Nintendo is known for offering unique spins on familiar concepts, and expanding on what an endless runner could be is just what “Super Mario Run” manages to do. Unlike many games in the endless runner genre, “Super Mario Run” has an over-arching story campaign and a few other features that allow players to gradually build onto their kingdom and rescue Toads.
There are two modes: “Tour,” which is centered around the age-old goal of rescuing Princess Peach, and “Rally,” which is played against other users to rally Toads to help build the player’s kingdom. Though both games are centered on running through each level, “Rally” awards points for style. That’s right— the better your jumps, the more the Toads cheer, and the more points you gain towards defeating your running opponent.
The game is relatively simple to play, as Mario runs by himself without any input from the player. This is what allows the game to played with one hand. The challenge comes in knowing when to tap and hold; holding a finger down on the screen before releasing affects how high Mario will jump. Mario can even wall jump in certain circumstances, and those who have played “Rayman Fiesta” or the other Rayman running games will find these controls familiar. Though this game is easy to play, it can be challenging to master! Players must time their jumps just right to smash those Goombas to score extra coins; otherwise, Mario will just vault right over Goombas and many other enemies automatically. There are a few enemies Mario won’t just vault over, however, such as Piranha Plants, so players need to be wary of relying too much on Mario’s vaulting skills.
Earning coins allows players to nab new decor and buildings (and different buildings can have different effects). Rallying Toads allows players’ kingdoms to level up, and for the castle to be repaired. “Super Mario Run” is an overall charming addition to any mobile collection, though the $10 price tag is a bit steep.
For free, you can play the first four levels repeatedly. You can also build the “Bonus Game Toad House” when you earn enough coins from these levels. Doing so allows you an opportunity every 8 hours to possibly earn Rally Tickets for free, which you can use to play the “Rally” Mode.
Paying the $10 unlocks all of the other 20 levels, making them worth $2 a piece. Each time players defeat a castle, they earn more rally tickets, and progress in the goal of rescuing Princess Peach. Purchasing the full game also allows players to venture through the levels as Toad too. Unfortunately, while I’m happy that the additional levels are not just spammy DLC that players feel compelled to purchase, there are a few issues I have given that this is a $10 game.
For one, the game requires constant Internet access. The game cannot be played if there is no wireless connection or cellular data. There isn’t even an offline option. If the $10 price point helps to support the servers that “Super Mario Run” requires, I still do not find that justifiable. Players aren’t always going to have a connection, and considering that other great endless runners have offered far more for far less, the $10 price tag seems a bit presumptuous.
“Rayman Fiesta,” for example, has a ton of levels and is currently available for $2.99, while for $4.99, players can download both that title and the original, “Rayman Jungle Run.” Even Sonic Dash is available for free (though it has micro-transactions). While I like being able to purchase the entirety of “Super Mario Run” without the annoyance of micro-transactions, $10 for a mobile game that doesn’t offer as much content as other games in its price tier (Such as Tell Tale’s “The Wolf Among Us,” and other games in the $10-$15 range) seems like a Super Star Mario Tax.
I can say that this title does offer a lot for free; it is not merely a demo, and still offers a fully viable free way to potentially rebuild the kingdom. Not purchasing the full title immediately still allows players to purchase decor, gather Toads, and enjoy the simple but addictive experience “Super Mario Run” comprises.
Overall, this is an attractive title, and paying a one time payment of $10 rather than $2 a level for DLC is not a bad deal if you found yourself thoroughly enjoying the first four levels (as well as the “Rally Mode”) and want to proceed in rescuing the Princess from big bad Bowser. The title is also very well polished, as one would expect from a Nintendo game. However, for $2 a level, I would suggest that players keep on running for free until a sale pops up.