10 Best Mario RPGs Ranked by Sales

19 Feb 2023
Though most fans are familiar with Mario’s usual platforming adventures, some of his biggest journeys weren’t part of his mainline titles. His most high-stakes, world-ending games were done in a role-playing game format, bringing a new flavor of gameplay to the mustachioed plumber. Whether partnered with Luigi, traveling in a world of paper, or fighting monstrous machines and weapons, Mario’s RPGs offer some of the most intense experiences players can have in a Nintendo title. That’s why this article will take a closer look at the 10 best Mario RPGs in terms of copies sold, from Super Mario RPG to Paper Mario: The Origami King!
All information was taken from VGSales. Remakes will be considered separate from their predecessors, so don’t expect to see the 3DS releases of Superstar Saga or Bowser’s Inside Story on this list!
Note: The links in this article include affiliate links to Amazon and eBay. You won’t be charged anything extra for clicking on these links, but you will be supporting HackerNoon if you do choose to purchase something through one of these links.

List of the Best Mario RPGs of All Time Ranked by Copies Sold

  • 10. Paper Mario
  • 9. Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
  • 8. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
  • 7. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  • 6. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
  • 5. Paper Mario: Sticker Star
  • 4. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
  • 3. Paper Mario: The Origami King
  • 2. Super Paper Mario
  • 1. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
10. Paper Mario — ~1.37 Million Copies Sold
The original Paper Mario took a storybook approach to what players were familiar with. Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach and Mario must rescue her, but an encounter with the Star Rod forces the plumber to find seven Star Spirits across the Mushroom Kingdom. New characters and locations based off of the main Mario titles were introduced, making everything feel much more lively and interesting. Plus, the battle system refined the Timed Hits of Super Mario RPG, allowing for more engagement and ease-of-access than ever before. Top it all off with stylized art, and it’s clear that Paper Mario is a perfect start for anyone looking to get into these spinoffs!
Buy now on Amazon or eBay
9. Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time — ~1.73 Million Copies Sold
As a game focused on time travel, Partners in Time let fans of Mario and Luigi pair up with their baby selves. This allowed for some unique gameplay featuring the four heroes as they fought against unknown invaders from outer space. There was a lot to keep track of, especially with factors such as four separate health bars and limited special attacks, but that also meant there were many ways players could improve themselves during battles. Partners in Time is a game unlike any that came before or after it, making it an especially worthwhile experience for those unfamiliar with its story.
Buy now on Amazon or GameStop
8. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door — ~1.91 Million Copies Sold
To many, The Thousand-Year Door was the last “true” Paper Mario experience. It’s not hard to see why, as it built even further upon the improvements to the battle system used in its predecessor. It also featured a brand-new region with iconic characters like Rawk Hawk, the Shadow Sisters, Cortez, and — of course — the villainous X-Nauts. There were many ways players could battle these unique foes thanks to the help of powerful badges, even allowing for entire builds focused on keeping Mario near death’s door. This title was stuck on the GameCube, preventing it from reaching higher sales, but it’s hard to argue against it being one of the most definitive ways to play a Mario RPG.
Buy now on Amazon or eBay
7. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars — ~2.14 Million Copies Sold
This was the game that introduced the very concept of a Mario RPG to fans. Its unique system of Timed Hits would influence the Action Commands many players know today, making each battle more than a series of menus and numbers. Super Mario RPG also included many characters that are still fan-favorites today, such as Mallow, Geno, Booster, and Smithy. Sadly, as this game was co-developed by Square, many of the unique elements from this game are unlikely to be used by Nintendo again. Despite this, some fans still wish for a sequel, especially one that involves the return of characters like Geno. Hopefully both companies will consider these requests, as it wouldn’t be right to simply let the inspiration behind both Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi die out in silence.
Buy now on Amazon or eBay
6. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga — ~2.15 Million Copies Sold
Superstar Saga was the first Mario & Luigi game, putting a spin on the RPG formula in ways few titles managed at the time. Here, instead of simply waiting for attacks to come, players are able to dodge and deflect them with good timing. This means skilled players can have just as much fun as strategic ones, focusing on improving their dodging skills or using the right gear to take bosses down in one blow. The story was also quite fun, introducing beloved villains like Cackletta and Fawful while giving both Mario Bros. a chance to shine in different ways. There are some ways it could have improved gameplay-wise, but it’s still easy to see why it has a place in the hearts of many different fans.
This game also received a remake on the 3DS. It changed quite a few things about the original, improving the battles and graphics in some ways but also messing with some designs and making other arguably unnecessary changes. It’s still a fine way to experience the game, but the decision of “remake or original” might be easier for those with the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack.
Buy now on Amazon (Remake) or eBay (Original)
5. Paper Mario: Sticker Star — ~2.48 Million Copies Sold
For fans alienated by Super Paper Mario’s removal of turn-based battles, Sticker Star seemed like a promising release. However, it changed a lot more than Super ever did, making every attack limited and removing almost every unique design from the franchise. This led to a Toad-covered gimmicky mess of a game that completely redefined Paper Mario in a way many fans utterly despised. 
This game was still relatively successful, no doubt thanks to the massive number of those owning a 3DS. But Sticker Star and its sequels are notably lacking when compared to the content, customization, and general uniqueness of its predecessors. Still, its simplicity might be appealing for especially young players, making it even more accessible than the first Paper Mario. It also introduced some more mainline Mario enemies to the series, so there was at least some variety in terms of foes. If you want to check this game out for yourself, be sure to do so quickly as the 3DS eShop will close in March 2023!
4. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team — ~2.67 Million Copies Sold
Some might argue that Dream Team was the final truly great game from the Mario & Luigi series. Released as part of the Year of Luigi — which introduced other games focused on Mario’s brother — this 3DS title had the duo explore a world of dreams to stop the schemes of the evil bat king Antasma. It improved upon systems introduced in Bowser’s Inside Story and brought back a few familiar faces, even including some character development for some of the main cast. The game is admittedly filled to the brim with tutorials, which can be particularly annoying on repeat playthroughs, but it still makes for a great experience once you get past all of that.
3. Paper Mario: The Origami King — ~3.12 Million Copies Sold
The Origami King follows the lead set by Sticker Star, lacking many unique designs and having a battle system filled with gimmicks. However, it also struck a chord with long-time fans of the series, allowing the reason for its success to be more than simply having been released on the Switch. Characters like Bowser Jr. and Bowser were able to join Mario’s side in battle, allies like Olivia drew favorable attention from players, and boss battles required some reaction time and skill. It’s still not quite at the level of the first three Paper Mario games, but it’s as close to a step in the right direction as what fans have been offered since Sticker Star.
2. Super Paper Mario — ~4.23 Million Copies Sold
Super Paper Mario was the first experimental title of its series, becoming a platforming-RPG hybrid that abandoned turn-based combat. While it garnered some criticism at the time for this change, it also kept the overall feel of previous games through its inclusion of unique characters and partners. Its story was also notably dark and full of depth, with some considering Super Paper Mario to have the best story of any Mario game out there. For better or worse, fans are unlikely to get another game like this one again, making it an essential title for anyone wishing for the most unique Mario experience they can get.
Buy now on Amazon or GameStop
1. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story — ~4.56 Million Copies Sold
Bowser’s Inside Story is the best-selling Mario & Luigi game out there — and, by extension, the best-selling Mario RPG of all time. Players were able to meet Fawful once again as they took control of Mario, Luigi, and even Bowser in a grand adventure throughout the Mushroom Kingdom. The game’s giant battles offered more variations in bosses, the music is still arguably unmatched by most other games in general, and the story — while simplistic — gave fans more reasons to love Bowser and the Mario brothers than ever before.
This game also had a remake, changing less overall than Superstar Saga but still making alterations that some viewed as unnecessary. Combined with poor timing and a lack of marketing, this made the 3DS remake the worst-selling Mario RPG, ironically enough. It also led to the developers going outright bankrupt, leaving the question as to whether a new Mario & Luigi game will ever be made. Despite this, there’s nothing particularly wrong with the remake itself, as it’s still Bowser’s Inside Story with some extra content. If you’ve never played the game before, you could go for either version and still have the time of your life.
Buy now on Amazon (Remake) or eBay (Original)

Final Thoughts

Mario RPGs offered unique adventures that Nintendo hasn’t tried to replicate for years. While some newer games take steps in the right direction, we’re still a long way off from realizing the full potential a traditional Mario RPG could have on the Switch. Hopefully, Nintendo will seek to realize that potential, giving fans one more taste of the never-before-seen characters, genre-changing gameplay, and shockingly good stories that these titles used to have.