The last 4 or so weeks might have been somewhat barren of video game releases, but there’s certainly been no shortage information about upcoming hardware and software to keep us enthused. Gamescom, TGS, PlayStation’s launch event, Nintendo’s recent direct; the industry normally trickles information across the year, but recently, we’ve had a pretty frantic wave of press conferences.
As big a news drop as PS4 Pro’s reveal was, or the extent to which the smorgosboard of software showcased at both Gamescom and TGS reminded us of how many terrific games are soon to arrive, the biggest surprise was certainly Nintendo’s appearance at the Apple conference, announcing their latest foray into mobile gaming, Super Mario Run.
As the gaming community collectively absorbed the somewhat divisive debut of PS4 Pro, Apple’s own press event kicked off to showcase the next iteration of the iPhone. And while the irritating decision to enforce wireless headphones might have been the most notable outcome for iPhone enthusiasts, it was Nintendo president Miyamoto’s surprise appearance on stage to tease the upcoming Super Mario Run that caused the biggest stir for gamers.
Super Mario Run is the ever popular Mario franchise’s debut appearance on mobile, and will launch soon on iOS. An automatic run game similar to Ubisoft’s excellent Rayman Jungle Legends, Super Mario Run is a 2D side scroller where forward motion is automated and the player is only tasked with jump commands, the height of each jump determined by the length of time the button is pushed. Simple by design, it’s a gameplay loop that is actually both hugely fun and can be quite challenging depending on the intricacy of the game’s level design.
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Of course, skeptics are reserved about the automatic run element, insisting that a traditional platforming experience would be preferable. Yet, those wishing for a standard side scrolling Mario title on mobile perhaps don’t know what they’re asking for. Mario games are about pure platforming; gameplay designed to compliment physical buttons, and to replicate the intricacy of console platforming titles on a touch screen probably isn’t going to work.
The automatic run mechanic, however, is a control system optimized for mobile. We know it works and how entertaining it is when paired with clever level design, which is, after all, exactly what Nintendo do best. Yes, endless runners exist already on mobile and the concept isn’t entirely unique, but if Nintendo is keen to deliver on its promise of quality, expect a highly entertaining Mario experience, perfectly suited to mobile controls.
Quite apart from the nature of its gameplay, the fact that Super Mario Run has been announced as a fixed price game is a huge boon for consumers. And while the need to celebrate that revelation in 2016 is somewhat depressing in itself, the fact that Nintendo are willing to invest in the mobile scene with a quality made Nintendo video game comes as a relief.
A fixed price, possibly in the $10-$15 range, gives the game an air of credibility. Thankfully, this isn’t going to be another free to play title that feeds off the popularity of a franchise with a view to practicing extortionist micro-transactions. Nintendo fans, therefore, should certainly be relieved that the company seem determined to issue Super Mario Run with their seal of quality.