We here at Pixelrater have been eagerly awaiting Nintendo’s first foray into the world of iOS gaming. We were blown away when it was announced on September 7th of this year at the Apple iPhone event, as none of us saw it coming. We watched the teaser videos with eager anticipation, we spoke at length about how the game might play and what it might offer. We were surprised and perhaps somewhat put off by the seemingly prohibitive $10 paywall, as well as the online requirement and had many discussions about the implications on our podcast.

“Super Mario Run does this one weird trick to stay online! When I saw, I cried.”

Well, today is the day! We’ve gotten our hands on the game and dug in for some seriously detailed investigative gaming. (Read: Not doing our jobs). Below are all the Pixelrater’s initial thoughts on this new game. We took the plunge and went past the paywall so that you all will be able to determine whether or not it was worth the investment. We’ll also be following this article up in 1 week with a post-launch impressions and a detailed review. It’s important to remember that after the hype and excitement dies down, a great game continues to be fun. An OK game stays installed, and a bad game gets deleted from a phone. A really bad game gets you a display replacement at the Apple store. Let’s find out together!

Let’s start with the game overview:
“Super Mario Run: He’s running, but what is he running from? The surprising twist that you’ll want to hide from your kids.”

Super Mario Run is the second foray by Nintendo into the world of iOS gaming (the first being Miitomo – good catch readers!). It has made a huge splash, as Nintendo has historically maintained it’s own intellectual property on internal designed systems and platforms. With the odd exception crossover titles, for the most part, Mario has never left the stage of Nintendo’s closely guarded and internally designed worlds. It’s a big deal. Mario Run brings to life the familiar friendly world of Mario in a new way; as an infinite runner.

Mario will continuously move forward and use his large number of jumping moves to navigate the unique courses. Like the original Super Mario titles, the objective is to grab coins, squish enemies and reach the goal at the end of each course! Gotta go fast.exe

The iOS title includes several modes of play, including:

World Tour

Run and jump to save princess Peach across a multitude of different environments and levels. 6 worlds, 24 courses, all designed for one-handed play. (Think of all the stuff you can do with your other hand!)

Toad Rally

A competitive game mode where you can race your friends across the world to compete for best time. Get the highest score for best tricks and fluid motion through the levels, and race against their ghost on the same screen as you compare times. Think about how fun it will be to shove it in your friend’s faces as you cross the finish line in a clutch last second overtake as Yoshi. You’ll need “Rally Tickets” that are able to be acquired by clearing main game levels or completing bonus games in your kingdom.

Kingdom Builder

Gather coins to spend on upgrades to your own kingdom, and decorate it the way you want with the help of toads you’ve befriended in Toad Rally. Apparently Toads love races and will do anything to stay near fast people, including moving to a strange town.

Check out the teaser trailer here:

Alright enough already! We know about the game, let’s hear your first thoughts about it! (Updates will roll in as our team has a chance to play!)


Ok, admitedly this is a very polished game. It’s clean and it plays smoothly for an ios title, and to be honest, it’s fun. The base game offers all of the game content that you would get if you paid for it, but it’s missing the rest of the worlds. The levels 1-1 through 1-3 are free to play, and the one time purchase of $9.99 grants you access to the rest of the levels, including a bonus of coins and tickets for toad rally. It also lets you get to the rest of the 1-1 worlds, which feels a bit irritating as it’s good enough to make you really want to play the next levels. Now, about the elephant in the room. No offline play. The game is REALLY obnoxious about it. The game will not launch if not connected to internet. It will not load a level while in game. It will not save your level progress if you’ve managed to start the level and get to the end while offline. The game will throw an error and force you to get back to a good net zone before it will let you progress to the next screen and save your coins collected/time data. I get that Nintendo wants to protect their IP, and that you need some form of verification process to avoid cracked copies leaking, but it also has the downside of punishing the user.

For me, the only time I play iphone games is while commuting. As I live in NYC, the trains do not carry signal, meaning if I’m lucky, I’ll get to connect for 1 minute at each station before I’m cut off again on the way to my destination. This means either struggling to hit verification checkpoints at each station and doing my best to stay within 1 world before I need to be online again, or not playing this game on the train at all. This wouldn’t bug me so much, but the advertisement explicity states “Can be played with one hand” implying that you’ll be holding onto a train strap with the other. Clearly this isn’t the case. Now, as far as the paywall is concerned, it DOES appear that 10$ is worth spending on this game, if you know you’ll be spending a bit of time outside of commuting hours exploring the levels. It’s fun, it’s well made and is Mario all the way through. Having said that. It’s not the Mario game for me. That’s OK!


What super Mario tries to accomplish as a mobile game, it does extremely well. It’s simple, repetitive and addictive. Unfortunately, by being an infinite runner and forcing to you to continuously hold the same tempo, it loses a lot of what makes the traditional Mario titles so alluring. The magic of Mario evaporates when you realize the entire game is a play at attempting to time your button presses exactly right for the perfect run. Now that I think of it, it’s basically side scrolling ‘Guitar Hero.’
Is it a good mobile game? Sure.
Is it a good Mario game? Not really.
Is it worth 10 dollars? Probably.
The irony of Super Mario Run is that it’s doing exactly what Nintendo promised their mobile games would attempt: make me want to play Mario on consoles.


It feels too repetitive. There’s not really a story or any reason for me to keep playing the game! Every game needs a good hook, and for me the only one I can see at the moment is wanting to go back and beat other player’s high-scores, and even that is disappointing. The racing game really only shows off how many toads you have, not a great representation of how good or fast the race will be. There are so many other runners out there that are much more fun, and are also available on iOS. Overall I don’t find the 10$ worth it at the moment. I’ve played through about half of the levels, and while I’ll finish playing it’s more to justify the purchase than anything else. I have a hard time getting lost in it because I don’t play it during normal iOS game time (on the trains), and so there are many other games I could be playing instead. like W.O.W. I Dunno, I think it will remain to be seen whether I’m still playing this next Friday, and I have a feeling I won’t be. It’s a good iPhone game, but it’s not a great game.


Don’t expect a full Mario experience with this title or any form of a story. Honestly, I don’t know why you’d have those expectations with a mobile game in the first place. I’ve played through almost half of the World Tour mode and find it strangely addicting. Seeing my friends have higher scores than me drives me crazy and makes me want to nail the perfect run. I also like Toad Rally and enjoy going up against both my friends and peoples’ online ghosts. I currently have a little over 200 Toads in my kingdom, but I saw one player who had almost 1,200! That’s INSANE! In my opinion, the Kingdom Builder mode is the weakest as it only has a few locations and options for placing stuff from the Mario universe. I will say though, that 8-bit Mega Mushroom decoration for Kingdom Builder will be mine! I have no qualms paying $10 for a game I played all through lunch and know I’ll play here and there. Well, with the exception of on the train during my commute to work. It’s a real bummer and I hope Nintendo comes up with a way to enable offline play for World Tour mode. But with the way it integrates so deeply with My Nintendo Coins and the other two game modes, I’m not sure exactly how it’d be done unless offline play wouldn’t count towards the other two modes. If that’s the case, I honestly wouldn’t play it then. After all, I do have a 3DS, which is where Mario belongs. It just feels right on a dedicated handheld or home console. With all things considered, I’d say the little plumber and friends occupy a nice little spot on the first page of my iPhone’s home screen.


Final Thoughts:

(+) Graphics. Beautiful world and general design is on par with previous Mario Titles. Nintendo made a beautiful game. The buttons and menus are fun and inviting, and easy to follow.

(+) Audio. The game pulls you in with familiar sound effects and ambiance. It’s a well designed game, and includes options to turn off the sounds to listen to your own music! (A must have in my opinion).

(+) Gameplay. The game is simple, fun and addictive. It’s well made and designed to keep you engaged for a long time (once you buy it). The first three levels are fun, and just short enough to make you crave the next level as you continue on your journey. If you aren’t going to buy the game, the first few levels are great, but you will want more very quickly. Be warned.

(-) Cost. Personally, I find the cost a bit prohibitive. Having said that, this game is a full blown title. Not a dinky puzzler, but an actual Mario game. It’s probably worth it, but for some reason it feels a bit high for my tastes. Microtransactions also are available for more coins and tickets, and coupled with the $10 unlock price is a turn off.

(-) Online connection required. Look, I can get past an authentication requirement. I can understand a login needed screen, I can even understand periodical connections to ensure quality or making sure that assets are loaded. The fact that I can’t do ANYTHING without an internet connection continually established, is problematic. For me, somewhat of a dealbreaker. This might not, and probably won’t affect everyone the same way. We’d love to know your thoughts on this.

Overall: (B+). This game is fun, challenging and interesting to play. We enjoy the worlds, gameplay and being part of the mario universe within our phones is a new experience that we love! However, cost payoff plus needing to be connected all the time has given us somewhat of a sour taste, and lowered the overall appeal of an iOS game. We heartily reccomend at least playing the demo version, and determining for yourselves, because as a stand alone game, it’s awesome. Don’t forget! Full review will follow this initial impressions post in about a week, to discuss at length what we felt about it after launch!

Author Will Russell
Categories Impressions


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