Games and Gimmicks Reviews: Super Mario Run (iOS)


It’s been a bit since we last reviewed a game on iOS but we come out of our long drought to talk about a very special and, in some ways unexpected game, Super Mario Run. I was so surprised by this game I almost think Nintendo wasn’t expecting how popular this game would be. For many of us in the gaming community, I think the idea of a Mario game on our phones seemed more like a dream than a reality. But HEY, here we are! Finally playing Mario on the go!



So what would you say are the key components to a great Mario game? Jumping and running right? Maybe a princess to save and a Bowser to beat? Well I am happy to report that Super Mario Run has all of the classic motifs we gamers have come to love. What’s so different about this game is that it takes a little from classic iOS games such as and Temple Run. Mario’s movement forward is now automatic, while the player, controls his jumps and secondary jumps by tapping on-screen. At first, I was taken a little aback by this change as I’ve grown accustomed to moving Mario all Willy-nilly across the screen over the years. But as you continue to play through the game, it really starts to grow on you. Granted, you only get one level to test this game out, so you’ll have to pay $9.99 to get the full experience. Personally, I think Nintendo should have at least given you the first four levels but I digress. Ultimately $9.99 for a wonderful Mario game on your phone isn’t that bad a price.

Mario and friends will travel through the typical worlds, the standard 1-1 level, underground worlds, Koopa castles and floating ships. Of course there are the familiar enemies such as Goombas, Koopa Troopas, and Piranha Plants populating this game. Funny thing about those enemies, other than some of the unavoidable enemies such as fireballs, Mario is basically impervious to Goombas and Koopa Troopas as he will vault them if the player chooses not to stomp them out. This makes the game super accessible, basically even if you are not paying attention (which is a larger issue in our culture), rest assured that Mario isn’t always in a dire spot. Just try not to run Mario into a hole and you’re good.


Coins. Coins. Coins. I’ve never understood Mario’s compulsion for coins and how it always makes him feel better. Is this an existential commentary on this American life or just a gameplay element? Sorry, I’m getting a bit too philosophical. But seriously, this game really becomes about the hunt for coins. There are your normal gold coins that you’ll try to collect as many of as possible, but also blue and purple coins which require you to play each level over and over again to chart out the best path to collecting them all. I did find myself replaying through a lot of these levels after beating the game just to see if I could challenge myself to find the missing blue and purple coins. Super Mario Run has that going for it, super replay-ability.


There are two standard modes in this game, Tour, which contains the normal Mario story arc and Rally, which pits you against other Super Mario Run players in an all out attempt to catch the most coins in 60 seconds. I really loved Rally as it added a fast paced scramble for coins to the normal levels. You’ll also see the ghost version of the player you are competing against, which is both awesome when you are killing it, and totally disheartening when you hit an enemy and lose everything. Rally is run by collecting Rally tickets from the normal game. Basically the point of Rally is to challenge another player in some sort of Toadstool, eek, trade? I could have used another term there, but it’s Mario…Seems to me that Toadstools are a commodity in this world which is really kind of creepy if you spend too much time thinking about it. As you collect Red, Blue, Green and Purple Toadstools (eh, collect seems so creepy!) you’ll eventually see the size of your kingdom return to it’s former glory. As you collect more coins, the size of your kingdom with grow to encompass other islands near by, a la Super Mario World on the SNES.

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This may honestly be my shortest entry ever in describing a story for any game. What do you think happens?

…Okay I give. Bowser comes in, wrecks Mushroom Kingdom and then kidnaps Princess Peach. Then Mario beats the crap out of Bowsers relatives and then throws Bowser into a lake of fire.

Peach seems ungrateful as always and then becomes a playable character.

That’s pretty much it. No need for further exposition on a Mario story, these games have been the same since the first entry in the series.

I did read some diatribe on Kotaku about how a New York Times author thought he couldn’t play the game anymore because he has a daughter and felt the game was sexist. Honestly, if you are a gaming writer for the New York Times, I expect something a little better than that. I recognize that Mario contains some age-old tropes in terms of the hero, generally a male, saving the female, generally the one in distress. However, movies do this stuff to right? Making a big deal about this completely ignores the history of this game and how it has been played for years without others having a problem with these classic archetypes. In short, if you have a problem with Mario (seriously, Mario?) then I’d hate to think what you would think of games like COD, or other games that glorify violence over providing you with something entertaining.  While it’s true there are not as many positive female roles in games, I do believe that there are other games out there that don’t adhere so strictly to specific gender roles. Maybe at the least a Peach themed game could come out at some point. Whew, sorry, long rant there.

Sure, times are changing, but this is MARIO! And even then, the game let’s you play as Peach and several other characters after you beat the game.


Final Thoughts

Fans of Mario have been clamoring for some semblance of a Nintendo game on their mobile devices, and boy did they get it! While the entry-level price of $9.99 is kind of steep for an iOS game, if you want a great casual version of Mario on your device, this is the game for you. Super Mario Run shows that Nintendo is aware of your needs and that they are listening. I was really pleased with this game and am happy that Nintendo took their time in releasing a great addition to the Mario library.




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