Super Mario Run
Super Mario Run is now available for Android smartphones, so I thought I’d show willing and check it out. Despite Nintendo’s shockingly inane business decisions in recent years and their dogged determination to still approach the video games market as if it were still the nineties, I like many others still have a degree of good will towards them due to their franchises. So, I downloaded the game from the Google Play Store to find that, despite it’s free moniker, it is effectively a trial. Players get access World Tour, Toad Rally, and Kingdom Builder modes, with a selection of courses. The full game requires a single in-app purchase of $9.99 after which there are no further micro-transactions.
Essentially, Super Mario Run is an automatic running game that uses simple touch controls to perform various types of aerial acrobatics. You can increase the size Mario's jump, delay the following fall and ricochet off enemies to reach inaccessible areas. The game utilises the screen relatively well, so I didn’t find my view obscured by my own finger and hand. However, the game also hinges on the basic mechanic of Mario’s continuous forward movement. Although it is easy in principle to grasp what needs to be done to successfully navigate the game environment, the skill lies in pulling it off.
Super Mario Run is a moderately fun return to the Mushroom Kingdom, yet it inherently lacks any major new wow factor. We’re still fighting the same trash mobs and bosses in the same old fashion. The levels designs are novel but the game seems to have one foot in the past. Now I know that nostalgia is a driving factor here and that fans expect to see key elements of the franchise but there is still a need to present a mixture of old and new to engage with players. The game overall feels too much like previous Mario outings and doesn’t make sufficient use of the benefits a mobile platform can provide. I was essentially disappointed with Super Mario Run.
And it would seem that I’m not alone in feeling that way. Although the game has had more than 78 million downloads since its December launch on iOS, only 5 percent of players paid to unlock the game. I was part of that niche group and although it is a relatively small sum of money, the game didn’t really live up to my expectations or provide any real long term value. Perhaps that is the problem. Nintendo are simply hamstrung by the nostalgic mindset of their player base and their own inability to fully embrace mobile platforms to the full. Either way, I think I shall certainly be far more cautious before buying another one of their mobile titles. That’s assuming that they still intend to pursue this particular market.