IPhone’s “Super Mario” has nostalgia, surprises
Nintendo is getting serious about its play for mobile screens, launching its first real smartphone game starring its most iconic character: Mario.
The app, called Super Mario Run, hit Apple’s App Store on Thursday. It’s a key moment for Nintendo, which has had a hard time shifting to casual gaming on smartphones. Smartphones have introduced more people than ever to games but can also shift buyers away from game consoles and handheld devices such as Nintendo’s 3DS.
Super Mario Run is a lot of fun. The designers have managed to make a game that blends nostalgia and the touch screen. The story is exactly the same – Bowser has taken Princess Peach and you have to save her – and you also must rebuild your kingdom. The setting is familiar, and goombas and koopas are still trying to block your way to your goal.
Yet some things have been streamlined for the touch screen. Super Mario Run is an endless running game, which means you’re almost always running forward. That could frustrate some players. Also, you can’t go back and pick up coins you missed nor take little jaunts down the pipes.
What you can do is jump. A lot. Tapping the screen will make Mario catch some air — the longer you hold down your finger, the higher he goes before gravity kicks in. He can also vault off cliff edges and walls. Once you accept your perpetual forward motion, figuring out how to get where you want to go becomes a fun puzzle.
Players will definitely get replay value out of the game. Going through a level again will let you go down roads not traveled before. Players also collect different-colored coins throughout the game, and the color and placement of those coins changes as you meet your objectives.
The main drawback of Super Mario Run is that, in its free version, it’s very short.
The free download gets you only three levels — that doesn’t even get you to the first castle. The full version of the game costs $10. That price would probably feel right for the 3DS or the Wii, but it may seem high to people who play games mostly on smartphones.