By David Lovato 27.12.2016 1
When Nintendo announced it would begin developing games for mobile phones, the gaming industry eagerly waited to see what they'd do. First came the casual messaging app Miitomo, and then Nintendo partnered with Niantic and allowed them to develop Pokémon Go. Then, in 2016, Shigeru Miyamoto made a surprise appearance at Apple's annual iPhone event to announce Super Mario Run, an auto-scrolling game featuring characters from the Mario world.
Super Mario Run features six worlds, each containing three standard levels and a boss level. The first three levels are free, with the rest of them being locked behind a paywall. This is where much of the game's criticism comes in, as it's a bit steep for a mobile game. The game's World Tour mode, featuring these worlds and levels, isn't very long, but does offer a few challenges. A lot of the classic Mario features are present, but they're presented in a different way: Mario runs on his own, and players control only his jumps.
It may sound simple, but Nintendo has implemented a lot of challenges, as well. Certain blocks, for example, will make Mario jump backward if pressing the jump button while he's on them. Players can also perform tricks by tapping while Mario jumps on enemies, as well as long-tapping to change the height of Mario's jumps. It adds a layer of strategy to the classic Mario mix, and on the whole the game is more fast-paced and a little more exhilarating than most Mario games are known for, and physics and timing matter much like they did back in the NES days.
The overall story is barebones: Bowser kidnaps the princess, Mario must rescue her, there's a cake involved. Players have a bit more to do, however; the Mushroom Kingdom is destroyed, and it's up to them to collect enough Toads to rebuild it. Coins can be used to purchase decorations and special buildings that feature things like daily bonus runs. This is where Rally mode comes in; players challenge other players' scores in an asynchronous match, and the winner collects various coloured Toads to unlock more buildings and level up their Mushroom Kingdom.
Rally mode costs tickets to play, and these can be somewhat rare. Collecting the five pink coins throughout each level will net a ticket, as well as unlock a challenge of getting five purple coins (followed by five black coins), and the daily bonus games have a chance to unlock one, but on the whole, these can be a little too hard to come by. Still, Rally mode, as well as the ability to unlock characters with different attributes, adds a bit of replay value to the app.
Super Mario Run is a step, albeit a small one, above the average mobile gaming experience. Nintendo definitely put some effort in, and there's a stark contrast to the main series that makes the experience a unique one. The lack of World Tour levels, scarcity of Rally tickets, and steep price are the app's main setbacks, but the core gameplay, between collecting Toads and building the Mushroom Kingdom and playing a more intense, timing-based Mario game, is a solid, fun experience. It's not going to change the mobile gaming industry, but it's a great first step for a classic company many feared simply wouldn't "get" modern mobile gaming, and offers a lot of promise for Nintendo's future outings on the platform.
I've been having enough fun with this without buying the rest of the stages. Trying to collect all of the special challenge coins on the few three stages, doing the daily free run, getting tickets to do the challenge runs...that's enough for me.
I don't specifically feel a strong desire to lay out £8 for the other stages as I feel this is just a throwaway game, rather than an in-depth Mario title. I wouldn't pay money for Flappy Bird, and I don't want to pay money for this, either.
It's an odd opinion, even when thinking about it myself, but it's possibly because of how the whole mobile model normally works. I do wonder if Nintendo will eventually offer the chance to trade in points, coins, or set "win x number of challenges" to unlock more of the core game, or if it will ignore the recent backlash and stubbornly stick to its guns.
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