There’s arguably no greater recognizable video game character than everyone’s beloved mustachioed plumber, Mario. For nearly 40 years, the Super Mario Bros. series has established itself as one of the most memorable franchises in gaming history. The charm of Super Mario is found in the game’s plentiful power-ups. Items that Mario can pick up in the world that augment him with fantastic powers. It’s what literally makes him Super Mario. In this list, we’re highlighting the 15 Best Super Mario Power-Ups. “Let’s-a-go!”
15. Super Mushroom
We’ll be getting the Super Mushroom out the gate now. Now, that’s not to say that the Super Mushroom is the worst, or a bad, power-up. Let’s just say it’s the least of the best power-ups on this list. That said, the Super Mushroom is a player’s lifeline on some of the most difficult Mario levels out there. The Super Mushroom grants Mario the ability to turn into “Super Mario.” Essentially, making Mario bigger in stature and giving him an extra hit point. In the 2D Mario games, the Super Mushroom allows Mario the ability to break brick blocks hovering in the air. The Super Mushroom is synonymous with the Super Mario series, and appears in practically every game.
14. Metal Cap
The Metal Cap showed up in Mario’s first 3D adventure in Super Mario 64. The Metal Cap temporarily transforms Mario into Metal Mario. This power-up doesn’t stay active for long but grants Mario invincibility to enemies, fire, and toxic fumes. By taking on the properties of metal, this makes Mario heavier and he can’t jump as high. Metal Mario can also overcome strong water currents and is needed to access the Green Cap Switch hidden in Hazy Maze Cave.
The Starman is one of the top Super Mario power-ups in the entirety of the series. It’s rather simple in practice. When Mario touches a Starman he is instantly granted invincibility from practically everything, except a bottomless pit, for a limited time. What sets the Starman apart from other power-ups that grant temporary invincibility is that, if the player can defeat a long string of enemies while the power is active, Mario can gain extra lives for each consecutive enemy defeated following the first five or so. Also, we know the catchy Starman theme is playing in your head right now.
12. Super Acorn
The Super Acorn is from New Super Mario Bros. U and is very similar to the Cape Feather from Super Mario World. What makes the Super Acorn rank on the lower end of the spectrum is that it lacks the offensive capabilities of other glide-based power-ups. Grabbing a Super Acorn will transform Mario and friends into their Flying Squirrel forms. It’s still a top Super Mario power-up when it comes to level navigation. Aside from the glide feature, Mario’s Flying Squirrel form allows him to stick to walls for a short time and make one additional ascent mid-glide.
The Carrot power-up only ever appears in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. Grabbing a carrot will turn Mario into Bunny Mario. Like the Super Acorn, and Flying Squirrel forms before it, the Carrot and Bunny Mario lacks offensive abilities. Really, it does the same thing and allows Mario to hover and descend from higher platforms slowly. What gives it a slight edge over the Super Acorn, however, is that Mario’s Bunny form has greater travel distance. If you time your jump off a high platform just right, you can glide over entire levels. Not sure why you’d want to do that, unless you’re speedrunning the game, but you can.
10. Propeller Box
The Propeller Box power-up first appeared in Super Mario 3D Land and makes a return in Super Mario 3D World. If a player has Raccoon or Tanooki Mario when grabbing a Propeller Box, the power-up has an added tail swipe attack. In Cat form, the Box also allows for a claw swipe attack. Otherwise, this power-up doesn’t come with additional offensive abilities. There’s a similar item from New Super Mario Bros. Wii called the Propeller Mushroom. However, the Propeller Box’s tail swipe attack gives it the pass over the mushroom’s downward drill attack. The Propeller Box is a great item to use for finding secret areas in levels with a lot of verticality.
9. Fire Flower
At last, we’re getting to some of the Super Mario power-ups you can actually attack with. Next up is the Fire Flower, and it’s easily one of the best Super Mario power-ups in the whole franchise. When Mario grabs one of these power-ups he’ll transform into Fire Mario. Players can throw a series of fireballs in succession that take out most enemies in their path. The fireballs from the Fire Flower power-up have the added benefit of melting ice blocks and act as a light source in dark-themed levels. In Mario RPG games, such as Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Fire Flowers can be used as an ingredient for crafting new items.
8. Ice Flower
The Ice Flower just edges out its Fire Flower opposite. Honestly, the Ice Flower doesn’t get enough credit and stands as one of the top Super Mario Power-ups. Ice Mario, as you would expect, is the result of grabbing an Ice Flower. This power-up is similar to the previous one. Mario can throw balls of ice in succession, freezing enemies they touch into blocks of ice. The added bonus is that when enemies are encased in ice Mario can use them as a platform. Frozen enemies can additionally be picked up and tossed into oncoming hazards, much like a Green Shell.
7. Cape Feather
The Cape Feather has to be a fan favorite and also one of the top Super Mario power-ups on this list. The Cape Feather is from Super Mario World and transforms Mario into Caped Mario. Aside from having a spin attack, when taking off from a full sprint Mario will soar into the air to glide. In mid-air, players can alternate pressing left and right on the Directional Pad to sustain the slide. Skilled players may even be able to glide over the entirety of certain levels in the game. While there are other power-ups that allow Mario to glide or fly, the Cape Feather has an added perk of allowing players to dive bomb enemies or cause a ground-shaking crash from above.
Boomerang Flowers first showed up in Super Mario 3D Land and returned in Super Mario 3D World. They can be obtained from defeating a Boomerang Bros. enemy. As a projectile power-up, the Boomerang Flower has generous reach. It’s a step up from Fire Flower and Ice Flower and can be spammed just as fast. The Boomerang can also reach and bring back items that are further away from Mario. If enemies pepper the screen, and as long as a player’s aim is true, a well-timed button press can knock out these enemies in one throw.
5. Rock Mushroom
The Rock Mushroom only ever appears in Super Mario Galaxy 2. When collected, the Rock Mushroom turns Mario into Rock Mario. If you don’t mind shaking the Wii Remote like a rattler, then Rock Mario is a guilty pleasure and has a generous degree of control. This power-up allows Mario to steamroll any enemies in his path and can smash into boulders to uncover Star Bits. The Super Mario Galaxy games aren’t the most fast-paced Mario games but the Rock Mushroom adds a speed component to the game. There’s nothing more satisfying than literally bowling over Goombas or rolling a constant path of destruction on the smallest planetoids.
4. Cannon Box
The Cannon Box appears in Super Mario 3D World and Super Mario Maker 2, though it’s the former where it almost feels overpowered. When Mario wears a Cannon Box overhead, players can hold down the action button to charge a shot. When the button is released a cannonball is launched, as you would expect. The cannonballs can be fired in short bursts or extra powerful charged shots that cause splash damage. Like the Boomerang Flower, the Cannon Box can claim out of reach items and coins. This power-up is also the only way to destroy cracked walls to open secret paths hidden in the game’s levels. What makes it overpowered is that it can be stacked with power-ups such as the Super Bell, meaning Mario can also claw attack in his Cat form. The Cannon Box is easily one of the top Super Mario power-ups there is.
3. Penguin Suit
The Penguin Suit first appeared in New Super Mario Bros. Wii but also returned in New Super Mario Bros. U. The Penguin Suit functions similarly to the Ice Flower but practically makes that power-up obsolete. Mario can chuck ice balls using the Penguin Suit to freeze enemies into ice blocks to use them as platforms or toss them into other enemies. However, Mario also has greater control when swimming in water. Additionally, Mario can slide over ice, snow, and water without worry of sinking. What’s more is that the Penguin Suit also for better traction on ice and won’t skid around as is typical without this power-up in effect. With that many perks jam-packed in one, the Penguin Suit is one of the best Super Mario power-ups in the series.
The Super Bell is the feature item from Super Mario 3D World and its add-on game, Bowser’s Fury. When Mario and friends grab a Super Bell they transform into their Cat forms. The Super Bell grants a claw attack with a large hit box, and pounce enemies from midair with a dive attack. In terms of platforming, the Super Bell is one of the best items to have in the game. Players can scale up walls and the end-of-level flagpoles with ease, including correcting your footing from an ill-timed jump. Its rarer counterpart, the Lucky Bell, only appears in the Bonus Worlds and has the additional perk of generating coins when falling in the Lucky Cat statue form.
1. Tanooki Suit/Super Leaf
Finally, we come to the Tanooki Suit. It’s a classic that goes back to Super Mario Bros. 3. Similarly, the Super Leaf returned in New Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario 3D Land, and Super Mario 3D World, and let Mario and friends don their Tanooki forms. In the classic SMB3, the Tanooki Suit grants all the powers of Raccoon Mario, but with the additional ability to transform into a statue. In this statue form, Mario is invulnerable and can stomp more enemies than usual if he transforms midair. In the World-e levels in Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 the statue form is one of the few power-ups that can reveal vanishing blocks and break solid gray blocks.
The Tanooki Suit was very helpful in Super Mario Bros. 3 when the difficulty ramped up. For that reason, it’s the best Super Mario power-up there is. It’s almost memorable due to the curiosity it evokes. For those unaware, the Tanooki Suit is based on a Japanese mythological creature called bake-danuki that was inspired by Japanese raccoon dogs or “tanuki.” They’re said to shape-shift by using leaves, hence the further inspiration for the Super Leaf.
We can only imagine what new Super Mario power-ups will be found in future Mario games. What is your favorite Super Mario power-up? Let us know in the comments below!