Only Nintendo can take a concept that has been done numerous times in the past and add a certain charm and depth that can keep a player engaged for hours. Super Mario Run, the new smartphone/tablet game from Nintendo, is no exception to this idea. At its core, Super Mario Run is a simple platformer/runner that has been done numerous times before on this platform. However, when you finish World 1-1, you realize that this isn’t your typical runner and that there is a lot more to this game than meets the eye.
Super Mario Run takes the basic principles of any Mario platformer in the past and simplifies it for mobile use. Mario runs continuously through a stage and jump with a simple tap of the finger. The goal of each stage is to reach the flagpole (big shock) at the end of each stage and collect as many coins as you can along with 5 different colored coins.
Coins play the central role in the “World Tour” mode of Super Mario Run and are where the replayability lie. Coins gathered in each level are tallied up and are posted on a friend leaderboard where you can compete against your friends for the top spot (Done by friend codes which I thought were a thing of the past. You can also search by Twitter and Facebook.) The colored coins, once collected, unlock items for purchase in the Kingdom Builder where you can build your own mushroom kingdom. Once you collect the first five colored coins in a level, a different color of coin will show up in the level in more challenging places. The game will put harder obstacles in the level to test your skills in order to get the certain coin. I’ve spent over a half hour on a single stage to get all three sets of coins before I moved on to the next level.
In “World Tour” mode, Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach and you have to go through 6 worlds with 4 stages in each. Beating all of the stages unlocks Princess Peach as a playable character. Toad, Luigi, Yoshi and Toadette are also unlockable, and playable, characters. The stages do not change for each character but each character has a different characteristic. Toad is a little faster, Luigi has his floating jump, Yoshi does his signature long jump and Peach floats through the air.
The other main mode is Toad Rally. You race in levels that you’ve played with another player from around the world and (asynchronously) battle for the most coins and style points to win ‘Toad fans.’ Toads are another form of currency in Super Mario Run. You can unlock different mushroom houses that unlock bonus stages and other bonuses set on timers (normally about 8 hours.) Winning toads is also how you unlock Luigi, Yoshi and Toadette. Also, once you collect all of the colored coins a certain variety in the whole game, you can unlock a bonus stage that further tests your ability.
The level design of Super Mario Run mirrors that of the New Super Mario Bros. which is not the most popular design that they could have gone with but I see why they did it. The mechanics present in New Super Mario such as wall jumping are ripe and important for a mobile platformer like Super Mario Run. I can’t really picture myself (as much as I may have liked to play it) playing a Super Mario World version of this game where I am just running in a straight line and bouncing on top of enemies.
To people who have played Mario games in the past, they may very well find that Super Mario Run is not worth their time. I felt that way once I started playing. However, once I started going after harder coin sets and getting into close battles in Toad Rush, I started falling in love with this Mario game like I did not think I would.
The one thing that seemingly got the most attention leading up to the release of Super Mario Run is its need to connected online at all times in order to play. Yes, you will not be able to play the game if you do not have a solid wi-fi or cellular connection. This sucks in every way that you think it does. I’ve been in the presence of a good connection for most of my time playing and will still see pop-ups saying that the game is unable to communicate with the server. I can only imagine how hard of a time people are having on subways or in rural areas where cellular connections are not the strongest.
Super Mario Run’s unexpected replay factor along with the idea of Mario finally coming out on smartphones makes this entry a good one for experienced Mario players and newcomers alike. Kingdom Builder and Toad Rally provide just enough variety to keep the experience fresh and fun despite the need to always be online. I’m curious to see what the future holds for this game once the typical ‘mobile game hype’ wears thin and people move on to other games. Does Nintendo add more levels via DLC? Do we get a (please, yes) Super Mario Run Maker where you can share levels with other players much like Super Mario Maker? That’s where the true test for this game is: its future. Super Mario Run is an excellent first entry to possibly many other entries in the future and it’s a future I am dying to see come to fruition.
Super Mario Run is free to start and allows you to play the first three stages. After that, it will cost you $9.99 to access the whole game.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary IOS code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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