Super Mario Run Is Really Good

Super Mario Run Is Really Good

If you were worried that Nintendo’s move into mobile gaming would change the quality of their games, Super Mario Run should be a relief. Auto-running and screen orientation aside, it’s a full-featured Mario game that just happens to run on your phone.

When Nintendo announced Super Mario Run, I expected an endless runner, a game where Mario runs from left to right through randomly-generated courses until he dies. That’s not what Super Mario Run is.

Super Mario Run is technically three connected games: World Tour, Toad Rally and Kingdom Builder.

World Tour is most like the Super Mario Bros. platforming games we’re familiar with. There are six different worlds, each consisting of three levels plus a boss level. Mario runs automatically from left to right. All the player has to do is jump.

Were these standard mobile runner fair, the 90 second levels would be boring. But these are meticulously-crafted Mario worlds, filled with coins to collect, creatures vault over or jump off and obstacles to avoid. There are blocks that make Mario jump backwards, speed him across large gaps and even stop him in his tracks, allowing players to determine the best time to move forward.

Somehow Nintendo has managed to give this auto-running mobile game the same basic feel as a standard Super Mario Bros. game, that tactile precision that you just don’t find in other titles. Kotaku contributor/game developer Tim Rogers calls it “Sticky Friction.” I’m feeling it.

Completing World Tour stages awards coins, used to purchase decorations and buildings in the Kingdom Builder portion, as well as Toad tickets, used to challenge other players in Toad Rally.

Toad Rally allows players to challenge friends and strangers to one-on-one races, the goal of which is to collect the most coins and earn the most colour-coded Toad fans. The gameplay is basically the same, with a slightly different aim. In a clever twist, defeating enemies in either World Tour or Toad Rally eventually causes them to level up, which makes them drop more coins when defeated in the rally mode.

Those collected colour-coded Toad fans and coins all come into play in Super Mario Run’s Kingdom Builder. Players use coins to buy decorations, buildings and accessories that can be placed in their own personal Mushroom Kingdom, while collecting coloured Toad fans upgrades the kingdom’s castle and unlocks new items, including buildings that add new playable characters to the game.

The three different modes come together to form a game that’s a far cry from the standard mobile fare I feared it would be. This is a Nintendo game through and through, and no matter how they might be handling other franchises, Mario always gets the star treatment. Check it out:

Super Mario Run is available now on iOS, with an Android version arriving later. A free download gives players access to the first three World Tour levels and a taste of expanded content, with a one-time $US9.99 ($14) purchase required to unlock everything.


  • I wish there was the option to play it in landscape on iPad. Downwell patched in support for this, so hopefully ninty do the same.

    Otherwise it’s great fun, and there’s something special about hearing those classic ninty sounds coming out my iPads speakers.

  • Wait so there are only 9 (90 second) levels? I don’t have an iThing so I’m stuck waiting for now but is it really that short? Sounds like I’d finish the entire thing in a single train ride…

      • Not sure if either math fail or reading fail on my part, probably both, obviously 3×6 is 18, not 9 (and I didn’t count the Boss levels).
        Nice to hear about the replayability though, have been hearing good things so interested to give the game a shot when it eventually gets to android.

  • You see the mask slip from the types of pundits who simply want the luxury of Mario on a Sony console from time to time, I reckon we’ll be reading and hearing a lot of them in the coming months.

    Phones have games on them. This is a known quantity. You already have an opinion on them whether you know you do or not. Like scrunch or fold.

    It’s up to you to address that, and see what you think of Super Mario Run(s) afterwards.

  • I am patiently waiting for it to come to the universal windows platform.
    as patiently as possible
    i am going to paint a wall now and then watch the grass.

  • Ok but what’s actually good about it? Are we just marvelling at how Mario is running on a phone? Cause my Android’s been doing that for a loooooooong time.

    • There is nothing new or revolutionary in the game. It’s just the kotaku and general nerd hype culture thing again.

      If you aren’t a die hard super mario fan, I’d just play the free levels and by the time you do that, I’d imagine you’d be over it.

    • For a looooooooong time with an on screen controller, playing it in a way that it was never designed to be played?

  • Played it for a bit now, having not cared about the big price tag and just though hey early christmas present! I guess if you are a fan of SMB Wii it is done pretty well, even though it’s not too difficult to get towards the end and rescue the princess once more. The frustration and challenging part of the game lies in getting those DAMN YELLOW TOADS! After you’ve played it for a bit and get into the toad rally and think you are slightly bad at the game, you come to realise you are actually much worse than you thought as there are players out there who ace those courses. If you lose, your crowd of toads get given to the other player. Guess which players hold those ever elusive yellow toads? That’s right, those course-acing players.
    You win maybe 5 of them at the start, then good luck trying to get past 30 from there. All I want is Yoshi’s house in my kingdom ok?! Bwaapp you lose, gimme yo yellow toads!

    It’s like flappy bird frustration level but instead of a bird you’re an italian plumber
    trying to get all the hard to reach coins, only to be knocked back by wrench slinging beavers!

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