead, it simply makes him unstoppable. Sprinting through crowds of Goombas is fun, but my favorite levels were the ones from SMB 3 that required you to collect successive stars so you could cross over those chompy flower jerks.
7. Mega Mushroom
The invincibility star is cool, but it didn't make you turn into a giant that could kick over pipes and platforms. New Super Mario Bros.' mega mushroom is the most overpowered of any Mario power-up, but it's also one of the most fun. Once you get it, it's great to just hold in the run button and sprint towards the end, utterly destroying everything in your path.
6. Bee Mario
One of the most leisurely Mario power-ups, the bee suit doesn't grant you super-speed, invincibility, or any projectiles. Rather, it lets the plumber happily float from platform to platform by holding the A button. In certain areas, he can attach himself to honey-covered platforms and climb around. It's not the flashiest suit in the series, but it grants Mario plenty of additional mobility. Not to mention, Mario looks pretty awesome in a goofy bee suit.
5. Hammer Mario
A rare power-up that grants Mario both offense and defense, the hammer suit was one of the most coveted in Super Mario Bros. 3. Its appearance was usually confined to the later levels, but those are where you need it most. Not only does it give Mario the ability to throw infinite hammers, it also protects him from fire projectiles thanks to the shell. Just remember to duck.
4. Kuribo's Shoe
One of the most non-traditional power-ups in the series, Kuribo's shoe couldn't be found in item blocks or at Toad houses. Rather, you had to find a Goomba stomping around in one of them and hit him from underneath. Once they were out of the green shoe, Mario could cozy up inside. In addition to letting him bounce off of spiky enemies he normally couldn't, it also allowed Mario to cross those previously-mentioned chompy flower jerks (seen above). We're still not sure why it had a wind-up thing on the side, though.
3. Cloud Mario
My favorite power-ups always revolved around mobility, and Super Mario Galaxy 2's cloud suit offered Mario a level of control that no other suit can. With a quick shake of the Wii remote, mid-air cloud platforms can be created anywhere. If you use this suit in conjunction with Mario's long jump, he can access areas that would have previously been unthinkable. Not the most offense-minded suit by any means, but it's the most fun to get around in.
When I made my list of the top ten Mario games of all time, Super Mario World took the top slot with Super Mario Bros. 3 taking runner-up. It's the other way around in this post, but Super Mario World's cape is still a blast. Flying may have been a bit dangerous with this yellow piece of fabric, but it was still a ton of fun to learn the timing required to fly continuously. Taking to the sky was fun, but performing a steep dive into the ground was even better. If you prefer to stay on the ground, nothing in the game was better at taking out those frequent Chargin' Chucks.
1. Tanooki Suit
Not only is it the suit that made me put together this list, it's also the best power-up in the Mario series. It's a coveted item in Super Mario 3D Land for sure, but I'm specifically referring to the iconic form seen in Super Mario Bros. 3. The Super Leaf may have been more frequent (as well as featured on the game's box art), but the Tanooki suit offered everything it did and more. By "more", I mean "you can turn into a statue thing for some reason". I'm not even sure why I liked turning into a statue so much, as it never really did anything of much use. Nonetheless, that ability combined with the others to make it an incredibly useful item. You could head to the sky to find secrets, feather your jumps for much better control, and kill enemies and break blocks with the tail swipe. Even with the series' long history of awesome power-ups and suits, I still consider the Tanooki suit to be my favorite of them all.