It was only announced in September, but for Nintendo fans, it amounts to years of waiting, as Nintendo dragged its heels and refused to give in to the seeming inevitability of Mario’s smartphone debut.
The intent behind the gaming giant’s steadfast insistence was understandable, if, perhaps, ill advised. Nintendo is both hyper-protective of its intellectual property and accustom to developing titles designed specifically for its own hardware. As such, a simple port just wouldn’t do.
But when Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto took to the stage at the big Apple event this fall, it was clear that, not only had the company changed its tune, it was going all in on mobile gaming in the wake of the massive surprise success of Niantic’s Pokemon Go.
The result is Super Mario Run. The game is actually Nintendo’s second in-house smartphone app, though the social media title Miitomo didn’t exactly set the world on fire. The game, which debuts today for the iPhone and iPad, certainly has a much stronger foundation, drawing upon multiple decades of beloved side scrolling titles.
The company has shown it off in bits and pieces, including the hands-on time we had a week or so back. The title takes a unique approach to the well-trod form, building gameplay around a single hand. That means the entire thing can be played in portrait mode with a series of single-finger taps. It also means that Mario get a bit more vertical and can hop over enemies unassisted.
The plucky plumber’s biggest adversary at the moment is pricing. $10 feels like a lot for a mobile title, particularly in the wake of Pokemon Go’s free-to-play model. Players will be able to play a few levels and a fraction of a castle, but anything more will cost you.
It’s hard not to see Super Mario Run as a trial for Nintendo itself, as the company looks toward future economic models and tries to determine just how large a role mobile will play.