While those of us in Android land have yet to get a chance to sink our teeth into Nintendo’s first proper mobile game Super Mario Run, we’re still interested in how it’s doing on iOS in the early going. The early consensus of the game is that, well, it’s fun enough… for an endless runner.
It’s like Mario and Temple Run having a baby, and that doesn’t sound like a bad thing on paper. But that also may be its biggest flaw. On one end, there’s the issue that endless runners inherently don’t offer much in the way of engaging gameplay. Your character runs, and when you see an obstacle or some collectible to get, you tap the screen to jump.
Some games have added depth to the genre with twists and turns and swipes and shakes needed to get through complex levels. But not Mario: it’s as pure an endless runner as you can get.
If the game were priced like an endless runner, that may not be much of an issue. But once you get past those first three free levels, you’ll be asked to pay a whopping $10 to keep on running. When you think about what you’re actually getting from Super Mario Run — a mindless screen-tapping fest, albeit filled with gaming’s most iconic character — it’s actually pretty absurd.
You can buy full strategy games and RPGs for less than $10 on the Google Play Store. You can enjoy VR games and movies and stories in VR for less than $10 in the Google Play Store. Hell, a lot of this stuff can be had for free. But Nintendo wants you to pay $10 for a shallow take on a shallow genre.
And that’s why we aren’t surprised to learn that their shares are actually plummeting since the launch of Super Mario Run. It got off to a fast start and surpassed Pokemon GO as the top-downloaded title on the App Store, sure, but Pokemon GO had already slowed way down from its initial surge, so it may not be as impressive as it sounds (especially if Apple ranks their top-grossing lists on a limited time-based factor, and how many of the 2+ million downloaders actually opted to pay for the full shebang).
All of this is not to say Super Mario Run is a bad game. It’s actually pretty fun, for what it is. The levels are masterfully crafted, and Nintendo’s charm seeps through every Pixel of the experience. But it’s still an endless runner, and the only replayability you’ll get after racing through a brief World Tour campaign (you’ll be able to do it all in 3 hours’ time) is the ability to do it over and over and over again to collect every last coin you can.
Perhaps future (and, hopefully, free) updates could change this, but in the meantime, I’d rather take my $10 and spend it on 10 games that can do so much more.