Super Mario Run Review iOS Game
SUPER MARIO RUN ONE-HANDED Very Soon Coming To Android Play Store
Super Mario Run sees Nintendo dip its toe into the world of mobile gaming, and is doing so with one of the platform’s most popular genres: the endless runner. However, being Nintendo, it is of course changing the script, and adding its own touches. In Super Mario Run we don’t get an endless runner at all; instead, we get classic Mario levels playable all with just one-touch – and the result is surprisingly good.
For those sceptical about Nintendo’s move to iOS, or indeed about mobile games in general, it’s probably important to get a few things out of the way. The game is free, but you’ll have to stump up £7.99 to unlock all the features, and Nintendo won’t ask for a penny more; there are no more microtransactions here.
Also, this isn’t only one level you play over and over again to try to beat a score. This is a fully fledged Mario title with six worlds and three levels within each, as well as a castle. There are also two additional modes, which we’ll get to later.
In addition, everyone will be able to download a free version of the game from launch day offering a snippet of the full experience, so you can decide if it’s something you want to pay for. Following a couple of run-throughs the opening levels, I was little concerned about its overly simplistic feel.
Mario runs from left to right, and every action he’s capable of can be achieved with the tap of a button. As Mario moves across the level, a light tap of the screen will see him do a small jump; longer presses see him take greater leaps.
The basic premise of the game is to make it to the flagpole before the time runs out, collecting as many coins as you can en route. I did this a few times without much trouble, and felt like the the game suffered due to the platform’s limitations. However, the more I played, the more I discovered its hidden depths – and it wasn’t long before I was addicted.
In each level there are three sets of coins to collect (pink, purple and black), each one increasingly difficult than the last set. As Mario doesn’t stop running, you’re forced to perfect leaps and wall-jumps to grab every coin. Failing to grab the final of the five coins is heartbreaking, since it means playing the whole level again. That is, unless you’ve collected some bubbles along the way.
Run uses the bubble system seen in the “New” Super Mario Bros series (it also uses the same art style, which is gorgeous on both iPhones and iPads), and they’re found in question blocks. If you miss one of the collectible coins – or simply fancy stomping on a surviving Goomba – you can use one of the bubbles to zip you back through the level as far as you please, pressing the screen again to burst and re-attempt the run.
However, the risk is in the fact that the timer doesn’t reset, so if you use too many bubbles or go back too far, you may run out of time and not finish at all.
It’s these little intricacies that add complexity to the basics. Depending on the type of player you are, there’s always fun to be had.
Having played Mario games for more than 20 years, I immediately became the nerdy obsessive, spending most of the hands-on session in a single level trying to collect the three sets of coins. It’s fiendishly addictive, and becomes only more so, the more you fail. It helps that the jumping is as superb as it is in any Mario game and the touch controls are very responsive.
When you’re done playing through the main campaign, you also get Toad Rally. Everything you do in the game – from stomping Koopalings to completing levels – can earn you tokens for Toad Rally – again, there are no microtransactions; the only way to earn these tokens is by playing the game.
It’s within Toad Rally, however, that Mario Run does become an endless runner.
By performing flashy jumps with well-timed screen presses, stomping enemies and collecting coins, you can impress Toadstools on your timed run. The aim of the game is to impress as many Toads on the run and outscore your opponent – which will be another player’s score in asynchronous multiplayer – to improve your rank.
The mode can be pretty competitive; losing to someone’s ghost can also mean your rank decreases. How frequently the game rewards Toad Rally tickets remains to be seen, and will no doubt determine the success or failure of this mode.
The other mode is Kingdom Builder, which allows you to spend the coins collected in levels to buy and build your own little Mushroom Kingdom area. It looks very much like the classic world map in any Mario game, with the items you can buy limited by the amount of Toads you currently have “impressed”.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to check out this mode, but from the demonstration it looks like another place for people to spend time, even if there’s very little “gameplay” on offer.
In its opening moments, Super Mario Run finds itself between a rock and a hard place. It’s better than every free-to-play runner currently in the App Store, simply because it’s had that Nintendo magic sprinkled all over it. However, it also seemingly lacks the depth and complexity of a console Mario game.
That said, the longer I played the game, the more it grew on me. Learning the intricacy and depth behind the one-touch mechanics shows that Nintendo has definitely kept its eye on the core fan base as well as mobile gamers.
Is it worth the £7.99 price? If you’re a fan of Mario games, there’s plenty of content on offer and it plays incredibly well. A more casual mobile gamer, who only games for minutes at a time, will probably find the cost of entry a little too steep – but based on what I’ve seen, I’ll certainly be parting with some cash on 15 December.