March 19, 2017
No, this is not a shameless plug that I'm being paid for or anything, but my honest review of Nintendo's first cell phone game: Super Mario Run! It was around mid-December when the game first came out that I spotted Bowser on the Featured page of the App Store on my iPhone 6S+! That resulted in my instant downloading with eager anticipation. I was very curious to see how Nintendo's first foray into developing for foreign hardware would turn out. Okay... I was probably more eager to see what Bowser would be like, but that last statement was still true!
At first, I was very underwhelmed like a lot of other gamers were, and nearly gave up on it! The free version of the app is very limited. It only allowed you to play the first 3 levels of the game, despite there being 24 levels in the full version of the game. These first three levels were very easy and simple, and didn't even leave you with much satisfaction in beating them. Most unbelievably though, Nintendo teased by only letting you play the first 30 seconds or so of World 1-4, the first Bowser's Castle! To play any further involved a hard paywall of $10 (USD). Aside from some simple builds allowed in the decorative Build Mode, and maybe a chance to play the (surprisingly fun) Toad's Rally mode, the free version barely scratched the surface of what the game offered. I found it to be pretty poor advertising in a way, because I didn't even have much satisfaction to even be motivated to pay the $10 to see what the rest of the fuss was about. Honestly, the only reason I did so, was because I wanted to fight Bowser and see what he looked like, lol. However, there probably wasn't a whole lot of others like me out there that would do this!
I was pleasantly surprised that the full version of the game was a lot better than the free version. I continue to be amazed how Nintendo was able to duplicate the ultra-responsive and tight controls they are known for. Despite me playing on a third party's hardware, this game feels exactly like any other Mario handheld game I would expect. Instead of lugging around a rather large Nintendo 3DS everywhere, I can have access to this Mario game, any time, any place.
Well... mostly... Another big shortfall is Nintendo's paranoia in forcing you to be constantly connected to the internet to be able to play (for apparent anti-piracy reasons). In January, I was on a multi-hour plane trip and wanted to play the game, only to remember that I wasn't able to without a constant signal. A friend of mine takes the underground subway to work each day, which loses cell phone reception between each stop, and would have his play interrupted. He mentioned he likely wouldn't get the game for this reason alone. One must endure a lot of frustration to be a loyal Nintendo fan, as they often make "business decisions" that seem to hinder, rather than help themselves. Super Mario Run may turn out to be an experiment that was a success, in spite of itself.
Ever since purchasing the full version of the game, I have been putting in a good 2-3 hours a week into it rather consistently. I am surprised by how challenging the game is, compared to how it started out. It's not a frustrating type of challenge either, but a rewarding one. I've unlocked all the characters in the game, won-over 3,700 Toads, and I'm in the process of collecting all the pink, purple, and black coins in the game. I've done this in 5/6 Worlds already, and it's been very difficult. The Toad's Rally is also a real hoot, and I almost exclusively play Bowser's Gunship level, as you get all the colored Toads if you win, plus it's a very fun level that I'm very good at. I'm also amazed at the agility of each of the unique characters, and how you have to use strategy for each one (in the case of the colored coin-collecting).
I believe the attraction of most video games comes in the sake of accomplishment. I am very much feeling that with this game, and am getting some pretty worthwhile rewards! For example, check out this wicked Bowser Statue I unlocked this weekend, or this really cool Gold Bowser Statue you can get from getting a My Nintendo account going. I have the Bowser Statue guarding Princes Peach's castle, while the Gold Bowser Statue keeps the Toads on the island to the south in check. Bwa ha ha! I've never seen Bowser assume this pose before, but he sure looks tough! I'm going to have to try hunting for a higher-resolution render of this...