BY MARC LAGACEHere we go! (not quite yet for Android users, though...)
Super Mario Run is finally here, seeing a release in over 150 countries through the iOS App Store.
Super Mario Run was first announced by Shigeru Miyamoto, the man behind the most iconic character in video games history, at Apple's event back in September, where the game was revealed as an iOS exclusive at launch and demoed live on stage.
What's it all about? What's this I hear about it requiring a constant online connection? How much does it cost? When's it coming to Android?
You've got questions, we've got answers! Here's what we know so far.What is Super Mario Run?
Super Mario Run marks everyone's favorite turtle-stomping plumber's first appearance on a mobile device — aside from the Game Boy, of course.
It features everything that makes Super Mario so great — the fast-paced and skillful gameplay, the coin collecting, the familiar enemies — with a control scheme that's optimized for smartphones so that you can play it with one hand. As the name implies, Mario runs automatically, but you'll need your wits about you to time your jumps right to stomp enemies, avoid obstacles, and collect more coins and collectibles than you can shake a stick at. It's currently exclusive to iOS, so if you want to learn more check out the excellent coverage from our pals over at iMore.Man, I love Mario! Is it just like the games I played as a kid?
Mmm, yes and no. I guess it depends which Mario games you played as a kid. All the classic enemies and characters are here, and the graphics and game physics are styled after the New Super Mario games for the Nintendo Wii and DS systems so expect to use plenty of wall and spin jumps. It all makes for a good balance of the classic side-scrolling Mario fun you know and love, with a bunch of newly-added features to increase replayability. There are three modes of gameplay: World Tour, Toad Rally, and kingdom building.
World Tour is the single player mode, featuring 24 levels spread out over six worlds, with each world featuring a boss battle at the end. Each level features challenge coins, powerups, and secrets that require you to experiment and take chances to explore.
Toad Rally is the multiplayer aspect of the game, where you challenge real-life opponents to races through levels, where a combination of speed, accuracy, and collecting coins is required to secure a victory. Win and you'll impress toads who will come chill at your Mushroom Kingdom. Lose, and toads will leave your kingdom for greener pastures.
Which brings us to the final aspect of the game: kingdom building. What's the point of collecting coins if you can't spend it on anything cool? You'll need to stock up on coins as well as keep a steady stable of toads around to be able to upgrade and decorate your kingdom. There's a lot to unpack here, with some buildings unlocking special mini-games, while others attract characters such as Luigi, Yoshi, and Princess Peach to your kingdom, unlocking them as playable characters with their own unique special abilities.
Altogether, it seems like Nintendo has done its homework to create a smartphone game that rewards repeat playing, offers some level of multiplayer fun, and includes world building features to keep us coming back for more. All that, wrapped in the cozy nostalgia of everything that makes Mario great!Ok, that's all good, but how much does it cost?
Super Mario Run is a free download for iOS, but you only get to play through the first world before you're required to pay $9.99 to unlock the rest of the game. We're expecting to see a similar price point when the game is eventually released on the Google Play Store.When will it be available for Android?
After a solid month waiting period, Nintendo announced that the game will launch on Android in March. We don't have a specific date, which is unfortunate, but at least we now know that Apple's exclusive deal will come to an end roughly three months after the game launched.
One thing that's expected to stick around when the game comes to Android is its dependency on a data connection to run. Super Mario Run requires an always-on internet connection to play, meaning if you're away from Wi-Fi or in a spotty mobile network, no Mario for you.
In a great interview with Mashable, Miyamoto explained Nintendo's justification for the always-on connection, which also touched on the reasoning of launching for iOS before tackling an Android release:
For us, we view our software as being a very important asset for us. And also for consumers who are purchasing the game, we want to make sure that we're able to offer it to them in a way that the software is secure, and that they're able to play it in a stable environment.
We wanted to be able to leverage that network connection with all three of the Super Mario Run modes to keep all of the modes functioning together and offering the game in a way that keeps the software secure. This is something that we want to continue to work on as we continue to develop the game.
But actually, the security element is one of the reasons that we decided to go with iPhone and iOS first. So this is just — based on the current development environment — a requirement that's been built into the game to support security and the fact that the three different modes are connecting to the network and interacting with one another.
These comments point out a few things we already know — that many developers find it easier to develop titles for iOS first, partially because of the diversity of devices running Android which can cause security and device compatibility headaches, but also because Apple's closed app ecosystem provides much more control over piracy concerns.
Considering again that this is Nintendo's real first foray into mobile gaming (besides Miitomo, which isn't really a game), it obviously took its time to make sure it does a proper release for Android the right way the first time.Well, what if I just try and sideload the app from an unofficial source?
We strongly recommend waiting until Nintendo officially releases Super Mario Run for Android. This game is projected to become the most popular mobile game of 2016 — perhaps even surpassing Pokemon Go — which means it's ripe for hackers and scammers to get crafty and try and trick folks into downloading malicious or compromised apps for their own nefarious purposes.
We know it's hard to be patient, but it's probably not worth compromising the security of your device for Super Mario's sake.