Super Mario is no stranger to the small screen. All the way back in 1985, Super Mario Land was a launch title for Nintendo’s Game Boy and Mario has been released on Nintendo’s handhelds regularly since then, with everyone’s favourite moustachioed plumber’s latest outing being Super Mario Maker 3DS. In September of this year, though, Shigeru Miyamoto (President of Nintendo) announced a new handheld Mario game with a twist: This one would be available on iOS devices. That’s right, Super Mario has gone mobile, and on the 15th of December 2016, history was made as Super Mario Run was released worldwide.
Super Mario Run is simply a side scrolling, auto-runner platformer. The app store is filled with these games, and boy are they popular. Super Mario Run is a different beast altogether, though; this is the undeniable king of platformers. First things first, this game looks gorgeous, especially if played on a larger screen on an iPad. Mobile gaming has come a long way since the original Snake, and Super Mario Run is one of the best-looking games you can get on a mobile device to date.
Super Mario Run has two gameplay modes and one FarmVille-like element. The first mode is called ‘tour’, and this is the traditional Super Mario campaign mode. There are six worlds, with each world having four levels (three normal then one boss level). You can play the first three levels of World One for free as a trial; however, after that you will need to pay Nintendo’s asking price of £7.99. This generally is quite a lot for a mobile game, especially as some of the most popular games in the app store are either free (albeit with in-app purchases) or a fair bit cheaper than Super Mario Run‘s price. So, is this auto-runner really worth £7.99? Simply put, yes it is. While playing Super Mario Run, I never once noticed or cared that I wasn’t controlling Mario’s movement. Mario will now automatically vault over smaller enemies, such as Goombas, and he will also vault over small obstacles. Vaulting over an enemy and touching the screen to jump will make Mario jump on the enemy and spin in the air ready for the next monster’s head to jump on, and this is the only thing you will need to control throughout the game, Mario’s jumping.
The longer you press down on the screen, the higher Mario will jump, and just as Nintendo have promised since the game was announced at the Apple press launch for the iPhone 7, you can do this easily with just one hand. There is absolutely zero delay between you pressing the screen and Mario jumping, which also makes Super Mario Run one of the smoothest mobile games I have ever played. Still, £7.99 for just 24 levels is a bit much, isn’t it? Well, Nintendo has got that covered by introducing a feature that will give these levels a lot of replayability. Along with the normal golden coins that feature in every Mario release, there are five special, coloured coins to collect in each level, and there are three colours in total (pink, purple and black) with an increasing level of difficulty for each. Completionists will love this (as I do) as you desperately try and fully complete each level. So yes, there might only be 24 actual levels, but if you want to fully complete the Tour mode, then you will actually play the levels 72 times, and trust me, they do not get boring. With these sorts of challenges in auto-runners, it can be extremely frustrating if you need to collect one more coin and you end up missing it. You frustratingly hit refresh and try again; however, you don’t need to do that in Super Mario Run, as this release has another brand new feature not seen before in previous Mario releases. There are no lives in Super Mario Run; instead, you have bubbles. If you die from either being hit by an enemy or falling down a hole, then instead of starting again and losing a life, you will be picked up by a bubble, a bit like when you drive off the track in Mario Kart. You start off with two bubbles at the start of each level, but you can accumulate more by finding them in boxes. So, if you do miss that final coin and you have a bubble left, then just tap on the icon, float back a few seconds and try again.
The other main mode to play is Toad Rally, and this is where you compete against ghost versions of other players. Once you complete a World in Tour mode, those levels will become available in Toad Rally. To compete in a rally, you will need to spend 1 rally ticket, which in turn you accumulate by finishing levels and collecting all the special coins in Tour mode. In Toad Rally you are not trying to beat your opponent’s time; instead, you are trying to get more coins and Toad followers. The winner gets a portion of the opponent’s Toad population. Once you have enough of a specific coloured Toad, you can build houses in the FarmVille-like mode called Kingdom Builder. Here you can build various Toad houses, as well as plant trees and other cosmetic items. It is very simple and is a good little break between the frantic action of the main two gameplay modes. Building certain houses will also unlock the other characters you can play as either in Tour or Toad Rally, each with a different skill (Luigi can jump higher and Toad can run faster, the usual sort of differences.)
Release Date: 15th December 2016