super-mario-run

Who Pissed in Polygon’s Wheaties Over Super Mario Run?

This past week saw the release of Mario’s much-anticipated debut on mobile in Super Mario Run for iOS. For months, we’ve known we’re getting a runner-type game and in recent weeks we’ve seen a lot of looks at the game including Reggie Fils-Aime’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon. We’ve also known that the game would cost $9.99 via an In-App Purchase, and every smartphone user is familiar with apps that are free to download but you have to pay for to use.

Given all this, it’s been very curious outrageous to see Polygon absolutely ripping the game. They’ve complained, repeatedly, over and over, day by day, set-your-watch-to-it-daily, often nauseatingly, about Super Mario Run. If a game deserved such disrepute, it’d be understandable, but it’s very unusual to see this kind of antagonism over what has proven to be an absolute gem.

Why is that?

Before we dive into what’s going on Polygon, let’s quickly review the game. Super Mario Run is indeed a runner, ala Temple Run and hundreds of others, where Mario (or an unlocked character) is always running right and you’re responsible for the actions he takes. This genre of game became popular for mobile because of the lack of physical controls. Now, Mario isn’t always running right…he can stop or change directions when interacting with certain elements of the stage. The goal is to get to the flagpole in each of 4 levels in each of 6 worlds. Then, boom…you win the game.

If that were it, the game would be over soon as none of the levels are particularly difficult. In true Nintendo style, there’s multiple aspects of difficulty that are layered on top of each other so that both kids and adults (beginners and experts) can play it the way they prefer, and it’s the sub-goals that make the game fantastic. Each level has three variations where you have to get all five colored coins (pink, purple, black) in your run. It goes beyond even New Super Mario Bros. in that getting them all doesn’t matter, you have to get them all in one run. After beating the game, your friends can see if you’ve gotten all of a certain color’s coins in every level. This is the real challenge.

This is known in the game as the Tour.

My favorite part of the Tour is your friends list. You can add your real world friends (using friend codes or send an SMS link to make it easier) and this allows you to see them on your leaderboard. Every level has a high score list based on how many coins you got. I have about 10 friends right now and seeing each of their top scores is so motivating to playing the level over and over again to try and beat it — to squeeze out every single coin possible in my run! In fact, every time I play, the first thing I do is check all the levels I’ve done before and see if I’ve lost the record on any of them. Some levels I’ve practically perfected after playing 100 times or more. Levels are quick and fun and it never gets boring.

Aside from this, there’s also Toad Rally which is also wholly enjoyable. In this mode, you race against other players (not in realtime, but a ghost ala Mario Kart) to win the most coins in a modified run of one of the levels you’ve finished. There’s coin rushes and character-specific strategies that go into each race which you enter via a rally ticket. (You get one free run a day but can earn more tickets easily by finishing levels and winning bonuses.) With victory, you win loyal Toad residents that you can add to your Kingdom.

Oh yeah, we didn’t talk about the Kingdom.

The Kingdom is your town of Toads. There are five differently colored Toads and based on how many you have you can buy different buildings to add to your town. Some of these buildings allow you to unlock Luigi, Yoshi, and others. I can’t describe how addictive it is to do rallies and try to up your population. Every time I lose I always rematch. It’s a lot of fun and provides a second, completely different, aspect to playing the game.

The game is incredibly fun, has multiple aspects to it for variety, and gives you so much to try to fight for such as high scores and unlockable characters. It’s as fun as any other Mario game on a console and it does all this for just $9.99.

How could anyone have a problem with it?

Alright, Back to Polygon…

Polygon’s 7/10 rating pigeonholes the game as a good one but is offensive in that their criticisms are so off base.

Polygon complains that the experience often feels compromised by the lack of power-ups and precise control they’ve grown used to. That they compare past Mario games played with console controllers to a touch-screen game is ludicrous in that a touchscreen is the platform. Nintendo can’t customize the experience past what is possible on a phone…just as literally hundreds of other runner games have done. I don’t recall Polygon ever complaining that those other games didn’t come with a controller. Super Mario Run controls wonderfully, the controls are pinpoint. What is their agenda here? Perhaps this is why Nintendo waited so long to get involved with mobile in the first place…unfair criticisms like this.

Polygon complains that it’s no Pokemon Go. Well, of course not, it’s a Mario game. Guess what? Polygon only gave Pokemon Go a 7.5/10. That should’ve been much higher as it’s one of the few games ever created where you can reasonably assume everyone you know is playing it. But, oh well.

Polygon complains that at $9.99 [Super Mario Run] seems wildly out-of-touch with the rest of the mobile games market. Is it more expensive? I don’t know. There’s plenty of games that cost $9.99 or more. Most games follow the freemium model of being free but requiring payment (literally or figuratively) as you play. We’ve all played at least one of these and we’ve all payed way more than $9.99 over their lifetimes. How is paying $9.99 up front and getting everything different? I find it refreshing, myself, and so do millions of others. In fact, Polygon should know this because they even wrote a story about people wanting to pay up front for their games.

Polygon complains that Nintendo’s stock is taking a hit due to lukewarm reviews of Super Mario Run. That’s ironic because they’re the ones giving the lukewarm reviews. In fact, Super Mario Run is currently #1 on both the free and top grossing games lists on the App Store. That’s an incredible accomplishment. The game is over the 40,000,000 download mark and that’s only iPhone numbers as the game has yet to be released for Android — and it’s not even a week old!

Polygon complains that the game requires an Internet connection. This would be a justifiable complaint if not for the fact that many games require one in order to keep the social aspect going. Completing levels wins rewards that come via an Internet connection. Toad rallies requires it to get the ghost data. You need it for the scoreboard and so on. This isn’t unique. I’m guessing Polygon is still looking at this game in the same lens as a Mario game on a Nintendo system. It’s not. It’s a mobile game. Earlier, they said “it’s no Pokemon Go”…guess what? That game requires an Internet connectiontoo.

What’s Going on at Polygon?

I can only guess what’s happening at Polygon but my guess is they’re not getting paid to advertise for Super Mario Run by Nintendo. Maybe they object to not getting revenue for promoting it. Have they had legal issues with their videos and Nintendo’s stringent Let’s Play requirements? Maybe some of the editors take the subway and wanted to play it offline. Perhaps they are upset at Nintendo’s mobile surge which has produced two incredibly popular games from their first three forays with two big franchises on the way in Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem.

Or maybe they’re just trying to short Nintendo’s stock.

Either way, Polygon should get back to playing and enjoying games and stop the movie-critic treatment. Super Mario Run is a Mario game that may get more gleeful hours poured into it then any console equivalent…at 1/6th the cost.

What on earth is wrong with that?

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About John Blanco

John Blanco is an avid game collector and loves to write about his hobby as much as he participates in it. He run the Denver Retro Gamers Facebook group in Denver, Colorado, and coordinates swap-style meetups with dozens of other collectors every couple of months.

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