Super Mario Run: Everything you need to know

What is Super Mario Run?

Super Mario Run is an auto-runner mobile game for iOS devices. It was developed by Nintendo, with a helping hand from DeNA, a Japan-based mobile games developer. Super Mario Run is the second mobile game that’s based on a major Nintendo intellectual property this year. In case you haven’t been keeping up with recent events, the first one was the Niantic-developed Pokemon Go back in July. Super Mario Run marks the first time Nintendo loaned arguably their most popular IP to iOS devices. And when you consider Nintendo is known for keeping a tight lid on ALL their IPs, that’s kind of a big thing.

Why did Nintendo develop it?

DeNA / YouTube
DeNA / YouTube

The rise of the mobile gaming industry has affected Nintendo more than the other two big names in the industry: Sony and Microsoft. The Nintendo Wii U flopped horribly right out of the gate, effectively removing Nintendo from the home console competition. That left the Nintendo 3DS to fend for itself, so to speak. The 3DS more than held its own. But it wasn’t enough to entice consumers to drop their mobile devices and exclusively play games using a “real” handheld gaming device.

With the Wii U out of the picture and the 3DS not performing as expected sales-wise compared to the Nintendo DS, Nintendo needed another medium for its important IPs. The mobile gaming market was the simple and obvious path. And in March 2015, Nintendo officially joined the fray with the announced partnership with DeNA. The rest is history, as the cliché goes.

When was it announced and released?

Apple / YouTube
Apple / YouTube

Super Mario Run was first announced at the annual Apple event last September 7. You might remember it better as the day the iPhone 7 was officially unveiled. Mario big boss Shigeru Miyamoto personally appeared to make the big announcement, with a ready gameplay footage at hand.

The game was finally released worldwide last December 15 for iOS devices, with an Android version reportedly arriving in 2017. Although it is labeled as “free,” you won’t be able to access the entirety of the game unless you fork over $9.99. Frankly, it’s quite pricey for a mobile game. But hey, this is a Mario game we’re talking about, not just some game based off an obscure IP.

Who can play Super Mario Run?

Let’s address the elephant in the room first: You need an internet connection to play Super Mario Run. That’s one of the things game developers should definitely avoid. But the reason why Nintendo chose this route was not because they hate your battery. No, Miyamoto explained prior to the game’s release that it was for app security.

According to him, it’s also why Super Mario Run is initially exclusive to iOS mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, and iTouch). Apple devices are a tougher nut to crack than Android devices. If you’re already an avid Pokemon Go player, this shouldn’t bother you too much. And as for the technicalities, your Apple device needs to be running iOS 8.0 or newer versions. As listed in iTunes, the game is sized at 205 MB and is available in 10 languages, including German and Spanish.

How to play Super Mario Run?

Unlike other Mario 2D platformers, the mustached plumber is already automatically running in Super Mario Run. He’ll run from the left side of the screen to the right, with no way of manually reversing his direction. Only in-game features can affect his direction, but even then you still don’t have full control. Mario also automatically jumps over small ledges and other minor obstacles. You can tap the screen to jump over wider gaps and higher ledges. The longer you tap on the screen, the higher Mario jumps.

There are 24 levels in the game, spread around six Worlds. As mentioned, you need to buy the game to access the complete package; otherwise, you’re stuck with a measly three levels. It’s using a “freemium model,” in other words. The goal in each level is very simple: collect as many coins as you can and reach the end of the level – where a familiar flag awaits – in the fastest time possible.

Familiar items at hand

Each level contains an assortment of power-ups and special blocks. The Super Mushroom and Star power-ups are also in the game, allowing Mario to grow bigger and become temporarily invincible, respectively. Additionally, the Star also has the added ability to suck in far-off coins like a magnet.

One of the ways to change direction is to make use of the Bubble power-up. The Bubble floats you back to the left side of the screen, but not all the way to the beginning of the level. This allows you to collect missed coins along the way. You can break free from the Bubble anytime.

More than just running and running

Mario can also perform other actions in the game other than running like a madman. He can repeatedly jump on walls, Mega Man style. You can actually use this to change your direction. Aside from small obstacles, Mario also automatically jumps over similarly small enemies. If Mario finds himself on a slope, he can slide down and gain a mini speed boost from the momentum, allowing him to reach areas not accessible at normal speed.

Three modes to invest your time in

Super Mario Run comes with three modes: World Tour, Toad Rally, and Kingdom Builder. Let’s address them in the same order. World Tour is the default game mode where the aforementioned 24 levels are contained. It’s like the Story or Campaign Mode. Toad Rally is the multiplayer mode. Well, sort of. In this mode, you compete against “ghost” players and aim to topple their top score in a specific level. Take note you need Rally Tickets to actually compete in Toad Rally Mode. You can earn them in different ways in the game. Kingdom Builder is where you spend your collected coins to build your very own Mushroom Kingdom. Simply put, it’s like a Mario-themed city-builder game.

The whole gang is here (almost)

Aside from Mario, you can also play as other characters in the franchise, including Mario’s often ignored brother Luigi and damsel-in-distress extraordinaire Princess Peach. Of course, you first need to unlock these characters. The good news is that the additional characters aren’t simply palette swaps. They actually function differently than Mario. For example, Luigi can jump significantly higher, courtesy of his smaller body frame. Toad, on the other hand, runs faster than Mario. As mentioned by Miyamoto before, the other characters allow you to approach each level differently.

Replay value?

Super Mario Run doesn’t have the same depth as other Mario games in other gaming platforms. But that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in replay value. Each level initially contains five pink coins. Successfully collecting them will unlock another quintet of special coins, but purple-colored this time around.

And after you collect the purple coins, five black special coins will take their place. The purple and black coins are much harder to collect. In conclusion, it means you would need to go through each level three times. So that’s essentially 72 levels to finish. Sounds a lot, right? Better start going through those levels now, before Nintendo decides to add more new ones. Super Mario Run is available on iTunes for $9.99.

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John Lee

The author John Lee

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