Running with Super Mario

As a breastfeeding mother for almost a year and half now, I know many advantages that come from it, both from what I have read, and from my own experiences. That being said, I also know enough by now to say that mobility is not one of them. Not only is there a short list of recommended correct positions in which to feed your infant, but by the time your babies become toddlers, extended breastfeeding moms also have to contend with the little ones’ preferences. My 18-month-old likes to straddle my stomach and breastfeed facedown, with her little face strategically turned to an angle that also allows her a view of the TV. Depending on how relaxed she becomes in this position, it could take anywhere from five to thirty minutes before she either falls asleep or gets bored and moves on to her next endeavor.

During these precious times, I make sure that the viewing material is completely GP, so it’s either Mr. Wiggles or Peppa Pig for us. Now, thirty minutes is a long time to spend on your back watching the adventures of a pink two-dimensional pig, and so the next logical go-to for mama is her cellphone, and mobile games.

brexting

Brexting is the new black.

This is where short games like Clash Royale come in. In the last year, I literally spent hundreds of hours, in 3-minute intervals, on mini-battles and arena matches in this game. For those who have not heard of it, Clash Royale is a great real-time multiplayer game by Supercell, set in the world of the more popular Clash of Clans. It’s a great time-waster for those with only a few minutes at a time to spare, and one hand free to play, so if you belong in this category and you haven’t tried it, you should definitely check it out. You can also read my friend Al’s Clash Royale-related articles in this blog, in the Alky’s Random Thoughts section.

More recently, I came across another game which promised the same mobility and one-hand gameplay that are essential in my games at the moment. Super Mario Run may seem like the same tricky sidescrolling platformer the franchise has been known for, complete with familiar “worlds”, the usual objectives of collecting coins and stomping on enemies, and of course the customary flagpole at the end of a run – the higher Mario (or another character) can reach, the more points, or coins, he or she gets.

game-1

But I don’t care how savvy you think you were with the classic Nintendo game – there’s no way you could have played it properly with one hand, unless you somehow trained your other foot to do the turtle stair-jump trick in World 3-1. The Super Mario Run mobile game is, essentially, not so much another platform game, as it a runner, reminiscent of older games like Temple Run and Minion Rush. There is only one way to control the character in the games – the screen tap. Shorter taps equal smaller jumps, while longer taps make the characters jump higher. Rapidly double-tapping mid-air can also make the characters perform special moves. This is truly a game for those who need their other hand free for whatever purpose it may serve.

But the similarities end with auto-running and coin-collecting, and this is where the more addicting elements of creator Shigeru Miyamoto’s characters come into play.  There’s the usual storyline – trouble finds Mushroom Kingdom again with another Princess Peach kidnapping by the nefarious King Koopa in his futuristic floating Clown Car. Our beloved bearded plumber then sets out to rescue the Princess yet again by successfully going through 4 levels in each of the six worlds in the shortest time possible, for a total of 24 levels to “beat” the game.

worlds

Each level is filled with the same elements which made the original games addicting. For example, a player starts out as Super Mario, but other characters can be unlocked as you progress in the game. Each character comes with special skills, but also unique weaknesses. So far in the game, I have unlocked Toad by linking my Super Mario Run account to my Nintendo Network ID. Toad, and his female doppelganger Toadette, run fast, and play in “giant size” the whole time, without the aid of mushrooms, but that also means that they get instantly killed at first contact without the temporary immunity the mushrooms provide. Other unlockables include Luigi, who is the game’s highest jumper, and supposedly the best character to use when collecting coins, Princess Peach, the most stylish character, whose billowing skirt allows for a bit more control when navigating levels with more pits, and Yoshi, the cute little baby dragon with the strongest air kicks meant to impress more toads in Toad Rally mode.

unlockables

The unlockables.

Even the enemies will give you that ’80s and ‘90s flashbacks we all expect to get from playing this game, from that mean old ghost Boo, who is still up to his usual trick of appearing out of nowhere, to big bulky bosses like Bowser and Boom Boom.

Nevertheless, this is undoubtedly a game for the millennials. The butter-smooth controls and snappy in-game animation is definitely from this era. The gameplay even has a social networking aspect – “good things start to happen when you link your Nintendo account”, is promised at the beginning of the story. The modern take is also evident in other elements of the game, especially in its different modes. For instance, the aforementioned special characters are unlocked primarily by collecting Toads, which brings me to the three main game modes of Super Mario Run, which are invariably linked to one another.

  • Coin-collecting mode: Gold coins are the currency used for buying houses and decorations in Kingdom Builder mode. More importantly, it is also a way to earn Toad Rally tickets, which are used to play in Toad Rally mode. Players earn coins the classic way, by running into them in the game levels. While finishing the levels might seem easy – don’t be fooled. Aside from gold coins, players may also collect five special coins that are located in various places in each level. Find all the special coins in one level to unlock another set of special coins – start by finding all pink coins, then purple, then black. The coin-collecting mode pretty much guarantees that each level is played multiple times, because it is tricky to find and collect these special coins, which makes completing your collection even more satisfying.

 coins

 

  • Toad Rally mode – in this quasi-multiplayer mode, players compete against the ghost versions of other players on pre-determined levels by running for their lives. There are three main objectives – collect coins, impress toads by doing it with style, and avoid dying, because each “death” sets you back in the level and makes you lose toad followers. At the end of the rally, the number of coins collected, and the toads impressed, are compared between players for points, and the one with the highest points takes home the coins and the toads. Toads are used to unlock special characters, which in turn makes getting through the world levels easier, so you definitely want to play to win. To start a rally, a Toad Rally ticket is required. You collect these by completing world levels, and finding special coins.

 toad-rally

  • Kingdom Builder mode – this is one mode I haven’t fully explored yet, but it looks like the objective is to grow the kingdom by building houses and planting decorations for your toad horde, in order to harvest more game collectibles.

Perhaps the only thing I don’t like about this game is that it seems a bit elitist. For one thing, you can only unlock all the worlds by paying a whopping P500.00 for the full game, the highest I’ve had to pay for a game app. Also, it is only currently available in iOS, which makes it inaccessible to many of my friends, thereby rendering the “Friendly Runs” feature practically useless. I’m still not sure what the deal was with the purchase fee, but I hope that an Android version is coming soon.

Super Mario Run is an incredibly well-executed app that is a welcome addition to my collection of games on-the-go. While the few reviews I’ve read so far suggest that players managed to beat the game in less than two hours, my one free hand and I will take our sweet time and enjoy this inspired Nintendo creation for the mobile phones platform.

Do you play Super Mario Run? Tell me about your experience in the Comments section below.

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