Posted by Andrew Marshello @itsthemarsh
Lifelong gamer since 1995. I love taking a critical look at my favorite games.
Andrew Marshello

Today, Apple held its annual announcement conference, and they were joined by a well-known yet unexpected figure from the tech world: Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Donkey Kong, Super Mario, and The Legend of Zelda.

Miyamoto had a big announcement of his own to make: on the heels of Nintendo's own mobile Miitomo and Niantic's wildly popular Pokémon GO, there's a Mario game coming to iOS. The game, simply titled Super Mario Run, plays as the title suggests: rather than a full-fledged Super Mario Bros title, Super Mario Run is designed in the vein of the popular mobile "endless runner" genre. Instead of fully controlling Mario, the portly plumber runs on his own, with players tapping the screen to command him to jump. As with his console offerings, Mario will jump higher the longer you press down on the screen.

In contrast to other sidescrolling endless runners like SEGA's now-discontinued Sonic Runners, Super Mario Run appears to be played with a vertical screen orientation, and the game's description promises "A new Mario game you can play with one hand!" Simplicity is the key here.

Say Hello To Super Mario Run

Left: The main game mode Right: Challenging other players' scores
Left: The main game mode Right: Challenging other players' scores

In addition to the main endless runner game mode, there will be a challenge mode resembling Mario Kart's traditional ghost time trials, in which you can challenge other players' best course times. Interestingly, there seems to be a focus on "style," which you can enhance by timing Mario's jumps.

There's also a mode that will let players design their own version of the Mushroom Kingdom, using an in-game currency: coins which are collected in the other game modes. This third game mode seems like a way to delight more casual players, while enticing hardcore players to keep coming back and replaying levels over and over to earn more coins.

Free-to-Start, You Say?

The App Store description of Super Mario Run.
The App Store description of Super Mario Run.

Nintendo promises that the game will release at a "set price, so you won't have to worry about continuing to pay;" suggesting a lack of traditional in-app purchases that both Miitomo and Pokémon GO utilize. Despite the game's description mentioning that the game offers in-app purchases, Nintendo has confirmed that the game will follow their "free-to-start" model; it will be available to download from the App Store free of charge, and all the game content will be available for purchase in-game at a set price once the app is downloaded.

Super Mario Run, like Miitomo, is being developed in conjunction between Nintendo and DeNA, and Shigeru Miyamoto holds a "lead creator" role on the game. No official price for the full game has been announced at this time, but Nintendo has set a December release date for iPhone and iPad, with producer Miyamoto noting "there are other mobile devices we’ll be bringing the game to later."

Were you surprised by the Super Mario Run announcement, especially on stage at an Apple conference? Disappointed by the initial iOS exclusivity? Still waiting for details on the previously announced Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem mobile games? Expect to see Super Mario Run on the still-ambiguous NX console? There's lots to talk about between now and the game's release this December.

How do you feel about Super Mario Run?