Hey there, Gameologerinos, and welcome to our weekly thread for the discussion of weekend gaming plans and recent gaming glories. This weekend, even though I have bigger fish to fry—namely Watch Dogs 2, which I have only played for around an hour so far but have generally enjoyed—I know I’ll be sinking most of my time into Super Mario Run. We’re well beyond the App Store’s golden age, but every once in a while, some really addictive mobile game will pop up and siphon away my odd idle moments. Nintendo’s mobile debut launched yesterday—a Mario game where the plumber runs automatically, and you’re tapping the screen to help him jump over pits and bounce between walls—and it already has me hooked. Much like the Rayman mobile games that it seems to be cribbing from, Run is a completionist’s nightmare, filled with special coins to collect from tricky places and easily missed paths that lead to them. Thankfully, you can tap a button to put Mario in a bubble and send him careening backward a bit to pick up something you missed, but you only get two bubbles per level. Die without one on hand, and you’ll have to start over.
Nintendo was smart to give potential buyers a handful of free courses to try out, but those initial stages are deceptively milquetoast compared to the more adventurous level designs that come later. As is typical for a Nintendo game, they serve as your introduction to the basics of Run’s controls and tricks—blocks emblazoned with pause symbols make Mario stop moving; others with arrows pointing to the left let you reverse his direction for a short time—but once you move into world two, the game starts implementing them in more clever, challenging ways, like a ghost house that trades the game’s scrolling levels for one that wraps around itself. With that slow drip of one-off concepts via self-contained levels, it certainly feels like a Nintendo game.