At its core, Super Mario Run is an automatic runner that utilizes simple touch controls to perform all kinds of actions. You can extend the duration of Mario’s jump, delay his fall mid-air, or somersault off of foes to reach high places. Like any solid game, these smooth moves are easy to pull off but difficult to completely master, and there’s plenty of open screen space towards the bottom, so my fingers were never obstructing my view. I always felt like I had enough room to react and pull off a slick maneuver, even though I couldn’t stop Mario’s constant forward movement.
It’s a good thing too, because you’ll need to fully grasp Mario’s new repertoire of moves in order to conquer the some of the tougher stages, which continually push you through pitfalls, over Goombas, and around a multitude of hazards. Whether you’re being chased by Bullet Bills or traversing a trap-lined castle, the 24-stage campaign really captures the feel of Nintendo’s 2D Mario series. The slower, one-screen puzzle stages aren’t as exhilarating by comparison, but they offer a nice change of pace, giving the campaign some time to breathe.
The challenging special coin runs are the real hook that kept me coming back, and they’re my favorite part of Super Mario Run. Each stage has five special pink coins that sit just out of reach until you figure out the trick to nabbing them. Get all of them in one run, and a purple set appears in even harder to reach locations, and then a third black set of coins after that. It’s a maddeningly addictive challenge that constantly put my skills to the test. If you happen to miss a hidden coin, a simple tap of the screen will rewind your run a bit, but while this gives you a second chance to snag a coin, you’re sacrificing the precious time you need in order to clear the stage.