Super Mario Run: First Impressions

Super Mario Run: First Impressions

Super Mario Run has finally hit the iOS App Store, and I’ve spent some time with the trial. While initially free to download (and you can try out all of the game’s basic features), a $9.99 USD paywall blocks off the remaining worlds in World Tour, ostensibly the meat of the entire experience.

Upon startup, you are asked if you would like to log into your My Nintendo account. Doing so unlocks Toad as a playable character, free of charge. So far, it is unclear if or how linking your My Nintendo account will benefit you (in-game coins, My Nintendo coins, etc.).

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Once you’re in, the game takes you through a simple tutorial of how to play the game. After the tutorial, you will have to wait a minute or so (this will vary, depending on your connection) to download data files for the game to run. After that, you’re plunged into a dismissive story (something about Bowser stealing Princess Peach’s cake?) and into the game proper.

World Tour is the veritable meat and potatoes of Super Mario Run, and you can play and replay worlds 1-1 through 1-3 without restriction. The gameplay here is simple: Mario runs automatically, and you tap the screen to make him jump. Mario will automatically jump over small enemies and objects, but it’s up to the player to ensure Mario does not meet an untimely pitfall or any other enemy than a Goomba or Koopa.

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The first time through these beginning levels, I found myself thinking, “wow! I could’ve taken that route, too. I’ll have to go that way next time.” Coins appear in different paths—some requiring you to keep running, others perhaps requiring you to jump up a few toadstools. See, the beauty about this sort of Mario game is that you aren’t in total control of Mario. He constantly runs to the right, so if you accidentally missed a question block or a purple coin, you’re out of luck—unless, that is, you want to start the level over. This increases level replayability dramatically.

The next section of the game is called Toad Rally. The trial gives you 5 Rally Tickets to start with (each game of Toad Rally costs one ticket), but your $9.99 purchase grants you 20. You pick an opponent from around the world, and you sort of play against their player “ghost” (much like in Mario Kart) and try to earn points for play style. The winner is determined based on the number of points received, as well as coins collected and the number of Toads you impressed. Any impressed Toads come to live at your very own Mushroom Kingdom. It’s a fun little way to feel like you’re competing with other people, but it can be slightly distracting to see your opponent and each place they may have fallen pop up on screen.

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In the Kingdom Builder, you can construct your very own Mushroom Kingdom. You can go into the shop and spend your coins gathered in the other game modes on new buildings, items, etc. I haven’t invested much time into it yet, but it seems like a great reason to come back to the game, if not only for that some buildings have daily mini games for you to complete.

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Super Mario Run is vibrant, full of charm, and is just downright Nintendo. I can’t say whether this will share the same success Pokémon Go did, but I will say I think this is a market Nintendo will no longer ignore. Software is their best business, and it shines on mobile. Super Mario Run’s replayability, daily incentives, and addictive charm will keep me coming back—and have me bursting through that paywall.

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