GAMING: Super Mario Run (iOS)

  • Release Date – December 15th, 2016
  • Yay! – Play Super Mario one handed on your smartphone!
  • Nay! – Must be connected to internet to play!
  • Retro Rating – 8/10

For someone who invested many hours hammering both Tetris and SuperMarioLand on the Nintendo Gameboy the announcement of this release filled me with a mixture of fear and excitement. Well, it wasn’t so much and announcement as a relentless all encompassing advertising campaign on which Nintendo spent god knows how much.

Like many a smart phone gamer my initial fear surrounded the worry that this was going to be another game purchased out of nostalgia that I would get really excited about, pay money for and then be horribly disappointed by. It wasn’t until I saw the game in action – on every single iPhone I walked past in the Apple Store – that I gave in to the gods of advertising and made the ‘impartial” decision to give it a go.

super-mario-run-screenshots-retro-ramble-reviews
Please be aware photos of games never do the real thing justice!

The first thing that strikes you is how much of an obvious big deal this is for Nintendo. This is no rush job or cash grab. It’s clear from both the graphical design and playability of the title that this has been handled no differently from any other major game title release on one of Nintendo’s own platforms. Its worth noting that this will be the largest audience that Mario has ever been offered to so it should not come as a surprise as to how carefully Nintendo has both planned and executed its release.

First off I was happily surprised to find that its one of those free games that offers in app purchases i.e. A play first, buy later freemium model. This clearly shows Nintendo’s commitment to making gaming as enjoyable as possible for everyone. Some could argue that only offering three levels  before making customers pay may seem a little tight but I think that’s a little harsh considering what Nintendo are offering. To be fair I believe they’ve struck a great balance between whetting the appetite of new customers without cannibalising purchases from loyal fans of Mario keen to take advantage of all the available add-ons.

The controls are simple meaning you can play one handed. The screen is well designed so your fingers don’t obscure your view and even though Mario runs from right to left on his own this is a dynamic you quickly get used to. The fact that there are many new options for controlling Mario while he’s in the air, coupled with the fact that players are rewarded for doing it in style also adds an unexpected enjoyment factor when playing this game. There is also the added bonus of being able to compete against the scores of other players on the same first three levels giving it a whole new dynamic.

The only problem I’ve personally found with this game is the fact that like many other iOS titles it needs to be connected to the internet in order to play it which can be frustrating since many of the times I look to a game is when I can’t get online for whatever reason.

Since the game’s release back in December, the game’s gone on to attract more and more players all over the world – 90 million downloads as of January 2017, and that’s only on iOS. It will be very interesting to see how popular the game is when it hits the Google store given that Android represents 86% of the smart phone market!

Its still early days so with any luck this is only the beginning and we can expect many other retro Nintendo titles to hit smart phones in the coming years.

With any luck we’ll get an iOS version of Super Mario Kart before next Christmas!

Hitman Sniper (iOS)

Charlie McGhee has been playing Hitman Sniper on his iPhone and thinks you should too. Here are his thoughts on why its a great smartphone game plus some  videos of Charlie’s own gameplay to give you an idea of what its like to play.

What is it?

If you’re into gaming you’ll no doubt be aware of the Hitman series that dates back to the PC and PS2 in the early 2000s. Since then 6 games have been released spurning a host of games for tablet and smart phones including this little cracker which was released in 2015. The game is a FPS but centres only on sniping activity and as Agent 47 although you are never threatened by counter-attack you can and will fail missions for being too aggressive, alerting the wrong people or not fulfilling the specific mission objective. Rather than a straight forward FPS this is more of a puzzle game where completing the mission requires you to focus on taking out targets in very specific ways. From shooting balcony glass to cause targets to fall to their deaths to shooting patio heaters to cause an explosive death the game continually challenges players to be as creative as possible.

What works?

For me, the production quality of this game is top notch, soundtrack and in game sound effects are 10/10. In terms of graphics these are as good as is possible on current iOS devices which to be fair is currently somewhere between what you’d expect to see on the PS2 and Xbox back in the day.  The game is quite addictive since what starts out as a satisfying point and shoot quickly changes with each mission requiring you to find a new way to take out targets without being noticed or in a particular order. The options available leave plenty of room for manoeuvre and keep you coming back for more.  The best thing about this game is you can have a satisfiying game in 2-3 minutes so ideal for short bus/train/metro rides.

What doesn’t work?

As addictive as the game is, apart from a Zombie survival-type mode that was added later there’s only really one location, albeit there are techinically 3 buildings and surrounding estates where targets will be located. As we’ve said before on this blog wanting more from a game is not necessarily a negative. Square Enix Montreal have done a great job with this title, so more please! As its their most successful game to date let’s hope it’ll be updated shortly.

Who should play this?

Anyone who’s every enjoyed any of the Hitman games or anything similar, plus anyone simply looking for a short gaming fix on their daily commute.

Gameplay (Charlie McGhee)

Wanna see what it’s like to play, well so do the game’s developers since they’ve made it incredibly easy to upload your own gameplay to Facebook and Youtube.