Like other big names in the video game industry, Nintendo has seen the massive surge of people playing games on their mobile devices and decided they needed to get in on that action. While they had a part in creating the huge phenomena known as Pokemon Go, that was really more a product of Niantic and the Pokemon Company. Super Mario Run, however, was finally released less than 24 hours ago. When you look at all the polish this game has, it becomes very obvious that it is all Nintendo.
Without purchasing the full version of Super Mario Run, you are given three full stages (1-1, 1-2, and 1-3) and get a taste of many other features. Before anything else, Mario is given a letter by Princess Peach to come to the castle and enjoy some cake. What could go wrong? If you didn’t already know, Bowser swoops in, steals the princess, wrecks the mushroom kingdom, and heads off in his Clown Copter. During this sequence is a small tutorial of how to play Super Mario Run. Players learn all of the mechanics while Mario runs after King Koopa and sees his new adventure ahead. While this is expected and silly, it still brings a joy to my heart and really helps to set up the typical Mario tone throughout the rest of the game.
With that, you are off to the races. In the fist couple stages, the only challenge really comes from trying to collect all 5 pink coins, which are part of every stage. Each stage has points where you could jump to higher spot or stay by the ground. Make the wrong choice and Mario just keeps going. This helps to make a lot of Super Mario Run replayable, like every other game in the franchise. All the while, you’ll be wall jumping and dodging goombas, koopas, piranha plants, and more.
While you may think there is not much difficulty in a Mario game where you only have to control the jumps, playing stage1-3 would prove you wrong. It is the first stage with any real threat of defeat and it definitely keeps you on your toes. Perhaps it is because most of the ground isn’t there, as you are high up on tall mushrooms, hopping around parakoopas.
While you cannot play the entire stage for free, Nintendo allows Super Mario Run players to try out 20 seconds of 1-4, the first castle. Even from those 20 seconds, you can see interesting designs that push the boundaries of the runner, including ground blocks that change Mario’s direction and even a ceiling to cling to.
Super Mario Run has a total of 6 worlds, although I’m betting more stages will be added in the future. Even without those, there is a lot more to do. During play, you can earn tickets that allow you to enter Toad Rally. In Toad Rally, you challenge an online opponent to a style competition. Play a looping stage, get coins, and try to earn style points to get more Toads to cheer for you. According to the story, the toads ran off after Bowser beat up the Mushroom Kingdom. Your job is to get them back and rebuild the land.
Coins that you have earned throughout the game let you buy more pieces to the new kingdom. Many pieces have other features attached to them, like bonus games, where you can earn more coins or tickets. In Super Mario Run, everything fits together so you always feel like you are accomplishing something, whether its beating a new stage, gathering more toads, or building the perfect kingdom.
The only small complaint I have right now is that you cannot turn your phone sideways to play. I understand part of their advertisement is that you can play with one hand, but I keep feeling it would be more natural to play sideways and then realizing it won’t shift. That might just be a personal preference, but it is a small price to pay. Whether you purchase the full game or not, its easy to see out of the gate Super Mario Run is far from a throw-away mobile port. It may be on your phone, but it feels like a true Nintendo classic.