Game: Super Mario Run
Platform: ios, Android
Release Date: December 15th, 2016 (ios) 2017 (Android)
I’m a bad person, so I’ve forced myself to review this Mario phone game. One might say I was slightly hopeful for this game a month or so before launch. After all, I like Mario, and runners are a fun little time waster and some of the bigger scale ones like Bit Trip Runner are solid all around. A tried and true genre, Super Mario Run, however, isn’t a great runner and doesn’t emulate any of the things I like about Mario or platforming.
Nintendo’s first full on mobile game has a pretty simple premise. Bowser has kidnapped Peach yet again, so everyone’s favorite mustachioed plumber has to traverse six worlds in order to stop King Koopa and get the girl. The first three levels are free to play, falling in line with Nintendo’s “Free to Start” formula they’ve tried with multiple titles on the Nintendo 3DS. The buy in beyond this point is a flat ten dollars, which to be honest just feels like too much. With only six worlds to play in the base tour mode Super Mario Run would’ve been better designed around a free to play with microtransactions model. Nintendo seems to be missing the boat on what makes mobile gaming work, which isn’t terribly surprising.
Gameplay is straightforward and streamlined. Mario runs to the right, and you tap on the screen to make the little guy jump, the longer you hold your finger on the screen the higher he jumps. The biggest issue facing Mario’s running adventure is how fundamentally un-Mario it seems. Jumping on enemies will net you extra coins but directly running into them though will result in Mario simply vaulting over them instead of taking damage. It’s a small gripe, I know, but it just bothers me. Also, the game seems more focused on getting coins( the thing I probably concern myself with least in a typical Mario game) than level completion.
The bulk of Super Mario Run and what seems to be a reliability factor is contained in the Toad Rally mode. In this mode you’ll compete against ghost of other players on levels you’ve unlocked to win Toads to help rebuild your own personal Mushroom Kingdom, your rescued Princess needs subjects after all. This mode is probably the most fun I’ve had with Super Mario Run, and I could see myself returning to it for a bit if it weren’t so damn grindy. To break down how you win in this mode, you’ll compete against another players ghost to see who can collect the most coins in the allotted time. Everything yields coins in this mode, from hitting blocks to eating mushrooms. Taking damage causes Mario to lose coins like he’s Sonic the freaking Hedgehog. An enemy kill counter that can be found across modes will result in those enemies yielding more coins from kills once completed.
Mario isn’t the only character you can run to the right as in this adventure. Beating world’s one through six allows you to play as Peach. Luigi, Yoshi, and Toadette are all purchasable once you’ve leveled your Kingdom enough( have fun with that ) and linking a Nintendo account will allow you to play as Toad. Building out my kingdom and getting all of these unlocks would be enticing if it didn’t require all that retreading of old levels.
Super Mario Run seems like a game that was designed as a ploy for people who don’t regularly play games but remember Mario from years past. Anyone who enjoys video games can find far better Mario titles out there as well as better ways to spend ten dollars. Although the strange price point and lack of microtransactions show how little Nintendo understands the mobile market, I hope it does well for them, after all, I really want a mobile Fire Emblem game.
Score: 5 out of 10