When will Mario come to iPhone and iPad: what is Super Mario Run's release date? How much will Super Mario Run cost, and which iPhones (and iPads) will be able to run Super Mario Run? And how can I install and play Super Mario Run and other Nintendo games on iPhone?
Super Mario Run is launching on iPhone very soon! At Apple's iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus launch event on 7 September, most of the hardware announcements had been leaked in advance. But the company had at least one big surprise up its sleeve: Nintendo's gaming icon, Mario, will appear on iPhone in the form of an auto-runner game called Super Mario Run. And now that Nintendo's press embargo has passed, we're able to tell you a bit more about the game and our experience with the pre-release version. (For more of that, see our Super Mario Run preview.)
Until now, Nintendo has kept Mario off mobile devices, with the exception of its own handheld consoles, so this is a major coup. Apple even got Shigeru Miyamoto, the legendary games designer behind Mario (and Zelda, and plenty of other classics) to appear on stage and announce the game in understandably halting English.
But when will Super Mario Run for iPhone be released in the UK, and how much will it cost?
Updated, 9 December 2016, with news that Super Mario Run apparently requires an internet connection to play - even n single-player mode; on 24 Nov, after Nintendo started teasing Mario Run's launch with a series of teaser tweets; on 15 Nov, with the exciting news that Super Mario Run will launch on 15 December (but apparently not in China?), and the full game will cost £7.99 to unlock; on 11 Nov, to report predictions that Super Mario Run "can earn one billion downloads" and will spread "just as quickly as Pokemon Go"; and on 30 Sept to discuss the reasons why Super Mario Run will come to iPhone first and Android next year.
Super Mario Run for iPhone release date | Super Mario Run price: iPhone release date
Super Mario Run is launching on the iPhone on 15 December 2016. (You'll be able to download it from the App Store.)
That's now been confirmed by the App Store's official Twitter account. This is exciting news!
In the meantime, it looks like the game is nearly ready. Apple boss Tim Cook has been over to Japan and visited Nintendo while he was there - and got to play a pre-release build of Super Mario Run, the lucky beggar.
Cook tweeted a photo of himself on 12 October, alongside Shigeru Miyamoto and other Nintendo staff, getting stuck into the one-handed platformer.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima was asked about his expectations for Super Mario Run.
"We all saw what happened when we delivered Pokemon Go," he said. "And that's what Miyamoto's team is working on now: making sure it spreads out just as quickly as Pokemon Go.
"So our expectations are big. And as Tim Cook mentioned, more than 20 million people have already registered to receive notifications when the game is available."
Serkan Toto predicts that Super Mario Run could be downloaded between 50 million and 100 million times in its first month alone.
"If it has enough free content for people to enjoy, it can earn one billion downloads over a period of several years," he added.
Super Mario Run for iPhone release date | Super Mario Run price: iPad release date
It's a Universal app - one app will work on all compatible iOS devices, so once you download it for iPhone it will become available for download on iPad. (Not that this makes a huge difference, since the game is free.) We assume that in-app purchases made on one device will be transferable to other devices using the same Apple ID, although this hasn't been confirmed yet.
Super Mario Run looks essentially the same on the iPad as on the iPhone - it's played in portrait mode there too - although the concept of one-handed play presumably won't work so well. Except possibly on iPad mini.
Super Mario Run for iPhone release date | Super Mario Run price: Android release date
Super Mario Run is coming to iOS first, but will be a platform exclusive only initially, with an Android launch on the cards some time afterwards. (Nintendo told Kotaku: "We do intend to release the game on Android devices at some point in the future.")
It's being widely reported that Super Mario Run will launch on Android in 2017, but we've not seen an official Nintendo source anyway saying this. It's not a particularly specific prediction in any case. We'll be sure to update this as soon as we hear more.
As we discuss in our iPhone vs Android article, major games often come to iOS first and Android later because iOS users tend to be more willing to spend cash on software. But in this case there may be more to the decision that money. Speaking to Yahoo Finance, Miyamoto said: "One of the reasons we focused on iPhone first was the stability of the platform and being able to get the level of response that we want out of the games.
"That's not to say that Android devices don't have the same level of responsiveness. But because there are so many Android devices, trying to engineer the game to work across them all requires quite a lot of time."
Super Mario Run for iPhone release date | Super Mario Run price: Nintendo Switch release date
"On September 05, 2016, Nintendo Co., Ltd. filed in Japan via J-PlatPat/INPIT a trademark application for its smartphone title "Super Mario Run". The Class, Goods and Services mention smartphones of course but also home video game machines among other things," wrote Rösti, a member of the NeoGAF forum.
We're not entirely convinced: Nintendo may just be playing safe here - or intentionally misleading its rivals. But if Super Mario Run is a success on mobile it would make sense to port the game to other platforms.
There's one other point to consider. The launch video for the Nintendo Switch showed a Mario title, and the graphics were 3D, so very clearly not Super Mario Run. Indeed, Let's Play Video Games reports that this game will feature "a 3D open world hub from which different worlds can be selected, with multiple objectives to complete in each, much like Mario 64 or Mario Galaxy".
That sounds pretty great, but it casts doubt over the chances of Super Mario Run launching on Switch at the same time. Nintendo happily launches multiple Mario-themed games on the same platform at the same time - Smash Brothers, Mario Kart and so on - but it would be out of character for it to let the launch of two Mario platformers for the Switch overlap with one another. Right now we think Super Mario Run is a long shot for Switch, at least in the short to medium term.
Read more: Nintendo Switch UK release date rumours
Super Mario Run for iPhone release date | Super Mario Run price: Price
That's free in the sense that the initial download with a limited amount of content is free; players will need to pay a one-off in-app purchase to unlock all of the game's content. The full game will cost £7.99 to unlock in the UK, according to a press release sent out by Nintendo. The unlock will cost $9.99 in the US, or 9.99 euros.
That initial download will give you access to only a limited portion of the game (although you will be able to try all three of the game modes). In World Tour, what we would regard as the main part of the game, you get the first 3 levels of the first world, along with a 20-second snippet of the fourth level of that world (the Bowzer's Castle level). You will also to play the Toad Rally and Kingdom Builder modes, although because your progress in World Tour feeds into these, your experience will inevitably be limited.
You will have to pay to unlock the rest of the game - a one-off, set-price payment too, so there's none of the usual chipping away with a paid-for continue here and a paid-for power-up there. (For more free games that don't resort to such potentially addictive tricks, see our roundups of the best free iPhone games and best free iPad games.)
Nintendo executive Tatsumi Kimishima told investors that, after paying for the IAP, players can continue playing "without worrying about additional fees". Kimishima added that children can play Super Mario with peace of mind because of the pay structure.
Super Mario Run for iPhone release date | Super Mario Run price: Launch countries
Nintendo initially said Super Mario Run would launch in 100 countries but this has since been expanded: in a recent press release the company announced that it will be available in 151. This will include the UK, US, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Japan - most of the usual suspects, although we can't see China anywhere on the list. (Hong Kong and Macau are both included, though.)
Language-wise, Super Mario Run will support "English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Traditional Chinese".
Super Mario Run for iPhone release date | Super Mario Run price: Which iPhones and iPads can run Super Mario Run?
As mentioned above, Super Mario Run is designed for both iPad and iPhone.
According to the game's (pre-release) entry on the App Store, Super Mario Run requires iOS 8.0 or later, and can be run on the iPhone 5s or later, the iPad Air or later, the iPad mini 3 or later, any of the iPad Pro models, or the sixth-gen iPod touch.
The age rating is a super-family-friendly 4+.
Devices that can run Super Mario Run
- iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus
- iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad Pro 9.7in, iPad Pro 12.9in
- iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4
- iPod touch (6G)
Super Mario Run for iPhone release date | Super Mario Run price: Gameplay
Mario Run is an entirely new Mario game and adapts the accustomed platform style of gameplay to suit the mobile touchscreen experience. (The game was built using the Unity game engine.) It doesn't seem to have been cut down too drastically, fortunately.
Essentially a two-button game has been turned into a one-button game, by making Mario run automatically from left to right: you just control the timing and power of his jumps.
If that sounds limiting, rest assured that you're not just constantly pelting to the left. There are special blocks that let you pause and wait for a gap in the enemy movement, or backflip back to the left; and there are 'wraparound' levels in which heading off the right brings you back on to the left and your aim is to go upwards. The fact that there is a timer in the game, which kills you when it runs out, gives some idea of how much control you have over your rightward progress.
But here's a worrying development: reports have emerged claiming that Super Mario Run requires an internet connection to play, and these have been confirmed in an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto himself.
This might not seem like the greatest issue in the world, but bear in mind that Super Mario Run is superbly designed for playing on the go: its one-handed control method, indeed, seems almost tailor-made for gaming during a commute. If you need to be online to play - and from Miyamoto's comments that appears to include the non-social, entirely single-player World Tour mode, which has absolutely no reason to require an internet connection - then that immediately rules out people on (most of) the Tube, people on trains going through tunnels, people travelling through areas with spotty 3G, people using WiFi-only iPads. Plus it's generally a bit of a pain.
We've emailed Nintendo PR for clarification on a few issues: what happens if you start a game online and then lose connection, can you even start up the game offline, or do you hit an error message immediately and so on. We'll update this article when we hear back.
Follow Nintendo US on Twitter for more.
Here's an excerpt from Super Mario Run's gameplay description on the App Store:
"In this game, you constantly move forward through the courses while using a variety of jumps to navigate. Your character will behave differently depending on the timing of your taps, so it's up to you to show off particularly smooth moves, gather coins, and reach the goal."
Super Mario Run game modes
There are three modes: World Tour, essentially a standard mode in which you try your best to finish the various levels/courses; a second mode, Toad Rally, in which you compete against the play data of other people's completed courses; and a final mode, Kingdom Builder, in which you create your own Mushroom Kingdom using coins collected in the course of playing the first two modes. You can build Toad houses that give you access to bonus games, and buy lots of decorative elements.
"We have created Super Mario Run to be perfect for playing on your iPhone," said Miyamoto. "Super Mario has evolved whenever he has encountered a new platform, and for the first time ever, players will be able to enjoy a fully fledged Super Mario game with just one hand, giving them the freedom to play while riding the subway or, my favourite, eating a hamburger."
Super Mario Run for iPhone release date | Super Mario Run price: Stickers
We've still got a while to wait before Super Mario Run launches on iPhone, but in the meantime you can do a load of free advertising for the game, er, I mean amuse your friends with the free Super Mario Run sticker pack for Messages in iOS 10.
For more of this kind of thing, take a look at our roundup of the best Messages apps, games and stickers. And to read about the new features in Messages in iOS 10, including stickers, read How to use Messages in iOS 10.
How to download and play other Nintendo games on iPhone
Gamers desperate to play Nintendo games like Pokémon and Mario on the iPhone were excited to find out what the first official Nintendo mobile game would be after the Japanese video games giant stated its intention to develop apps for iOS and Android earlier this year, but we now know that it's called Miitomo and looks utterly disappointing. Find out when you can expect to get other Nintendo games on your iPhone by reading on.
Nintendo mobile games: podcast discussion
What other Nintendo games are coming to iPhone?
As of 29 October, we now know what the first of Nintendo's official mobile games is, but it's not the Mario, Zelda or Pokemon we'd been hoping for. Instead, Nintendo has created a game called Miitomo, which is a sort of avatar-based life simulator game that, in all honesty, doesn't look very exciting. Details are limited right now so we'll have to hold of judgement until it arrives in March next year, but it's going to be free-to-play with in-app purchases that presumably allow you to buy new clothes and accessories for your Miis.
But don't lose hope, Nintendo fans. There are still four games to come before April 2017, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that the next one to be unveiled will be more exciting.
Nintendo isn't going to be making iOS games itself – instead the games will be made by a Nintendo partner company called DeNA. While fans may feel a bit dispirited that Nintendo itself isn't doing the game development, this makes sense, as Japanese games company DeNA is experienced with iOS development. It's already made Marvel Mighty Heroes, Godus, Transformers Legends, Star Wars: Galactic Defense and more.
It does, however, suggest that the Nintendo games for iOS will be original games, rather than recreations of Nintendo classics.
DeNA has confirmed that there will be a total of five titles by April 2017 as part of the partnership, but we still don't know what the other four games will be. We'll update this article when we find out more.
How much will Nintendo games cost on iOS?
No information has been provided regarding pricing, but DeNA tends to follow the freemium model (where games are free to download and play, but they display ads or you can pay for extra features).
In this interview with Time, then Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata, who sadly died on 11 July, said: "I understand that, unlike the package model for dedicated game systems, the free-to-start type of business model is more widely adopted for games on smart devices, and the free-to-start model will naturally be an option for us to consider. On the other hand, Nintendo does not intend to choose payment methods that may hurt Nintendo's brand image or our IP, which parents feel comfortable letting their children play with."
When is Pokémon Go coming out for iPhone?
Pokémon Go is a newly announced mobile game for iPhone and Android that's being developed by The Pokémon Company and augmented reality game creator Niantic. Nintendo does play a part in the game, too, as it is in charge of producing the companion Pokémon GO Plus wristband.
Pokémon Go, which is coming out next year but doesn’t have an exact release date just yet, will be free to download with in-app purchases.
Essentially, Pokémon GO is designed to bring the much-loved game to life. The aim is to locate, catch, battle and trade Pokémon that you'll find while you're out and about in the real world. They'll be found in parks, shopping centres and many other locations around the world.
You can find out more about Pokemon Go here.
The Pokémon Company has already made Pokémon Shuffle (although it's closer to Bejewelled and Candy Crush than Pokémon so doesn't quite fill the gap), and it was responsible for the Pokédex for iOS that came out in 2013.
How to play Pokémon and other Nintendo games on an iPhone: The jailbreak option
If you don't want to wait for DeNA to release games, or you really want to play Nintendo games on your iPhone, you can look into emulation (where you install software that enables you to play ROMs). Please note though, that these methods are far from morally correct as they breach copyright and are often considered to be illegal, so it's something you'll need to consider before you go ahead.
Additionally, jailbreaking your device is not a decision to take lightly. You can find out more about the risks of jailbreaking here.
Emulation software includes nds4ios, available through the Cydia app, although there's a strong chance it'll soon be removed like the GBA4iOS app was after Nintendo issued the developers with a copyright notice.
You can find out more about GBA4iOS and how it could be used to play Nintendo games on iOS on the second page of this article. Some of the methods used will be the same for nds4ios.
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