Super Mario Run, Nintendo's first true mobile game with Mario at the helm, came as a complete surprise when it was unveiled this past September during the iPhone 7 media event. Like other Temple Run-style mobile games, Super Mario Run is a portrait-style title that tasks gamers with controlling an endless-running Mario as he dashes through levels littered with franchise-familiar scenery and baddies.
Update: With the game now widely available (on iPhone and iPad devices only) we have bumped this post with a round-up of early impressions. We've been playing it as well and the game is really good. You can get it here.
Nathan Ingraham from Engadget provides a bit of insight regarding how to control Mario:
Naturally, there are a lot of variations on what you can make Mario do here beyond that: Holding longer when you tap makes him jump higher; you can tap again to get a brief momentary hover; you can wall-jump; landing on enemies gives you a chance to string together multiple jumps; and so on. There are a handful of environmental items that change things up as well – jumping off of certain bricks will send Mario soaring to the left instead of to the right, and standing on some bricks will stop Mario so you can assess the coming challenges and plan your route.
Lisa Eadicicco of Time touches on the familiar feel of levels I mentioned earlier:
The new touch controls aside, the game's levels should feel structurally familiar to anyone who's played the arcade or console games. Familiar foes like Boos, Koopas and Goombas will thwart Mario's progress. Some puzzles include choosing the right door to proceed to the next section of a level, just like in previous games, which helps Super Mario Run feel more like a traditional Mario game and not just another "runner." Some characters have also been tailored to better suit the game's mobile-centric controls. Bullet Bill, for example, no longer charges at Mario, but instead follows him as he sprints across a stage.
Super Mario Run should have a high replay value as The Verge writer Andrew Webster notes:
To encourage players to explore levels, each stage also comes with five pink coins that are especially tricky to collect. If you manage to grab them all, you'll then move on to collecting five purple coins in even harder-to-find places, which are then followed by daunting black coins. The idea is that the coins will force you to play levels multiple times, mastering their various intricacies.
More on coin-collecting from Brett Phipps with Trusted Reviews:
Run uses the bubble system seen in the "New" Super Mario Bros series (it also uses the same art style, which is gorgeous on both iPhones and iPads), and they're found in question blocks. If you miss one of the collectible coins - or simply fancy stomping on a surviving Goomba - you can use one of the bubbles to zip you back through the level as far as you please, pressing the screen again to burst and re-attempt the run.
However, the risk is in the fact that the timer doesn't reset, so if you use too many bubbles or go back too far, you may run out of time and not finish at all.
It's simplified, but yet, not really as Vaughn Highfield of Expert Reviews notes:
Dyed-in-the-wool fans of our mustachioed hero may feel that Mario's auto-run ability in Super Mario Run detracts from the Super Mario template, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, by freeing players from the shackles of controlling Mario's movement, Nintendo has transformed Super Mario Run into a completely different game. Despite its simple one-tap play style, it's deeply involving, and as challenging as any Super Mario title before it. This isn't some watered-down mobile romp - this is Mario as you know him to be.
Super Mario Run arrives on December 15 exclusively for iOS. It's free to try although there's a one-time fee of $9.99 should you decide to unlock the full game.
Given its brand recognition and the fact that I wasn't able to find a single bad thing written about it, I have little doubt that Super Mario Run will be an immensely popular mobile game. Sensor Tower Inc. estimates it could generate as much as $71 million in revenue in its first month and Apple has said that more than 20 million people have opted to be notified when the game becomes available.
That said, don't expect Super Mario Run to unseat the phenomenon that was Pokémon Go primarily due to the fact that it's an iOS exclusive.