Super Mario Run Reviewed

We’ve all been waiting since Apple announced in September that Mario is coming to the iPhone. Who could imagine a better combination (now that GTA3 was released years ago for iOS)? So I downloaded the free trial (like everyone) on Friday the 16th shortly after it was available. Finally after months of waiting.

Everyone was a little skeptical–all you can do is run and jump? Isn’t that like Flappy Bird + Fun Run?

The best part of playing Mario on the iPhone is Mario on the iPhone. It feels most similar to Super Mario World for SNES and some of the levels resemble each other. The main difference being that the gate at the end of the level contains the flagpole instead of whatever it was that Super Mario World had for a closing gate. The feather/fox tail/ flower power are all notably missing. As are Yoshi and any underwater levels.

The game is basic enough that the trial is fun for a few worlds, but of course you have to pay to play the first castle. Obviously I shelled out the $10. I found it a bit strange that my purchase included “rally tickets” and 3000 coins. Weird. Who cares about collecting coins in an iPhone game?

I beat the game in by Sunday morning, only playing for 30 minutes here and there. I expected more for $10–Super Mario World was like 100 levels.

The most frustrating part is the obsessive nature of wanting to collect coins. I think Nintendo took the direction to get players addicted by a few things: levels have a challenge to collect 5 colored coins. Once you do that, you unlock a new color of coins to collect: Purple, Dark Purple, Black. Who cares. I’m sure there is some easter egg hidden in the game if you collect them all. But it is challenging since you cannot run backwards. So if you miss one of the five sequential colored coins you may as well jump to your death and float backwards in a bubble to get another shot at that coin. I tried it for the first world and then gave up.

There is a bonus world that you can play only once every eight hours–even after you pay–that basically lets you collect coins for free. Not sure what this is all about. Nintendo wants you to build a virtual Mario world where you can build a house, and then make it bigger. Seriously am I supposed to have time for that?

There are two main playing options:

1. Tour–the normal working yourself from world to world as you win each level

2. Rally–don’t get excited this has nothing to do with Mario driving a car. Rally lets you compete against others in collecting coin. Seriously why compete against others collecting coin and building a house in Mario when you can just do this in real life?

For the kids who grew up without Mario, I am sure this would be a wonderful $10. The levels are probably the right level of challenge and I am sure there are legions of ten year olds who have already collected all the colored coins, built a Mario Mansion, and unlocked all the Easter Eggs, and completed a video walkthrough. So way better than me.

The game is entertaining if you are a baby–but only for fifteen minutes or so. But then again anything with a shiny glowing screen is entertaining if you are a baby.

The best level is by far the last one, where you have to drop kick wind up BOB-omb enemies at Bowser in his wierd clown helicopter. You can beat that level in about 30 seconds, but if you don’t catch on to the strategy, you’ll just run endlessly through a repetitive obstacle course. I only stumbled upon the strategy by accidently kicking the BOB-omb when Bowser threw it my way.

For $10, I recommend buying some junk food and downloading an emulator–play Super Mario World or Super Mario 3 on your computer to your hearts content. But don’t waste the $10 on the iPhone. In hindsight, I would still spend the $10 because it is Mario on the iPhone. But the quality and length of play do not justify the purchase.