After months of hype on the App Store and other places throughout the internet, Super Mario Run is finally available for download on iOS. The game itself is more than just your standard infinite runner, but did Nintendo do enough to make it worth the download?
What Is It?
Super Mario Run is Nintendo’s first official entry into the mobile gaming sphere. Sure, Miitomo and Pokémon GO launched earlier this year, but Miitomo isn’t essentially a game, and as stockholders learned late in the game, Nintendo hardly had anything to do with Pokémon GO.
The game made its debut at Apple’s Press Event last fall when unveiling their new products, and the game has since seen a particularly aggressive push by both Apple and Nintendo since then. Apple left it on the front page of the App Store shortly after they made the announcement, while Nintendo went as far as featuring the game on an episode of The Tonight Show.
Mario Run‘s story is nothing new here. Princess Peach gets kidnapped, and it’s up to the jolly plumber to run around the Mushroom Kingdom through plains of fire and ice, haunted houses, castles, and airships to save her.
It’s free to download with the first three levels available for anyone who does so while the remaining 24 levels are available after paying a one-time price of $9.99.
Why Should I Care?
Whether you’re a diehard or casual fan of Nintendo’s red-clad mascot, it’s hard to ignore the whimsy of the Super Mario IP. Nintendo can literally go any direction they want to with the game because their hardcore fans will be more than willing to spend the money no matter what they ask.
The result is a game that’ll actually be more appealing to console gamers, which should be a sigh of relief to most hardcore audiences.
Don’t let the mobile moniker fool you, despite the fact that you do have to be online to play the game (for piracy reasons, which we’ll go over in a bit), Super Mario Run plays exactly the way you’d hope a mobile Mario game would. It’s incredibly simplistic while staying true to the series with its themed worlds, power-ups, coin-collecting, and Koopa bosses using New Super Mario Bros.‘ physics.
There are hundreds of other platforming clones in the App Store, even some solid free games, but there isn’t anything that feels as polished or responsive as Super Mario Run.
No, you unfortunately can’t freely move to the left or right. Unless he runs on a platform with arrows facing otherwise, Mario will always be running to the right much like the way he would if you were moving while holding the B button. You tap on the screen to jump, and if you hold on that tap, Mario will jump further and will be in the air for a longer period of time. And like virtually every Mario game before it, if you tap to jump just as you land on an enemy, you’ll bounce even higher.
Aside from all that, there also quite a few moves Mario automatically performs. When on a slope, Mario will slide just as he would in other games when holding on the down button. New to the game is his dodge ability. Let’s say Mario is about to run into a goomba. Instead of taking damage, Mario will slightly leap over it unharmed, and the enemy won’t die either. If you decide to make Mario jump just as he’s making this dodge maneuver, not only will he kill the enemy, he’ll do a cool flip along with it. This is sort of a double-edged sword though. Avoiding collisions with enemies is pretty much muscle memory for most people, and this habit has gotten me killed in the game more than a few times.
As for dying, this works much like it does in the New Super Mario Bros. Instead of traditional lives, you have three bubbles. When dead, you’re put into a bubble and will float back through the level until you decide to tap the screen again. Completionists will use this to their advantage if or when they miss a special coin. Of course, each stage has a time limit to complete it, and if you die too many times and go too far back from where you originally died, it’s also easy to die simply by running out of time.
The levels themselves are significantly shorter than they are in a standard Mario game which comes as no surprise due to the fact that this is obviously on mobile, but the time limits in combination with the special coin locations add to the game’s difficulty. The level design itself isn’t bad either. I might be alone on this statement, but playing some regular professionally-developed Mario levels is definitely a breath of fresh air after playing through hours and hours of Super Mario Maker‘s nightmarish fan levels. Of course, if you’re not the type of gamer to collect everything, you can easily plow through the game’s 24 levels in a couple hours. It all just feels very authentic, and the best part is Nintendo didn’t have to sacrifice any real estate on the touch screen with on-screen “buttons” that don’t even come close to the feeling of holding an actual controller.
Super Mario Run has two standard game modes. You have Tour Mode, which is the traditional Mario adventure, and you also have Rally Mode which allows you to play through levels against another player’s ghosts in a challenge to see who can collect the most coins. When you win a Rally Mode game, you’re awarded with Toad followers that you can have populate your customizable Mushroom Kingdom.
The Mushroom Kingdom is where Mario Run‘s metagame dwells. The game’s home screen shows your Mushroom Kingdom, and there’s much to do. In addition to rebuilding Princess Peach’s castle, it’s also up to you to decorate the kingdom with plants, fences, buildings, and other things. The menus to add friends (so you can perhaps play with their ghosts in Trial Mode), check on achievements, and link your MyNintendo account are all here as well. Aside from that, there really isn’t a whole lot to do in the Mushroom Kingdom other than see how things react when you touch them.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
It’ll come as no surprise, but as of the published time of this review, Super Mario Run is already the #1-ranked Free and Top Grossing app in the App Store, which goes to show the power of Nintendo’s IP. This review pretty much has everything you need to know about the game, but by all means — download it, and develop your own opinion based on the three levels available for play.
Is it worth the $10? I look at it this way. Where else can you get a solid and new Super Mario platformer for $10 through legal means? Nowhere. Maybe you can get a copy of New Super Mario Bros. 2 on 3DS on Amazon for $20 if you’re lucky. At $10, it’s a steal to any hardcore gamer.
Yes, there’s the fact that you have to be online via Wi-Fi or a reliable mobile network for the game to work properly, but that’s no problem — at least in North America. Most mobile games do have to be online, so I would hardly consider that an issue. Does it have to be, considering that this is primarily about avoiding piracy? Obviously not, but this is Nintendo we’re talking about. That’s not an excuse, but this is also the territory you deal with when talking about this company. After the game eventually peaks, I wouldn’t be surprised if the online requirement is eliminated.
Super Mario Run is a solid entry to any mobile library. The paywall may be a bit steep for a casual mobile gamer, but the fact that there’s no other in-app purchase makes it very consumer-friendly, showing that Nintendo’s main interest is in providing gamers with a full experience rather than charging for aspects that can drastically change gameplay.
It’s nothing groundbreaking nor is it going to be the phenomenon that Pokémon GO was, but this is good old (or new) fashioned Nintendo fun, and it’s tough to not be excited for their future mobile projects.