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Mario’s first adventure into the realm of RPGs was Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars in 1996. After that Nintendo made a spiritual successor which spun off into its own series, Paper Mario, beginning in 2000 in Japan and 2001 in the West. After that, there was a third RPG series that finally put Luigi into the spotlight.

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That would be the Mario & Luigi series. The first game, Superstar Saga, launched in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance. The last main entry was Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam in 2016 for the 3DS, although there were two remakes after that. The developers, AlphaDream, closed in 2019. Since this might be the end of this series with no plans to go to the Switch, now is a good time to rank all Mario and Luigi games.

Updated on August 20, 2023, by PJ Molloy:It’s alive! After years of being dormant, Mario RPGs are finally back thanks to the Super Mario RPG remake for Nintendo Switch. With all the hype surrounding the plumber’s triumphant return to turn-based combat, now is the perfect time to revisit the Mario & Luigi RPG games if you haven’t already.

The Mario & Luigi series has been missing for years, and unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any new installments coming soon. Even though the future of the series is hazy at best, it left behind one heck of a legacy that’s worth familiarizing yourself with if you’re a fan of Super Mario RPG or RPGs in general.

7 Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey

The original Bowser’s Inside Story is one of the best Mario & Luigi Games, so you’d think the 3DS remake would be just as impressive, right? Unfortunately, Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey feels more like an attempt to keep the 3DS relevant than the big comeback the Mario & Luigi series needed.

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The graphics get a new coat of paint, and there are a couple of minor quality-of-life improvements. Aside from those, the main campaign hasn’t changed at all. The new side mode, Bowser Jr.’s Journey, is a nice distraction for a couple of hours, but its real-time combat system gets repetitive quickly and lacks the depth of the story mode. It’s not a bad game, but there’s little reason to choose it over the original.

6 Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions was exciting when it launched for the 3DS in 2017 since it was the most accessible physical version of this GBA classic. However, now that the 3DS has been discontinued, this remake has lost its most attractive quality. The question becomes: what can it offer you that the original can’t? The answer: not a lot.

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Overall, the game is more or less the same. The addition of the touch screen is nice, giving you easy access to the map and various options. The graphics get a major overhaul, and the game has never looked better. While the new side campaign, Bowser’s Minions, offers a surprising amount of content and humor, its simplistic combat mechanics feel shallow and tedious. It’s a decent remake, but the Mario & Luigi series deserves better.

5 Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam

Paper Jam was significant for two reasons. It was the last new entry in the Mario & Luigi series, launching in 2016 for the 3DS, and it combined the two ongoing Mario RPG series into one big crossover. However, it wasn’t as grandiose a crossover as something akin to Kingdom Hearts.

The adventure saw the Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario universes merging together. Since both series are known for their epic stories, original characters, and unique locations, this concept should’ve been a slam dunk for Nintendo. Sadly, the game delivers a generic story about Bowser kidnapping Peach, stereotypical Mario locations, and a supporting cast consisting of mostly Toads. It’s not terrible, but it’s far from the best Mario and Luigi game.

4 Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time

Partners in Time is the first sequel to the Mario & Luigi series, launching for the DS in 2005. As the name would suggest, this game adds time travel which operates a little like Chrono Trigger. It features portals that warp the plumbers back and forth between two generations. Solving puzzles in the past will affect the present.

The most significant part of this sequel is the addition of two extra party members: Baby Mario and Baby Luigi. This creates some fun mashups and dialogue in a rather cute adventure where the brothers traverse time to stop invading mushroom aliens. While it’s the most linear of the Mario & Luigi games, it’s still a solid entry.

3 Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

Mario & Luigi: Dream Team launched for 3DS in 2013 and was one of several games made during Nintendo’s Year of Luigi promotion. Nintendo even made a special anniversary model of the 3DS, which came with the game and an engraved marking to commemorate Luigi’s year of solo celebration.

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The story involves the Mario Brothers traveling across a strange island with portals that let you enter people’s dreams. In the Dream World, anything is possible. Luigi can turn into a 50-foot-tall giant or clone himself countless times to form a massive army. It’s one of the most creative games in the series, although it drags during certain parts. Nevertheless, it’s still one of the best Mario & Luigi games.

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2 Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story

Who would’ve thought you’d be able to explore Bowser’s intestines? Bowser’s Inside Story launched on the DS in 2009 and delivered a delightfully bizarre tale about Bowser swallowing the Mario Brothers. Don’t let the ridiculous premise fool you, though. It’s one of the best Mario & Luigi games and a must-play if you like RPGs or 2D Nintendo games.

You switch between side-scrolling sections as the plumbers as they try to escape the Koopa King’s insides and top-down segments as Bowser, who enters a turf war for the Mushroom Kingdom with the charismatically evil scientist Fawful. Running past muscle tissue and red blood cells is not exactly what you’d expect from a Mario game, but that makes it all the more unique. It’s a stellar entry in the Mario & Luigi series.

1 Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

The sequels range from good to great, but Superstar Saga is still the all-time classic and the best Mario & Luigi game. It’s the first title in the series, launching on Game Boy Advance in 2003, and tells an epic story about the Mario Bros teaming up with Bowser to stop a wicked witch from taking over the kingdom.

The brother’s gibberish speech, Fawful’s shenanigans, music, sprite work, the RPG system, and everything in between make this game sing on the GBA. Now that the series is defunct, it’s a shame it will never get a big console debut to evolve this gameplay further. At least there’s still this game to go back to.

NEXT: The Easiest And Hardest Mario Games

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