It’s been three weeks since Mario Run released on iOS. In that time, I’ve cleared 6 worlds, 24 levels, saved a princess, and built a mobile representation of the Mushroom Kingdom. I’ve earned a score of roughly 1,500 in Mario Run, and… I think I’m done.
I’d estimate I put about 10 hours in Mario Run, spread out over bathroom breaks and couch sessions since its iOS launch December 15, 2016. That’s a dollar an hour, or fifty-cents if you count the double unlock of the game for my wife and I on a shared iTunes account. I can’t argue that paying for a full game shocks the mobile ecosystem many gamers in that space are used to, but I can argue that it was worth it.
My two-year old joyously played the first levels of Mario Run, excitedly running up to me, demonstrating “how he plays it.” True to advertisement, it can be played with one hand. Seeing my toddler use his little finger to make Mario jump and clear through a level (with Goombas, even!) on his own warmed my gamer heart. I sat on the couch with my wife, playing side by side, learning the most efficient paths through levels. Randomly, I’d hear the bright “wa-hoos” of Charles Martinet, and the pleasant jingling of coins as my wife ran through levels in another room, or while we watched a television show, mixing up her usual play of various Disney match-3 titles. This mobile title was, for almost a month, a shared experience throughout our house.
It was very pleasant to play a game on my phone that has no ad bars obscuring the screen or in-game currency to pay for. Indeed, coins and rally tickets - used for building structures in Kingdom Builder mode and running Toad Rally matches - can not be purchased with money. Nothing beyond the initial game unlock costs money. Twitter user @johnnyebs06 mentioned this, and I was curious. What happens when you run out? I was pleased to find that tickets and coins can be earned quickly by playing bonus games, which are themselves unlocked by using coins and toads unlocked in Toad Rally. In just one round of three bonus games, I earned 8 rally tickets and a few hundred coins. The bonuses can be played every 8 hours. Players can also acquire tickets with My Nintendo points earned through playing the game. As of this writing, I’m still trying to use up all my rally tickets. I’m down to 75 from the maximum of 99, and have not collected any new tickets since 2017 began.
I’m sure that I’ll occasionally play a toad run again here and there, or share the title with others. I’ll happily give my phone to my children, letting them run Mario through levels I’ve already cleared. Who knows, maybe they’ll collect some of the special coins hiding within the levels. Mario Run was worth the $10, and I look forward to what Nintendo offers next on mobile. Though it no longer sits on my phone’s home screen, it's earned a proper place in my gaming memory banks.