It’s only on iOS, and you have to be online
Though a version of Super Mario Run is expected to launch on Android platforms in 2017, the game is currently only available to play on iOS devices such as the iPhone or iPad. The game requires iOS 8.0 or later, which is supported by all iPhones from the 4S onward, and all iPads from the iPad 2 onward.
In an effort to prevent game piracy, you’ll have to be connected to the internet to play any part of Super Mario Run — this applies to the modes that don’t appear to use online features, as well. If you’re playing the game with a group of friends, you can share your Nintendo ID codes to appear on in-game leaderboards, with a constant tally going of how many coins you’ve collected, Toads you’ve recruited, and how many courses you’ve completed.
The first few levels are free
Super Mario Run is listed as a free game in the App Store, but the free version is really just a demo. The game’s first three levels, 1-1, 1-2, and 1-3, are available completely free of charge, but to finish the end of World 1 and complete your first castle stage, you’ll have to fork over $10. This one-time payment gets you access to all six of the game’s worlds — 24 stages in total.
There’s three game modes
Super Mario Run is divided into three different modes, each offering a different way to play the game.
“World Tour” is the mode we’ve come expect from a classic 2D Mario Platformer. Across six worlds, each containing three levels and a castle, you’ll guide Mario as you try to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser. Along the way, you’ll try to gather as many coins as possible, including special colored coins that can improve your standing on your friends’ leaderboards.
“Toad Rally” is the game’s take on competitive multiplayer. In this mode, you play through courses with an aim to collect the most coins and “impress” the most members of the audience, who happen to all be Toads. A “ghost” opponent, designed to play the same as a real-world player, will attempt to beat your score. Completing challenging obstacles, defeating enemies, and not making mistakes will have you coming out on top and claiming every member of the audience for your kingdom! “Toad Rally” is playable by spending special “Toad Rally” tickets. Don’t worry about running out of these when you’re just learning the mode, as the game starts you with more than 30 if you’ve purchased the full version. However, beware that if you lose a race, you’ll also lose Toads!
“Kingdom Builder” is the mode you’ll want to check out if you’re a Miitomo fanatic. The mode allows you to buy individual pieces of decoration to place around your individual kingdom, purchased with coins you’ve earned from the other two modes. Special items such as homes, pipes, and the classic “Final Stairs” can also be purchased after recruiting enough Toads to join your kingdom, and other items such as a “Mega ? Block” and the “Bonus Game” house give you a chance at receiving extra prizes.
The basics of controlling Mario
Super Mario Run is designed to be played with only one hand, and its extremely simple control scheme reflects this. Instead of controlling Mario’s left-right movement, the game will automatically make him run to the right, and you control his jumps with a tap of your finger. A quick tap will make Mario do a shorter hop, which can be useful for getting over smaller gaps, while holding your finger to the screen will result in a longer jump. For a tiny bit of extra distance, you can tap your finger a second time to make Mario do a little twirl in the air.
But vaulting over obstacles isn’t the only thing you have to do! In addition to smaller roadblocks and gaps, Mario will come across vertical walls. By tapping the screen as Mario approaches these, he will kick off of the wall and jump to the left. This can be useful for acquiring hard-to-reach items. If two walls face each other, you wall jump from one wall to the next repeatedly, and reach areas that seem impossible. Often, that’s where coins are hidden!
Enemies, though still dangerous, pose a slightly different threat to Mario than the standard platforming games. Goombas and Koopas will not damage him if Mario simply approach them on-foot. Instead, he’ll do a little vault and continue moving.
However, by tapping the screen just as Mario reaches an enemy, he’ll stomp it into oblivion and leap up into the air. Enemies are not threats, so much as opportunities to score more coins or fans (in Toad Rally).
Beware, however: if you run into an enemy while you’re flying through the sky, it will hurt you
If you do get hit, you don’t have to try again — at least, not the first time. Each level starts you with two “bubbles.” If you’re defeated, you’ll be placed in a bubble and sent back to an earlier point in the level. Pop the bubble quickly to avoid losing progress, but also be careful. The bubble will drop you wherever you pop it, even if that happens to be above a deadly drop.
Just like in the traditional Mario games, finding a “Super Mushroom” will make Mario grow bigger and will allow you to take an extra hit before he is defeated. These are typically found in the yellow “?” blocks that you’ll see scattered throughout each level. In addition, you’ll also come across invincibility stars, which let you wreak havoc on a map and as well as earn plenty of extra coins.
There’s also a variety of other power-ups to look out for. You’ll find blue buttons that unlock coins which are only available for a limited time, red hoops that unlock limited-time coin fetching challenges, purple blocks that add time to your game clock, and so on.
It’s not about being fast
Despite its auto-running nature, Super Mario Run isn’t a game about getting to the finish first. Level scores are determined by how many coins you collect, and the Toad Rally mode is scored on a combination of coins collected and style points.
The goal is not to rush to the finish, but instead to find the optimal path. Sometimes that will mean doubling back and lingering in a section as much as possible to gather more coins, but you will also often have to react quickly to jump to a ledge that passes you by a moment later.
Oh, yeah! Mario time!
Don’t wait any longer! The joy of Super Mario Run is its ease of play. Show it to your friends who don’t play games, and you might make a Mario fan out of them yet!