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First of all, we need to address right away that Super Mario Run isn’t just a platformer. There is the main campaign mode that goes through the 6 worlds and alternating bosses between Bowser and Boom Boom. There is a total of 24 levels available. Each level comes with its own three tiered objective to encourage going back to play the level over. This being that the side objective is to first gather the 5 pink stars strewn across the map then the purples and finally the black ones. Collecting all five coins of each color and each level will gain rally tickets to participate in a next mode.
The second game mode is World Rally. This mode pairs the player up with opponents and drops you in a level to gain spectators who are various colored toads. If you win, a portion of the spectators will become citizens in the kingdom. This leads to the third aspect: building the castle. These spectators will unlock different types of building, topiary decorations and more to beautify the land as more and more toads play around there. However, these colored toads also unlock certain buildings and these buildings placed in the kingdom will unlock other playable characters like Mario’s brother, Luigi, who has the ability to make higher jumps. A useful component for some hard to reach coin locations. On top of that, every day, the game rewards you with a gift. If you are linked to a Nintendo account (or open one), Toad is already unlocked and there are missions and additional rewards as well.
Super Mario Run is a platformer but in this case, perhaps it fits more in the category of side scrolling runner. Mario keeps running to the right. However, the nostalgia is in the familiar. There are boss battles and a variety of levels in familiar environments such as the haunted mansion and Bowser’s castle. All of our favorite villains are there like Lakitu and Boo and Bowser for a quick example. The music is still the same classic tunes that we have grown to known and it is what makes us want to keep going and have the music stuck in our heads hours later. However, this isn’t exactly the same experience. Mario moves through the motions by himself. He will keep running to the left unless he lands on a pause block or falls down a crevice. He can vault over enemies automatically as well. What do we do? We jump: standard jumps, perform combo jumps, reverse with wall jumps. All these jumps done right will mean being able to kill enemies or use certain obstacles to jump higher. For some, losing this control of going forward can be an additional layer of challenge especially in tight spaces and frequent enemies to get the right timing. These situations require finesse that losing that control may hinder. Even with pause blocks, sometimes Mario just can’t react fast enough to evade certain enemies or will.miss the tight perfectly timed area he needs to get to. Here is where the frustrations will set in. Oh, that familiar platforming frustration is a must especially in Mario, except when the frustration is because of something we can’t control, it will make it feel a little harder to swallow.
Super Mario Run has its difficulties. However, the masterminds behind this game can’t be called unfair. The key is to think and time every move carefully. This means not rushing too much to move from the pause block, or going too far back to pop the bubble to restart after a death and most importantly, being sure to grab the mushrooms and extra time blocks. Grabbing the coins require even more finesse (and between us, some luck) by the time we are searching out the five black coins.
Super Mario Run is not a free game. There are no ways to open up more levels. The first three levels are accessible for free. Think of it like a demo. The first world castle is the fourth level and that can be unlocked after getting all the pink coins in the first three levels. The full game costs $10. Even without purchasing, there is still hours of fun, even if it is across only the four levels available. However, with the amount of content and variety offered and to lessen the hassle, the price is a fair for what it offers. Perhaps launching it as free and having the full game as in-app purchase feels a little sneaky but the worth is there. For avid Mario fans, this game offers a little of the same with something a little different.
Overall, Super Mario Run is a decent game with a lot of content. The gameplay controls are a little lacking at parts however, it offers up a nostalgic trip through 24 levels and even more content and collectibles to keep it replayable. While this game isn’t free, the price is still fair.
Super Mario Run is currently available on both iOS and Android.