For nearly two decades, Nintendo was the King of mobile gaming. The Game Boy, then the Game Boy Advance, then the Nintendo DS, then the 3DS. But after the launch of the iPhone, smartphones started to take over as the dominant gaming platform. They weren’t best for gaming, but they were way more convenient.
Traditional game companies have been making games for smartphones for years, but for the longest time, Nintendo resisted. They thought that smartphone gaming would eat into the profits of their handheld systems. But with smartphone gaming projected to account for as much as 27% of total video game industry revenue by 2018, Nintendo decided to finally release a mobile game. They started with what they know - Super Mario.
Super Mario Run looks and sounds a lot like the New Super Mario Bros games from the Wii and DS. The control, though, is the simplest of any Mario game ever - you just tap to jump. Mario runs forward automatically, and the goal is to get as many coins as possible on your run through each stage, as quickly as possible. When you tap, Mario jumps - and the longer you hold down on the screen, the higher Mario jumps. If you fall down a pit or get hurt, you come right back in a bubble and continue.
And...that’s it. There are other modes where you can compete with recordings of other players running through levels, and a Farmville-like Mushroom Kingdom Builder mode, but these are both nearly as shallow as the main game. I had a lot of fun for a few minutes learning how best to play, but then it all seemed rather repetitive, and not too much like a real Mario game. There is some strategy in how to reach high spots or stomp a bunch of Goombas in a row, but for the most part, you just keep running forward.
Still, it’s a good quick way to burn a few minutes on your phone. Super Mario Run is available now on iOS, and is coming soon on Android.