With a new Mario game arriving soon (Super Mario 3D World for Wii U), I couldn't help but think back on all of Mario's different special moves and abilities. More specifically, Mario has many different ways to soar through the sky and stay there for a period of time before touching foot on solid ground. I decided to pick out some of my favorite methods Mario has used to conquer the air; I broadened the definition of 'flight moves' to allow for more then just the standard power-ups, though I did intend to stay within the regular Mario platformer series. Let's take a look at what ended up on my list:
With this ability, Mario can fly freely as he pleases, and his red and black clothing gives Mario a new, fashionable appearance. Unfortunately, this ability is extremely limited where you can use it.
New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)
It's not the best-looking suit Mario has worn, but it's a valuable power-up in the New Super Mario Bros. games when you're trying to outperform your friends in simultaneous multiplayer. It's fairly basic but gets the job done: Mario gets an upward air boost followed by a slow descent to the ground.
Super Mario World (SNES)
This one's just hilarious: Mario inflates himself like a balloon and floats slowly along. Unfortunately, you're pretty vulnerable as you float, though you can still kill enemies by slowly pushing down on them. But by that time Mario's already run out of air! There was a whole special stage in Super Mario World (Tubular) filled with Volcano Lotuses, Koopa Paratroopas, and the Confused Chuck and Passin' Chuck variations of the Chargin' Chuck, that truly tests your ability to navigate Mario as floats along. Suffice it to say it's a bit of a challenge. Yoshi has a similar move in Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Blimp Yoshi), a nice little nod to Mario's move.
Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)
He can't sting with it, but he can fly short distances! Not only can Mario fly, but he can also climb honeycombs and walk on flower petals and clouds. That may not seem like a bid deal, but when you're in a bee's world, these moves open many doors of possibilities.
Super Mario Land (Game Boy)
Among many other reasons, Super Mario Land is unique in the Mario series for being the only game where Mario can actually take control of a submarine and an airplane! Although you could argue this doesn't deserve to be on the list since Mario is relying on a nuts-and-bolts machine to fly rather than a special ability, I feel it's awesome enough to take a spot. Mario could learn a thing or two from Kirby and implement more shoot-em-up stages in his games!
Lakitu's cloud, Pidgit's magic carpet, aka "Steal that Ride"
Super Mario Bros. 2 for the carpet (NES)
Super Mario World for the cloud (SNES)
I decided to combine these two into one because essentially Mario is doing the same thing: he's stealing the enemy's ride! It's fun to turn the tables and show the bad guys who's in charge, right? It would be great if Lakitu's Cloud became more of a power-up itself and allowed Mario to act on the offensive by throwing his own Spinies from above. Though... he can already wreak havoc with his fireballs already, so never mind! Still would be cool...
Super Mario Bros. 2 (left), Super Mario World (right)
Flying Squirrel Mario
New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)
A fun new power-up introduced in the Wii U game. It's fairly basic the first time you use, consisting of simple gliding, but it has a nifty little upward flight move followed by a slow descent, as well as giving Mario a wall-sticking ability. Some of the challenge stages built around this power-up truly show off the different ways you can use it to explore the levels in interesting ways! It's cleverly implemented into the level design and thus makes it one of my new favorite abilities.
Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)
This definitely deserves to be in the Top 3. How many of you took the Wing Cap in Super Mario 64, jumped into the Cannon in Bob-Omb Battlefield and just had fun flying around high in the sky? I loved taking deep dives then pulling back on the N64 analog stick and seeing Mario soar quickly back up. The sound effects made it all the more thrilling. On top of that, Mario's own shouts of joy ("Yipee!") during flight seemed to match my own. This was a wonderful flight mechanic to use in Mario's first 3D adventure, making it seem like there really were no limits to Mario (or Nintendo games in general).
Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
Perhaps the most iconic image out all of Mario's games. This was really the first time Mario had his own special ability to fly into the sky. I know that seeing this for the first time as a kid was almost magical. I also think the Tanooki Suit deserves mention, though I don't think it should take up a separate spot on the list since it has the same flying effect in Super Mario Bros. 3 as the Tail.
Although the Tanooki suit made a return in Super Mario 3D Land, Mario couldn't fly. Gamers finally saw Mario's flying tail back in action in New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS, including the ever memorable sound effect of filling up the Speed Gauge.
As an added bonus, the Raccoon tail can be used to directly attack enemies!
Super Mario Bros. 3 (left), New Super Mario Bros. 2 (right)
Super Mario World (SNES)
After all this time, I'm still amazed at the versatility of the Cape; Mario looks great in it (like some kind of Mushroom Kingdom super hero), it's magical (really, how does it stay attached to his feet when he's gliding?), and it even has its own offensive capabilities as Mario nose dives and slams the ground with thunderous awe. This is one of the few power-ups on this list that Mario can use to remain flying indefinitely. As long as you can control the left-right taps of the D-pad to keep Mario swooping in a rhythmic wave pattern, he can glide all the way to the end of the stage (well, depending on the design of the stage!).
Much like the Raccoon Tail, an added bonus is the ability to directly attack enemies!
The Cape has even been the focus of a Negative World editorial exploring at how the powerful item could make a return in a modern Mario game. Make it happen Nintendo!
And just a side note, but isn't it charming seeing the Super Koopas don their own capes? These little guys actually have excellent air superiority. But, man, they are so incredibly weak.
That's my list! Did I overlook one of your favorite air moves? Does Mario remain king of all platforming goodness, no matter where his adventures may take him (whether it's air, land, sea, outer space, and ... beyond)? Add your comments below!
Be sure to check out some of Negative World's other Top Ten character moves and abilities, including Yoshi and Kirby!
Hmm, it's interesting to see people either love or hate the cape. At least, that's what it seems like from some of the comments. I guess it really is overpowered compared to some of Mario's other moves! Thanks for pointing out the specifics, @Mop it up.
Yeah, but you have to admit the way he actually uses the cape to fly is definitely not what you'd expect considering they picked something obvious like a Superman cape. It's a bit bizarre too, I think! (And thanks for the kind words man)!