Super Mario Run is Nintendo’s first foray into mobile gaming with a skill based game. Let’s face it: Miitomo was more of an app than a game and Pokemon Go wasn’t fully developed by Nintendo like Super Mario Run is. So how does our old plumber friend fare in the transition from traditional gaming to mobile? Surprisingly well.
One of my biggest fears with Nintendo dabbling in mobile gaming is that it would ruin our long cherished franchises. The thought of having old Nintendo games lazily ported over to a touchscreen device with no controller terrified me. Furthermore when Super Mario Run was revealed, it was scoffed by many as just “another endless runner” which admittedly I thought was unimpressive at the time. Luckily, in true Nintendo fashion, the house of Mario brought innovation to Super Mario Run allowing it to stand out in a sea of uninspired games and expand the idea of what a Mario game can be.
Traditional 2D Mario games provided players with a challenge through platforming, which required the player to coordinate how they run and jump to make their way through all the obstacles and reach the end goal. In Super Mario Run, the player no longer has control over Mario’s running speed putting all of the challenge into the timing and style of the jumps. Putting this in context of a traditional Mario game might sound like a step back for many players but here it works. The challenge here is not so much in getting to the goal but rather collect all the special coins and outrank your friends. And on this front the game delivers a ton of challenge.
The full game comes complete with 6 worlds that contain 4 levels each. An experienced player will easily get through these 24 levels within a half hour and if this is all the player wishes to do with the game, they won’t see the value in shelling out $10 USD for the full game. For those looking at unlocking everything in the game are in for hours of fun and challenges well worth the investment.
Each level comes with 15 special coins to collect. The first set of 5 coins is pink and is the easiest to collect. Upon completion of that set, the player unlocks the purple set of 5 coins which is more difficult and re-arranges a few things in the course like coin and block positioning. Finally, collecting the purple set will unlock the final 5 coins which are black and will also re-arrange some level details slightly. In total there are 120 coins for each set, or 360 in total, which will take even skilled players quite a bit of time to complete. And with each level taking about a minute to complete, it’s the perfect type of challenge to try throughout your day on your phone.
Aside coins, players can also choose to collect Toads in Toad Rally which will grant them new shop items to build out their Mushroom Kingdom. Building the kingdom is mostly a fun little distraction but a completionist will need to collect a certain amount of Toads to unlock characters and new areas in the kingdom to build out. Personally I’m not big into customizing a useless town, but here I am driven to unlock the 5 kingdom areas, especially as it shows up in your profile summary.
To play Toad Rally you’ll need a ticket which can be easily gained from playing the regular levels, collecting coins, playing bonus games and through redeeming coins on MyNintendo. Upon exchange of a ticket you choose an opponent to compete against and also see what type of colored Toad you can win, there are 5 colors in total. Afterwards it’s a frantic race to get as many coins as you can while trying to draw in a crowd of Toads by pulling off some stylish moves. Winning the match will reward you with a bunch of Toads that will join your kingdom. Losing the match will result in you losing Toads – so beware who you challenge.
While I do enjoy all the base challenges the game offers, I also love seeing how I rank against my friends in each level and trying to beat them. More casual players might find more enjoyment in just playing to collect more coins and Toads so they can continue to build and expand their Mushroom Kingdom the way they like.
The game however isn’t without its shortcomings. Unlocking the additional 5 characters is very disappointing as they don’t add anything to the game in any way. If anything, they make the levels harder as they can’t make use of the mushroom power-up and are basically 1 hit KO characters. I would have loved to see each stage slightly redesigned for each character’s unique ability prolonging the game’s replayability that much more.
While more of a wish than a complaint I would have loved seeing more levels to play through. Nintendo is well known to add a bunch of bonus content after a game is complete in their games but here once you finish World 6 that’s it; no secret World S or anything. Granted, I have yet to collect all the coins so perhaps there is more to unlock but I won’t be holding my breath on that.
Overall I’m very pleased with what Super Mario Run offers. The price may come off as steep to many players and arguably it is if all you want to do is play through the levels. However for those willing to master the game and embrace it for what it is, it’s well worth the investment. Nintendo has shown that they are masters in game design regardless of platform. They’ve proven to me that they understand the unique aspect of mobile gaming and have delivered a great Nintendo experience for phones and tablets. I eagerly await their next mobile titles hoping their other franchises will see the same smooth transition into a mobile gaming format.