Is Super Mario Run too little, too late?

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Nintendo is bring its mascot to iOS, but its chance for great success may have already passed

145312_smdp_zar_imge_05_2_iphone_silver_r_adOver 30 years on from the release of Super Mario Bros. and yet the sight of Shigeru Miyamoto introducing a new Mario game never ceases to bring a smile to our faces. Perhaps it’s just nostalgia or that we never really grew up, but that’s the way it is. Miyamoto and a new Mario title are enough to see decades of gaming, cynicism and talk of 4K gaming drift away, for us at least. But is Super Mario Run a little too late to the party?

Fans and industry analysts alike have been screaming for years that Nintendo needed to let go of its much-respected commitment to first-party exclusivity with characters like Mario and bring them to the hugely successful smartphone world. As more and more titles have found success with the kind of family-friendly aesthetic that Nintendo excels at, the marriage of iPhone and Android with the Japanese firm’s stable of franchises has made so much sense. This year the pieces of gradually been falling into place.

By all accounts it was the late Satoru Iwata that put much of this in motion, partnering with DeNA to develop games based on Nintendo IP. We’ve had Miitomo and parallel to that we’ve seen The Pokémon Company create one of the gaming phenomenon of the year with Pokémon Go. So what are the chances of Mario repeating that level of success?

It’s certainly the IP best placed to achieve it and a December release for such a game as the Northern Hemisphere huddles indoors against the cold and has time to play and share their experiences. It might not have the magic hook of socialising and meeting players in the way that Pokémon Go does, but in a way this more private game might be exactly the antidote we needed – something to be enjoyed with friends, to challenge each other with thanks to the Toad Rally mode and to gradually master, like any Super Mario title.

The translation of the core mechanics of Mario seems to have been done very smartly and while a constant runner is hardly the most original concept, it has been proven to be the best way of translating platforming mechanics to devices without D-pad or buttons available. Does being original matter so much? Would it be churlish to suggest it hasn’t bothered anyone with regards to most Nintendo titles in recent years? What Nintendo does well is perfect mechanics, interfaces and design to make them universally appealing. It may have taken a long time for Super Mario Run to arrive, but it’s here just at the right time.

Stable Mates

Mario has some competition when he arrives on mobile later this year.

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King Of Thieves

More of a puzzle platformer, adding a little of the challenge of a Super Meat Boy to the standard constant runner model. King Of Thieves also features an MMO element in that you design and defend a trophy room as well as attacking others. Its free-to-play structures can annoy, however.

Is Super Mario Run too little, too late?

Journey Below

Something a little different, but another game with constant movement. Journey Below requires you to jump and attack as you descend into various dungeon stages. Bonus abilities are granted at the beginning of each level too, like a double jump or earning health from bashing enemies.

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Rayman Fiesta Run

Probably as close in terms of gameplay and structure as what you can expect from Mario’s arrival on iOS, this Rayman platformer sees our hero always moving and you just need to make sure he jumps on all the right platforms and collects as many items as possible.

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Is Super Mario Run too little, too late?