Nintendo, upon letting everyone know more than a month in advance about the reveal of their first official Super Mario game for mobile devices, had ample fuel for their hype train. Unfortunately for Nintendo, steam trains run on coal, and considering the game’s Christmas time release, that can only mean somebody had a bad idea. Am I trying too hard to link coal and Christmas with this article? You bet.
Super Mario had revolutionized gaming from the early days, turning side-scrolling 2-D platformers into an art style despite graphical limitations. After perfecting this style and making moving left and right with a few jumps in between feel like a full-fledged adventure, they further stunned the world by making a 3-D Mario game, Super Mario 64. They perfected this, too, with Super Mario Sunshine and both Super Mario Galaxy games. So, where have they gone from here? Well, Super Mario Maker has allowed people to make their own Mario levels at home or, quite recently with the addition of a 3DS version, on the go.
Super Mario Run, on the other hand, focuses on playing a Mario game with one hand. That’s it, that’s all; there is no big aspiration to change the market or revolutionize a style of game, and unfortunately the game play reflects this evidently. “Hey kids, tap and hold to jump as Mario runs automatically through the stage! If you need to climb over platforms or enemies, you can just watch as Mario does it for you all on his own! Why even play the game, it’s all done for you! Check out our next game: Super Mario The Movie: Don’t Touch Anything!” There’s no challenge, in fact there’s barely a game. But hey, that’s not going to stop Nintendo from charging you $10 to play the game past the third level.
Nintendo is a great company, and their games show it, even this crappy game. Collecting the purple coins in a stage is fun all by itself, with increasing levels of difficulty. There is a PvP mode where you can race other players and gather points, or Toads, to get to the top of the leaderboard and repopulate your Bowser-raided mini kingdom. This, and the ability to customize the look of your town, are the most fun parts of the app. If the competitive aspect of a Super Mario game provides the largest amount of fun, there’s something different about this game.
Being different isn’t necessarily bad, yet the gameplay is intentionally limiting. No other Super Mario game has intentionally limited the player’s movement to move automatically in one direction. The game has fun moments and the purple coins give you a chance to test your skills in the limited movement format; for this reason, the full game is a treat for you to unlock. However, in an age where you can buy a game like Fallout 4 for $20 and buy other, better mobile titles for less, paying $10 to unlock an iPhone game is absurd (especially considering the full game takes an hour to beat).
For a Super Mario game, the fact that people have to wonder whether the game is good or not shows a lack of ingenuity that the series used to thrive on. Whether or not this iPhone app counts as an official Mario title is up to you, as the graphics copy-pasted from New Super Mario Bros. Wii U brings nothing new to the table. You may enjoy the app as much as you like; it’s obvious there isn’t anything super about this Mario game.