It’s amazing how far gamers will go to show their love of a particular game. They’ll stay on top of gaming news, create playthrough videos for YouTube, and record entertaining gaming podcasts.
However, there’s one set of gamers who are more committed to their hobby than any of these. And that’s the people who make fan games.
Lots of franchises have passionate followings, but fans of Super Mario are a breed apart. They also seem particularly adept at coding.
This means that there are some great fan-made Super Mario games available to play online. And here are the best free fan games featuring your favorite plumber and his friends.
1. Super Mario Bros. X
Super Mario Bros. X (referred to as SMBX) is arguably the most popular Mario fan game ever made. It’s a tribute that emphasizes the fundamental elements of the franchise: platforming gameplay, exciting powerups, and fun level design.
SMBX has five playable characters in Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, and Link. Its power-ups include classics (such as Yoshi) as well as new ones (such as the Hammer Suit). And it even has local multiplayer! Play with a friend in co-op mode with a camera that seamlessly transitions into split-screen, or in battle mode.
But the best part of SMBX is its super-advanced level editor. You can pretty much create any kind of level your heart desires. Not only that, but the editor lets you change levels in real-time as you play them.
Download: Super Mario Bros. X (Windows)
Mari0 (that’s a zero) is an exact replica of the original Super Mario Bros. except with one major change: portals! Yes, the same gameplay from both Portal and Portal 2—you manipulate enemies and navigate levels using orange and blue portals.
This fan-made game is a perfect example of how two completely different genres can come together and become something greater than their individual parts. Not only is it fun, but you can now exercise even more creativity in how you win. And as a bonus, it supports four-player co-op and has a built-in level editor.
The best part? Mari0 is 100 percent open source. Made using the LÖVE framework for Lua-based game development, you can check out the source code here.
If you’re interested in experiencing more, try playing the best open source video games.
Download: Mari0 (Windows, Mac, Linux)
3. Super Mario Bros. Dimensions
Super Mario Bros. Dimensions is another remake-type fan game that takes the original Super Mario Bros. and expands it with a new gameplay mechanic—in this case, dimension switching.
At the press of a button, you can switch back and forth between the “real” world and the “alternate” world. This has a similar layout but different elements. There are also new power-ups to try (e.g. Laser Flower), secret levels to explore, and collectibles.
Lots of blood, sweat, and tears went into this game, and it shows. The quality is so good that you might even mistake it for an actual Nintendo-made game!
Download: Super Mario Bros. Dimensions (Windows)
4. New Super Mario Kart
New Super Mario Kart offers an updated fan-game retake of the original SNES Mario Kart. There are three cups available with the standard engine classes. There are also four battle mode courses across different terrain types: pavement, beach, snow, and dirt.
As with any Mario Kart game, it’s all about the power-ups. You’ll see series favorites such as the mega mushroom, mini mushroom, bomb, red shell, and thunder. Additionally, you’ll see fun easter eggs such as the Yoshi egg and Bowser ball.
Besides the new tracks, you’ll keep wanting to play until you unlock the 12 secret characters.
Download: New Super Mario Kart (Windows)
Mariovania is exactly what the name suggests: a mashup of Mario-esque platformer gameplay mixed with elements from the Castlevania series. Fans of both series will love this game. If you find this game bringing on Nintendo nostalgia, we’ve already covered some of the best free fan-made Pokémon games.
Interesting additions include experience and equipment systems, new abilities and power-ups, tons of classic and new enemies, lots of secrets to explore, and a surprisingly fitting soundtrack.
The graphics leave something to be desired, but if you can ignore the fact that Mario runs like a marionette doll, you’ll find that the game itself is quite fun. Mariovania is still updated every so often, but expect to run into the occasional bug.
Download: Mariovania (Windows, Mac, Linux)
6. Toads vs. Koopas
And now for something a little different: a clone of the popular Plants vs. Zombies with a Mario theme. In this game, you place Toad cannons on a field and fend off encroaching Koopas. And it’s pretty damn fun.
The only downside to Toads vs. Koopas is that it only has a single level. It’s hard and it’s fun, but don’t expect to spend more than an hour or two with this one.
Download: Toads vs. Koopas (Windows)
7. Mario Land: Minigame Mayhem
In this game, you enter the Mario Land Theme Park where you can play dozens of fun mini games and earn all kinds of achievements and prizes. Think of it like Mario Party for one person: lots of little challenges that will test your skills.
Within the Park, you’ll be able to play arcade games, card games, jumping games, luck games, and so much more. You start off with 10 coins. Each game has an entry cost and a potential reward. Your goal is to amass as many coins as you can.
Once you have enough coins, you can buy outfits and figurines. You can also record high scores for most of the activities, meaning lots of replayability as you try to best yourself in your favorite games.
Download: Mario Land: Minigame Mayhem (Windows)
Try Making Your Own Mario Fan Game
The beauty of modern game development is that anyone can learn how to code. With all the excellent tools and tutorials out there, fast learners have been known to create their first game within just a few months. So, why not you?
Read the full article: The 7 Best Free Fan-Made Super Mario Games to Play