Following the massive success of Pokémon Go, Nintendo seems to be in the process of embracing mobile gaming in a big way and the latest adventure is the much-anticipated platform fun of Super Mario Run. It was always going to be entertaining – Nintendo has been making great side-scrolling platform games for decades and Mario is its number one character – but the big challenge was creating enough content to make it worth the £7.99 price tag for the full game.
While you can play the first few levels for free, the rest of the game requires the hefty in-app purchase to play. For this you get all of the twenty four levels in the World Tour single player game, which comprises of six worlds with four levels each, including Bowser castles and airships. You also get to play the Toad Rally, pitting you against recorded runs of the levels from gamer around the world, as well as the Kingdom Builder where you can create your own little palace complex.
On paper that sounds like a lot, but the reality is that you can breeze through the World Tour, so after that all you’re left with is the rally battles and prettying up your Mushroom Kingdom. When you look at it like this, it’s tough to say you’re getting value for money with Super Mario Run, especially when you compare it to the mounds of levels you get with games like Star Wars Angry Birds or the depth of Leo’s Fortune.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t get the game, but you should definitely prepare yourself for at least a little jaded sentiment. The counter argument to this is that there’s still the challenge of getting all three different pink coin location combinations on each level, which makes for some fiendishly difficult runs, compensating a little for the easy completion of them all when you’re not worrying about them. However, we’d much prefer more levels than tougher challenges to levels you’ve already completed.
The levels themselves are well designed and reflex challenging, but unless you take into account the added difficulty of getting all of the pink coins then they’re not close to being infuriatingly difficult, which is what we’re used to from Mario games. As we were completing the six worlds in World Tour, we were expecting some twist at the end like the Luigi version of everything in Super Mario 3D Land, but unfortunately that isn’t the case, which was a bit of a letdown.
The Toad Rally mode adds in a fair amount of addictive competition to put yourself against other players’ skills, but it’s not the most compelling or exciting prospect where versus action is concerned. If you’re going to make an online connection only app, then it should at least feature direct player versus player gameplay or even some kind of more advanced multiplayer, instead of the simple ghost vs. that you get here.
That leads on to the single biggest criticism for the game, which is that you can’t play it without an internet connection. Nintendo’s rationale for this is that it’s concerned that if you could play the game without an internet connection then it would lead to pirate versions of the game. However, if we’re being honest, we reckon that the damage it has done to the potential of SMR getting a decent review or two far outweighs the potential damage of piracy. If you can’t play the game when you’re commuting on the underground, when you’re receptions drops for some reason, when you’ve run out of data or you’re stuck out in the middle of the country then it put a big dampener on the potential fun. The quicker Nintendo does an about face on this one the better.
Visually Super Mario Run is a crisp and beautifully animated platform game, but with all of the other limiting factors the lovingly crafted graphics dim. It’s hard to appreciate Mario’s slick movements when you can’t face off against a friend, and it’s impossible to appreciate the visual diversity and great background delivery of the levels when you can’t play it due to connection problems.
The summery for our review is that Super Mario Run is a decent enough app, but it could have been a whole lot better, especially for its £7.99 price tag. For that kind of money you expect it to be all singing and all dancing with bags of content, great online play and the ability to play offline, but without these it’s hard to write a positive review, despite our big love for the Big N.
Super Mario Run review: 2.7/5