I fell in love with Super Mario Bros. when my parents bought me a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) for Christmas as a young boy, and I’ve been obsessed with Super Mario games ever since. There’s nothing that would please me more than having the chunky plumber in my pocket on my iPhone. But since Nintendo refuses to bring its titles to iOS, we’re forced to play the alternatives.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The absence of Super Mario has spawned a number of terrific platforming alternatives that are just as enjoyable. I’ve been enjoying a number of them over the years, and thought it was about time I shared the best of the bunch.
So, here are 9 of the best iOS alternatives to the classic Super Mario Bros.:
Pizza Boy — ACNE Play — ($1.99) iPhone
Pizza Boy is by far my favorite 2D platformer for the iPhone. Like classic Super Mario Bros., this game is just plain old-fashioned fun, with no fancy gimmicks that get in your way. As Pizza Boy, it’s your job to recover the ‘pizza present’ from a scrupulous thief, traveling through levels filled with threat and danger — such as evil birds and vicious dogs — using only soda bottles as your weapon. The controls in this game are just perfect, which is important for a fast-paced 2D platformer; it looks awesome; and it’s incredibly well made — which is why it’s one of my favorites. Its only downside is that it’s not iPad-compatible.
Super World Adventures — Triniti Interactive Limited — ($1.99) iPhone
In Super World Adventures you play a young lumberjack named Richie who is chasing a wild boar (yes, a wild boar!) in a bid to recover his stolen lunchbox. It’s not exactly Mario saving Princess Peach, but it’s still a lot of fun. It boasts some decent graphics, a smooth control system, 36 action-packed levels across six environments, 12 challenging bosses, and over 100 collectibles items. There’s plenty of fun to be had with this game, and it’s easy to pick up and play.
Giana Sisters — Bad Monkee — ($4.99) iPhone or iPad
Giana Sisters was competing with Super Mario long before the rest of the games in our feature, with its first release way back in 1987 as The Great Giana Sisters, which featured on the Amiga, Atari ST, and Commodore 64, amongst others. It’s now completely revamped, with impressive visuals and even better gameplay. As its description states: “Even though Giana Sisters has been polished off from its decade old dust, now it goes strong with the known style, legendary sound and all classic features.” This title features a whopping 102 levels — 32 of which are retro, and 80 of which are brand new. It’s available on both the iPhone and the iPad, but they are separate releases at $4.99 each.
Mos Speedrun — Physmo — ($1.99) Universal
Mos Speedrun is like Super Mario on speed. Your aim is to race Mos through 25 stages of retro platforming action, finding secret areas, collecting spooky skulls, grabbing every coin, and attempting to beat the speed-run time. There are 12 different costumes to collect throughout the game, but you’ll need to find every ghost to unlock each one. It’s incredibly fast-paced, but very entertaining — if you can keep up. It’s also highly addictive, so you have been warned. One of the best things about this title is that for $1.99, you get both the iPhone and iPad titles in a universal app.
Stardash — OrangePixel — ($1.99) Universal
Stardash looks and feels a lot like early Super Mario titles for the Game Boy, thanks to its retro black and white visuals, and is probably the most Mario-esque title in our roundup. From the developer of Meganoid and Super Drill Panic, this title is super simplistic and super fun. Your aim is to survive the many levels by jumping between platforms, collecting coins, and unlocking the special Temple levels. Super Mario fans will also recognize the name of this title, with Star Dash being an unlockable mini-game that featured in Mario Superstar Baseball for the Nintendo GameCube.