I Beat Nintendo’s ‘Super Mario Run’ In The First Hour, Now What? – Forbes

Photo: Nintendo

Photo: Nintendo

Super Mario Run launched today on iOS, after a months-long campaign with Apple where it was dangling at the top of the app store, tantalizing everyone for release. Nintendo is trying to make lightning strike twice, replicating even part of the success of Pokémon GO with its flagship IP, Mario, but this time having a more integral role in the creation and publication of the game.

Since the game launched earlier today, I’ve already “beaten” Super Mario Run. As in, I’ve beaten the “World Tour” portion of 24 total levels, and I’ve played quite a few games of “Toad Rally” to boot, which gets you extra cash and prizes.

The game is undeniably fun, and a represents a new level of quality in the mobile space as you might expect from a Nintendo platformer. Mario auto-running through levels takes some getting used to, but the “one tap to do anything” gameplay becomes intuitive fairly quickly, and after a few levels, I definitely had it down.

The game has a really diverse range of levels that combine old and new concepts together in ways that produce the kind of memorable platforming you’ve come to expect from Nintendo, but again, here I am, an hour later, having beaten the entire thing. Now what?

Nintendo realized this might be an issue, and so yes, Super Mario Run does have an “endgame” of sorts. Each level has five pink coins that require extra tricky jumps and planning to get, and once you get them, there’s a new location for the set. It’s a sort of challenge mode that each map has if the initial run through was too easy.

Photo: Nintendo

Photo: Nintendo

The second endgame activity is building up the Mushroom Kingdom, which requires both coins (which you will be drowning in if you paid for the full game and beat it) and different colors of Toad. Some buildings are simple, like a Red Toad house that costs 20 Red Toads. Others are crazily expensive, like a cake from Princess Peach that costs 1000 of three colors of Toad. Other challenges let you unlock Toadette, Luigi and Yoshi as playable heroes, if you have the Toads to spend.

You get Toads only through Toad Rally, an activity where you can either challenge the “ghosts” of other players, or (very terrible) Nintendo bots. Most levels give you red Toads, but others offer the other colors. Toad Rally costs one Rally ticket. I have about 70 from buying the full game and beating it (you get ten per world completion), but eventually those will run low, and you’ll have to check in daily to get one or two more.

Building up the Mushroom Kingdom is a pretty simple endeavor. There are slots. You can put buildings in the slots with these currencies. The end.

This is why I’m a touch worried about the staying power of Super Mario Run. I had a good time beating the game, and I will probably play the levels a bit more, but do I care about grinding out 200 green Toads or 1000 blue Toads? Not really. Not at all, in fact.

Maybe that’s okay, however, because unlike Pokémon GO, the format of Super Mario Run is not really about long term engagement. The game is “free,” but it’s good enough where you will beat the first three levels and absolutely want to pay $10 to unlock the other 21. And once you’ve done that, that’s it, Nintendo’s won. They don’t really care all that much about keeping you engaged past that point, because there are no microtransactions you can purchase for the endgame (I would worry about the morality of buying Toads, in fact).

Photo: Nintendo

Photo: Nintendo

This isn’t “bad,” per se. It’s a great game that I definitely think is worth $10, but it’s just a bit odd for mobile games to be this limited in earning potential. And I worry that some will beat it, see what passes for an endgame be like, “wait, that’s it?”

In contrast, I have sunk hundreds of hours and a frankly embarrassing amount of money into Pokémon GO the past few months. I still do not have a full Pokedex, nor am I close to max level. But both those objectives motivate me to continue playing (and paying). Building stuff in a micro-Mushroom Kingdom does not. Short of a few more rounds of Toad Rally and maybe a pink-coin challenge run if I really want to push myself, that’s kind of all that’s left in Super Mario Run, from what I’m seeing. I’d return for new levels, which I’m sure will be added, but will those cost extra? Is that when Nintendo flips the switch and tries to generate long-tail revenue? I’m not sure.

It’s too early to really understand the impact of Super Mario Run, but my initial impressions leave me a bit puzzled about what Nintendo can or will accomplish here. I would imagine they will sell quite a few copies of the full game which is fantastic, but I’m not sure people are going to absolutely crazy for this game like they did with GO. It’s a solid game where you can beat 95% of the actual content in the first hour. For some maybe that’s fine, but for others, it might be a bit off-putting.

What do you make of Super Mario Run, based on your experience so far?

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