Shack Chat: What's your favorite Mario power-up?

The Shack Staff discusses their favorite Mario power-ups from throughout the series' colorful history.


Shack Chat is back once again, our weekly feature each Friday where we’ll ask the Shacknews staff to give their opinion on a particular topic, then open the floor to our dedicated Chatty community to provide a diverse mixture of thoughts on the subject. It’s a great way for us to get to know one another better while inspiring healthy debates with all of you passionate gamers out there. 

Question: What’s your favorite Mario power-up?

Cape Feather - Asif Khan, Senior Mario Maker Correspondent                         

My favorite Mario game is Super Mario World and the Cape Feather absolutely owned. Super Mario Bros. 3 had introduced flight with the Super Leaf, but Nintendo perfected flight by letting Mario fly around like fricking Superman. Cape Feather totally rules, and all these other jokers are wrong.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Super Bell - Brittany Vincent, Senior Editor

Kitty kitty, meow! What can I say? I love the cat versions of my favorite Mario characters, especially Rosalina. How much cuter can it get?

Boomerang Flower - Josh Hawkins, Some guy

My favorite Mario power-up has to be the Boomerang Flower. Introduced in Super Mario 3D Land, the Boomerang Flower transforms Mario into Boomerang Mario, who has the ability to throw a – you guessed it – boomerang at his enemies and collectibles. While not one of the more iconic power-ups available in the Mario series, Boomerang Mario is exceptionally fun to play as, especially considering you can jump out of the way of the boomerang and watch as it simply continues on and on and on until it’s out of energy.

Boomerang Mario hasn’t made very many appearances in the Mario series, unfortunately, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying this power-up as much as I can.

Fireball - Kevin S. Tucker, Throwing Fire

I like to keep it simple, and when it comes time to incinerate foes, nothing gets the job done like a good old-fashioned fireball. Normally acquired by grabbing a Fire Flower, these Fireballs eventually gained the power to turn burned enemies into coins. How’s that for increasing your wealth? Not only are they a staple in the plumber’s arsenal, they also appear in all manner of games, from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to Mario Superstar Baseball. Honestly, a Super Mario game just wouldn’t feel right if I couldn’t hurl a ball of flame at my enemies.

Tanooki Suit - Chris Jarrard, Always wanted to be a raccoon

Clearly the best pickup in Mario history is the Tanooki Suit. It was virtually identical to the leaf pickup in Super Mario Bros. 3, except it let the Italian plumber turn to stone. Like the leaf, it granted Mario a racoon tail that provided the capability for flight with the added bonus of being able to turn to stone and avoid enemies. You could also use the weight of the stone post-transformation  to wreak havoc on enemies below.

It made Mario look cooler and provided lots of functionality. Had this powerup not existed, my choice would obviously be the Frog Suit from the same game.

Wing Cap - Sam Chandler, Fly me to the moon

Nothing beats the freedom of the Super Mario 64 Wing Cap. It was the first fully 3D version of Mario, and getting to fly around the levels was groundbreaking. 

To make the power-up even more alluring, it wasn’t even available the first time you saw it. It was a little invisible box that made you wonder what it would be used for. You could go the entire game without even managing to unlock it.

But if you did manage to look up into the sunlight and enter the secret level, you were treated to some truly specatular flying.

Superball - David L. Craddock, Longreads Editor

Super Mario Land’s Superball was a power-up conceived before its time. If you played Super Mario Bros. on NES before picking up SML for Game Boy, you probably thought picking up the familiar flower item would grant you the ability to hurl fireballs. Not so! For whatever reason, Nintendo changed the flower’s power-up to the Superball ability.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad. The Superball can be bounced off surfaces to clock enemies as it pinballs around the screen. I say it came before its time because SML wasn’t the best showcase for its powers. That game was good fun, but the physics were terrible, and the Game Boy was still new enough that even Mario’s designers couldn’t milk the hardware for enough geometry for the Superball to really shine. If only it were to make a comeback in a recent Mario title. One for Switch, say...

1-Up Mushroom - Bill Lavoy - Managing Editor

I’m going full boring here but the 1-Up Mushroom is probably my favorite Mario power-up. It may not be flashy and exciting, but that thing meant another life, and another life meant room to screw up without having to start over. It fits perfectly with my approach to games (and life), which is to always have a safety net in place. Assume something is going to go wrong, and have a backup plan ready to save your bacon. Like I said... I’m boring.  

Fire Flower - Donovan Erskine, Intern

Listen, I was never the most talented when it came to platforming. I missed the simplest of jumps, and died to the weakest of enemies. So you can imagine my relief when I would encounter a fire flower. All necessary skill flies out of the window and I can just slam my enemies to death with fireballs. And come on, that red and white suit is sweet.

P-Wing - Blake Morse, Fearless Flyer

I make my wing the P-Wing for one reason and one reason, the ability to fly forever. These power-ups were not easy to come by in Super Mario Bros. 3 and they gave you a Raccoon suit that could leave the ground and never look back. The one downside being that they only worked for one level and then you were just another schmuck dressed like a rodent who needs to run to charge their limited flight powers.

The P-Wing gave me a chance to selectively explore some of my favorite levels for hidden secrets and new paths. At some point I even started going through the levels methodically and searching for things when I was a kid. P-Wing stands out to me as one of the best power-ups in the Mario series in one of the best games in the franchise. I want da bomb, I want the P-Wing!

Spring Mushroom - Ozzie Mejia, Senior Editor

I'm going to go outside the box here. Sometimes you'll see a power-up that's either a classic staple (Fire Flower) or looks particularly inspired (the Cape Feather). But sometimes, a franchise will run for so long that the more absurd, experimental ideas will come out. And some of those ideas look like they were drawn on a napkin five minutes before the big board meeting. In Pokemon, I call that the Vanilluxe Principle, named after Pokemon #584, a living soft serve ice cream cone.

With that said, here's Super Mario Galaxy's Spring Mushroom, which turns Mario into Spring Mario. The premise is basically Mario gets stuck inside a bedspring. It's completely wacky, its design admirable in its sheer laziness, and yet it ends up being a lot of fun in practice. This leads to some of Super Mario Galaxy's most challenging sequences and off-the-wall puzzles, requiring players to bounce around against conveyor belts and moving platforms in order to reach the level's star. The Spring Mushroom obviously isn't the best power-up in the series, but the heights that it reaches, along with the "BOINGY BOINGY BOINGY" sounds makes it a personal favorite. The only thing that brings a bigger smile to my face is knowing that the Spring Mushroom comes back in the sequel!

Disagree with our picks? Think we're a bunch of clowns? Let us know in the Chatty below.

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