Review of Super Mario Run


What’s this? It appears to be Super Mario on a non-Nintendo system. Hmm, I don’t like the looks of this and who can blame me? Last time the jumping plumber ventured his way onto third party hardware we got the Philips CD-i abomination that was Hotel Mario. Nintendo are however desperate for extra revenue, after the Wii-U’s disappointing sales, and have therefore decided to dip their toe into the mobile market. At first glance Super Mario Run appears to be a fully-fledged platformer, but in reality it is an auto-runner. Just like playing Mario Bros with a busted D-Pad, in this game Mario continuously traipses forward. Controls are limited to jumping at the appropriate time. Tap the screen to leap over pitfalls and squish the gormless turtles that have pledged fealty to King Koopa.


Super Mario Run sees the titular Italian stereotype traverse over twenty-four levels in order to reclaim the delicious cake that Bowser has pilfered. Oh… and he also has to rescue Princess Peach from his clutches, but who cares about that when scrumptious dessert is on the line? Just like in a regular Mario game there is coinage to collect and power-ups to find, including those delightful toadstools that trigger gigantism. Unlike other Mario titles you aren’t given a set number of lives, but rather a finite amount of bubbles. Whenever Mario sustains critical damage, rather than perish, he will safely float away to another location. Watching Mario drift across the sky in a bubble is reminiscent of his younger years, back when Yoshi was tasked with babysitting a toddler version of Nintendo’s mascot.

The main campaign can be cleared within two hours, so what is there to do after that? Not much other than design your own version of the Mushroom Kingdom. By using the coins collected during Mario’s journey it’s possible to construct buildings and purchase decorations for your land. Erecting some structures will also require labour in the form of Toads (no not frogs, the humanoid shrooms who serve Peach.) Recruiting Toads requires that you compete in rally mode, where you challenge the ghosts of other players in a race to nab the most gold within a strict time limit. The simulated PVP adds some welcome replay value to Super Mario Run, although I must say that seeing your stockpile of Toads deplete when you suffer a loss sucks. How dare you penalize me for losing? This is supposed to be a lighthearted platformer not frigging Dark Souls!


My rating for Super Mario Run is three stars. I’m not a massive fan of auto-runners, but overall this game is fun to play in short bursts – whilst I wait for my Fire Emblem Heroes stamina bar to replenish. Seeing Mario appear in a runner game is weird though. Dashing through stages and grabbing all the gold items you come across sounds like it would be a better fit for Mario’s former rival Sonic the Hedgehog. I suspect Mario fans will enjoy this mobile release more than I did, although the simplified control scheme may not be to everyone’s liking. The jumping mechanics are solid and I have no complaints with how the height of leaps is proportional to how long you press down on the screen. I do however wish that there were a way to manually change direction. Missing out on a valuable collectible just because you can’t backtrack a few steps is annoying.

It will be interesting to see how Super Mario Run performs financially. Entitled mobile gamers, who have been conditioned to expect entertainment for free, may complain that the asking price is too steep for the limited content on offer. I myself will admit that replaying the modest selection of levels over and over can get stale after a while. Thankfully it is possible to freshen things up a bit by tackling the stages with different characters. Princess Peach for example becomes playable upon successfully completing the story. She can’t take advantage of the mushroom powers, but on the plus side she can use her dress to glide. Wow, I had no idea that female garments bestow flight to their wearers. Makes me want to try my hand at cross-dressing… although to be honest I don’t have the legs to pull off a skirt.

26 thoughts on “Review of Super Mario Run

    • I’m okay with paying full price for some stuff on the Apps Store (for example lengthy RPGs.) This shortish game probably wouldn’t be able to get away with its price if Mario wasn’t the star though. On the plus side players can try the first few levels for free before deciding if the product deserves their cash.

      The mobile market is a tough nut to crack. Some consumers would prefer to pay upfront for a full game whilst others are okay with freebies funded via micro-transactions.

  1. Sadly, this reminds me that I miss Sonic Runners. As freebies go, and speaking as someone who never really got the whole ‘auto-runner’ genre, that was a good little time waster for me.

      • It was simple and a wee bit repetitive, but having three character classes and a ton of unlockable characters was a bonus. The amount of time I spent trying to unlock Blaze the Cat, only to have the game closed not long after though … sigh. Still, at least Digimon Heroes is keeping me distracted.

  2. Solid review! I thought the price was fine, especially considering Nintendo could have easily charged for microtransactions like they are doing with Fire Emblem Heroes. This was a pretty fun game. I admittedly didn’t enjoy it as much as I do most Mario games, but this wasn’t a bad attempt at translating Mario to the mobile platform.

    • I like Fire Emblem Heroes more than Super Mario Run so I kind of wish that both games would swap their price models. This game would be fine as a freebie were you pay cash for rally tickets. Meanwhile it would be awesome to pay a one off fee to eradicate Fire Emblem’s stamina bar.

      • Same here, though I would actually prefer for both to remove microtransactions altogether. Since the microtransactions are my least favorite part of Heroes, I’d gladly pay a one-time fee for it if the price was right!

  3. Nice review! You did trigger horrible memories of baby wailing Mario from my time with Yoshi’s Island though… I am really shocked Nintendo is allowing their IPs to go mobile now. I’ll have to give this and Fire Emblem Heroes a try soon.

    • One of Nintendo’s biggest selling points has has always been that their awesome first party titles can only be played on Ninendo machines. Mobile gaming is huge in Japan though so I guess they couldn’t resist expanding their business in that direction.

      Man, I really hate being stuck on a plane/bus with a shrieking baby. Needless to say I didn’t have fun with Yoshi’s Island. Getting hit by enemies is bad enough without the added stress of toddler Mario wailing.

    • Super Mario Run is more expensive than your average mobile game, but then again some people end up spending more cash on “free” apps via micro-transactions.

      I believe Super Mario Run was developed by Nintendo. Pokemon Go is the game that Niantic made.

      • That’s one thing that’s seemed a little odd to me, at least from the outside looking in. Nintendo’s really known for doing things in a very unique way, yet the game developed by another company seems to be the only mobile release they’ve had that really pushes the envelope, there.

    • Sounds like someone needs to purge their phone off stuff they no longer need hehe. I’m the same way. A lot of the software on my iPad hasn’t been used in yonks, but I probably won’t delete anything until my storage space if full.

  4. Nice review. I’ve heard a similar critique for this game across reviews – it asks for a little too much. I “beat” Pokemon Go but got really burnt out on how they handled the whole app, so have been wary on Mario and FE. Will probably try out both anyway.

    • The grinding in Fire Emblem might burn you out too, but for the moment I am still enjoying that game. I can’t comment on Pokemon Go because I don’t own a mobile… plus I am not a fan of games that make you step outside ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I played this game once but I saw that you have to pay to unlock most of the game and that completely switched me off it. I have to admit when it comes to mobile games, I’m still stuck on Pokemon Go.

    • In a way it’s a bit like old PC shareware games. They give you a free demo with a few levels and then make you pay for the rest. It’s a reasonable strategy, but these days it is tough to get mobile gamers to part with their cash, as there are so many freebies on the Apps Store.

  6. I downloaded it in my IPad. But you have to upgrade and pay after the third level which I didnยดt… as you say the running, never stopping effect is a con for me! ๐Ÿ˜‰ best wishes, dear Judge.

  7. Having to pay for a Mario Infinite Runner makes me feel indifferent. I am glad Nintendo is trying something new, but a mobile runner? Also I bet you would look wonderful floating around in your pink poofy dress lol.

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