The wait is finally over! Yesterday, Nintendo finally released Super Mario Run, the company’s second phone app and the first featuring the popular plumber. The game is a runner set in the Mushroom Kingdom, as Mario traverses goombas, Koopa Troopas and other familiar foes. Is it any good? Well, it’s a Mario game from Nintendo…
Right now, Super Mario Run is exclusive to Apple products, with a later release planned for other platforms. It’s priced at $9.99, but Nintendo is offering a free trial of the first three levels, along with some of the game’s other features. Race against the ghosts of other players and build your own small corner of the Mushroom Kingdom, all for free. The first taste is always on the house, but the good stuff is gonna cost you.
From the time I’ve spent with the game, it’s a lot of fun. Mario races through levels, avoiding or killing King Koopa’s minions, collecting coins and trying to make it to the end before the time runs out. In addition to the goal of survival, each level offers three sets of coins to collect, which can only be unlocked by completing the previous set, and each offering a higher level of challenge. The coin collection helps the game’s replay value, as players need to improve their skills and learn new paths to complete each level three different ways.
Also adding to the replay value is the ghost runs, where you compete against other players to beat their ring collections and wow factor, to impress Toads and bring them to your kingdom. The more Toads you attract to your side, the bigger your castle gets.
I won’t deny the game is fun. I’ve always loved Mario games, as they present a challenge without feeling like they are impossible to beat. Super Mario Run is no different. Sure, coin collecting has never been my strong point, but I got the hang of the control scheme pretty quick – Mario is always running and the player taps the screen to make him jump. Easy peasy. The challenge comes in timing jumps properly to do what needs to be done.
I do have one strong criticism of the game, though. When it was introduced, it was promoted as a game you could easily play on a subway, since all you need is one hand. But the game’s requirement that it always be connected to the internet gives me serious pause. If I’m away from a Wi-Fi system, I’m either spending data to play – and I’m guessing the game would suck up the data the way it does my iPhone’s battery life – or I just can’t play it at all, since there are several areas of my commute where my phone has zero service.
For a mobile game like this, I would have preferred having an offline mode of some kind, maybe not having all of the game’s features available, but at least to let you play the game’s main levels. That’s a little disappointing and more than a little off-putting to me. It also makes me question whether the full game’s $9.99 price tag is worth it. If I can only play the game under certain circumstances, is it really a game I can take anywhere?
You’re mileage may vary with those questions, though. If you do choose to plop down those 999 coins, the game will certainly provide entertainment. But if Nintendo wanted to charge that rather high mobile game price, when there are several similar games available for less money, I think they should have made the game a little more accessible.