Release Date – December 15th, 2016
Yay! – Play Super Mario one handed on your smartphone!
Nay! – Must be connected to internet to play!
Retro Rating – 8/10
For someone who invested many hours hammering both Tetris and SuperMarioLand on the Nintendo Gameboy the announcement of this release filled me with a mixture of fear and excitement. Well, it wasn’t so much and announcement as a relentless all encompassing advertising campaign on which Nintendo spent god knows how much.
Like many a smart phone gamer my initial fear surrounded the worry that this was going to be another game purchased out of nostalgia that I would get really excited about, pay money for and then be horribly disappointed by. It wasn’t until I saw the game in action – on every single iPhone I walked past in the Apple Store – that I gave in to the gods of advertising and made the ‘impartial” decision to give it a go.
Please be aware photos of games never do the real thing justice!
The first thing that strikes you is how much of an obvious big deal this is for Nintendo. This is no rush job or cash grab. It’s clear from both the graphical design and playability of the title that this has been handled no differently from any other major game title release on one of Nintendo’s own platforms. Its worth noting that this will be the largest audience that Mario has ever been offered to so it should not come as a surprise as to how carefully Nintendo has both planned and executed its release.
First off I was happily surprised to find that its one of those free games that offers in app purchases i.e. A play first, buy later freemium model. This clearly shows Nintendo’s commitment to making gaming as enjoyable as possible for everyone. Some could argue that only offering three levels before making customers pay may seem a little tight but I think that’s a little harsh considering what Nintendo are offering. To be fair I believe they’ve struck a great balance between whetting the appetite of new customers without cannibalising purchases from loyal fans of Mario keen to take advantage of all the available add-ons.
The controls are simple meaning you can play one handed. The screen is well designed so your fingers don’t obscure your view and even though Mario runs from right to left on his own this is a dynamic you quickly get used to. The fact that there are many new options for controlling Mario while he’s in the air, coupled with the fact that players are rewarded for doing it in style also adds an unexpected enjoyment factor when playing this game. There is also the added bonus of being able to compete against the scores of other players on the same first three levels giving it a whole new dynamic.
The only problem I’ve personally found with this game is the fact that like many other iOS titles it needs to be connected to the internet in order to play it which can be frustrating since many of the times I look to a game is when I can’t get online for whatever reason.
Since the game’s release back in December, the game’s gone on to attract more and more players all over the world – 90 million downloads as of January 2017, and that’s only on iOS. It will be very interesting to see how popular the game is when it hits the Google store given that Android represents 86% of the smart phone market!
Its still early days so with any luck this is only the beginning and we can expect many other retro Nintendo titles to hit smart phones in the coming years.
With any luck we’ll get an iOS version of Super Mario Kart before next Christmas!