Mario has arrived on iOS!

When Nintendo first announced they were going to finally develop games for mobile devices, a lot of fans were leery. Sure, Nintendo is known for making quality products, but the state of mobile gaming right now is… well, it’s not always great. The most popular (and profitable) games are of the “freemium” model, which means the game itself is free, but  if the user wants to get all the options and features (or simply not wait for the cooldown timer to expire before they can play again), they must fork over real cash for items or in-game premium currency.

Super Mario Run thankfully does not follow this model. The game basically goes with the old school demo model, giving gamers a free taste of the game for free (an intro/tutorial and the first three levels of World Tour mode) before asking them to pay up for the rest of the game. Which leads us into our first bit of info.

Price

The game costs $9.99, or your regional equivalent (it cost us $13.99 here in Canada, curse you weak Canadian dollar!). But that’s it. You get the whole game and all its features for the one-time purchase price. Ya know, like games used to be sold? There are no microtransactions of coins or gems or any of that other garbage that plagues other mobile games. You might think that’s expensive for a mobile game, but if you’ve ever purchased digital items in another game, it’s really not that pricey (we sadly admit to buying multiple rounds of Pokecoins to exchange them for egg incubators in Pokemon Go).

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Game Modes

So what do you get for your ten bucks (or 14 Canadian bucks)? Three separate game modes, respectively titled World Tour, Toad Rally, and Kingdom Builder. The first two are very similar, and the third more resembles Sim City than a Mario game. In World Tour and Toad Rally, you take Mario (or another character, as you unlock them) and run from left to right through a pre-made level. They aren’t constantly generated in the same way that Subway Surfer, another mobile endless runner game, has one level that never ends. There are different paths to take and secrets to uncover, giving the game some replay value.

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World Tour

This can be considered the Campaign Mode of the game, as you play through six worlds in an attempt to save Princess Peach, who was (surprise!) been taken hostage by Bowser. You play through many levels with the familiar Super Mario themes, including underground and water levels. Along the way you can collect coins and compete with friends for high scores.

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Toad Rally

This could be considered the Multiplayer Mode. In Toad Rally, you select an opponent and challenge to what is essentially a race, but with style points. The more coins you collect and the more fancy moves you pull off, the more Toads will show up to cheer for your runner. When the timer runs out, the player with the most coins and Toad fans will be declared the winner. The winning racer will be awarded Toads, which allow the player to level up. The higher the level, the more items unlocked. Oh, and you need to collect Toad Rally Tickets to play this game mode, which can be obtained throughout the game or earned through achievements.

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Kingdom Builder

You start with a pretty blank map and a castle that has been replaced with a small tent. As you progress through the game, you can use coins to purchase and decorations for your Kingdom, as you slowly rebuild the castle. Some items, like plants, are merely there for aesthetic purposes, but some buildings actually have interactions. The game will gift you a Bonus Game House for free when you start, a small hut that opens up every eight hours to give you a chance at a brief mini game, where Mario can collect coins and tickets to the Toad Rally. Other buildings unlock additional playable characters in the game, including Yoshi and Luigi.

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Graphics/Gameplay

Simply put, Super Mario Run is beautiful. The levels are vibrant and interesting, and the game play is crisp and responsive. Although we wouldn’t expect anything less from a first-party Nintendo game, this is really is one of the nicest looking iPhone games we’ve come across in a long time. Nintendo doesn’t skimp on adding all the extra details to their games, and Super Mario Run is no different, despite being a mobile game. After all, Mario is their star character and he deserves the best. For reference, we’re playing on an iPhone 6S, but since the game is only available on iOS 8.0 (or later) and the iPhone 5S (or later), you shouldn’t have any problems on your device.

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Android?

Have an Android device? Sorry, you’re out of luck. Super Mario Run is currently only available on Apple devices, although Nintendo does say the Android version is “coming soon.” How soon? There’s no official date, so just keep your fingers crossed.

Oh, one more thing:

The game requires an internet connection, which is a big blow for anyone who planned to play on a subway train or airplane. Or even someone who happens to have an iPod and doesn’t have regular access to WiFi. Nintendo says the always online functionality is due to “security concerns,” but it’s still a bit of a letdown to an otherwise great mobile game.

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