When Super Mario Maker launched for the Wii U, many considered the franchise to have reached its peak – how could Nintendo top an open toolbox for a series that admittedly evolves little outside graphics and gimmicky power-ups? Well, it turns out the way to rejuvenate 2D Mario isn’t adding something new, but taking it away – as shown by Super Mario Run.
While Mario’s mobile debut isn’t an endless runner like the name may imply, the key difference is in the title. While previous platformers have had scrolling screens limiting backtracking, our Italian plumber has clearly taken the words of Luke Cage‘s Pop to heart: “Never backwards, always forward”. If you miss a special coin, there’s no turning back – Super Mario now requires pinpoint precision and strategy – a single mistimed jump can ruin your perfect run, which is amazing. Bubbles can be a last resort to float back to an earlier collectable, but be warned – they are in short supply and the clock is ticking!
In standard Mario fare, the game opens up with Princess Peach’s cake invitation being spoiled by her kidnapping, leaving Mario to rescue her from Bowser once again. Keeping with the traditional formula, levels are divided across the six worlds, each culminating in a conquest of one of Bowser’s castles. The first three levels before World 1’s climax are free-to-play, while the rest are locked behind a one-time fee of £7.99 ($9.99).
Each level isn’t a “one or done” affair though, with Super Mario Run offering incentive to return to past worlds with new challenges. You may think everything is over after you’ve collected every pink coin, but then you have to find the purple and black coins – with each challenge being progressively harder than the other.
Completing challenges has other benefits too; tickets gained as rewards can be redeemed to play Toad Rally. By competing against another player’s “ghost” and collecting coins or pulling off stunts, you’ll excite Toads who will move away from the loser’s kingdom to populate the winner’s, creating a ranking system. The more Toads you obtain, the more you can level up and decorate the Mushroom Kingdom with items and even unlock new characters!
MyNintendo’s future is looking really exciting
Full integration with MyNintendo means that, like Miitomo, in-game achievements award Platinum Coins that can be redeemed for content in either game, or even discounts on 3DS and Wii U games! Nintendo’s social app gave us a glimpse at how the system will be utilised, but with more than one compatible game now on the market, MyNintendo’s future is looking really exciting – especially with mobile instalments of Fire Emblem, Animal Crossing and of course, the Nintendo Switch on the way!
Super Mario Run isn’t without its flaws however, although these are due to Nintendo’s technical design of the game as opposed to its actual content. Due to piracy fears, an internet connection is required to play Super Mario Run. This restriction will be an obstacle for people wishing to enjoy a mobile game in the medium’s most fertile ground – commutes. When I have to work in London for example, that requires a train journey frequented by tunnels and trips through the underground.
Super Mario Run relying on an internet connection also leaves it vulnerable to server issues. For example, I have yet to receive anything other than an error message when trying to buy the full game! (That’s right; the game made such an impression that I wrote all this after just one world!).
While some may associate “mobile games” with bite-sized, lower quality games compared to those on dedicated systems, Super Mario Run can stand proud alongside its predecessors – for it is a true Super Mario experience.
Super Mario Run is available to download on supported Apple iPhone and iPad devices, with an Android release planned for 2017.
The current list of supported devices, is as follows: iPad Pro, the iPad Air, the 4th generation iPad, iPad mini 2 devices and up, the 6th generation iPod Touch, and iPhone 5 devices and up. (iOS 8 or later)