Super Mario Run: First Impressions
On Thursday, the world’s most famous plumber finally arrived on smartphones, and beyond creating a healthy boost to Nintendo’s bottom line, Super Mario Run could potentially set an example for other gaming companies to follow.
With a $13.99 Canadian price tag on Apple’s app store, the new title carries an extremely high price for a smartphone game. The majority of successful mobile games operate on a free-to-play model, where the initial download and basic game is free, but the companies rake in money from all kinds of in-app purchases, selling everything from new characters to energy and other boosts that help speed up game play.
Nintendo isn’t going that route, and knows exactly what the value of Mario is. The company was criticized for being slow to embrace the mobile market, but by waiting, it built pent-up demand that resulted in more than 20 million users signing up to be notified when Super Mario Run became available.
In fact, the buildup to this Nintendo release has spurred Sony to announce it’s speeding up development of a number of games featuring its stable of characters.
In terms of first impressions of the game, the one touch control scheme is fairly simple. Mario automatically runs to the right and you have to touch the screen to make him jump and collect coins. The longer you hold, the higher he hops. He also automatically jumps over certain enemies, although he does a spin attack if you time it properly. He can also do wall jumps.
The best thing to say about it is that despite a dumbing down from previous games, it feels and sounds like a proper Mario game — like the way he says “oh no” when time runs out on a level. It has a familiar soundtrack, and the level design smartly and creatively makes use of the simpler control scheme.
There has always been an elegance to the character’s movement, which is why it has always been the gold standard of platformers, the genre the original game helped invent.
But there are some annoyances.
The first three levels are free, but you have to pay the $13.99 to unlock all six worlds. That’s very expensive for mobile, and even more so when you consider Super Mario Run is a runner game, a genre most iOS gamers feel is played out because of all the variations on the theme that are already available. While there are three modes, the game is also relatively short so customers better look forward to replaying levels over and over again.
It is also currently only available on iOS, with an Android release coming sometime next year.
You will not be able to play the game while riding the subway. Nintendo says that due to piracy concerns, the game requires you to have an Internet connection to play. There is nothing evident in the game play that shows this is necessary, and it makes the game far less consumer-friendly than many competitors in the same genre.
Of course, Super Mario Run has one thing they don’t have, and that’s 35 years of building up a fan base. Rabid Nintendo fans will likely shell out just to play Mario’s latest.