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Super Mario Run is a big deal because it means Nintendo is seeing mobile gaming as an appetizer to having them buy Nintendo systems for the main course. At the same time, the game has to be good to incise those users in the first place. Mario has always been better at than than a plumber. Now that Mario’s on a more widespread platform than Nintendo has ever had, does he set a new standard for mobile gaming like he did on the revolutionary NES, Nintendo 64, and Wii consoles before it?
In motion, Super Mario Run is a very Nintendo game. This being an iOS game, I have to elaborate since many of these players may have never played one. The saying comes from the painstaking process the developers took to make the game as tight and polished as physically possible. The game’s presentation is crisp and fluid with nice splash pages and menus. The controls are simple since you are just tapping. Jumping mechanics are very responsive that the only reason you lose is because you messed up. I also haven’t seen any bugs either, making this a well-built game and something expected of Nintendo.
With Bowser capturing Peach, Mario must go through six worlds with four stages each to save her. The trick here is that the game plays like a sidescrolling Mario, but he runs automatically. The levels are designed for the player to jump and parkour about so Mario dodges enemies, pits and collect coins. The regular game can be done in a few hours, but it’ll take multiple tries to collect the five pink, purple or black coins littered about in one try. It may sound simple, but the game meant for one-handed play and jumping is pretty in-depth with cancels, flips, wall jumps and more.
You can also play against the avatars of other characters in Toad Rally. This mode has to replaying a stage with the intention of collecting coins and “impressing” Toads to join your kingdom. Shockingly, you can lose Toads if the other player wins. A few bad runs can set you back more than anything else. It’s even weirder because you have to use tickets to use Toad Rally, which are easily obtainable and leave you wondering if that was supposed to be a microtransaction. Your ranking is based on the number of Toads you have, and you are randomly assigned five players in your general vicinity. Most of the time all five are above your level and with Toads on the line, it feels a little intimidating.
These Toads are used to unlock new things in the Kingdom Builder, where you put together some buildings… and that’s about it. Other than unlocking the other playable characters, there’s little to actually accomplish here. This isn’t a Farmville village that needs consistent tending to, just needless bragging rights.
Unlike The monetary-sucking cesspool that is the App Store and the plague of microtransactions haunting its games, Super Mario Run brings a more console-like pricing system to the market: $10. That’s it. Just pay it once and you have the game. While that may feel like a lot for a one-time payment, the amount of content and its replayability feels right. At least I felt it was since I bought Mario Karts and Parties for more and played those less. Since this is supposed to bridge mobile users to the 3DS and Switch, this sort of sobers the user base to remember to pay for games up front.
The game requires an Internet connection at all times. That wouldn’t be a big deal if it wasn’t for the massive data consumption outside of Wi-Fi. The game will kill a normal data plan if you just played it outside normal wireless networks, and that’s unforgivable.
One can say that within a few hours, they’ve seen everything Super Mario Run has to offer. That’s correct if you’re simply playing to see, but it has legs thanks to a little replayability. With people dumping hundreds on “free to play” games, it’s nice to see a game do pricing traditionally. The thing is that there are better games for less with fewer restrictions on the App Store, like Rayman Run. It’s also a shame that some of the extra modes like Kingdom Builder and Toad Rally feel like duds. They could have padded the game more. Again, I got my $10 worth with playing different style of Mario (And let’s face it, if this was a Wii U or 3DS eShop game, it would have been at least $10). Despite that alone, Super Mario Run is missing that “it factor” the game sorely needs.