'Super Mario Run' rushes to iOS devices on December 15

Nintendo’s enduring mascot character Mario will make his mobile debut next month when Super Mario Run launches for the iPhone and iPad via the iTunes App Store on December 15.

While players will be able to sample Super Mario Run free of charge at launch, the full version can be unlocked via a one-time $10 purchase, granting access to three distinct gameplay modes.

Revealed earlier this year, Super Mario Run is an autoscrolling 2D platformer featuring characters, enemies, and settings from Nintendo’s New Super Mario Bros. series. The upcoming release marks the first-ever officially licensed appearance of Mario in a mobile app, and represents a major shift in Nintendo’s market strategy.

Nintendo previously made inroads into the mobile marketplace with Miitomo, a social networking app that allowed users to build and interact with customizable Mii characters. In addition to the upcoming Super Mario Run, Nintendo revealed that it also has new Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem games in the works for mobile platforms.

“The wait is almost over for a Super Mario game that can be played on mobile devices,” said Nintendo of America’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, Doug Bowser. “Developed under the direction of Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto, Super Mario Run brings a new take on the series’ beloved action-platforming gameplay to iPhone and iPad for the first time.”

Super Mario Run features side-scrolling platformer gameplay in which players control the timing and height of Mario’s jumps. Action scrolls to the right automatically, and players must dodge enemies and hazards in Mario’s path by tapping their device’s touchscreen.

In addition to a single-player campaign in the vein of Mario’s previous 2D adventures, Super Mario Run includes a “Kingdom Builder” mode that allows players to craft their own unique version of the Mushroom Kingdom using cosmetic items unlocked during gameplay.

The game also features a unique “Toad Rally” mode that pits players against their friends in a series of time trial races. After picking a friend to challenge, players race against an on-screen character representing their buddy’s best run through an individual level. Upon emerging victorious, players are rewarded with bonus coins and other unlockables.

Super Mario Run launches across 151 countries and regions on December 15. The game requires an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch device running iOS 8.0 or later. An Android version is also in the works, though a Google Play release date has not been announced.

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