Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. franchise is one of the gaming world's crown jewels. Mario has appeared in his own movie, multiple TV series, and too many toy and clothing lines to list here. For gamers, the Super Mario Bros. video games represent some of the best pure gaming experiences that the medium has to offer.
With Super Mario Run, the series is venturing in a new direction. While Super Mario Bros. games have been around since the '80s, 2016 marks the first time Nintendo has lent out their signature franchise to a major mobile platform. Based solely on the game's early traction, the leap to mobile looks like a smart decision. Super Mario Run isn't just a hit, the game is setting download records.
According to CNBC, Super Mario Run topped 40 million downloads within its first four days on iOS, breaking the App Store record. Despite the strong download figures, however, the game's pay-to-play model has irked its player base. Super Mario Run currently holds a 2.5/5 star rating based on 8896 reviews. Reuters also quotes Sensor Tower analyst, Spencer Gabriel, who states, "Only about 8 percent of those who try the game [are] actually purchasing it."
Available now on iOS (the game is awaiting release on Android), Super Mario Run is comprised of three game types: World Tour, Toad Rally, and Kingdom Builder. The free download version offers players access to three World Tour levels and a sample of the game's expanded content. Gamers can also go another route and pay a one-time fee of $9.99 to unlock everything.
From a pure gameplay perspective, Nintendo managed to capture the essence of the classic Super Mario Bros games in their iOS title. Super Mario Run is so meticulously crafted that it delivers a deep gameplay experience while played with just one finger. Super Mario Run could have only offered a basic and derivative Temple Run style game and still sold well based on Mario's name recognition. Instead, the developers infused the game with addictive gameplay that engages players and keeps them coming back for more runs. Super Mario Run taps into a rare gaming sweet spot: it's easy to pick up and play yet difficult to master.
Nintendo's transition to mobile content hasn't been seamless. Players have issued complaints regarding the game's online connectivity requirements, as well as its large data downloads. Additionally, user frustration with the game's pay-to-play format is causing a backlash. Nintendo claims to have opted for the upfront fee in place of multiple micro-transactions; however, the $9.99 price point is turning people off right out of the gates. Even with Super Mario Run's off the charts download numbers, Nintendo's mobile gaming reputation is off to a shaky start.
Super Mario Run was released on iOS December 15, 2016. We'll keep you updated on the game's Android release.