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The 7 Weirdest MARIO Spin-Off Games

35 years ago, Mario first graced the gaming world with his presence (as Jumpman) in Donkey Kong, which featured the mustachioed carpenter (he didn’t become a plumber until Mario Bros. a year later), climbing ladders and leaping over barrels in order to save his girlfriend Pauline from the damn, dirty ape. Since then, Mario has starred in dozens of games, many of them regarded as some of the greatest games of all time. No character better encapsulates the joy and wonder that video games provide.

However, some of Mario’s games go a different direction. A direction that’s weird as hell.

Now, don’t get me wrong, most of Mario’s spin-off games are incredibly fun. Mario Kart, Paper Mario, and Mario Party are some of my favorite game series. Some of them, though, just make me scratch my head. It just goes to show how strong a character and a brand Mario is that even some of the more ridiculous games manage to be so damn entertaining.

7. Dr. Mario (NES/Gameboy)

Dr. Mario is one of the more well-known spin-offs, thanks to the character’s inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Melee. But, playing Melee, I never realized just how odd the character truly is. Mario’s qualified to be a doctor now? In the 1990 game, Mario cures people by throwing pills at viruses a-la Tetris. If real medicine worked that way I would have gone to medical school rather than write for a pop-culture website, Mom.

6. Mario’s Time Machine (SNES/MS-DOS)

Mario’s Time Machine, released in 1993, is a classic adventure game in which Bowser goes back in time to steal real-world history’s greatest artifacts. That’s right, long before heading to New Donk City, Mario went to literal Vienna. Mario must walk around each historical area, speaking to citizens and completing tasks to learn more information. The game actually features 3 different endings depending on how long Mario spends in the past, which is honestly pretty cool. Likewise, returning any artifact to the wrong period results in Bowser escaping to an unspecified paradise.

5. Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis (DS)

The Mario vs. Donkey Kong spin-off series acts a sort of spiritual successor to the original Donkey Kong. In the first game, Mario must reach Donkey Kong and save his friends just like he did in 1982, but with longer levels and more puzzle elements. Instead of Pauline, though, Mario must save little wind-up copies of himself. In March of the Minis, you play as the tiny wind-up bots for the entire game. Contrary to the title, Mario doesn’t even face Donkey Kong; instead Mario just sends his robot minions to do his dirty work, this time to save Pauline. That’s right, Mario went to so much trouble to save his toys but couldn’t be bothered to save his own girlfriend.

4. Wrecking Crew and Mario’s Cement Factory (NES and GAME & WATCH)

Back in the early 80s, Mario was like a kid just out of college. He was trying to find the right job, trying to find himself. Before he became a plumber, Mario tried his hand at being a construction worker. These two games are similar enough in theme that I’m giving them one spot. In Wrecking Crew, Mario has to avoid enemies while destroying a construction site with his signature hammer. That’s not how construction works, but diving into warp pipes isn’t how plumbing works, so I’ll give it a pass.

Mario’s Cement Factory (which is the most exciting title a game could have) sees Mario opening floodgates so cement can make it to the cement truck without overflowing. Both games came before Mario had fully established what his games were about, so they may not have been weird at the time. Looking back, though, it’s crazy to think that two of Mario’s biggest games of ’83 and ’84 took place at construction sites.

3. Mario Teaches Typing (MS-DOS)

With the release of Super Mario World in 1990, Mario’s popularity skyrocketed, so Nintendo took it upon themselves to publish educational games starring the red-hatted jumping bean. One such game was Mario Teaches Typing. In it Mario finds a magic typewriter and types the phrase “Nok ix is tge the tine flfo4 for alll godd men to coome 2 too,” at which point the typewriter promptly explodes. Mario types so badly the MAGIC TYPEWRITER decides it would be better to not exist. Now, I have no idea what Mario was trying to type, but I doubt it was “Magic typewriter, please explode in my hands.”

2. Mario’s Bombs Away (GAME & WATCH)

If you thought Mario as a carpenter or construction worker was different, how about as a soldier? In Mario’s Bombs Away Mario has to carry bombs to his comrades without letting tree-people light their fuses. Because, as we’ve established, things have a tendency to blow up in Mario’s hands. However, if one of said tree-people does manage to light the fuse, instead of dropping the bomb and fleeing, Mario just returns the bomb to the soldier on the left! And then waits for it to blow them both up! Maybe if Mario Teaches Typing had instead taught children that explosions are dangerous, you wouldn’t be in this situation, Mario.

1. Mario + Rabbids: Kindgom Battle (Switch)

I’ll be the first to say how excited I actually am for this game. A slightly simpler Xcom on the go? Sign me up! Yet, something feels so wrong about Mario holding a Mega-Man-style gun and Yoshi firing off a bazooka. Yes, the weapons are colorful, but this game boasts over 150 weapons. Let me repeat that, a Mario game has over 150 weapons. That’s not even factoring in the Rabbids, Ubisoft’s odd French bunnies. Rabbid Peach is so obsessed with selfies that Nintendo created a real Instagram for her. Despite all it’s oddities, I cannot wait to pick up a copy come August.

How does our list compare to yours? Anything we left out? If you’re on your phone, let us know if it exploded in your hands in the comments below!

Image: Nintendo

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