Super Mario Run Review: A Classic On The Move

Nintendo /

Nintendo brings their star character to the mobile realm in Super Mario Run, combining the best from the classic titles with easy playability.

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: iOS

Release Date: December 15th, 2016

Say hello to the new king of mobile gaming: Mario. The beloved plumber’s first adventure into the phone realm should be a smash hit after decades of quality titles under Nintendo’s star brand. Super Mario Run continues this streak while adding in the clean, simple, and enjoyable features we’ve come to expect from recent top-shelf Nintendo games.

After the blockbuster success of Pokemon GO, the bar was always going to be high…not that it has ever been low for a Mario title in the last 25 years. With Super Mario Run, Nintendo has created a wonderful balance of classic Mario, modern Nintendo feel and some of the better mobile game elements from the past few years.

Super Mario Run
Super Mario Run (Credit: Nintendo) /

Immediately upon launch, Super Mario Run has the communal, family-friendly Nintendo feel we’ve grown used to seeing since the introduction of the Wii. Players can link to their Nintendo account to save data, register their Mii, or connect with friends. As for the premise of the game itself, I suppose if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Of course, the Princess has been stolen by Bowser again, and Mario must defeat a series of levels across various terrains while battling old and new traps and enemies to save her.

Regarding graphics and sound, Super Mario Run might as well be a console game based on the level of detail the team has put in.

The game’s functionality takes about five seconds to figure out, which should be great for bringing in the casual gamer like Pokemon GO did. Mario runs and jumps over small objects automatically. The player simply controls when Mario jumps, how high and any tricks he does by tapping the screen.

Experienced gamers will be able to jump right in and start clearing levels. But for the brand new player to the Mario world, there are great guide screens and tutorial videos. There isn’t one aspect of this game or main map screen that should confuse players about its purpose. This is one of the areas where Super Mario Run clearly one-ups Pokemon GO’s launch problems.

Regarding graphics and sound, Super Mario Run might as well be a console game based on the level of detail the team has put in. Each level is carefully crafted and takes players back through all the amazing worlds Mario fans have visited over the years. The audio both in and out of levels pulls from classic Mario tunes, as well as a few new ones for this release. The sights, sounds, and feel give players all the best of Mario titles, without any distractions of repetitive in-game purchases or over-complicated mechanics.

Super Mario Run
Super Mario Run (Credit: Nintendo) /

If there is one downside to Super Mario Run, it is the cost. Players will have to cough up $9.99 for the game once they complete the first three levels of the demo. Typically, that isn’t a bad amount for a Mario game. The issue is that people are now used to the free-to-play model for mobile games.

On the positive side, Nintendo did confirm that there will be no microtransactions. So while $10 may limit the initial player pool, over time as more levels are released and potentially more modes, that cost won’t seem like much of a hurdle. Of course, if this is the full game and no updates are planned, then there is a clear ceiling.

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As it is now, Super Mario Run offers quick, one-minute game sessions and weeks if not months of content before you’ll complete everything. The main game mode, ‘World Tour,’ features six worlds, each with three levels and then a boss level (castle or ship). Mario has three lives on each attempt, and players race the clock to reach the standard end flagpole.

Beware of the respawn feature, which preys well on frustration. When Mario dies, he is caught in a bubble and lifted backward over the course. The player chooses when to let Mario out and resume the level. Tap at the wrong time and Mario simply falls into one of the pits and another life is lost.

Outside of individual levels, Nintendo has created an entire world of unlockable items and reasons to replay levels. Each map has a series of harder to reach pink, then purple and finally black coins. At a minimum, even the best player would have to run the course three times to collect everything. Players collect coins (and Toads) to buy items and rebuild the Kingdom that was destroyed.

The second mode, Toad Rally, races the user against players from around the world. The winner is based on most coins collected and the number of Toads you attracted through the style of your run.

To check out some live game action and learn more about the in-game functionality, check out the promotional video from Nintendo below.

Super Mario Run is classic Mario brought into the modern, mobile age. Players can decide to enjoy a solo journey, beating each level, collecting rare coins, rebuilding their kingdom and saving the Princess. Additionally, they can race against the best in the world, or connect to friends through Twitter or Facebook. The game features six unlockable, playable characters and several weeks worth of content at the initial release. The cost will be a barrier to entry for a good number of potential players. However, as word spreads, the demo is tested, and hopefully as Nintendo confirms future levels (preferably at no additional cost), Mario’s first mobile adventure will be a long-term success. Super Mario Run hits the Apple store today, while the Android version is planned for 2017.

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9. Nintendo knocks it out of the park with Mario’s first adventure into the mobile gaming world. A classic Mario side-scrolling game, with low barriers of entry (besides the cost). All the beloved elements and worlds on the original series, with the addition of a global community and well designed tutorial system. Mario, as always, shines again.. Nintendo. . Super Mario Run

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.