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Legend of Zelda vs Super Mario

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Garrett Alden Fanboy vs fanboy, franchise vs franchise, a civil war in Nintendo’s own back yard. Welcome to and today we’re pitting the plummer-king of platformers Mario the super-jump-man himself vs. the premiere action adventure franchise from Hyrule, The Legend of Zelda...starring Link who’s NOT THE GIRL...anyway, yeah...this is Zelda Vs Mario! GET CRAZY Y’ALL. Special thanks to our user “MikeyP” for suggesting this topic using our interactive suggestion tool at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest

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The Legend of Zelda Vs. Super Mario

Their Nintendo’s gaming powerhouses, but which one truly reins supreme. Welcome to WatchMojo - and today we’ll be pitting “The Legend of Zelda” and “Super Mario” series up against each other to see which one is superior.

For this matchup, we’re pitting Nintendo’s two biggest game franchises in a head to head dual to see which one is truly worthy of the title of “Greatest Nintendo Franchise”. Also note that each round with the exception of Round Three we’ll mostly be focusing on the mainline entries in each series. Mostly.

Round 1: Story

The story of “The Legend of Zelda” games usually revolves around some version of a young hero trying to rescue a princess named Zelda from a villain named Ganon, all linked by a shared destiny. However, while the skeleton of the games’ stories is often formulaic, the meat of them is anything but repetitive. The stories often contain a fair amount of depth, featuring dark themes, complex narrative elements like time travel, and a plethora of side quests in addition to the main ones. On the other hand, the series’ intricate storyline can be a tad confusing, as anyone who’s looked into the series timeline can attest.

The story of the “Super Mario” games usually revolves around the mustachioed plumber trying to rescue Princess Peach from the villain Bowser. Unlike “The Legend of Zelda” though, the “Super Mario” series doesn’t concern itself with creating an overarching narrative. Although some of the series’ RPG titles do have fairly complicated individual stories, the majority of Mario’s adventures aren’t especially complex. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as the basic and recurring nature of the stories makes them accessible to a wide audience and easy to pick up whether you’re a newcomer or a “Mario” vet.

We’re awarding this round to “The Legend of Zelda.” While the “Super Mario” games have their own fun stories to tell, “Zelda” titles offer an immersive, lived-in world filled with interesting lore, and the stories in each installment offer something new every time.


Zelda 1 / Mario 0

Round 2: Characters

As we stated earlier, the main characters found in the “Zelda” series are Link, Zelda, and Ganon, with few exceptions. While versions of these characters are present in each game, and have their own excellent and unique stories, this does somewhat limit the connection gamers feel towards them in terms of the series as a whole, since they’re more like archetypes than individuals. The same can be said of the supporting cast, a few of whom reappear in several games, but most are limited to a single appearance.

The cast of the “Super Mario” series is vast and incredibly recognizable. Besides Mario, Peach, and Bowser, the Mushroom Kingdom is full of colorful and memorable characters, to the point where many of them are popular enough that they have their own spin-off games and series of their own. Even Mario’s enemies, like the Koopas and Goombas, are iconic and instantly recognizable by people who don’t even play video games. On the other hand, character development can be somewhat limited for most of the characters. Still, the appeal and fun of nearly every character is impressive.

For this round, we have to go with “Super Mario,” as the series’ characters are just so memorable and varied. While “The Legend of Zelda” has many excellent characters, few of them pop quite as much as the citizens of the Mushroom Kingdom.


Zelda 1 / Mario 1

Round 3: Game Variety

“The Legend of Zelda” has a fair amount of game variety. Although the series is primarily composed of action-adventure games, even within the main series there is diversity to be found, as there are top-down 2D adventure games, as well as the more expansive 3D titles. Each game also does a great job of introducing new mechanics, which helps make each entry feel fresh. In addition, there have been some spin-offs that switch up the style completely, such as “Tingle’s Rosy Rupeeland” and “Hyrule Warriors” which features “Zelda” characters in “Dynasty Warriors” style gameplay.

“Mario” games are practically as plentiful as the stars he collects. The main series of platformers, which range from the more linear side-scrollers to the expansive 3D titles, has always tried to re-invent the wheel with new mechanics, with the biggest game changer arguably being “Super Mario 64” and later with the “Galaxy series”, “Odyssey” also seems like it will continue this trend. Outside of his platformers, Mario has featured in a plethora of different genres, from the “Party” series to the vastly popular “Mario Kart” games. All things considered, the “Mario” series contains a huge number of excellent games with an enormous amount of variety and content.

While “Zelda” has a solid amount of variety in its repertoire of games, “Mario” blows it out of the water. This round goes to “Mario.”


Zelda 1 / Mario 2

Round 4: Gameplay

Nearly every game in “The Legend of Zelda” series features a ton of items and weapons to use, which makes approaching enemies, obstacles, and puzzles challenging and enjoyable. The combat, especially after targeting was introduced, is very intuitive and responsive. Exploration and solving puzzles is a fundamental part of any “Zelda” game, and it always manages to feel fresh and rewarding with every new iteration. Bottom line, despite “The Legend of Zelda” possessing a great story and characters, it’s the gameplay that keeps players coming back.

Right from its inception, the “Super Mario” series of games have distinguished themselves as having simple and simply fun platforming, and as the series has progressed, it has remains constantly polished and improved upon. Even though Mario continues to switch back-and-forth between 2D and 3D, the core gameplay manages to carry over seamlessly. However, if there’s one area that “Super Mario” games suffer in terms of gameplay, it’s the fact that, although each game is accessible to nearly everyone, its simplistic nature limits how engaging it can be at times.

Both game series have superb gameplay, but we have to go with “The Legend of Zelda” for its core mechanics and depth.


Zelda 2 / Mario 2

Round 5: Legacy

“The Legend of Zelda” games have a storied history and have had a profound impact on video gaming. Many of its titles are highly regarded as some of the Greatest Games of All Time; including “A Link to the Past”, “Ocarina of Time” and most recently “Breath of the Wild”, Furthermore the amount of innovation the series has brought to the industry such as the Targeting mechanic cannot be overstated. Zelda has inspired a number of games, and its legacy is tied to the many innovations the series introduced to the world of gaming.

The “Super Mario” series is one of the titans of video game history. Just like Zelda, the series also has claims to various Greatest Games of All Time titles from Super Mario Bros, World, 64 & The Galaxy series, not to mention Mario Kart. The Mario character has become one of the most recognizable mascots around and one of the faces of video games, even transcending the medium. How many people do you know whose first experience with a video game is somehow tied to this unforgettable plumber? Nintendo’s main man has definitely made his mark.

Both series’ legacies are impressive with very strong core fanbases, however while Zelda’s franchise may be considered gaming royalty amongst gamers, the fact that Mario is practically synonymous with Nintendo and gaming as a whole. Not to mention a fanbase that’s made up of both Hardcore and Casual fans makes it the series that takes final round.


Zelda 2 / Mario 3

And with that, “Super Mario” secures the match, with a score of 3 to 2.

There are few video game series that have been as consistently excellent and re-invented themselves as successfully as “The Legend of Zelda” and “Super Mario” but ultimately, it’s everyone’s favorite plumber in overalls who stands taller than the rest. And hey if you disagree with our pick then … tell Nintendo to make this matchup the next Splatfest theme in Splatoon 2. What’s the worst that could happen?

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