It goes without saying that Super Mario is one of the greatest video game franchises of all time. Part of the reason for this is how much variety it offers. Within this one series, there are platforming adventure games, sports games, racing games, party games, and more. Throughout over 200 titles, Mario has faced his fair share of enemies. With the high number of threats Mario has faced and how limitless Bowser’s army is, there are a ton of enemies seen throughout the Super Mario games. Many of these baddies have become almost as iconic and recognizable as the Italian plumber himself. Let’s take a look at some of the coolest and most beloved minions Mario has stomped on and decimated over the last few decades.
Goombas are the most common enemy Mario faces, making them extremely recognizable and an important part of the franchise. They’re typically easy to take out, but stomping on their head is just so satisfying. “Goomba-stomp” has even become a nickname for jumping on another character’s head in video games because of how weirdly iconic it is. Plus, the first Goomba in the original Super Mario Bros. game is said to be the deadliest enemy in video game history.
Goombas are just the grunts of the Koopa Troop, but they’re an important part of keeping Bowser’s army running. Goombas have come in various forms over the years, including flying with wings, giant Goombas, or even multiple Goombas stacked on top of each other. They’ve even been shown to pilot airships at times. There’s certainly a reason fans were excited to learn that Goomba was playable for the first time ever in Super Mario Party.
9) Chain Chomp
The name says it all; they’re usually on chains and they like to chomp anyone who gets too close. They are some of the toughest enemies for Mario to take out, and they’re quite the threat to come across since they lunge toward you rather than moving back and forth like most other enemies do. There are times when they’re not chained down, in which case they are truly terrifying as they roll after you like a massive boulder.
It’s also worth mentioning that they essentially serve as the dogs of the Mushroom Kingdom. They literally bark and have acted as guard dogs for Bowser’s army. Some wild Chain Chomps have proven that this is one baddie that can sometimes be scary, but can also be kind of adorable. This ball-and-chain beast has been a threat on Mario Kart courses, in Mario Party minigames, and is surprisingly capable on the tennis court as a playable character in Mario Tennis Aces.
8) Piranha Plant
Piranha Plants are deadly flowers found throughout the Mushroom Kingdom. Like the Chain Chomp, they also have sharp teeth that could rip you to shreds. There are Piranha Plants that provide a wide variety of threats for the Mario Bros., like shooting fireballs, spitting acid, growing long vines, jumping off of their vines through the air, and more. They’re a usable item in Mario Kart and is even a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Piranha Plant has become a staple of most Mario games regardless of the genre. From becoming a bipedal plant monster known as Petey Piranha to somehow taking the form of a plant skeleton, Nintendo continually finds ways to evolve the Piranha Plant as time goes on. Who knows how they’ll be used next?
This jerk-face torments poor players minding their business trying to make their way through tricky platforming. He hides atop of his magical flying cloud and pelts Mario with Spinies (which are living creatures he straight-up throws). He stalks Mario for large portions of levels and sometimes the entirety of them. That being said, taking him out to steal his cloud to fly around on is extraordinarily rewarding.
Lakitu has served as the camera operator for Super Mario 64 and saves your butt when you fall off the track in Mario Kart, so maybe he’s not all bad. He’s also even been playable in Mario Kart 7. Because of how much Lakitu can shake up a level he appears in, he’s become beloved by many gamers.
These high-ranking members of the Koopa Troop are powerful wizards who can cast the most dangerous spells imaginable and prove to be quite the threat to Mario and his friends. Their spells can damage you from afar and can even transform blocks and pieces of the environment into other enemies. They can also fly on broomsticks and teleport. They can be taken out easily enough, but one usually pops back up in their place shortly after.
The head Magikoopa is known as Kamek, who often serves as Bowser’s top advisor and is usually the primary antagonist of the Yoshi games. Not only is Kamek and the other Magikoopa a threat to the heroes, but the idea of battling magical sorcerers in a series of platforming games is rather unique and exciting.
5) Hammer Bro
Hammer Bros. are essentially turtles who throw hammers, which is a truly unique idea. They’re also smart enough to wear helmets and not just rely on their shells as their only protective gear, not that it helps them any. Because how brutal it is to get past someone lobbing hammers your way, it can be incredibly difficult to fight against multiple Hammer Bros. at one time. It’s impossible to forget how difficult it was to get past the Amazing Flyin’ Hammer Brother in Super Mario World. Because of the difficulty they add, they’ve made a large number of appearances throughout the series.
These elite members of the Koopa Troop have sometimes allowed Mario and Luigi to gain the Hammer Suit power up, which is easily one of the best power ups in the franchise. Hammer Bro. has even been made playable in a handful of the sports, party, and racing games in the past because of how popular this enemy is.
Certainly one of the spookiest enemies in the expansive roster is none other than Boo. Boos are ghosts in the world of Mario, or at least the most common type of ghost. Known for their cute-yet-creepy laugh, they enjoy sneaking up on people to give them a good scare. They’re often found in ghost houses, which have made for some of the most unique and creative levels in any Mario game. Boos also bring an interesting mechanic to the table, which is that they hide and stay still while you’re looking in their direction, but fly toward you when you’re looking away. They did this years before the Weeping Angels were created for Doctor Who, who used the same shtick.
Led by the one and only King Boo, these specters have made countless appearances over the years, including being playable in party, sports, and racing games. It’s not a surprise that they’ve become a fan-favorite for anyone who likes things to be a bit creepy.
3) Dry Bones
Just as scary as Boo, Dry Bones is a shambling skeleton who is able to piece himself back together after being stomped on. This is an enemy that will continue to come back no matter how many times you defeat them. They follow the same rules as most cartoon skeletons; they regularly remove their limbs or skull to toss around and reassemble and make rattling sounds as they move. What’s especially morbid about Dry Bones, though, is that they’re obviously the skeletons of dead Koopa Troopas.
Dry Bones has been playable a number of times and has a large fanbase because of it. Whether you come across them in a castle or a desert, it’s hard not to stop for a moment to admire their creepiness.
2) Koopa Troopa
As one of Mario’s most common enemies, it’s safe to say that most people recognize Koopa Troopas. They’ve been in almost every game in the series, and once they were put in 3D games, they’ve had a happy-go-lucky demeanor and a positive attitude, which is odd for a species that is typically aligned with Bowser. Like the Goombas, there have been many versions of Koopa Troopas seen throughout the years, including a super speedy one that likes to race, a group of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle parodies, and Paratroopas who can fly.
After being stomped on, they retreat into their shells or are dislodged from their shell completely depending on the game. Either way, their shell has many uses, like throwing at enemies or riding on like a skateboard. He’s one of the few enemies that has a body part that you can use against other enemies. Koopa Troopa has been playable more times than anyone else on the long list of Mario enemies, and it’s easy to see why. This guy is awesome.
1) Shy Guy
Shy Guy is absolutely the coolest enemy in the Super Mario video games. For one, Shy Guys are rather mysterious, as they never remove their mask and hood. They have been around for quite some time since they were introduced in Super Mario Bros. 2. They’re one of the few enemies who originated in Super Mario Bros. 2 to stick around for future games, and they;ve only become more of a staple in the series as time passed. Shy Guys are even used as the primary enemy type in most of the Yoshi games.
They’ve been playable in many different games and are one of the best to play as in the Mario Tennis and Mario Kart games. Their masks, stubby arms, and strange voices have made them recognizable and loved by fans. Shy Guys bring a lot of variety to the gameplay. They may attack with spears, throw bombs, fly with propellers attached to their heads, walk on stilts, and more. There are plenty of types of Shy Guys that all have “guy” in their name like Fly Guy, Big Guy, and Barbecue Guy. Sometimes Shy Guys are used as tribal warriors, other times they’re pirates, and they’ve even been miners. As seen in Mario Kart 8, Shy Guys also come in all kinds of colors! It’s hard not to admit how much fun and excitement Shy Guys add to the world of Super Mario Bros.
Honorable Mentions: Chargin’ Chuck, Mouser, Wiggler, Blooper, and Thwomp