Super Mario Run starts off with a tutorial, because it's a game and it wants players to know how it works. For the first 15 minutes or so, expect to be treated to tutorial after tutorial, until eventually you know it all - and then, just as you put on your cap and gown to graduate from Super Mario Run tutorial school, it launches another tutorial.
Nintendo has been criticised for using too many tutorials in its games, and excessive hand holding. Super Mario Run isn't doing any favours in combating that argument. If Mario dies too many times, there's an Easy mode. Too many times, by the way, equals once. The excessive hand holding and tutorials get old, but it does all end. Well, the tutorials, anyway.
The first world of Super Mario Run is free to play, and the microtransactions come out in full swing. Now, to its credit, they aren't anymore shameful here than anywhere else. Once the three free levels are beaten, the game tasks players with unlocking the boss stage. They can go kill the enemies, find all the hidden coins, or just pay for the full game to unlock it. It makes sense, because money is how Nintendo, like many other organisations, continues to produce content. Sure, the worlds are all fairly short, and it makes it feel like more of a demo if you aren't sure if you want to buy the whole thing. This is all more of a word of warning for those who didn't know how the game was set up.
This all sounds like a fair amount of griping, but when it comes to the actually experience, Super Mario Run manages to justify its name. From bouncing off of Goombas to special blocks that fling Mario forward, any series fan could easily justify purchasing the entire title. With the inclusion of the modern New Super Mario Bros. graphics, everything looks crisp and refined, even on older smartphones. While the packaging may turn many away at the door, then, Super Mario Run is, as a game, incredibly refined.
The star of the show is the controls, which manage to feel very natural. Some runners (another term) require weird use of the phone, at least if the player is not familiar with them at first. Here, anyone should be able to grasp the controls, because the special moves are just modifications of standard moves. For example, there are blocks that fling Mario across the screen. This means he can just use the standard jump, and the game does all the heavy lifting for him. This is a major plus, as Super Mario Run relies heavily on timing, even more than a lot of other games in the genre. Smashing enemies requires really good timing, or else you'll find yourself floating in a bubble, waiting to try it again - because Mario died, in case that wasn't clear.