Ever since Nintendo made the controversial decision to transition to mobile games, every fan has been waiting to see what they will come up with. After the undeniable success of Pokemon Go, which Nintendo didn’t even develop or publish, it was only a matter of time before the Big N sent one of their iconic characters out to everyone’s phones.
Now Super Mario Run is available on the App Store for iPhone and iPad. The game will be available on Android some time in 2017, but for now it’s an iOS exclusive. Here’s everything iPhone and iPad users need to know about the new Mario game.
But First, The Price
Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way early: Super Mario Run is an expensive game by mobile standards. The game has a free “demo” period of use, but beyond the first three levels, the game must be paid for.
It doesn’t come cheap either. As we’ve pointed out before, the price is $9.99 in the US. This is a one-time payment for worlds one through six. Once you have paid that, you don’t have to make any more payments that I have found. You get more coins and rally tickets as well.
The price is high for a mobile game, but Mario games for consoles have consistently been higher priced. So if you take the price of previous games you’ve played into account, and that this game has six worlds with three stages and a boss level, this might be the cheapest Mario game you ever play. And it’s certainly not a small game by any standards.
It’s also nice to have a chance to play a mobile game that doesn’t rely on the free-to-play model. If you find yourself consistently thinking “I wish I could just buy this game outright,” then Super Mario Run should be of interest to you.
Harder Than It Looks
The premise of Super Mario Run doesn’t sound very difficult: Mario runs across the screen of his own accord, and you tap the screen when you want him to jump. You don’t have to tap the screen in any particular place, and if you hold down your finger, Mario will jump higher. That’s about it.
However, Run has an urgency that no other Super Mario game has. Because you can’t stop Mario (except on designated “pause blocks”), you need to have very good reflexes to keep up with him. If you’ve ever had a blood pressure spike playing Temple Run or any other endless runner, you’ll find the experience similar.
There are secondary goals for each level: defeat as many enemies as you can and get all five of the pink coins that are hidden in each level, some of which are well-hidden. What makes this even trickier than most in-game achievements is that you can’t retrace your steps without restarting the whole level.
Nintendo Nostalgia Trip
The setting will look very familiar to anyone who has ever played any Mario game before. Bowser has kidnapped Peach, and it’s up to you and Mario to rescue her by venturing to all the corners of the Mushroom Kingdom and facing Goombas, Koopa Troopas, Piranha Plants, and other Mario fare.
If you’re looking for innovation in platforming, Super Mario Run probably won’t satisfy you. It is very much a retread of the old Mario formula, with a dash of Temple Run urgency thrown in. But if you want to take the old familiar Mario with you on the road, this is the game for you. If you’d rather have a richer mobile Mario experience, consider getting a New 3DS XL and one of the Mario games available for it.
One of the surprises when I played the early stages of the game was that there is a second mode of play called Toad Rally. In Toad Rally, you race against the clock with an opponent, trying to collect more coins and impress more Toads than they do by gaining style points. In essence, it’s a chaotic multiplayer mode with slightly less depth than the main “World Tour” single-player mode.
Toad Rally is a fun way of unlocking more coins to spend in the game’s Build Shop, which lets you rebuild the Mushroom Kingdom with plants, decorations, and buildings that give you special rewards. Kingdom Building is the third mode on offer, and it’s fairly simple and anemic. Still, the trademark whimsical art style makes it feel more interesting.
Link Your Nintendo Account for Rewards
Nintendo has integrated Super Mario Run into its other services, meaning you can link the app to your Nintendo account. The current form of Nintendo account was introduced earlier this year, along with the Miitomo app.
If you link Super Mario Run with your Nintendo account, you can unlock a number of extras, including the ability to play as Toad in the single-player mode. You can unlock these extras using Nintendo Points, and you can also earn said points by playing the game.
iPad or iPhone: Which Is Better?
Super Mario Run is available for both iPhones and iPads. There are no aesthetic differences between the two, so it comes down to what screen size you prefer for your games. The iPad version was slightly easier on the eyes, since the details on screen can be very fine and it’s easier to make them out on a larger screen, but that’s true of almost any mobile game.
Whichever device you choose, make sure it’s one with a robust battery. This game is a big drain on power. I lost about 20 percent of battery power with 10 minutes of play on my iPhone 6s and about 35 percent on my old iPad 2. If you need help maintaining battery life, considering getting a battery pack like the ones we recommended for Pokemon Go.
Should You Play Super Mario Run?
Super Mario Run is a fun game that should please most Nintendo fans. The simple, approachable style of play on offer and the game’s bright energy make it a great way to get your Mario fix on the go.
That said, the game’s hefty price tag isn’t for everyone. In an age of $0.99 time-wasters and free-to-play business models, $9.99 might seem like a tough pill to swallow. It’s understandable that might be a deal-breaker for you.
What do you think of Super Mario Run? Will you be playing it? Are you one of the many people who have improved their lives thanks to Mario? Do you think the game is overpriced? Let us know in the comments section below!