5 Ways We’d Fix ‘Super Mario Run’

Bob Mackey
Super Mario Games
Super Mario Games Nintendo

With 90 million downloads to date, Super Mario Run has been a massive success for Nintendo. And, in terms of capturing that essential, timeless Mario action, Super Mario Run certainly succeeds. Even with its high level of quality, though, Nintendo’s first proper mobile game isn’t without its faults. If these minor issues bug you, too, check out the five ways we’d fix Super Mario Run.

Skins from Different Super Mario Games

A screenshot of Super Mario Maker for Wii U.

Super Mario Run draws heavily from the aesthetic of the New Super Mario Bros. games—and by “draws heavily,” I mean “borrows everything.” Folks who discovered Mario games within the past 10 years probably prefer this look, but fans who grew up with Mario in the ’80s and ’90s may crave more old-school visuals. Last year’s Super Mario Maker drew from four distinct eras of Super Mario games, so why can’t Super Mario Run do the same? Charge me 99 cents to rebrand its visuals in the vein of Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World, and I’ll be a happy camper. (Or just make it a free update—your call.)

Fresher Ideas

An image from the box art of Mario Paint for the SNES.

Granted, Super Mario Run captures that pure, 2D platforming essence, but it barely brings anything new to the table. People who left console gaming behind years ago may not notice, but nearly every asset—from songs, to background objects, to enemies—comes ripped right from the New Super Mario Bros. series. Nintendo often relies on this sense of familiarity to great effect, but Super Mario Run falls back on the basics without really offering anything new. If Nintendo ever offers additional levels, it’d be great to see new level types, foes, and power-ups to add some spice to this extremely straightforward platformer.

More Worthwhile Social Options

A screenshot of Rally Mode in Super Mario Run.

Sadly, Super Mario Run subscribes to Nintendo’s typical “ships passing in the night” style of online communication. Yes, the game gives you a “friends list,” but it essentially exists as a private leaderboard. Challenge one of your friends, and even if you beat them in a Toad Rally, they’ll never know. Since Super Mario Run exists on platforms which require a legal adult to pay for the software, Nintendo doesn’t need to be nearly as protective as they are with more kid-friendly devices like the 3DS. Giving me the ability to ping my friends whenever I trounce one of their scores—and vice-versa—would make playing Super Mario Run’s social modes much more enticing.

Better Volume Options

Admittedly, this is a small quibble. But, as a guy who loves to multi-task, I’ve had to make some hard choices while playing Super Mario Run. So, if I want to listen to a podcast while getting my Super Mario Run on, I have no choice but to turn the music and sound off completely. If either one of these options had a proper slider, I could just dial it down to the point where Super Mario Run’s audio didn’t drown out anything else being piped through my earbuds. Playing Super Mario Run on mute can be done, but without hearing those iconic sound effects, something just feels… off. With any luck, this minor problem can be ironed out with a quick update somewhere down the road.

The Ability to Turn Off Ghosts

A screenshot of Mario racing against a ghost in Super Mario Run.

When playing Super Mario Run’s Toad Rally mode, you see a ghost—a static image of the Mario character who previously played the level in question—running alongside you. I guess keeping tabs on your competition adds to the tension, but ultimately, ghosts don’t amount to much. Since you’re only shooting to beat prescribed scores in Toad Rally, seeing the performance of another player as you perform yourself doesn’t really help in any measurable way. In fact, another moving thing on the screen only contributes to the visual clutter, sometimes making it confusing to know what’s what when many objects cluster together on a tiny mobile screen. Ghosts don’t have to go away completely, but providing players with the option to give them the boot would make for a very thoughtful choice.

Bob Mackey
Bob Mackey is Games Editor at Fandom. Since joining the games press in 2007, he's written for sites like 1UP, Joystiq, The A.V. Club, Gamasutra, USgamer, and many others. He also hosts the weekly podcasts Retronauts and Talking Simpsons. Follow him on Twitter @bobservo.
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