Super Mario Run – Just don’t expect a typical Mario game and you’ll be fine

Same Old Story

Oh look, Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peace in a Mario game! While Super Mario Run may have “the so cliched it’s adorable” plot of almost every other Mario title known to man, things are a tad different this time around. You see, now Mario is an auto-runner instead of a typical platformer, which brings a whole new set of challenges.

Mario Time

Super Mario Run can be a tricky auto-runner at times, but there’s a method to the madness.

  • Level timers have some wiggle room. You don’t have to be absolutely perfect when trying to complete a level, so take advantage of those few moments when things slow down and plan ahead.
  • Layouts are the same, to a point. If you’re trying to collect all of the special coins on a level, remember that their locations won’t change until you grab all five of them. Trial and error your way to victory!
  • Special coins can be anywhere. They can be tucked away in hard to reach alternate paths, or even hidden inside regular brick blocks. Keep a sharp eye.
  • Known when to not jump. Simply completing a level isn’t all that difficult in itself, but if you want to grab those special coins you need to know when to take enormous leaps and when to simply let Mario run off of a platform. It’s not always about fancy jumping.
  • Replaying levels is also a great way to increase enemy bonuses. Defeating set numbers of specific enemies will have those enemies yield more coins when you defeat them in the future. By replaying levels, even if you’re not going for special coins, you can work at increasing those bonuses even further.
  • Worth Repeating

    While Super Mario Run isn’t necessarily the best of the bunch when compared to similar titles on the mobile marketplace, it is good at what it does and it has a bit more nuance to it than you might expect. If the first three levels that are available for free don’t win you over the full game won’t either, but if you like what you play then there’s plenty more where that came from.

    Mobile Mario

    It was arguably inevitable, but Mario has finally made his way to mobile platforms via an actual licensed Nintendo game – Super Mario Run. Puzzle games derived from Puzzle & Dragons don’t count. But the game is here regardless. So, how does it hold up after all the hype (sort of) and worry and expectation? Pretty well, honestly.

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  • Hit the Bricks

    Super Mario Run is essentially an auto-runner set in the Mushroom Kingdom and starring the famous red and blue plumber who never actually does any plumbing. Mario takes off on his own as soon as a level starts, and it’s up to you to make sure he doesn’t run face-first into hazards or fall into pits – by way of the expected “tap to jump” method – while also trying to gather up as many coins as you can along the way to the flag at the end.

    What’s interesting about Super Mario Run’s setup is that Mario will actually hop over small obstacles (and even enemies) automatically. And if you jump while he’s in mid-hop/vault, he’ll pull off a bigger and fancier jump. It can be tricky to pull off on occasion, mostly because the timing gets a lot tougher when things start to get chaotic, but bigger jumps like this are essential for reaching out of the way paths or nabbing hard to reach coins. Of course, as with similar games in the genre it’s sometimes also important to know when to stay low.

    The visuals in Super Mario Run mirror the more recent console Mario releases, as well as a bit of Mario Maker. They’re in 3D but presented on a 2D plane, they look colorful and vibrant, and they’re pretty enjoyable all-around. Granted, many of the details are difficult to make out when playing on a smaller screen, but the zooming in at the beginning and end of a level (plus the larger bosses) helps.

    To be honest I wasn’t expecting anything from Super Mario Run other than a Mario-themed auto-runner, but there are a surprising amount of extra bits to it. For example, the more enemies you defeat the more coins you’ll earn from defeating them in the future. You can also build up your own Mushroom Kingdom by spending the coins you earn to construct buildings (both for aesthetics and for function). Then there’s the Toad Rally mode, where you race against the ghosts of other players and attempt to beat their score on an endless stage in order to wow a bunch of Toads and get them to live in your kingdom.

    But I think the real allure of Super Mario Run comes from the way in encourages playing through each level multiple times. You see, every level has five special coins for you to collect. The catch is you have to nab them all in a single run. If you do get them all, you’ll unlock a new tier of five special coins along with a new coin layout for the level that makes collecting them all even more challenging. Seriously, this is where it’s at. The tricks you have to pull off in order to collect some of these coins, the precision you need to develop, it’s a welcome (and engaging) challenge. With a total of three different coin tiers per level, completionists should be kept plenty busy for a while.

    While I’ve seen many criticisms leveled at Super Mario Run because of its $10 price tag for the full game, the number doesn’t bother me at all. There’s more to the game than just a handful of levels you can complete in a single afternoon, plus it’s just fun to play. However, I do think it’s a bit of a shame that the fourth (i.e. boss) level of the first world is locked behind that paywall. You can download the game for free and play the first three stages as many times as you’d like without paying anything, but you won’t be able to complete the fourth unless you unlock the full game. It’s a shame that they decided to cut players off there, but I do think that anyone who plays those first three levels should be able to figure out whether or not they want to buy the rest.

    Here We Gooooooo!

    Super Mario Run is a good game. It’s fun, can be far more challenging than it seems, and is actually a lot more complex than it appears to be at first glance. It’s not necessarily the best auto-runner on mobile, but it’s a very strong start for Nintendo.

    – Review by Rob Rich

    (iOS – For most iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices.
    See download page for specific requirements.)

    Learn how to play this game on your PC!