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Super Mario Run sees Nintendo's mascot leap confidently onto iPhone

Super Mario Run launches Nintendo’s biggest franchise onto the screens of iPhones and iPads for the very first time (Android comes later) and it looks, on the surface at least, exactly like New Super Mario Bros. – a series which has become a best-selling staple of Nintendo’s home consoles and handhelds.


It’s a strange sight, the first time Mario jogs onto your iPhone. Nintendo waited so long to jump into mobile game development it felt like the day would never come. And yet there he is, with his portly run and trademark dungarees, leaping and landing in a brave new world.

If you’re expecting a straightforward port of 2D Mario game you’ll be surprised – with its one-handed controls and touchscreen jumping, Super Mario Run immediately feels like a very different animal. Likewise, if you heard the game’s name and equated it to one of the App Store’s endless runners, you’re also mistaken. Mario’s iPhone debut ends up landing somewhere in the middle.

As its name suggests, Super Mario Run presses our plumber pal into a non-stop sprint so you can play one-handed and only worry about controlling his jumps. It’s a big change for long-time Mario fans, and one which takes getting used to. For me, playing a 2D Mario requires I sometimes stop and judge the distance between blocks, sprint and then control Mario’s landing accordingly. Super Mario Run affords you no such luxury.

There are ways to briefly disrupt Mario’s ever-forwards movement and different paths through each level to follow, usually in pursuit of some hard-to-snag collectible, but these are exceptions rather than the norm. Super Mario Run’s one-handed approach to gameplay can sometimes feel like too big a concession from New Super Mario Bros. for long-time fans of that series. It’s frantic, which is fine, but it can also leave you feeling like the game isn’t giving you enough time to see where you’re going before the level has already passed under your feet.

The way to counteract this, of course, is practice, and Super Mario Run’s quick burst platforming levels feel the right length to be replayed over and over. It’s going to take you a while to work out and then perform the feats needed to nab everything on offer. Even a second and third playthrough of some areas left me scratching my head. But, pleasingly, the more you play, the more you find to master. Mario might move at a breakneck pace and not give you a lot of time to react, but his move-set is as versatile as it has ever been. More so, in fact. For anyone worried about whether simply tapping a screen to jump would be interesting enough – it’s quite the opposite.