Developer: Nintendo EPD
Genre: Endless Runner
Platforms: iOS, Android
Rating: E for Everyone
Just one year ago, Nintendo finally entered the mobile world with Miitomo. After the player base dropped off rapidly, fans began to wait in anticipation the officially-announced mobile titles based on Mario Bros., Animal Crossing, and Fire Emblem. The Fire Emblem title now known as Fire Emblem Heroes was released in February and turned out to be a solid mobile title. Meanwhile, uper Mario Run dropped onto iOS platforms back in December; as an android owner, I was not able to play until it came to the Google Play store on March 22nd. Since that day I have been absolutely hooked even through its few minor flaws.
For this content guide I will rephrase much of what I said in my Super Mario Maker review for the 3DS.
The Mario franchise is known for its family-friendly content, and Super Mario Run has plenty of it. I would even say that the cartoony mischief is even lighter than cartoons like Tom & Jerry, Popeye, and Looney Tunes. As players progress through the courses, there are plenty of enemies and traps that await our favorite italian plumber. Traps come in the form of spikes, fire, cannonballs, saws, and more. A majority of the enemies can be defeated by simply jumping on them. When a character is hit the first two times, they are recovered by a bubble and placed back on the stage. A final hit leads to defeat as the character falls off screen. The series’ cartoon violence is pretty harmless, especially on this mobile platform.
Super Mario Run replicates the style of the New Super Mario Bros. games in every category. The developers were even able to port those graphics and sound onto the Unity engine, which is very popular among developers today, and perfect for mobile platforms. The biggest area that the developers switched things up is gameplay—it can be played with one hand. Players only need to tap the screen to get Mario and friends to jump. That may sound simple, but many platforming elements that make each stage a puzzle will require some strategy. Your character does automatically run forward like any other auto-runner, but in many instances you will be wall-jumping, pausing to time those jumps, and even jumping backwards. I am glad they took this route when it comes to controls, because virtual on-screen buttons are the absolute worst.
The story has definitely not changed either. Bowser captures the princess and it is up to Mario and his pals to save her—but know that Princess Peach herself can actually be unlocked later. The two modes available, the first is World Tour that basically works like a standard Mario game. The second is Toad Rally, a Score Attack style mode in which you race other players to get the highest score. Various colored Toads will come in audience as you do great and your score rises. At the end of the run, the winning player gets all of the toads in attendance including their opponent’s.
There are a few good reasons why you should be doing your best to earn these Toads. The first is that they will come to your kingdom that you can actually build. The coins you earn from each run can be earned to purchase buildings and other set pieces in order to build the Mushroom Kingdom anyway you like it. The other reason you need those little guys and gals is to unlock new characters, to build one of their houses you need a certain amount of different colored Toads. In this category comes one of the few negative things I have to say about Super Mario Run: the grind for toads is absolutely rough. I believe this is because your Toad tally can decline if you lose a Toad Rally race, and you must also choose a race with the colored Toads that you are looking for.
On the plus side, unlocking the other characters is indeed worth the grind. Each one is unique, and can greatly change the playstyle. Luigi jumps higher than any character, Toad and Toadette are the fastest, Peach glides, and Yoshi has his classic flutter jump. Along with the android release, a number of new characters were added in the form of multicolored Yoshi, though that is already too many. (I would really love a yarn version as a nod to Yoshi’s Woolly World.) Once you build and place the characters’ houses in you kingdom, they are yours to use until your heart’s content.
If you are questioning the replay value, do not fear. Toad Rally offers tons of replayability, but the World Tour mode has a few tricks up its own sleeve. You must actually complete worlds in World Tour mode so that they can be available in Toad Rally, and the fun doesn’t end there. Within each course there are five purple coins to collect. Completionists will really enjoy going after these, because the course becomes a bit more challenging if you aim to collect every single one of them. It doesn’t even stop there, after you collect those the five new coins now become red. You would think they’d be done after the second time, but no—that wasn’t even their final form! The third and concluding tier of coins are colored black and are the hardest to find.
One of the biggest incentives to play Super Mario Run is that you can link into your MyNintendo account. Toad is actually free if you choose to link your account, so be sure to do that when starting up the app for the first time. I have earned an abundant amount of MyNintendo coins since I have started playing. By earning those coins you can get some cool stuff from Nintendo, including in-game content.
Lastly, this review would not be complete if I didn’t address the price tag. At $9.99 I believe this product is definitely worth that price, but maybe not to the mobile audience that Nintendo is targeting. For a hardcore gamer like myself, it is a treat to have such a solid Nintendo product on my mobile device.Ten bucks is unfortunately too high for someone who casually plays games on their phone on occasion, or for a parent who hands their phone off to their child to keep them entertained out in public. The single world available for free just won’t cut it if you fall into that first category, and my ten dollars have not gone to waste since release day.
The Bottom Line
While the price tag may alienate some of the intended audience, Super Mario Run is a solid product that hardly ever feels like a moble game due to a superbly crafted control scheme fit for the platform. It is one of the best products I've ever put on my phone. Super Mario Run is well worth the price tag while at the same time alienating some of the audience that this product is aiming for. What we have here is the solid presentation we can always expect from Nintendo and a superbly crafted control scheme fit for the platform. It hardly ever feels like a mobile game, one of the best products I've ever put on my phone.