Super Mario Run is too repetitive to justify its premium price

When Shigeru Miyamoto took to the stage at Apple's September 2016 event to announce that iOS would be getting the first Super Mario game developed for mobile (excluding Nintendo's own handhelds of course) the hype was off the charts. I mean, come on. It's Mario on your phone at long last! How could you mess that up, right?

Now, after a three-month wait, the hype has sufficiently died down and we finally get a chance to see how Super Mario Run plays on Android devices. While the game is surely fun to play and features most of the familiar elements that make up Super Mario platformer game, it's really hard to justify the cost to unlock the game given the limited content that you're required to play over and over (and over again) just to unlock new characters, mini-games and decorative features.

READ: Super Mario Run for Android: Everything you need to know!


The full game features 24 levels spread out over 6 worlds in World Tour mode. The level designs are full of nostalgic elements which long-time Mario fans are sure to appreciate, but the difficulty level is way too low. That makes this a great game for kids, but any competent gamer should be able to beat the main game comfortably in a single afternoon. Each level also features three tiers of Challenge Coins to collect, which do ramp up in difficulty. But ultimately it's just another way the game gets you to replay the same levels over and over (and over) again.

The controls are easy to learn but tough to master right away, and things get slightly more interesting once you've unlocked new characters such as Yoshi and Princess Peach.

Control-wise, Super Mario Run was designed to be played with one hand, inspired by the idea of making it comfortable to play in crowded Japanese subway trains. As such, your controls are limited and dead simple: tap to jump. Meanwhile Mario will run across the screen automatically, vault over enemies and low obstacles until he runs into a wall or falls into a pit. This essentially renders most ground enemies harmless — another knock against the overall game difficulty.

On the positive side, the controls are easy to learn but tough to master right away, and things get slightly more interesting once you've unlocked new characters such as Yoshi and Princess Peach. Their special jump abilities certainly add a wrinkle to the standard gameplay along with some much-needed variety when playing Toad Rally.

Play, collect coins, repeat

Ah, Toad Rally. The most divisive mode in the game.

The 'multiplayer' mode for Super Mario Run is where you're likely to spend most of your play time. You race against ghost versions of other players, with the goal of impressing Toads and luring them to your kingdom. To win a Toad Rally, you must collect more coins than your opponent, while simultaneously completing skillful jumps to win over the Toad audience for bonus points.

Whether you love or hate the Toad Rally mode, you will need to play constantly it to collect different color Toads, which in turn allow you to level up and unlock new characters, mini-games, and decorations for your kingdom. Unfortunately, this means you're also stuck replaying looped versions of the same levels over and over again, but for a different purpose this time.

It sort of feels like Toad Tickets were included in the game simply because Nintendo figured mobile games always have two types of in-game currency for players to collect.

It makes the 'multiplayer' mode feel more like an afterthought, and it's akin to racing against a ghost car in Forza; Sure, there are two cars on the track, but there's no interaction with your opponent whatsoever. Hell, there's no way to even be certain the ghost character is even a recording of the player you're supposedly racing against even. Considering the great way Nintendo added simultaneous multiplayer in the New Super Mario Bros. games for Wii, it's more than a bit of a letdown.

To play Toad Rally, you also need to collect Toad Tickets — but you quickly learn that running out of tickets is never really an issue. It's too easy to collect them throughout the game, whether you're going back and collecting Challenge Coins in World Tour or winning them in mini-game huts in your kingdom. Once you've maxed out your Toad Ticket collection at 99, you really begin to question the point of including them at all.

In fact, it sort of feels like they were included in the game simply because Nintendo figured mobile games always have two types of in-game currency for players to collect. They're common enough to be essentially valueless. Besides, I really don't think there ought to be any limitations on gameplay in a $10 paid game.

Final thoughts

For a company that's known for innovating and taking risks, Nintendo played things really safe with Super Mario Run. Too safe. The game is only challenging when you're specifically going after a challenge coin goal but otherwise it plays like a nerfed version of the Super Mario platforming fun we all grew up with. Boss Battles, which we've seen Nintendo showcase some great variety from in past Super Mario titles, are a huge letdown in Super Mario Run. Minor spoiler alert, but once you've played through the first two bosses you've essentially played them all. I imagine it's mostly due to the controls limiting the developer's options. Classic Super Mario games were always about skillfully controlling Mario; Super Mario Run is more about timing your jumps and little else.

For a company that's known for innovating and taking risks, Nintendo played things really safe with Super Mario Run.

This pains me to say, but I would almost be more inclined to recommend Super Mario Run if it were a free-to-play game that pressured you into in-app purchases. And I guess, in a way, it is just that. But there's just no way, in my mind, that this game is worth spending $10 to play the same levels over and over (and over) again.

Should you check it out? Absolutely. You can download the app for free, play through the first few levels, check out Toad Rally mode, and add some decorations for your kingdom. And if you really fall in love with the gameplay and kingdom building aspects, you'll enjoy everything else included in the full game. Otherwise, you're bound to become bored due to the lack of variety and repetitive gameplay.

Download: Super Mario Run (Free, $9.99 to unlock full game) (opens in new tab)

Marc Lagace

Marc Lagace was an Apps and Games Editor at Android Central between 2016 and 2020. You can reach out to him on Twitter [@spacelagace.

  • Did this site run an article saying the game was worth it a few days ago?> :)
  • Yes, but that was one writers opinion (aka click bait headline) ;)
  • That's stupid, so just because another writer has a different opinion that makes it a click bait headline?
  • Different writers with differing opinions. Marc Lagace vs. Daniel Bader. I would find it weird if everyone agreed on everything.
  • This is true.
  • They did when it came to Harry's or Casper. Ha ha!
  • Like during the Pokemon go blitz..
  • Yes it did, but after spending more time with it, it appears that the opinion has changed. This game is not for everyone and I applaud their updated stance on the game. Take it or leave it, its just their opinion.
  • Different people can have different opinions on the same subject and write articles laying out those opinions. Here is the thing that will really blow your mind, they can also work for the same website.
  • :::mind blown:::
  • The problem here isn't that two people have two different people. The problem is that both these people represent Android Central. People see Android Central saying the game is worth it, then doing a complete 180 and saying it isn't. They aren't reading that author 1 feels one way an author 2 feels another. They see Android Central saying one thing, then saying another. When they review a phone, they don't do a turn around with another writer on their website saying something completely different. There's one review and that first review is the stance AC is taking. It's never, "I think this phone is great, but he doesn't." It's, "this is what AC has to say about this phone."
  • I do believe if AC reviews a phone, publishes a positive initial stance, and a week later the phone completely fails to deliver on it's promised features or breaks apart due to poor construction, it would be AC's duty to update their initial stance with a follow up.
  • They take their time with their phone reviews so that they don't have to reverse their stance a week later. What they did here was rush out a review, then actually put some time into playing the game, and now they're saying, "wait, never mind!" This tells me that, at the very least, they're not reliable for game reviews now.
  • Yup, turns out this site isn't run by only one writer. And THIS article is a game review.
  • Yup, agree. 10 bucks is too steep for a tiny game like this.
  • It's $10. You people need to get a life. It's a great game for $10. Don't like it, don't buy it. If $10 is to much for a game then you have issues.
  • $10 isn't too much for a game that's worth $10... It is too​ much for a game that's worth $2. I recently paid £326 to play a game, and do not regret it. Value isn't absolute, if you think it's worth $10, great! I'm glad you enjoy it. No need to be a dick to people who don't agree though. And we can't get a life, I didn't see any green mushrooms... You just get moved back in the level when you fall.
  • This. Even if you only get get a weeks pleasure out it, how is it any different to dropping £10 on food/coffee/beer etc. I much prefer a no ad, no IAPs game for decent money up front.
  • "how is it any different to dropping £10 on food/coffee/beer etc."
    That food is actually necessary for survival? Coffee helps you be alert and productive at work? And beer......I dunno, I hardly ever buy beer.
    I do prefer no ads and no IAPs in my mobile games. But I do prefer these games not to be rehashes of the hundreds of F2P games already available.
  • Oh we do have lives and in these lives we have better use for $10.
    Like said by fuzzylumpkin, $10 isn't much to pay if a game offers the value of a $10 game. It is a lot, however, if the game is really worth less than $3.
    Hell, most of my Steam games have cost me $60 but, unlike this Mario repainted Rayman Jungle Run, are worth their price.
    And we won't be buying it. Just like millions of iOS users who uninstalled this game in less than a week.
  • The point isn't that $10 is too much for A game. It's that it's too much for THIS game.
  • It's only 10$ for you. For me who lives in tunisia (don't have access to international card payment) I have to go to france buy a gift card and spend it wisely. so 10$ are for me 10$+200$.
    I actualy bought the game after reading the article and two days after I'm bored with it.
  • So you actually spent $210 to buy this crap?!
  • Not exactly. If I want my 10$ back to my google play account I have no choice but to go to the nearest city (France) who sell these google play gift cards. Actually, I wont do that.
  • Yup
  • I dont know what Nintendo was expecting. Nobody is paying that kind of money for essentially a temple run clone. 
  • I was actually wishing it were a temple run clone. It has nothing in common with temple run other than the fact that mario is running.
  • i think a 2.99 would have been perfect for this. a lot of people would have bought i then
  • I think the same. I even read about 20 comments on Google Play and all people says the price is problem.
    Nintendo will probably make the game not free and have 1 time purchase like Minecraft to get better community on this game
  • Nintendo doesn't need to make this game free. Just lower the price to what it really is worth: 3 bucks, max 5.
  • $10 isn't too bad. I got 20+ hours already out of it. Plus with my google rewards credit, it only came to $6.
  • And this is why we have the free to play model. People ***** about paying $10 for a game. I bet you have more play time with this game than drink time from 2 Starbucks (or whatever you prefer) coffees. Devs have to eat somehow.
  • Lol, yeah, multimillion dollar software companies need us to pay for THEIR Starbucks and designer jeans. Oh, yeah, they need to upgrade their wallpaper and floor coverings.
  • I think they're comparing it to better games that cost less
  • Or more, I've got no problem with final fantasy VI costing about $15. People seem to take price and value as the same thing... It's not that $10 is a lot, it's that it's more than this is worth... For most of us.
  • I agree with all of you on this, but if it doesn't make money, they won't make it. It might not be worth $10 and once the hype dies, they'll lower the price. I'd much rather have a play store full of pay to play or free trial, then pay once games than this free to play, pound you with in app purchases to advance BS.
  • It didn't make the money they wanted either way. The hype died two weeks after the iOS release. NIntendo was just being Nintendo and thought that any F2P game with a Mario painted on was going to be worth more than 99% of all mobile games in existence.
    Should they have priced this at $3 or $5 max and the story would have been different.
  • Well I can tell you that the ghosts are definitely not ghosts of people playing. My wife and I often get matched up against one another and we've both watched each other and never scored the way the ghosts make it appear. I think the ghosts are just AI that play based on how it thinks you would play. Disappointing to say the least, but oh well. We get a good laugh at each others apparent scores though haha.
  • Yup. But breath of the wild I would've paid double for. 🦄
  • Yup. Again, that game cost me £326 and it was worth it. I was even willing to pay another 18 for the season pass. But as of now, it's crap.
  • I lost interest in this game 10 minutes after I started playing it.
  • Yes it's expensive when you think of it. However, when you consider how much Nintendo usually charge for their games, this one isn't so expensive any more.... It's $14.xx in Australia.... Luckily I got a lot of free credit from operator that I could waste...
  • The thing is, their games are usually good... Do you really think this is worth a third of Pokémon sun/moon? Or a quarter or fifth of breath of the wild?
  • yea and Codemaster charge 50 euro for their racing games but F1 2016 for Android/iOS is 10 euro and its the actual game with downgrade graphics
  • Nintendo could easily make this game a success if they got off their high horse and lowered the price to what this game really is worth: $3
  • Well, personally I thought it was worth the $20 I spent for both the iOS and Android versions (I often switch platforms). For me, it's a good time waster/toilet game, enough to keep me entertained but no issue turning off in an instant. To each their own I guess. I would never pay full price for something like Call of Duty, which you could argue is just as repetitive but 6 to 10 times the cost.
  • Call of Duty may sucks but it has 6 to 10 times higher quality graphics than this plus its has real-time multiplayer and its also a competitive scene to maintain
  • I bought it for $13.99 CAD. It's fun.
  • For me who lives in tunisia (don't have access to international card payment) I have to go to france buy a gift card and spend it wisely. so 10$ are for me 10$+200$.
    I actualy bought the game after reading the article and two days after I'm bored with it.
    thanks AC
  • Why would you pay or put money into this game anyway when you can just play it for free?
  • the first world makes you think the others do worth it then you spend the 10$ to finally find that they are the same thing.
  • I disagree with the author. Repetitive? Sure what Mobile game isn't these days? However to finally break free of the freemium model is more what makes this game fun and worth the premium price. You get a demo, you like you buy. You don't ,you uninstall. This is finally our chance to support games like this that don't use psychology to suck out our money with useless microtransactions. That's my opinion!
  • But Pokemon Go was? Guess opinions differ based on whether advertising dollars are spent.
  • I downloaded the game and unlocked everything using my Google Play Survey credits. So it was no harm to me. I find the game really fun. It's a battery hog, but it's fun in spurts.
  • At least you pay it once it is always better than in app purchase! But if people are willing to get scammed and don't want to pay 10$ once, editors should play the game! They will get more money and consumers won't even notice!