Super Mario Run isn't a great game and it doesn't have enough content to offer, what it has is that Nintendo polish and a few good ideas that should've been exploited more and in a different package. SMR is a platformer where mario always runs and when you tap, he jumps, if you hold your tap for longer, the jump is higher. You can also tap to make him flip in the air and keep altitude and tap when hitting walls to wallkick. That's pretty much everything in terms of controls. It's possible to make a good mario game out of this idea, but what they did wasn't enough.

So, Peach gets kidnapped by Bowser and you need to save her. To do so, you have 24 levels to go through in order to fight the titular villain at the end. These levels are not enough, they're not long enough, they don't get challenging enough, there should be like three times the number of levels, they should re-use level ideas a bit more to give more meat around the bone. You get three 'lives' per stage and a time limit, but it was otherwise really easy. The game expects you to go back through each level and find three types of special coins to add replayability, but this gets frustrating really fast. If you miss certain coins you have to reset the level, even if you could technically 'bubble' and go back a little, some enemies will stay dead and some level patterns wont reset, so you have to try the whole thing again. They really should've made it so you could collect each coin individually instead of needing you to get them all in the same run.

After you complete the first three levels, the game screeches to a halt and asks you to pay 10 USD to continue. Now, I'm not using these reviews to criticize business decisions, but it is so strange how the game is constructed with that one payment model. There are plenty of hooks in there for in app purchases that shouldn't be there, the way they present that payment is also pretty bad. Why give rally tickets and coins and stuff? I'm still really happy that Nintendo jumped in that genre with a premium product and went for it, but I fear how it'll do in the current market where games must be free to flourish commercially. The Toad Rally tickets are one part of why this is weird.

Toad Rally is a mode where you run in endless levels, trying to get more points than another player in a specific amount of time. You need tickets to participate, which you get for completing worlds and things like that. Why do you need those? Why have currencies in the first place? Why do you need coins and toads to level up your castle and buy buildings that do nothing but decorate the place? Why not have infinite tries at Toad Rally? This mode is kinda bad, because if you lose, you lose Toads, and they're not easy to come by. A semi-endless mode seemed like a good idea for SMR, but what they've put in isn't that great. Building your castle adds new playable characters and gives you little minigames that aren't fun. These buildings and other upgrades could've been rewards for completing worlds of the game.

To add insult to injury, you need to be always connected to the internet for this game to work. And that's when I stopped, when the game wouldn't let me play it, at home, with my WiFi working properly. It just wouldn't "run". And that's too bad, I still wonder how the others characters play, but the hook is just not strong enough for me to keep pushing and collect toads in Toad Rally. World Tour should've been longer, Toad rally should've been balanced differently, in-app purchase hooks should've been removed  (this is a premium game, after all, and a pricey one, for iOS). Super Mario Run is a good first try for Nintendo on mobile, but it's clearly not enough.

AuthorJérémie Tessier