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Review

Super Mario Run Review (Mobile)

Plumber On The Run

Everything about Super Mario Run sounds wrong; how can a game known for it’s tight platforming action be reduced down to a one-button ‘endless runner’, how is Super Mario even on a phone – how did we get here, has the world gone mad?

Super Mario Run sounds wrong right up until you play it and then everything feels right. Let’s get something out of the way quickly, Super Mario Run isn’t going to stop Nintendo from creating ‘traditional’ Mario titles with amazingly complex controls. Mario games have always been for everyone, Super Mario Run is also that but it’s for everyone else as well. Nintendo hopes Super Mario Run will do what Pokémon Go did to Pokémon and the amazing resurgence of that we’ve seen this year, it probably won’t hit that phenom point but if it gets people playing and talking about Mario – isn’t that better for everyone?

Enough about the politics of the game – is it actually any bloody good? Yes it is!

The rumours are true, Super Mario Run is what you would call an ‘endless runner’. You no longer have any control over Mario other than for him to jump off the ground, bounce off walls or bound over enemies. That’s right, you don’t even have to jump on enemies, you can just bound right over them. Super Mario Run is actually split into three parts, all of which play off and feed into each other but are entirely different ideas. Before we get there it should be noted that while the game is free to start, to get the full experience you’ll need to pony up $14.99AUD for the rest of the content. That’s a one off fee, pay once and get the full experience; don’t be afraid by the ‘Offers in-app purchases’ listing on the App Store – buy it once!

So what do you get for free? You get the most of the first world in the World Tour mode – that’s the single player mode for a lack of a better word. There’s six ‘worlds’, each with three levels and then either an airship or castle with a boss. I put quotes around ‘worlds’ because while they follow the structure of a traditional Mario game there’s no theme linking them together. There’s a Boo mansion style level here, a sky platform level there. Most levels to play out the same with a generous time limit, but others force more of a rush on you however with the reduced number of levels there’s only a couple of these.

If you just speed through the World Tour you might be done in a couple of hours, but there’s special coloured coins hidden on each level to collect. The first set of pink coins are fairly simple to get but once you get them you’ll have to hunt for purple ones and then black. Because you don’t really control Mario aside from his jumping it’ll probably take you a few runs to even be able to figure out how you can nab these. The black coins are tricky. Like other Mario games, the story is essentially there to kick you out the door like a parent does to an 18-year old; off you go, figure out the rest by yourself. As you unlock worlds and levels you’ll complete missions which the rewards can be redeemed in My Nintendo for more items for your Kingdom Builder. You’ll want to unlock more levels because otherwise Toad Rally, probably the best part about Super Mario Run, isn’t fully unleashed.

Toad Rally is where Super Mario Run really shines. The rally is a battle between you and another player, that player can be from anywhere in the world but you’re not playing in real time. On the surface it might appear to be a simple speed run, but it’s instead style and flair are also judged (by Toads no less) and a winner chosen accordingly. You’ll need to do the most stylish jumps and hops, take out enemies in a row and gather a ground of Toads for the maximum points. If you break the ‘rally’ your Toads will knock off home and you’ll be left to build up your meter again, once the meter is full you’ll get a coin rush and a late one can change an entire match. At the end you’ll get a scaled replay of the match as the coins count up and Toadette decides the winner. Your reward? Coloured Toads! You’ll need these guys to rebuild things in your Kingdom and different coloured Toads are required for different buildings, which unlock characters.

Toad Rally is included free with the game but you’ll need to unlock extra levels from the World Tour and defeat the enemies to ‘level up’ your coin collecting abilities. It’s doable in the free mode, but you’ll struggle to top your mates on the leaderboard. This mode also requires tickets to play, these tickets can’t be purchased but you’ll get a stack of them if you buy the full game. Otherwise you can earn them through bonus games and the World Tour. You’ll want to connect (or sign up) your My Nintendo account for the full effect.  Doing this will allow you to unlock medals for rewards but it also gets your Mii into the game like magic – something we hope to see on the Switch.

The final mode isn’t really even a mode, but still linked to the other parts of the game. The Kingdom Builder or rebuilder if you like, also acts as the main menu for the game. Upon the start of the game the Kingdom has been destroyed and you’ll need coins and Toads to rebuild it. Some things you can play in the Kingdom are actually useful like the Toad Bonus game which can get you more tickets to play Toad Rally but others are just for aesthetics. The unlocking of some characters is also done in this mode, Luigi for example needs a house to live in and needs a certain amount of certain coloured Toads to be constructed.

Super Mario Run as a game runs just as well as any other Mario game from Nintendo, but after Miitomo I was worried just how it would work as an app. Happy to report it’s absolutely nothing like Miitomo, there’s one big load you have to do once you’ve downloaded the game but after that it’s smooth sailing. The aesthetics of the app are perfect, everything loads relativity fast and looks the part. The graphical style is perfect, everything screams Mario and if it wasn’t actually on your phone, you wouldn’t be able to tell it was a ‘mobile game’, whatever that actually means.The social experience appears to be better than Miitomo too. Friend management has more clear options and you can invite people to play just with an email or text, which pretty much work like friend codes. Pick yourself up and don’t stress, yes I said friend codes but there’s also Facebook and Twitter invites just like Miitomo however we weren’t able to test them before the embargo was up.

Super Mario Run is a Mario game on your phone, get over it already. Because if you don’t you’re missing out on a great Mario experience. Like any other Mario game, practise and precision is key; just because you use one hand to play it doesn’t make it any less skillful. The game feels like a Mario game but at the same time it also feels like a more modern title on a phone. World Tour rewards you for grinding and Toad Rally is the pay off, Nintendo’s managed to make the entire game balanced no matter how you like to play. Nothing takes longer than it has to, it’s a game on your phone and Nintendo’s fully managed that. Super Mario Run is addictive, charming and fun and well worth the full price. You like fun right?

Super Mario Run was reviewed using pre-release, final iOS code provided by Nintendo played on an iPhone 7 Plus.

The Good

- It's Mario on your phone
- Great aesthetics and graphics
- Toad Rally is super addictive

The Bad

- Levels can be repetitive
- Ghost House levels in Toad Rally
- Some blurry and clipped assets detract from polish

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Final Thoughts

Super Mario Run is a Mario game on your phone, get over it already. Because if you don't you're missing out on a great Mario experience. Like any other Mario game, practise and precision is key; just because you use one hand to play it doesn't make it any less skillful. The game feels like a Mario game but at the same time it also feels like a more modern title on a phone. World Tour rewards you for grinding and Toad Rally is the pay off, Nintendo's managed to make the entire game balanced no matter how you like to play. Nothing takes longer than it has to, it's a game on your phone and Nintendo's fully managed that. Super Mario Run is addictive, charming and fun and well worth the full price. You like fun right?

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About The Author
Daniel Vuckovic
The Owner and Creator of this fair website. I also do news, reviews, programming, art and social media here. It is named after me after all. Please understand.

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