Nintendo finally takes mobile seriously with Super Mario Run [Game of the Week]

After months of anticipation, Nintendo’s Super Mario Run has finally dropped.

The main question surrounding the Japanese gaming giant’s first serious foray into mobile is whether or not the company has successfully translated the classic, iconic, 2D platforming Mario formula to mobile. While the game is certainly flawed, especially when it comes to the title’s hefty $13.99 price tag, Nintendo’s first mobile Mario offering is a game anyone interested in mobile gaming should check out.

All hype aside, Super Mario Run is a polished, expertly crafted endless runner with a few interesting gameplay mechanics. Players move through stages from left to right in classic Mario fashion, nabbing coins — you can also collect special coloured coins if you’re a completionist — jumping over chasms, and taking down enemies.

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The game currently features a total of 24 stages across 6 worlds. Interestingly, however, there is no real theme to any world in the game, unlike past games in the series, which may seem strange to some players. If you die mid-level, Mario will reappear in a bubble that drifts backwards (this mechanic is actually very similar to Yoshi’s Island 2). To jump back into the action, you simply pop that bubble and start playing again.

Super Mario Run also features two other game types: Kingdom mode allows players to build their own mushroom kingdom by placing buildings and decorations in fixed locations on a map, with some of these locations giving players specific bonuses that can be used in the mobile titles other stages.

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The second game type is Toad Rally, a head-to-head competition where players race against their friend’s level completion ghost times. Collecting coins is the top priority in this game type, though jumping with flourishes (basically just Mario twisting and somersaulting through the air) earns you more points, which appear as ‘Toads’ in the game. Keeping an eye out for Super Stars, which unlock additional coins, is key to success in Toad Rally.

While a diversion from the core gameplay, I’ve had a lot of fun trying to beat friends’ high scores Super Mario Run’s various stages. Unfortunately, Toal Rally tries are limited to Rally Tickets, which are handed out like candy at first by the game, but quickly become increasingly scarce, forcing most players to rely on a daily rally ticket.

In the end, Super Mario Run is a difficult game to judge after playing for only a few hours, though it’s impossible to deny that it isn’t great to finally be able to play Mario on a smartphone on the go. It’s also fascinating to see Nintendo finally begin to modernize its business practices after years of floundering in the video game industry.

Super Mario Run is currently only available in the iOS App Store for $13.99, though the game will reportedly come to Android at some point in 2017.