When it comes to the Super Mario series, the plumber’s extensive arsenal of power-ups is the name of the game. Traditionally, with every new Mario game come brand new items that bestow Mario, and company, with enhanced abilities and powers. While there have been some awesome power-ups added to the series over the years, so too have there been real stinkers. In this list, we’ll be taking a look at 16 of the worst Super Mario Power-Ups ranging from Super Mario Bros. to Super Mario Bros. Wonder. “Mama mia…”
16. Spring Mushroom
Perhaps the least of the worst Super Mario power-ups on this list is the Spring Mushroom. This power-up first appeared in Super Mario Galaxy and again in Super Mario Galaxy 2. When collected, the Spring Mushroom envelops Mario and Luigi in a spring coil. The Mario Bros. will begin to bounce and can be a bit finicky to control. At least the Spring Mushroom has an added effect to automatically wall jump, but is it worth picking up to sacrifice the ability to actually control your movement? In a platformer game, it sounds good on paper but the Spring Mushroom feels like a dud.
15. Drill Mushroom
The Drill Mushroom from Super Mario Bros. Wonder turns out to be the game’s most disappointing new power-up. That’s because it’s what you would expect. You can drill downwards and upwards and move just below the surface of the ground and ceiling, respectively. Any enemies that try to get a drop on you from above get taken out by the drill on Mario’s head. The Drill Mushroom can also open up pathways to hidden areas in certain levels, so at least it gets some use from players going for 100% completion. Otherwise, this power-up is a bore.
14. Super Ball Flower
The Super Ball Flower first appeared in Super Mario Land. You would be excused for thinking this was a Fire Flower given the Game Boy’s greenish dot matrix screen. When collected, Mario gains the ability to throw Superballs. Unlike fireballs, these Superballs will bounce off any surface they touch, like a Pong puck at a 90-degree angle. Only one Superball can be thrown at a time instead of several at a time like fireballs. They have the benefit of collecting coins in an enclosed space. It’s just that players will need to be careful with their aim to get the angle of the shot right. Oddly enough, the Super Ball Flower made a comeback in Super Mario Maker 2, exclusive to the Super Mario Bros. game style and function as they did in their debut game.
13. Lakitu’s Cloud
What’s worse than Lakitu chucking Spinies from atop his cloud like the smug thug he is? Actually, riding Lakitu’s cloud for yourself. Mario can travel the skies in any direction. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Why hasn’t there been a game yet in which Mario rains Spinies from this cloud in retribution while Lakitus runs for their lives on the ground? Nevertheless, the saving grace of Lakitu’s Cloud is that it can be used to find secret passages hidden throughout certain levels.
12. Mini Mushroom
Mini Mushrooms may not have debuted in New Super Mario Bros., but they’re certainly the worst incarnation of the power-up. Mini Mushrooms have the opposite effect of the Super Mushroom and cause Mario and Luigi to shrink down to a size smaller than their non-super forms. While under the effects of this power-up the Mario Bros. can enter areas of a level that their normal size can’t, can run across water without submerging, donut blocks won’t collapse under weight, and jumps are very floaty. The detriment of the Mini Mushroom is that Mario can only take one hit before he loses a life. Lame.
The Weird Mushroom is a power-up found only in Super Mario Maker. This one ranks on the list of one of the worst Super Mario power-ups thanks to its propensity to induce nightmare fuel. Yes, the Weird Mushroom is on the worst list because it was a one-and-done thing and it would have been hilarious to see it return as a non-cameo form in Super Mario Maker 2. This power-up will give Mario thinner, realistic proportions and controls like Luigi with poorer traction. “Weird Mario” is the result of a glitch during the development of Super Mario Maker and the dev team decided to keep the bizarre sprite in the game.
10. Mega Mushroom
The Mega Mushroom, like the Mini Mushroom before it, is a feature power-up in New Super Mario Bros. but has also crossed into the third dimension in Super Mario 3D World. This portly power-up grants Mario and his friends a temporary transformation into a giant. In this form, players can trample and destroy practically everything in their path such as bricks and the most impervious of enemies. The Mega Mushroom can allow Mario to access hidden areas within certain levels too. Aside from the Super Mario 3D World variant having a shockwave ground pound, there’s nothing else too special about the Mega Mushroom. It’s easily a top-worst Super Mario power-up.
9. Frog Suit
The Frog Suit in Super Mario Bros. 3 is actually really great… if you’re playing through an underwater-themed level and only these themed levels. Otherwise, on dry land, your platforming skills are going to suffer. This power-up gives Mario and Luigi greater control beneath the water, and the Mario Bros. can resist water currents. On land, however, while the Frog Suit allows for a higher jump, you get around by hopping in place. Players just feel more vulnerable at every other level. The only workaround is that holding a Koopa Shell will cancel out hopping and allow for running, but you have to hold that shell the entire time.
8. Wing Cap
The Wing Cap from Super Mario 64 made for a wonderful display of Mario flying for the first time in the third dimension. The problem is that the Wing Cap is terribly limited in its usefulness. Once Mario dons the cap, he’ll need to perform a triple jump three before he can achieve full flight. Unless you’re jumping off a high platform, Mario’s flight time is going to be dreadfully short. What’s more, is that Wing Cap is on a short timer and Mario can fall and take damage from a precariously high altitude. To make matters worse, the Wing Cap will cause Mario to slowly lose altitude and it’s difficult to achieve the height of your original ascent over time.
7. Power Balloon
The Power Balloon is easily one of the worst Super Mario power-ups. Found in Super Mario World, this power-up transforms Mario into Balloon Mario. The Power Balloon’s purpose in this game cause Mario and Luigi to swell up and float. Movement is very slow, though players can control Mario’s ascent and horizontal mobility. A single level in the Special Zone of Super Mario World called “Tubular” requires Mario to collect Power Balloons in succession to remain afloat across a level with an immense bottomless pit. The Power Balloon reappears in the soon-to-be-released Super Mario Bros. Wonder game and seems to have a greater degree of control.
The Light Box from Super Mario 3D World is far from a top Super Mario Power-Up. It’s a flashlight. That’s all it is really. Sure, Mario can defeat Boos, Peepas, and Big Boos by holding the light on them but its other use is to light up dark areas. At least Luigi’s Poltergust comes with all the bells and whistles. Why couldn’t that crossover from Luigi’s Mansion into the main series of Mario games?
5. Goomba Mask
The Goomba Mask is another one of the worst Super Mario power-ups there is. Also appearing in Super Mario 3D World, the Goomba Mask disguises Mario as, you guessed it, a Goomba. With this power-up Mario can evade only Goombas, being unprovoked and ignored. Koopas and Chargin’ Chucks don’t buy the disguise, however, and will move in to attack. Do you know what’s more effective than the Goomba Mask? Having Mario and friends stomp everything in their path. Running away is just as effective.
4. Boo Mushroom
The Boo Mushroom is the absolute worst Mushroom-based power-up in the whole Super Mario franchise and it’s full of shiitake. The Boo Mushroom is found in Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel. When grabbing this power-up Mario transforms into Boo Mario. As one would expect, becoming a Boo lets Mario phase through solid objects, namely barriers that only Boos can pass through. Touching a beam of light reverts Boo Mario back to his original form. Counterintuitive to the game’s logic, while in Boo form, Mario will attract the attention of other Boos and can swarm him. Mario’s default form lets him stare Boos down in their tracks. At least the previously mentioned Light Box destroys Boos.
3. Vanish Cap
The Vanish Cap hails from Super Mario 64. When Mario grabs the Vanish Cap he gains the ability to walk through enemies, fencing, and walls oriented specifically near the power-up. You can collect a few Power Stars in the game with the Vanish Cap, but that’s all there is to it. Why does this power-up rank worse than the Boo Mushroom? That’s because the Vanish Cap’s effects only last 20 seconds total. The Caps from Super Mario 64 could’ve been some of the top Super Mario power-ups but practically all of them are terrible.
2. Red Star
The Red Star only appears in Super Mario Galaxy and is used twice in the entirety of the game. One use is for completing a Purple Coin challenge in the Gateway Galaxy. Undoubtedly the Red Star grants one of the coolest powers in a game that’s all about defying gravity and the laws of physics. That is the ability to fly indefinitely. While flying, Mario has his own center of gravity and can pull in all Star Bit he flies across. Aside from that challenge, the Red Star power-up only appears once more in the game’s hub world of Rosalina’s Comet Observatory. The coolest power-up in the game and you can only use it to fly around the hub to discover nothing but a few hidden 1-Up Mushrooms. Pitiful.
Out of all Super Mario Power-ups, the Boost Star from New Super Mario Bros. U is easily the worst. The Wii U GamePad’s touchscreen gimmick had to be worked into the game somehow. The end result is having a player hold the GamePad to place blocks in the level to give the playable characters a boost. The Boost Star only appears if the character-controller players land on ten blocks with their symbols on them. The GamePad character can then use the Boost Star to break blocks and defeat enemies by tapping the screen. Really, the only thing more cruel than having some play on the GamePad is to disconnect their controller and make them believe the CPU character is really them augmenting the experience.
There you have it. A list of the worst Super Mario power-ups thus far. It would be unfortunate if we had to update this lift over time with the release of new games in the Super Mario series. However, be sure to check out our list of the 15 Best Super Mario Power-Ups. Which Mario power-ups can you just not stand? Let us know in the comments below!