After a long wait, Super Mario Run is finally available for Android from the Google Play Store. It's Nintendo's second game released for Android after Fire Emblem Heroes and its third official app after Miitomo. It's essentially Nintendo's take on the endless runner genre on mobile, featuring Mario and all his pals.
Super Mario Run is a free download. You can play through the entire first world — boss level included — in World Tour mode for free before you need to shell out $9.99 to unlock the rest of the game. There are three ways to play the game: World Tour, Toad Rally, and kingdom building. You're required to kind of cycle through all three modes as you play in order to progress in each one: you need to beat World Tour levels to unlock new levels for Toad Rally, and you need to succeed at Toad Rally to impress Toads and build up your kingdom.
But first and foremost, you need to master the core gameplay.
How do I get started?
When you open the game for the first time, you'll be asked to select a region; after this, you'll be asked to link your My Nintendo account, if you have one. We suggest signing up for My Nintendo if you don't already have an account: It unlocks some free in-game content, most notably Toad as a playable character. You can also sign up with Twitter or Facebook. After you've signed up and agreed to the Terms and Conditions, you're ready to play!
From there, the game runs you through the tutorial level, where you learn the basics of how to control Mario and how the game mechanics work. Everything is shown to you step by step, so even though you know you tap to jump, you must wait until it teaches you how to jump in the tutorial. All told, the tutorial takes under a minute to complete before we're thrown into the main story of the game
(Spoiler alert: it involves King Bowser kidnapping Princess Peach).
What are the controls?
The first thing you need to know: Mario runs automatically. You don't have to — nor do you get to — manually direct him forwards or backwards. He also automatically jumps over small obstacles like blocks or enemies, small gaps in the path, and low-height Warp Pipes.
But just because Mario automatically jumps over enemies and most obstacles doesn't mean he's invincible. Mario can still get injured or die if you're not strategic with your jumps. However, Super Mario Run uses the same bubble save that was introduced in New Super Mario Bros.. You start each level with two bubbles giving you three 'lives', as it were.
How to jump manually
Just because Mario automatically runs and jumps over small enemies and obstacles doesn't mean this game's a sleeper. You certainly need to master all the ways you can control Mario's jumps yourself to stomp enemies, hit blocks, collect coins, and get to out-of-reach areas:
- To jump normally, tap the screen
- To get a high jump, press and hold your finger on the screen
- To spin in mid-air, touch and hold your finger on the screen, and then tap the screen while in mid-air
- To reverse jump off a wall, tap when Mario is about to hit a wall
- To stall in mid-air, touch the screen and swipe to the left. One to master for grabbing challenge coins.
- To do a vaulting jump, tap when Mario is vaulting over an enemy. This also lets you stomp the enemy.
More stylish jumps will also impress more toads during Toad Rally challenges. Those include linking consecutive wall jumps, vaulting jumps, rolling jumps, climbing jumps, and stomping consecutive enemies.
What do the action objects do?
Pause Blocks stop Mario. When you step on one, Mario stops moving, the screen catches up, and the game timer pauses, allowing you to time to determine when and where you want to move next. These often show up when you have a couple of options to choose from: Should you jump to the higher platform or stay on the lower level? When you've made your decision, tap the screen to start moving again.
Launch Blocks launch Mario in the direction shown on the block's arrow. Simply running across a launch block does nothing; to trigger it, you'll have to tap the screen as you cross it. If you tap on a reverse Launch Block, Mario will jump backwards.
Coin Arrows are transparent blocks that reveal coin paths once Mario touches them. These often point you along the preferred path, and can also help you maximize your coin collection in Toad Rally.
Springboards catapult Mario in a specific direction through the air. This can be useful for climbing walls and getting to out-of-reach places.
Red Rings make red coins appear. Red coins are special high-value coins that only appear for a limited amount of time — usually about five seconds. Make sure to run through a Red Ring whenever you see one!
Super Stars will turn you into an invincible coin-collecting machine. They are hidden amongst bricks (usually ones that are hard to reach), so be sure to jump into bricks to smash them! The Super Star power-up acts as a magnet, drawing coins toward you as you run: Big time fun.
Switches control hidden blocks: Some levels have blocks that only appear when you jump on a switch. These will help you reach greater heights, avoid death, and collect Challenge Coins, but be careful! The platforms will expire, so you'll need to hurry or else they might disappear beneath you.
P Switches turn blocks into blue coins for a limited period of time. Jump on a blue P Switch to snap up as many blue coins as you can before they disappear.
Time Extenders add a few extra seconds on the clock. Time Extenders are invaluable on some levels, so be sure to grab one whenever you see it.
What about Boss Battles?
At the end of each world, you'll have to face off against a boss. First, you'll have to complete a level run in a castle or an airship, but instead of finishing the level by grabbing a flagpole, you'll meet up with a Big Boss like Bowser or Boom Boom.
Each has slightly different weaknesses, and you'll have to use your smarts and skills to defeat each one. If you've played previous Mario titles, you should know what to do, but if you need a few hints:
- Bowser can be defeated when you drop an axe onto the bridge he is standing on.
- Boom Boom needs a little head-bouncing finesse.
- Make sure your character is fully powered up before entering a boss battle. That way, you have a little wiggle-room when it comes to making mistakes. After all, it ain't easy to jump over Bowser's spike shell.
- After defeating the boss, you'll unlock the next world.
What is Toad Rally mode?
Toad Rally is the multiplayer mode in Super Mario Run. You compete against other players online in a head-to-head competition of speed, accuracy, and style. You race against a ghost version of your opponent while each of you play through a level. The number of coins you gather and fancy jumps you pull off during the race determines who wins the round.
As you complete worlds in the World Tour, you unlock new color of Toads. For example, you'll unlock blue Toads once you complete World 1, purple when you complete World 2 and so on. You need to collect certain colors of toads to unlock new characters, so pay attention to what toads are up for grab in each rally.
If you win a rally, you'll convince Toads to join your kingdom — but if you lose, a certain number of them will leave.
Perform trick jumps to impress Toads
The more stylish you are during Toad Rally, the more Toads you'll impress. You'll know if you're gaining Toads by the thumbs up icon that will flash on the screen every time you do a stylish jump such as a rolling jump, linking consecutive wall jumps, or by vault jumping past enemies. If you're really impressing the Toads, you may see some of them populate the bottom of your screen as your audience.
But be careful, because if you die you'll lose your Toad fans. How many Toads you impress during the run will factor into your final score, so if it's an especially tight coin collecting race it might just come down to who impressed the most Toads. Since all these Toad Rally runs occur on levels you've unlocked during the World Tour, you will want to remember your best lines and any secret areas with oodles of coins so you can get the upper hand on your opponent.
As you collect coins through the level, you fill up your Coin Rush meter. Once it's full, you unleash a coin-collecting frenzy, with coins shooting out of any nearby pipes and Coin Arrows doubled for the duration of the bonus. You can fill the Coin Rush meter by collecting coins (including Challenge Coins) and pulling off sweet tricks as you go.
What about kingdom building?
The final aspect of the game is building up your Mushroom Kingdom. All the coins you collect in Super Mario Run can be used to build and deck out your kingdom with mini-games, decorations and other bonus objects. You buy buildings and decorations from the shop (or unlock them as gifts from the Gift Box) and then place them in designated spots on your land.
You can place up to eight buildings and 12 decorations to your kingdom to start, although there will be opportunities to expand your Kingdom as you collect more toads and level up your Kingdom.
One of the coolest things you can add to your Kingdom is mini-game huts. You buy these special bonus buildings from the shop, which in turn let you play bonus games once every eight hours. Bonus houses are a quick way to earn coins and Toad Rally tickets.
How can I unlock the other characters?
There are 10 unlockable characters in Super Mario Run: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Toadette, and five different Yoshi (the classic green Yoshi we all know and love, along with red, yellow, purple, and blue). Besides Mario, each character can be unlocked by completing a task, or by reaching a certain number of Toads in your kingdom. For example, you unlock Toad by connecting your Nintendo account within the app, Princess Peach is unlocked by beating the World Tour levels, while Luigi and the Yoshis are unlocked by collecting specific Toads in the Toad Rally.
Each character has a special ability: Luigi can jump higher than any other character, Princess Peach can float a la Super Mario Bros. 2, Toad can run faster than all other characters, and Yoshi has his flailing floating jump that you may remember best from Super Smash Bros..
Any other questions?
Super Mario Run is ultimately all about mastering each level. There are three different sets of Challenge Coins to collect, and you're constantly replaying the same levels in Toad Rally as you lure Toads to your Kingdom and collect coins. After a couple of hours playing through the game you should be well on your way to mastering the controls.
Got any questions, comments or tips to share? let us know in the comments!
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