I feel pretty confident saying that Super Mario Run [Free] is the most hyped game release in the history of iOS. It has had the full marketing weight of two of the biggest giants in the industry behind it since its announcement, with Apple even going so far as to introduce a new notification system to allow players to pre-order it. That hype is there for good reason, of course. This is a historical moment for the video game industry. It's the first time a Mario game developed by Nintendo has released on non-Nintendo hardware since, I think, the original Mario Bros. back in the early 1980s. The legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto took a direct hand in the development of Super Mario Run, something he hasn't done for a Mario game since Super Mario Galaxy back in 2007. While the concept of Miitomo [Free] felt a bit underwhelming, Super Mario Run is Nintendo committing to mobile with unexpectedly fierce intensity.

All of that leads to expectations, and those can be tricky things to manage. For most, it would be impossible to live up to those twin spires of hype and history, but if anyone could pull it off, it would be Nintendo. I wish I could tell you that they did it. I would rather be writing a completely beaming review of one of the finest games to grace the app store, a game that through sheer quality justifies all of its hoops and irregularities relative to the rest of the App Store. I love Mario. But that's not the review I'm writing today. Today, I'm writing about a pretty decent runner, polished to a shine, that just happens to feature one of gaming's most famous icons. For many, that's probably going to be enough to merit picking up Super Mario Run, but I can't help but think this could have been better.

photo-2016-12-16-13-47-30Super Mario Run is a stage-based auto-runner that sees the plumber doing his usual bit to rescue Princess Peach from King Koopa. The game includes three modes and gives you a fairly small slice of each for free before asking you to pay a single IAP to unlock the remainder. The mode that will likely be of immediate interest to most players is the Tour Mode. Here, you'll run and jump your way through 24 stages spread across 6 worlds. I use 'worlds' simply in the grouping sense here, as unlike other Mario games, there's no real theme to each world. Each stage takes a couple of minutes to clear, which makes for a fairly short game on initial playthrough. Collecting all of the special coins in a stage will unlock another set of coins along with some new enemy arrangements, and if you manage to snag all of those, there's one more set waiting for you. Figuring out how to reach all of the coins and executing the necessary maneuvers helps extend this mode past the one or two hours it'll take to rescue Peach.

Making your way to the somewhat anti-climactic final battle with Koopa isn't too difficult. The game is quite forgiving for those who just want to make their way through. Not only can you collect Super Mushrooms to buffer our hero against a hit, you also get Bubbles to help you come back from what would otherwise be a lost life. If you take a fatal hit or plummet down a hole, Mario will bubble up and start moving backwards through the stage, allowing you to drop down wherever you feel most comfortable. This effectively gives you three chances per stage on top of any Super Mushrooms you might collect. You also have unlimited lives in the classical sense. Failing when you run out of bubbles forces you to start the stage from scratch, but there's no running count of lives or anything like that. You can try as many times as you need to. The challenge is largely built into the coin hunts, which do a good job of catering to more skilled players.

Once you've gained your satisfaction from Tour Mode, you'll probably want to check out the other two modes. The Kingdom Mode lets you build your own Mushroom Kingdom by placing buildings and decorations in fixed locations on the map. Some of these buildings give you special bonuses every so often when you tap them. These include a variety of mini-games, free Rally Tickets, and so on. A few very special buildings will unlock new characters to play as. You'll have to pay for these buildings with the coins you've collected in other modes, but the prices are quite fair relative to what you'll be bringing in. But coins aren't enough on their own for most of these trinkets. You'll also need a particular number of each color of Toad among your population. This is where we get to the bit that's meant to last you a while, I think.

photo-2016-12-16-13-46-44The third mode is the Toad Rally. In Toad Rally, you'll play against another player's ghost in timed stages built from looped sections of stages from the Tour Mode. Collecting coins is the top priority here, though there are lots of ways to add big bank to your total. You'll want to keep an especially careful eye open for Super Stars, as if your opponent grabs one and you don't, you've basically already lost. Performing stylish moves will attract Toads to cheer you on. They'll contribute to your total when the scores are tallied as well. If you win, you'll gain a bunch of Toads for your Kingdom, with the colors depending on the stage you challenged. If you lose, well, you'll lose some of your Toads. It's kind of a crummy feeling to lose, especially since a streak of losses can really set you back on your road to unlocking things.

To make matters worse, playing the Toad Rally requires a Rally Ticket. The game hands them out like candy initially, but once you've exhausted that finite supply, you'll have to rely on the daily trickle the game gives you. Backsliding on progress feels bad, but it's even worse when you can't even try to make things right until the next day. Combined with the slow Toad gains from winning and the high populations required for many buildings and decorations, this starts to feel like a nasty grind. Worse, it's the kind of grind where you can easily slip and end up not moving forward in any meaningful sense for days. You can get more tickets by trading My Nintendo coins, but in a manner of speaking, those coins are also limited in terms of how often you can earn them.

The Toad Rally mode also shows the ugly side of the game's mechanics. Unlike the tightly-designed Tour Mode levels, Toad Rally stages can sometimes get a little chaotic in how they're stitched together. When every path, every bounce, every potential wall kick isn't accounted for by a level designer, the curious collision detection unique to Super Mario Run can get unreliable in a hurry. There will be times where you were sure you bopped an enemy on its head, only to take damage. Even more confusing, however, are the times when you'll barrel right into an enemy's face and somehow take him out without a scratch. This is all tied into the new way Mario interacts with his enemies, but when tons of objects are flying around on the screen, it can be hard to make sense of it.

photo-2016-12-16-13-46-32This is probably as good a place as any to talk about the controls. As promised, this is a Mario game you can play with one hand. That revelation isn't all that remarkable for those of us who have been mobile gaming for a while, but it is something new for the character. Even in the few auto-running instances he's been in before, such as special levels in New Super Mario Bros. games or the amusing hacks of the NES Remix games, Mario has never had to cope with only a single input. So, obviously, they went with jumping when you touch. Short touch gets a short jump. Long touch gets a high one. Touching again while Mario is in the air does his little waggle-pirouette that was introduced in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Jump into a wall and Mario will skid along it, with another touch launching him off into his usual wall-kick. These are all sensible choices.

Mario's got a new move, though, and I don't think it's a good one. In other Mario games, Mario is only able to safely contact an active enemy from the top. In Super Mario Run, he can run headlong into some enemies and simply do a little flip over them. To jump off of them, you need to touch the screen as he scrambles over the enemy. Note that I said some enemies. This doesn't work with every enemy. The rule seems to be that if it was okay to head-bop them in the other games, you're okay to run into them here. It's an odd extra step in the whole process that will surely mess with many veteran Mario players. It's also the most likely source of the funky collision detection. I can only guess that Nintendo did this to make the game more forgiving, but I can't help but feel the game would have been just fine using the usual Mario jumping rules.

There are also plenty of new elements to help facilitate the auto-running gameplay. Blocks on the ground will allow you to stop, move quickly, or flip backwards. It's a pretty neat idea and vital for preserving certain traditions from the other Mario games, such as timing your run through curtains of Podoboos. It's essential for bringing in the now-customary battle with Koopa, where you need to go over or under him to reach the axe and chop the bridge from under his feet. I think they have exciting potential for auto-runner level designs, too. But at least in the game as it stands, it never really does much exciting with them. You're going to need to master them to get all of the coins, but one could imagine a lot of interesting applications that the game never seems to get around to. The level design in general feels kind of toothless and anti-climactic in its difficulty curve. They're carefully laid out, to be sure, but until you start hunting black coins, it feels like the game is afraid to lay into the player at all.

In trying to evaluate this game fairly, I'm forcing myself to do a little thought exercise. If this weren't Mario, if this weren't Nintendo, if this didn't have all the hype, expectations, and nostalgia behind it, what would I think of this game? If I do that, all I can say is that the game is fine. It's well-polished, the controls are responsive enough, and the level designs are acceptable. But it also feels quite lean in terms of content, and insubstantial on the whole. That's the last place a paid auto-runner wants to find itself in, especially on iOS. There are so many fantastic runners on mobile, that if we were to separate this one from its brand, it probably wouldn't even be poking its head into the upper tier of quality. That's not even counting the twin elephants of the relatively high price tag or required online connection sitting over there in the corner, both of which could be seen as reasonable deal-breakers for some players.

Super Mario Run is a decent game. It accomplishes the fairly difficult goal of feeling like a proper Mario game while also bowing to some of the trends of mobile gaming. But with the likes of Rayman Fiesta Run [$2.99], Wind-Up Knight 2 [Free], Punch Quest [Free], and countless others competing at a high level in this genre, decent isn't really good enough. A grindy town-builder isn't exciting enough. A couple of hours of fun with only coin-hunting to keep you busy afterwards isn't substantial enough. If you want Mario on your iPhone, Super Mario Run does its best to approximate the trappings. On the other hand, if you're looking for a top-shelf auto-runner to play, it's-a not him.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarNone
  • h_A_Z

    Agreed

    • Klaus

      Me too. Very well written review and the author nailed it!

      However, I'm in my early thirties. If Mario were any more real, he would have been one of my idols in my youth. 😂
      So fortunately for me, this matters most: "Super Mario Run is a decent game. It accomplishes the fairly difficult goal of feeling like a proper Mario game while also bowing to some of the trends of mobile gaming."

      I bought it and I'm enjoying it!

  • https://www.youtube.com/user/rrvirus redribbon

    i really hope they will bring more worlds as a free update, because 6 worlds? cmon nintendo, give me some faith in you because i would grab that switch on march.

    • Sterling Selover

      I don't think this should skew your perception of the Switch. I look at this as a decent attempt to try something new. I think Mario Run is decent. I agree with the review. Coulda been better, but considering it's just an auto runner on my phone I didn't expect more. For true Nintendo experiences you gotta look at the console market as that is what they excel in from a game design standpoint (I'm not talking hardware as we all know the Wii U didn't do well). But the Switch looks pretty cool. I'm very excited for Breath of the Wild. I don't compare their mobile mario at all with the Switch. Entirely different market, entirely different strategy, entirely different game experience. I'd love more worlds for Mario Run as well, but if this is it then oh well. I've spent a far worse $10 than this. At least I enjoy it, even if it doesn't feel like a true mario experience.

  • Heinz da Baron Krauss von Espy

    Not something i would pay $9.99 for, for sure.

    • spizak

      And like nobody is asking you too. Don't like it, tried free run? Fine. Wtf with the bitching. Don't pay, go bitch elsewhere.

      • Phlibbo

        There are certainly comments that deserve that response but I wonder who is the one who's bitching here 🙂

      • Matthew

        Isn't that the point of having comments on a review, to voice your opinion? Hardly bitching, even in the strictest sense.

        I have to agree, $9.99 does seem steep for something that has timers in it. Either give more rally tickets daily or make the rallies limitless.

        That said, I did pay the money in hopes that maybe, just maybe, the Big N will bring some more/better games to the iPhone if they see it as profitable. Preferably a true platformer, providing they can make the touch controls precise enough.

      • loophole

        I wish I could downvote @spizak on the mobile app haha. But yeah, not gonna lie... I was let down. I almost bought it, but playing the free levels turned me away from that

      • spizak

        Me too.

  • decabol

    Not agreed. Yes there should be more levels and hopefully will be, but still this is one of the best platformers on AppStore. And it is by the creator of this genre.

    • syntheticvoid

      Space Panic...?

      I don't think he had anything to do with that...

  • Left Empty

    The game lost me with a little mechanic Shaun didn't describe in his review: there is a grinding mechanic where you get more coins -which act as a score on the game's leaderboards- from enemies by killing a lot of them (you level them up, as the games put it). I was looking forward to contest scores with a friend, as the game encourages it, but that mechanic basically makes this meaningless and reward the person spending the most time with the game.

    • http://aggromagnetgames.com/ Aggro Magnet Games

      I was concerned by this too. Super Mario Run does have a level-playing-field score chase vs friends, though: The leaderboards for the coins collected high score for each Tour Mode level.

  • Bliquid

    Spot on as usual, Sean.

  • Daniel Schroeder

    I had forgotten about Wind-Up Knight, and am now thinking it's more comparable to SMR than Rayman Fiesta Run... but I couldn't get into Wind-Up Knight, and Rayman as a character is basically garbage. If this were not Nintendo/Mario, I still think it would be appealing, but I couldn't see many people paying $10 for it then (myself included probably).

    I'm super loving this game, and think it's worth $10 for any Nintendo fan with an iPhone, but the criticisms in this review are legit.

  • tex32

    Review is spot on. Love that Nintendo made it a premium title and didn't have a problem with the price tag. As auto runners go, feel that they could have developed the formula so much further. Just finished Lost Socks : Naughty Brothers, and as far as gameplay goes, SMR doesn't hold a candle to it. In saying that, really hope SMR sells well and Nintendo continues to hone its expertise in the IOS space.

    • OrangutanKungfu

      I think Lost Socks is pretty much as good as it gets for auto runners - that final level when you're blasting away at everything that moves with a rocket launcher is one of my favourite gaming moments of the year. I agree that Super Mario Run isn't as polished as that, but it stands up well with the Rayman games. Am I going to unlock the full game with IAP? I probably will, eventually, but I'd rather spend it on Super Cat Tales for now, Like you, I hope SMR does well though and justifies Nintendo's venture into the market.

      • tex32

        You're not kidding - incredibly entertaining!

      • Feathers

        That's fair. I think SCT is the *better game* over SMR - it's more creative, and is more clearly for this format - but for Nintendo's first proper try at a phone game, it's good. Mario isn't the sort of game that would work with a virtual dpad or anything like that.

  • iPhallex

    Still, it's good to mention that when you throw your money at games, the publishers can make enough to create more games. I feel this is completely worth it.

  • kevin888

    I'd say it's one of the better auto runners. Getting the special coins is really what makes it challenging and fun for me. I do agree that content is stretched pretty thin, and it is really forgiving and easy to get through if you are just going for completing the level.
    I haven't played any Mario games, but I do like platformers, and there's something I really enjoy about this. It's extremely polished and there's a depth to it that other runners don't always have. Maybe it's because I don't have that previous Mario knowledge that this feels fresh and interesting to me.
    It's not the savior game for mobile, but it does a lot of interesting things and I can see people building off of this idea to make really cool stuff.

  • mabus51

    The review is spot on. I gave Nintendo their $10 cause I know they need it, and there really isn't anything else. Also I'm looking forward to the Switch. But for what this is it works well. There is a charm to the characters that only Nintendo provides. It is an auto-runner, it has some new mechanics that work well, should be $5 but it's not. The challenge is getting the special coins, that takes some skill. And that's what you'll be doing the majority of the time. Seems like it will have levels added. There is an option to notify you of updates. So let's hope that $10 fee makes those free.

  • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Fade to Slack

    It's strange that a game this easy can also be this unforgiving. I found myself passing up one of the colored coins and promptly hitting pause/retry just like I did with Angry Birds. Only, instead of investing a couple of seconds on that first bird, it's often over a minute's time lost because of something like a missed wall jump.

    I wish there was a working version of Zombie Parkour Runner still in the App Store. That's the best runner/platformer I've ever played on iOS, but it's so obscure that they just let it die quietly rather than update it.

    • MagIor

      There is the bubble button for this.

      • Matthew

        Good to know! I thought the bubble was just an icon letting me know how many times I can die without being punished!

  • Raid

    Mario Run nailed it, this is going to blow. Very polished, a smooth clean game with complex game play. Yes it "can" be simple, but it Also has a more challenging approach to the levels. If you love platformers, this is it. Rayman comes close, but Mario nailed it! Please, these guys at nintendo are masters... Punch Quest?? Really, uh ... no.

    • nav1

      Agreed. Aside from Rayman, I really want to know what those "many fantastic runners on mobile" are. Punch Quest I keep on my device because I like the look of it, and as a literal time-waster for when I'm truly bored, because it's very forgettable.

      • bilboad

        Lost Socks and Wind Up Knight 2 are two other excellent iOS auto-runner platformers. I'd say if you put aside affection for Mario and Nintendo, those games are at least as good and arguably better than SMR.

        That said, the reality is I do love Mario and that's worth a little higher price to me. But I can sympathize with those who don't have any special feeling for Mario thinking this is expensive for an iOS game.

      • nav1

        I'm checking Lost Socks now, I had never heard of it, and the art looks really good. WUK I tried, but didn't see the appeal, felt like one of those games where I ask myself "why am I playing this?". The thing about Mario games is that just jumping around and traversing the levels feels good and is fun. For me to consider a game as good or better than SMR or Rayman Jungle Run, either the mechanics or the levels have to be really fun, not just something that tests to see if I can make it to the end. I didn't get that feeling from WUK or most runners I've tried.

        And there's no denying SMR is costly, I just disagree that there are that many really good and worth it runners on mobile.

      • bilboad

        Did you try WUK2, or just the first one? I thought the second one was a big improvement over the first one. In fact I found the first one too frustrating and never finished it. But I can see how it might not be for everyone.

        I agree in not judging games like this just based on how challenging they are. It has to feel fun and clever. I think each of these three games -- SMR, Lost Socks, and WUK2 -- have pretty unique aesthetics and gameplay, which different people will like more than others. If I try my best to think of them objectively though in terms of quality of graphics, cleverness of level design and controls, general polish of the game, and amount of content, I'd probably give the win to Lost Socks. That said, I love the warm fuzzy Mario aesthetic so I might feel the most affection for SMR of the three.

      • collider

        Those are 2 of my favorites as well... I highly recommend playing both with mfi controller. The on screen controls on both work perfectly, but controller brings it to a whole nuther level.

      • nav1

        Only the first one, didn't think the second would be different enough, but I'll give it a try.

    • Tubatic

      Strong Agree, and I came to the comments hoping someone felt that too. Punch Quest!? It's fine enough, but ... leagues apart.

      And Rayman is a fine and better Canabalt, but it's such a game about getting the one good line. Mario proves to be a much more flexible game, as the progressing coin challenges show.

  • Raid

    The town builder!! The kids are going to eat it up. Masterpiece

  • Ghostwalker

    It's inconceivable that they would not even have a swipe move for something on a touch screen game. This ends up feeling more like a cash grab, (and I despise having to use that term) than a game that was truly tailored to the hardware it runs on.

    • nonen

      Hello? They do have a swipe move. Swipe left and hold to brake jump.

    • nav1

      Why? They got all the mechanics covered with just a tap and the special blocks, why would the game need a swipe?

      • nonen

        As I said, it has a swipe.

  • lightasammo

    I agree with the comments about the rally part of the game being frustrating. However, the IP needs to be taken into account when rating the game. A Mario skin on a "good" game DOES transform it into a great one. It's part of the charm only Nintendo can provide and is the same reason I've invested over 20 years into Pokémon and not Digimon games - Love for the characters and feel good / nostalgic emotions the games universe provides.

  • Dema9o9ue

    This games "worth" has nothing to do with the game itself. It's all about the ecosystem. Release this game on 3DS and no one would bat an eye at the price tag. It's only because it's on the AppStore that the price doesn't match the content. It's not Nintendo's fault that the AppStore is a severely deflated market. Nintendo may actually be helping the ecosystem by getting people a little more used to paying a more realistic price tag for a video game.

  • brianj22

    It's not a full fledged Mario game like you'd find on Wii or port of an old game so three stars. Cuz what I want is a Mario games with virtual buttons 😂. I find this review delusional and the game brilliant but that's me. To each their own. That's how reviews and opinions and feedback work. Sick game.

  • brianj22

    5 stars for bird dating game tho.

    • NickyNichols

      This must lie somewhere between Limbo and that game.

  • Sabaki

    I'm 100% with the reviewer on this one.
    There's a few of this game's elements that doesn't click and doesn't bring me to that place where I'm compelled to play again and again and again.
    Yes, it is incredible to finally have a MARIO title, developed by Miyamoto nonetheless, on iOS. I absolutely adore hearing all those familiar sound bytes coming from my mobile.
    But the A-Z of it is that this is not a AAA title that will follow players from their 1 iOS device to the next.

    For me, $10 would've been okay if the internet connection requirement wasn't in play.

    • Tom

      Totally agree - I would have been happy to pay the full price (and did) but discovering the constant internet requirement immediately made me request a refund - shame as its a fun game and would've been my favorite "one handed" game on the go, I am hoping they will remove this requirement in the future so I can rebuy and enjoy

  • Derprozess

    I have absolutely no other complain about Mario Go than those expressed in this fair review; I've purchased the game anyway, and I will play only at home via Wi-Fi. Someone was saying that every complainer will eventually buy the game anyway - and he was so so right

  • nonen

    I'm amazed this was given such a low score. It feels to me like a modern Mario on iOS, designed for the hardware it's running on. To many, that is worth its weight in gold.

    "...if this weren't Nintendo, if this didn't have all the hype, expectations, and nostalgia behind it, what would I think of this game? If I do that, all I can say is that the game is fine."

    Yeah I'm not buying it. The cat platformer miraculously gets five stars with maybe 50% of the polish and charm on display here? To each their own, as they say.

    • Klaus

      That's a very fair opinion. I also played Super Cat Tales but starting with the lava levels, the salty freemium taste really comes out. It is not much different to most grinding cash grab titles and it is nowhere near as polished as Mario.

      I think visuals and sound are top notch. The game is extremely polished like rarely seen on the App Store. Nevertheless, the author has a point. Were it not for Mario, "Super Run" would have gone by unnoticed.

      • nav1

        I would argue the opposite. The game gets critiqued more _because_ it is a Mario game, the first one on mobile, and that brings great expectations with it. If it was not a Mario game, it would be praised for all the clever mechanics like the pause blocks advancing the genre. The only thing that the Mario brand allows that others game cannot is the price tag.

      • Just4today77

        This right here.

      • nonen

        "Nevertheless, the author has a point. Were it not for Mario, "Super Run" would have gone by unnoticed."

        I don't think so. If it weren't Mario, it would be getting fawned over for its excellent design and polish.

  • Jerome

    So, let me preface this by saying that I'm 39, grew up playing Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, and 3 on the classic NES (SMB3 is my favorite game of all-time), and was beyond excited for this game. To me, it lived up to the hype. I downloaded it this morning and have been playing all day, which is more than I can say for any game I've downloaded in a very long time. I know emotions/nostalgia are part of the package here and have obviously influenced my opinion, but if I'd written the review I would have given it 5 stars. I love it. I think the price point is fair and made the IAP almost immediately after trying the game. The required internet connection is annoying, but not any more so than in any other mobile game. It's a Mario game. And an awesome one. On my phone. Finally. Get this game.

  • http://www.gingerbeardman.com gingerbeardman

    I disagree that this is "a couple of hours fun". Maybe if you ran through every level once and walked away? But there's typical Nintendo depth here - if you spend even a few minutes away from the quickest route through the game you'll discover really fine game design.

    • Carlos

      Totally agree. You have to be brave to be a gamer and say that this has a couple of hours of fun. Yesterday, without even pay for the game yet, I spent more than 3 hours trying to finish the first three levels with all the color coins and playing online. And I'm skilled enough to beat Leap Day everyday levels in 15 minutes.

      I guess this kind of opinion and the 3,5 stars review gives so much more controversy and visits to the blog. I give him that.

      • Shaun James Musgrave

        Yeah, you got my number alright, friend. I'm that guy who is so click-crazy that I spend 20+ hours a week running through old-arse iOS RPGs so I can write 3,000+ words that about 0.01% of our readers will read.

        OL' CLICK-CRAZY SHAUN, they call me.

      • Michal Hochmajer

        Yeah. Minority of 0,01% perverts... 🙂
        Every human being has some sort of deviation.
        Not big fan of minorities here, especially those, who yell, how things should be only their way. On the other hand. I am 0,01% deviated pervert fully enjoying your writings. 🙂

        btw. Is it worthy to support Nintendo with 10 bucks on SMR? I don't play auto-runners sporadically and there is simply too many cons to my taste.
        Also Fire Emblem behind corner, where I will spend few bucks anyway...
        Send my thanks to Carter for a SMR stream.

      • Carlos

        Posting in the website that posted more than 6 articles of Super Mario Run in one day...

        Anyhow, really nothing against you Shaun or the amount of articles of Mario. I've been reading this website daily for I don't even remember the years (times of Sway and Sky Burguer). I love it and I've recommended it to a lot of people. You had an opinion on one game and I respect it, same way I don't agree with Super Cat Tales having 5 stars compared to Super Mario Run (that double tap for running drives me crazy and I don't stop hitting walls instead of climbing them).

        Did you enjoy 1-bit Ninja? I'm curious to see how tedious you found the gameplay on that one, since I found it similar to the way you have to memorize the levels in Super Mario Run

      • Shaun James Musgrave

        Haha, well, fair point on the number of Mario articles, but I'll mention that the only things with my name on them today are this stupidly-long review of Mario, the Icewind Dale article, and that thing about the NES Mega Man games.

        But yeah, I understand this is going to be an agree to disagree thing. Heck, ol' Eric Ford just about took my head clean off when he saw my score. We all bring our own tastes and experiences to games, and that certainly affects what each of us gets out of them.

        As to 1-bit Ninja... I haven't played it! But I'm going to now. It looks cool. Thanks for the recommendation!

      • nonen

        "Heck, ol' Eric Ford just about took my head clean off when he saw my score."

        Haha I can see where he's coming from. Your score was pretty egregious man. I love your work, don't get me wrong. But this was surprising.

        If you came to this game with zero knowledge of Nintendo or Mario, no way would you score it so poorly.

        Where you see "lean", "insubstantial" content with "acceptable" level design, I see densely-packed, well-designed levels with surprisingly enjoyable replayability.

        "...if we were to separate this one from its brand, it probably wouldn't even be poking its head into the upper tier of quality. "

        ...wow.

      • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

        Man this is a weird world where a 3.5 star score for a game is "egregious."

      • nonen

        Ok, my use of "egregious" may have been borderline egregious. Passions running high and all that. 🙂

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        "Where you see "lean", "insubstantial" content with "acceptable" level design, I see densely-packed, well-designed levels with surprisingly enjoyable replayability."

        This is called "difference of opinion"

      • nonen

        Yep. Some value quality, some want quantity. In my *opinion* it's nigh-objectively wrong that the game and its levels are poorly designed in the context of other iOS runners. But one could certainly say there aren't enough of them.

      • Tallgeese

        Did this not start out at 4 stars? I mean I worked a lot that night but I thought for sure it was a 4-star Musgrave... I mean 15 hours straight will do that tho...

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        It was a full Carter right from the start.

      • Tallgeese

        Oh noez! Mah brane! >_<

      • spsummer

        Shaun, you're the best. On the Reloads or playing some old RPG in Mobcrush. Don't listen to them.

    • Shaun James Musgrave

      I think what it comes down to is whether or not you find the coin-hunting fun. While I appreciated that the game actually started to show some teeth in the black coin challenges, I found it began to get tedious running through the same stages trying to get the precise route down, even with the new set-ups. Certainly, if you get into the coin hunts or the Toad Rallies, yes, there is far more than a couple of hours of fun here. I didn't enjoy those as much as you seem to have, and hey, that's fine.

      • nav1

        This should be in the review, as it is indeed the deciding factor on the game's length. If you like collecting all the star coins in NSMB, you'll get a ton out of SMR. If not, then it's not worth it for you.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        It is in the review, multiple times in fact.

      • nav1

        It is somewhat, but not clear enough IMO as the deciding factor on whether the game is worth the asking price, it's just mentioned in passing as something that exists. No offense, but it just irks me that the reviewer spend so much time complaining on the mechanics which is a more subjective issue, than on the more objective matters like this.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Even that is subjective, though. Not everyone cares about going back and getting all the coins. To say the review should have focused on that because that's YOUR favorite part of the game is not how reviewing games works.

  • Leszek Jurczak

    Fair review I'd say. The game is pretty decent. Well, the price isn't. I know that this is Mario, I know it's Nintendo. But despite all of this, this title in its present form should not cost more than 3 bucks.

  • InTheAir

    I guess that the difficulty curve comes into play with the level secret coin system.

  • darkich

    So my initial impressions were sadly accurate - the game is all hype, little substance. Take the Mario away and this would've ended up completely unnoticed! It's the most overhyped game in history!

    Btw the user rating on the app store aligns with this review perfectly.

    The game will earn some huge money initially but will tank very fast and very hard.

  • Егор Бочаров

    Like it! It's just what Nintendo intended - a good appetizer for a REAL experience found on the 3DS or the Switch/WiiU. But it definitely captures the feel of the original - unlike Rayman games which don't capture the spirit of classic Rayman 1-2-3 at all. Might be a bit expensive, but it has always been the case with Nintendo games.

    • spizak

      Well new mobile Rayman is based on console remakes of Rayman, so in that sense they are literarily a asset copy of xb/ps/pc new Rayman - a near perfect mobile port.

    • nav1

      That's actually one of the reasons why I liked Jungle Run, and it's "parent", Rayman Origins: because it wasn't like the classics. I liked how the first Rayman game looked and sounded, but found it unplayable because of the screen movement whenever you jumped. Origins was a perfect refinement of the series, and Jungle Run was the best port one could hope for mobile, distilled to it's best parts.

  • Neddy F

    What bothers me is that if I pay I still need tickets for the rally. That's not good.

  • kickypants

    Review was ok. A little on the harsh side. The games mechanics work well I think. You can certainly still jump on enemies and bop them. The difficulty is there to get all the coins. Kingdom builder is no big deal to me and the toad rally is more running with a slight higher tension. I like it

  • fabell

    This game would make a ton of money and be infinitely more accessible if they 1)made it freemium instead of $10, and just used a refillable stamina gauge, if they 2)allowed you to purchase levels with money or by beating previous levels by collecting all the pink coins, if they 3)updated the game with more levels and worlds with additional Mario-modes present in previous Mario games in future patches, if they 4)allowed you to unlock different Mario characters by winning boxes at the end of successful runs or through just purchasing characters who had different powers (like Yoshi), and if they 5)allowed more customization with the look of the kingdoms as well as the ability to visit other kingdoms of your friends to gain benefits from their buildings (if you don't have those buildings).

    • rewind

      Yeah. I'm surprised Apple let the game pass as it is. For all the hype they created, the game isn't going to catch on like a wildfire with that $10 price tag.

      • fabell

        For those who are downvoting my comment, understand that I really want Mario Run to last. If this fails Nintendo may just pull out of the iOS circuit, and that means their huge repository of games also has no chance of ever making it to our platform. They need a massively powerful game to perform for their Board, and the fact is that premium games (such as Mario Run at $10) don't do well on the App Store. Mario Run, the way it is currently designed, is going to become a classic platformer but ultimately will not prove a competitive advantage to other F2P games, unless changes are made for more accessibility to a wider range of gamers and a less hostile profit design for smartphones.

  • rewind

    Good and fair review Shaun. I agree. It is a decent game, but for all the unprecedented hype that Apple gave it, and for the hefty price tag, I expected something more. It finds its success off of the Mario brand, not off of its quality, and that's never good for the future.

    • rewind

      My prediction that it won't make half as much money as Pokemon Go (despite projections of twice as much), is looking good. Wish that betting success found its way elsewhere.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        It was projected to make half the money, but have twice the downloads. Not twice the money. Currently, after just about 24 hours, Mario has close to 3 million downloads and is #1 in top grossing.

      • rewind

        Okay, I stand corrected. Thank you. And I don't mean to sound doom and gloomy about the game. I've just always felt like there is a language barrier (or some kind of superiority complex) between Nintendo and mobile, and I can feel it in SMR.

  • shero89

    Excellent Review.

    This is exactly how I feel about the game and it doesn't really justify the price tag specially when you have so many other good options out there like Rayman or Chameleon run. buy hey most of the people are happy now they have Mario on their iPhones.

  • heringer

    Can't say I agree with the review, which is rare when it comes to Shaun. I went completely 180 on Super Mario Run. From being pretty down on videos to loving the game. The main goal really isn't finishing the levels, but collecting all of the coins. The biggest difference to platformers like Rayman and Wind-up Knight 2 (Punch Quest doesn't strike me as an apt comparison) is that Mario is much more of a precision platformer. Now, it's not that Rayman and Wind-up Knight don't require precision, they absolutely do, but the precision comes mainly from memorization and fast reaction, whereas with Mario it comes mainly from controls. Actually nailing the platforming requires more finesse because the controls are more nuanced and the level design isn't as guided as in other runners. All that being said, I can see why someone wouldn't like the focus on repeating the same levels (though they do get slightly modified) to hunt for coins, and your enjoyment of the game depends entirely on how you feel about this.

    • fabell

      I guess it also depends on what you expect from a Mario game. If it, as you say, is a coin collecting game, I'll probably stay far away. Not because those aren't good games, but because games like Sonic the Hedgehog (another coin-collecting hybrid of Mario) or Leo's Fortune are really not fun for me, whereas I loved traditional Mario games because of the secret zones in tubes or power ups you could find if you were clever or secret levels you could unlock by going a different route.

  • petcar

    Respectfully disagree, for me this is a much more accomplished and challenging platformer than rayman. It's all good tho, opinions and all that. Happy holidays!

  • NickyNichols

    I, personally, love the game, and was having an blast with it yesterday. I shudder to think what today's entitled gamers would think about Super Mario Sunshine if it was a new game and was released on various platforms. Maybe it's best for Nintendo to stay in their walled garden if these kids can't handle it.

  • Touchmint

    That time my Adventure To Fate games got a better review than a MARIO game 🙂

    Agree with the review too it's not a bad game it's just fine better else where.

    I like the idea of premium games charging more though so maybe this will be a boost to the industry.

  • nav1

    I disagree. You speak as if there was a definitive inherent game mechanic and collision detection problem, but there isn't any. You seem to have had an issue "clicking" with them so to speak, and that's fair, but the game itself controls really well and it is very clear when and why you can hit an enemy. it may just take some time for some people too used to the console Mario games. The controls are flawless for a game of this type, and the many, many people with hundreds of Toads just hours after the game released prove it. I will agree that Toad Rally can get very hectic, particularly if you're on a small screen, but for me it makes it more exciting, specially on the more dangerous levels like the airships.

    And you are seriously comparing Wind-Up Knight and Punch Quest to this? I guess to each their own, but both those games may be cool but they're really forgettable. Also, Rayman Jungle Run is way better than any of the free-to-play sequels, better than Super Mario run even. I'd used that instead as a comparison.

    Anyway, I do not entirely disagree with the score, there's certainly more things that could be done in this games, but can't agree with the issues you mentioned in the review. The game's length (it just feels wrong to have 6 worlds instead of 8) and lack of world-level cohesion maybe, but the game controls and mechanics are as good as it gets, and it's amazing how well Nintendo managed to translate the Mario formula to mobile.

    • nav1

      Also, there I don't see any grinding in the game. Perhaps if you don't buy the rest of the levels it may feel like it, but in that case it's supposed to be just a trial. Having played for several hours since it released, I have so many tickets that I'm not sure when and if I'll ever run out of them.

      • cloudpuff

        Agree totally with this. If you're playing to beat the game and collect all the coins in the same way you would on a console version of the game, then you're not gonna run of tickets or coins. I've not beat many levels yet (and by beat I mean collected all coins) and have more than enough tickets and coins to purchase anything in the shop a ex times.

        If you're only playing the demo then it makes sense for tickets to be limited. You get enough tickets playing the demo to be able to get a good taster of toad rally before deciding to purchase the full game, the same way the first three levels are enough to allow an informed choice on the rest of the worlds on tour mode. I wonder if some players were expecting to be able to play toad rally as much as they want without having to pay?

  • Mysterious Heroine X

    Completely agreed! I'm generally pretty in line with most of Shaun's reviews and this is right on the money. It's decent but it could be better. And it has some big downsides that are deal breakers. Nothing to argue with here.

  • curtneedsaride

    Great review! Thanks for sharing. Personally, I've had fun playing it a little bit. And I hope the stock decline can bounce back with a hopeful update to remove connection requirement for Tour mode.

  • crunc

    I look forward to getting this free from starbucks in the near future.

  • Jason

    A very nice 99 cent game. Wait, it's how much?!?

    • WhoaManWtF

      Exactly, I have free platformers that are better installed on my phone.

  • WhoaManWtF

    It is funny, yesterday I got shot down for saying this same stuff in comments.

    Without Mario this is a decent free game, maybe even a dollar or two, but ten? No, the only reason people are sucking up to it right now is Nintendo and doing so will not get them to release better games it will get them to make more cash grabs on this platform just promoting their own, if you want them to take mobile gaming serious speak with your wallets, leave reviews and don't buy it!

    • Chronosz

      It looks like this game was too hard for shaun. Great game, nintendo nailed it and I dont even like auto runners lol

      • WhoaManWtF

        Ten bucks for a game with a energy system, no thanks. The multiplayer is the only reason I would buy it and I won't because of the energy system which is even worse than a normal energy system... Timers with a chance of getting a ticket.

  • adeezy

    If i look at other games you've given 4s, 4.5s etc. this game deserves to be up there, yes if you just run through the game and go straight for the flag, its easy, simple, and you can finish it in an hour. But going for each coin and the game quickly ramps up to hard difficulties.

    I think you wouldve given it a better score if it weren't mario.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      You should read the review.

      • tex32

        Zing!

  • korkidog

    Personally, I'm thoroughly enjoying the game and feel 10 bucks was worth it. I do hope Nintendo updates it in the future with even more content, but if not, I'll have gotten my 10 dollars worth of gameplay.

  • timmfox

    You have to put some time into this game to appreciate it. It is really really good. I'm happy with my 9.99 purchase.

  • tamon76

    I couldn't agree more. The game is lots of fun and extremely polished, but I still can't help but feel a bit underwhelmed.

  • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

    I love this game. And I also 100% agree with this review.

    • bilboad

      I love this game. And I also 90% agree with this review. 🙂 Though I 100% respect this reviewer's opinions, even where they differ from mine.

  • Grits n Gravy

    The game isn't about finishing the 24 levels and then being done with it, it is about getting all the special coins in each level and unlocking for extra challenges and bonus levels.

    Not to mention the Toad Rally mode where you can unlock extra characters by getting enough of each colored Toad. Each of these characters has a dramatic change in gameplay.

  • tpianca

    I agree with the review. People don't seem to understand he is trying to review this as a game on its own merits, ignoring the Mario name. I think you should post a note on the top of the review stating that, because people just don't seem to get it.
    On the same time, this game is a must play, because of the same context being ignored on the review, so it's just right that it's game of the week. And I payed $10 on it, no regrets. Because it's Mario, you know.

  • Paul Rypniewski

    I dont agree, this has sublime controls and is a masterpiece of one button design. Much more enjoyable than those generic Marios on 3DS.

  • James Cameron

    Nintendo really should've known better than banking on a standard runner like this. Boring trial levels offer no incentive to pay the whopping price to unlock. It's time Nintendo stop acting like Rayman never happened

  • justbe333

    This game is so bad and pathetic I would really love to see Nintendo executives jumping out of the 99th floor from multiple windows simultaneously on the news...
    This is a shameful attempt into the mobile world, at least the non nintendo mobile world, with Nintendo's name attached...
    This should be embarrassing and to buy the rights to play past the fourth level and play the first castle… A $10 mark on a shitty game… Should be embarrassingly shameful...
    Nintendo I have loved you since I was a child you have been a source of happiness and inspiration for many years, but I really hope this is your final nail in the coffin

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      The game has been downloaded 40m times, which officially makes it the most popular Mario game in the entire franchise. I don't think anyone is going to be jumping from any windows.

  • tinkie277

    I disagree with this review, I have played this game for hours and hours and hours. Not only do I think it's fun, I think it has incredible replay-ability. I think I have spent more time on this game than any other game on iOS rather than XCOM. The fact that I don't have to wait an hour for lives for power ups or extras, makes the price tag totally worth it. This for me is definitely the best platformer are on iOS.

SUPER MARIO RUN Reviewed by Shaun Musgrave on . Rating: 3.5