It’s such a joy to see Mario on iOS devices – to be able to pick up an iPad or iPhone and enjoy this colourful world without thinking too much is a delight. Super Mario Run is everything I wanted it to be, incorporating the familiar Mario mechanics you’re used to and bringing in mobile game tropes that suck us in and feed the addictive nature of games seen in the likes of Candy Crush or Angry Birds. You’ll be ploughing hours into this before you’ve even realised you were supposed to be picking up the kids or going to work because it’s so much fun.
There are three modes in Super Mario Run: World Tour, Toad Rally and Kingdom Builder. World Tour takes place over 6 different worlds, featuring 3 levels and a finale that takes place in either a castle or a flying ship, with the aim to collect as many Coins as you can. It’s such a simple and easy mode to play, only requiring you to tap the screen to jump. How long you touch the screen depends on how high you jump, and pressing at the right time (like jumping over enemies) gives you a better score. There are POW buttons, question mark boxes and other icons you’ll have seen a million times before, but they’ve been included in such a great way.
Along the way, you can collect tickets to participate in Toad Rally, which is a pretty nifty mode. In Toad Rally, you can race against AI or other players from around the world (not physically, but in ghost form), trying to collect more coins than them; on the opponent selection screen, you can choose tougher opponents, but the harder they are, the greater the reward. Something called Coin Rush will begin if you do well, and this throws a lot more coins into the mix, allowing you to collect even more than your opponent. If you’re collecting coins in style, Toads will gather on the bottom of your screen and act as fans of yours. If you manage to survive, these toads will come to live with you in your Kingdom, and help you to unlock some cool buildings, aesthetic features and even other characters.
Kingdom Builder is a little place you can call your home, where you can spend all your hard-earned coins on new plants, houses and more. The Toad fans you’ve gained can come and live with you, and having a certain amount of a specific colour of Toad will mean you can unlock rarer stuff. You can even unlock familiar faces like Luigi and Yoshi, who become playable when you do. You can build more than one place if you buy yourself the Rainbow Bridge, pairing both locations together. It’s a smart way of rewarding you for playing through the levels, and giving you your own personal Mario wonderland.
You’ll be acquainted with many of the level designs as they’re similar to a lot of Mario games of old, like haunted houses, deserts, and the standard trees and grass, and it looks gorgeous – in fact it’s one of the best looking Mario games I’ve ever seen, which is a great achievement considering it can be played on your mobile phone.
It may not last very long, but the levels are challenging and full of danger. You get a few bubbles on every level, so if you fall down a pit or get fireballed, you get rescued by a bubble. Pressing the bubble will burst it and you’ll be given another chance, until you’ve got none left and are forced to play more cautiously than before. Sometimes controls can be finicky, but that’s more to do with how focused you are and how you observe the entire level; there’s a lot going on around you so it really does pay to keep your eyes on the environment just as much as Mario.
Super Mario Run is a fantastic package, giving you three game modes filled with plenty to do. Coins are in abundance, but you can always collect more. On each stage there are 5 pink coins and collecting them gives you more; after collecting all of them, purple coins are unlocked, then black. Each time it becomes harder to find them, but doing so gives you a nice bonus for exerting your skill. Both World Tour and Toad Rally are challenging in different ways, but rewarding you with coins and fans to craft your own settlement is a great idea. I can see the future of Nintendo on iOS and Android (due next year) devices looking bright, based on this charming little game.
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