Delighted and surprised. The time with the Apple Store demo was short but grand.
Nintendo hasn't shown us the true depth of their mobile strategy. While I enjoyed Miitomo a ton, it was filled with little annoyances that ultimately made me stop playing. No, the real game changer in this field should be Super Mario Run, which is scheduled for release on Thursday. Curious to see how the game presents itself, I traveled to the Amsterdam Apple Store and spent an hour with the World Tour demo. I walked away seriously pumped for the full release.
Stop me if this sounds familiar: Princess Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser, and Mario has to save the day. Super Mario Run doesn’t just take story cues from the other 2D Mario games, however, as the gameplay is similar as well. Mario moves to the right, hits a flagpole at the end, and grabs coins along the way. The big difference is the constant movement to the right; even after a hop back, Mario moves inexorably forward. The jumps are performed by a single tap on the screen, which gives Mario Run a surprising level of depth.
The key objective in each level is to amass as high a score as possible at the end of the level. Jumping on enemies, hitting blocks, collecting coins and finding paths that lead to extra coins all add to the total. The key to racking up the highest score is in finding perfect routes that lead to the secret area and discovering hidden objectives. The first level awards bonus coins for touching arrows, for instance. The search for bonus objectives means the levels are extremely replayable. To encourage the searching, there are blocks in the environment that can stop Mario’s progress or send him flying, either ahead in the level or back to previously inaccessible note blocks. The levels are crafted incredibly well, and seeing everything play out perfectly makes for a satisfying couple of minutes.
Another way the game encourages replaying the levels is the colored coins. The first trip into a level features five pink coins, that are set in hard-to-reach areas that encourage exploring. After picking up the five coins, they become purple and then black. Each different coin color will also change the level, which also adds new routes through the level. Not all of these coins are in the open, as some are in blocks. Although the basic level will be similar, the changes brought by the different colored coins almost make them feel like different levels altogether.
What stood out the most in the demo is how athletic Mario is. Even without tapping anything, he was pulling parkour moves over enemies and doing little hops. The tapping is needed for larger jumps and spins, but he still grabs ledges and climbs if something is in the way. Even the choice of the New Super Mario Bros U art style works as new, charming elements have been added to make it stand out. I tried the demo on various iOS devices, and they all made the game look sharp.
I was only able to get a short demo with Super Mario Run, but I want to play more of it now. The variety in the levels and finding those perfect routes will keep me at that game for a long time. Although there are other modes to work with that will come in the shipping product this week, World Tour has more value than I anticipated. And if World Tour is any indication, I can see myself sinking far too much time into Super Mario Run.