Super Mario Run, despite being Nintendo’s first mobile game, is an extremely well-designed runner. Mechanically it retains the genre’s crucial simplicity: Mario runs automatically, and you tap the screen to make him jump.
Being a good Nintendo game, there’s a lot of depth and complexity beneath Super Mario Run’s simple, accessible exterior. Unfortunately, the game unfortunately does a poor job telling you how to play, beyond the basics. We have a few ideas that should help you go from a novice Mario runner, to one of the mushroom kingdom’s parkour masters.
10. Use the “midair spin”
The most important move that Super Mario Run doesn’t tell you about is the “midair spin,” or helicopter jump. When you’re mid-jump you can tap the screen again to spin and gain just a tiny bit of extra air, which is often exactly what you need to reach a high-up coin or area, avoid a pesky enemy or grab that extra coin or two.
9. Don’t always jump
Super Mario Run is the jazz of mobile runner games: sometimes it’s about the jumps you don’t jump. If you keep missing coins or falling into gaps and losing progress, try not jumping where you otherwise would and more paths will open up to you.
8. Use red “pause” blocks
The red blocks on the ground in each level pause the timer and stop Mario in his tracks. Sometimes you want to avoid these by jumping over them to maintain momentum, but at other times you can use them to your advantage. In early levels they often let you stop just before the path splits so you can catch a glimpse of what’s ahead, while later levels let you use them to adjust your timing and avoid obstacles or hit moving platforms in just the right spot. Whether you choose to take your time or pass right by, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye out when you see one.
7. Bubble up
When Mario gets hit by an enemy or falls down a gap he floats backward in a bubble until you tap the screen to drop him back on land. Getting hurt generally isn’t a good thing, but sometimes it can be a boon, since you can use the bubble to your advantage: At any point in a level tap the bubble icon near the top of the screen to float backward and replay parts of the level without having to reset completely, correcting your path or grabbing coins you missed the first time. It feels like cheating, but it’s not.
6. If you’re stuck, keep going
If you’re beating your head against a level trying to find a rare purple or black coin and you feel stuck, try something else. Super Mario Run’s levels are dense and well-designed; progressing through the levels or replaying an older one might reveal something new about the level you’re stuck on if you pay attention.
5. Unlock more characters
You can unlock several extra characters to use in Super Mario Run, some of whom even have extra abilities (like Luigi’s higher jump or Yoshi’s flutter jump). The easiest to unlock is Toad; all you have to do is link your My Nintendo account within the app, then redeem the character from the game’s My Nintendo menu. Other characters will be unlocked as you play Toad Rally and build up your Mushroom Kingdom. Switch characters by tapping the character portrait icon in the bottom right after you select a level.
4. Redeem mission rewards
Super Mario Run’s interface can be a muddled, making it hard to navigate when you’re not actually in a level. The game will occasionally show pop-ups saying you’ve accomplished certain objectives, but it never tells you where to redeem your rewards. Thankfully it’s easy once you know: Hit the “My Nintendo” button on the main menu, then the “Missions” tab along the top. You’re welcome.
3. Hammer the Thwomps
As you progress through Super Mario Run’s levels you’ll be given “hammers” but never told what to do with them. As it turns out, the hammers are a building tool, which you can use to remove the large stone Thwomp enemies crowding your Mushroom Kingdom. To use them, open the Build menu and tap the hammer icon in the bottom right.
2. Expand the Mushroom Kingdom
The Mushroom Kingdom starts out small, but it’s actually possible to expand your Toad empire. Once you have enough red, green and blue Toads from progressing through the levels and winning in Toad Rally, you can use coins to buy the “Rainbow Bridge” item in the special section of the Build menu shop. These add screens to your Mushroom Kingdom, creating room for expansion.
1. When in doubt, there is a tips page
Perhaps most incredibly of all, there’s actually a tips page with Super Mario Run itself. It’s totally buried and never mentioned, so many players will likely miss it completely. But if you tap the menu button in the bottom left, then enter your “notebook,” there’s a section called “tips and tricks” that has several useful hints that the game won’t otherwise tell you.
Super Mario Run does a bad job communicating with players, but underneath its layers of obfuscation there is a really fun Nintendo game that’s totally worth getting into. Happy jumping!