Nintendo began seriously pursuing its mobile game strategy earlier this year with the release of Miitomo, a social game in which players could link up and communicate with friends. Later came Pokemon Go, the Niantic-developed smash hit that, while not completely overseen by Nintendo, shares the properties owned by Nintendo and The Pokemon Company. This week, they released Super Mario Run, a brand-new game developed specifically by Nintendo for smartphones.
What is Super Mario Run?
With Super Mario Run, we’re seeing Nintendo’s mobile gaming strategy begin to fulfill itself. A game built to utilize touch screen functionality, Super Mario Run is a blend of endless runner and platformer mixing in elements of the Mario universe. In it, Mario automatically runs to the right, dodging over small obstacles and collecting coins while on a quest to save Princess Peach. And yes, she’s been kidnapped by Bowser. Again.
Super Mario Run’s controls are limited to tapping on the screen to make Mario jump, leaving the strategy to lie more with the player’s ability to accurately time their jumps and gauge distance to take out enemies, collect coins, and compete with other players to best their score.
How to Play Super Mario Run
Super Mario Run contains a number of different modes, each with separate goals and purposes.
This mode is the backbone of Super Mario Run, the single-player mode made up of 6 worlds and 24 levels including boss fights and levels set in varied environments. Full access to the World Tour can only be obtained by spending the $9.99 required to unlock key elements of the game.
Toad Rally is Super Mario Run’s competitive mode, where players compete against each other asynchronously to outdo each other’s runs on specific levels. Toad Rally helps to build up the player’s personal kingdom after it’s been destroyed by Bowser and rewards them with coins and Toads to populate their domain. And hey, some bragging rights never hurt anyone.
The customizable aspect of Super Mario Run, Kingdom Builder is the mode in which players can rebuild their personal kingdom by purchasing new buildings and arranging them around a map. Buildings offer unique bonuses, such as additional levels and even character unlocks. Plus, it’s nice to have some control over what your kingdom looks like as you rebuild it from the ruins.
What's in the Free Version of Super Mario Run?
Super Mario Run is free to download for iOS users--and in early 2017 for Android users--but the free version serves as little more than a demo or trial version for the full game. It only includes the first three levels of the first world, some aspects of Kingdom Builder, and access to Toad Rally. But, without tickets, Toad Rally is unavailable to compete in. And without coins, it’s impossible to fully organize and design your kingdom. Super Mario Run is free to download, but a one-time charge of $9.99 will unlock all 24 levels, 3000 coins, and 20 Toad Rally tickets to kickstart your progress.
Does Super Mario Run Use Data?
It should also be noted that Super Mario Run is about 350mb in size and requires an internet connection in order to play. Its internet usage is minimal, but those who are limited on data will want to be mindful of this fact before going in.
It's also a bit of a battery hog, although there is an option in the menu to turn on a "battery-saving mode" that reduces the graphical fidelity slightly and cuts back on usage.
Do I Need an Account?
You don't necessarily have to link a Nintendo account in order to play Super Mario Run, although it will be needed to access Toad as a playable character and earn certain in-game rewards. In order to link a pre-existing Nintendo Network ID, you may have to enable sharing through a third-party platform through your Nintendo Wii U or 3DS. If that specific functionality is restricted, instructions on how to do so present themselves when you first sign in.
How Do I Add Friends?
Add your friends by selecting the "add friends" option in the Kingdom main menu. From there, you'll be directed to enter a number in the search bar to locate other friends who are playing Super Mario Run. Each player has a "friend" code assortment of numbers attached to their account that can be located under the same tab. Adding friends will make it possible to compete with others in Toad Rally.
It still faces some limitations as compared to its console counterparts, thanks largely in part to the nature of mobile gaming itself. However, our official Super Mario Run review on Modojo found it to be a compelling and strong debut for Nintendo’s first gameplay-heavy mobile app on smartphones. It’s a big step forward for Nintendo’s business strategy as they prepare to launch the Switch and continue putting out mobile games, but it’s also seeing the plans of the late Satoru Iwata come to fruition in a way that is guaranteed to be a hit.