If someone told us that a mobile game would the most anticipated Nintendo game of 2016, we would have said something like “nonsense!” and “blasphemy!”. But it’s sort of true: in a year with no memorable Wii U and 3DS releases (with the exception of Pokemon Sun & Moon perhaps), one Nintendo game that everyone was eager to play was Super Mario Run.

Did Super Mario Run deliver on the hype? In short, yes.

From the get go, it’s clear that Super Mario Run was designed from ground up for smartphones. You can play the game with one hand, or rather, one finger, where your job is to jump as Mario takes care of the running himself.

This may seem simplistic to those who have played Mario in the past, but on a smartphone, it seems like the perfect control scheme. While Mario jumps with a tap on the screen, a longer tap equals a bigger jump, and tapping the screen while Mario is on his way down, it slows his descent with a cute spin move. These two extra control options add much more versatility when it comes to controlling Mario.

Which is perhaps the biggest achievement in Super Mario Run: the single-button controls do not feel limiting at all.

The gameplay itself focuses less on actual platforming and timing, and more on collecting coins. After you’re done with the campaign, you can go back and try to beat your coin record, or enjoy the two cool features: Kingdom Builder, where you can spend your coins building a kingdom, and Toad Rally Challenges, where you have to collect as many coins during a set time (usually a minute).

As for the story, there’s no need to get into details: Peach invites Mario over for cake, Bowser shows up and steals the cake and Peach. Mario needs to rescue Peach.

It looks and feels like a proper Mario game

One thing that’s immediately clear is that Super Mario Run looks and feels like a Mario game designed by Nintendo (which is exactly what it is). It has what we’ve come to expect from a Mario game, from the level design, to the music, to sound effects — it’s Mario through and through.

However, while the level design is great, the game is not pushing any new boundaries when it comes to visuals on mobile games. Or even interesting backgrounds. For the most part, it’s a static world. But that’s hard to notice because Mario is constantly moving.

Super Mario Run review

Conclusions

Super Mario Run easily lives up to the expectations and shows that Nintendo can master the art of smartphone games. It’s not pushing any new visual boundaries or giving us something brand new from Mario, but with its great controls and cool (albeit short) levels, there’s plenty of fun to be had here.

The good

– It’s Mario, through and through.
– The controls are great and easy to pick up.
– It’s very polished and well developed.
– You can try a free version with limited levels before buying the full game.

The not so good

– You can get through everything the game offers in about 2-3 hours.
– Requires always-online connection, despite no online gameplay or micro-transactions that require online capabilities.
– Might not be worth $10 for what it offers, at 5 bucks it would have been a no-brainer-must-buy-right-now.

Final verdict: go and download it right now. The free trial is worth your time. The full game might not be worth 10 bucks to you, but there’s no excuse for not downloading it and giving it a shot.



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