When I saw Super Mario Run for the first time, I was instantly intrigued. As a running game, it has a different feel then my other adventures with Mario through the Mushroom Kingdom, and yet it captures the simple elegance of Nintendo’s game designs in a way that I’ve come to expect.
You control the plucky plumber through a series of screen taps. Good timing allows you to jump over pits and dodge obstacles as Mario automatically runs forward across the screen. It can be challenging, but the navigation will feel familiar to mobile gaming enthusiasts.
Since each stage is short but detailed, I can play through them in the snatches of free time throughout my day. Replaying levels to try different paths or attempt to perfect my timing and maximize coin counts is delightfully fun, extending game play even further. The fact that collecting all colored coins unlocks special levels and lengthens the game even more was a welcome surprise that further inspires replay.
I have to admit, I love collections and decorations in any game, so I was really excited when I saw the Kingdom Builder mode. To be able to amass a horde of coins and toads and then visit the store is truly my cup of tea. And any disappointment I had over the initial size of my kingdom dissolved when I learned I could expand to more screens with rainbow bridges and break Thwomps with hammers.
All of these things have certainly put a new spin on what I knew as a 2D Mario platform in the past, though the layouts and locations are just as nostalgic as the music and sound effects. It usually only takes a few notes of the Underground theme to bring out a smile. And the new controls, while different, still remain true to the core of Mario, which has always been to me about challenging myself to reach every nook and cranny in each level.
Besides, different isn’t always bad. The recent remake of the SNES console and its games gives me the chance to revisit my childhood, but balancing two jobs leaves me with very little time to actually do so.
Super Mario Run on mobile makes it easy to pull out and play when I can, and it still gives me the satisfying thrill of conquering a tricky level or narrowly dodging a bullet (bill).
It’s a feeling as wonderful and timeless as Mario himself.