With a different coat of paint, Super Mario Run would probably be seen as an enjoyable one-button runner with a decent amount of depth and a level of polish rarely seen on smartphones. It would also probably be about $7 cheaper or even free-to-play with microtransactions. It would also feel less special.
But this does have that fresh coat of Mario paint — not that Mario Paint — and Nintendo’s signature character makes a fun debut on the iPhone.
The simplest way to describe Super Mario Run is that it’s filled with 2D Mario levels in which Mario automatically runs from left-to-right. The player just touches the screen for Mario and his pals to jump, bounce off walls and float. Mario will vault over ground enemies like Goombas and turtles, but if you press to jump at the right time, you can jump off the bad guys to earn coins and jump higher.
World Tour is the main mode players will hop into. It’s got six worlds with four levels each and a lot of replay value. Each level contains five pink coins; after you’ve collected those, it will have purple coins and then black coins. With each type of coin, the placements change and some of the level elements also change. Getting through each level isn’t particularly challenging for veteran Mario players, but the colored coins require a lot of thought to find.
Additionally, as you add friends to the game, you will get to see their high scores on each level and try to beat them — PSVG’s Josh pretty much owns me on every level. Even though I beat each of the standard levels on the day of release, I’ve had a ton of fun revisiting the levels to try to find the coins and beat my friends’ scores.
The other main gameplay mode is the Toad Rally, where you race against the ghosts of other players to collect more coins and impress the five different colors of Toads. Building up your Toad count is how you can unlock items for the game’s third mode, the Mushroom Kingdom. Here, you unlock and place trees, bushes, Toad houses and more to customize your very own Mushroom Kingdom. This is what will keep me playing the game moving forward.
I’ve enjoyed my time with Super Mario Run so far, simply because it’s more Mario. The controls do take some adjustment, especially coming straight off of Super Mario Maker. The timing of jumps is just a little bit different in this iteration of Mario, but you can settle in quickly enough. Even after this adjustment, you will find the characters floating just a tad too much, and this can cost valuable coins or time. Mario Run will never replace traditional Mario games or the ingenuity of Maker, but it is fun in its own way.
The app store does have a free demo. The first three levels of the World Tour are available, as well as the Toad Rally and Mushroom Kingdom modes. While the $10 price tag may seem steep for an iOS game, it does mean there is a lack of ads and the game doesn’t constantly pester you to spend money on it. You can just play and have fun.
If you decide to jump in, find me by entering the friend code, 1450-2748-1147. Can you build a better Kingdom than me?
Super Mario Run is absolutely worth playing if you have an iOS device. It’s absolutely a Mario game, made to be played in small chunks. It’s every bit as addictive as any other great mobile game, and is a blast to try to outdo your friends.