Super Mario Run Might Just Be Average, But It’s Now the Best-Selling Mobile Game

When Nintendo announced in 2014 that it would focus resources on mobile development heading into the future, few were surprised. The company's continued success in software built for a large audience was destined to arrive on the world's most widely adopted platform. Although success was inevitable, its magnitude is a reason for surprise.

Super Mario Run debuted yesterday exclusively for iOS. This marked the first time that Mario has officially entered the mobile market. Following in the footsteps of the record-breaking Pokemon GO, projections were high, but reasonable.

Early reports show that Super Mario Run accumulated more than 2.85 million downloads in its initial 24-hours on the App Store. In comparison, Pokemon GO was download a mere 900,000 times—in a smaller number of countries, to be fair. This figure makes it the fastest-downloaded App Store game of all-time.

This figure would make you think that it's a special game, one that could make a run for mobile game of the year. In reality, it's a game in the same spirit of many other forgettable titles we've seen before. Commonly compared to mobile games such as Jetpack Joyride, Run Like Hell, and even the Flash-based classic Helicopter, it takes a wealth of inspiration from other games, to a point where it doesn't necessarily have anything new to offer.

In addition, Super Mario Run doesn't have a lot of content. Its three game modes can be summarized as a short Mario game, a time trial, and an in-game currency shop. You can realistically complete everything it has to offer in just a couple of hours, and its online functionality has nothing that will ever replicate the long-term addictiveness of Pokemon GO.

But it's Mario. No matter how much a Mario game is like something else, it always comes out on top. Some of it is familiarity, but the big reason for its ability to win time and time again is its unmistakable charm. There's something about watching the mustached plumber waddle his way through levels full of coins and goombas that is satisfying. In this sense, Super Mario Run is a hit; it delivers the beautiful environments and charismatic audio design of Mario to a place where you can play it anywhere you go, and without having to lug around a 3DS in your pocket.

It's hard to fault Super Mario Run when its pricing model is so much more reasonable than the competition. Sold at $9.99, it's a neat delivery by Nintendo that offers a few hours of entertainment—provided you have internet access.

Now controlling two of the largest titles, Nintendo is in a great spot having established footing in the mobile industry. This makes it far less reliant on hardware sales, which may or may not become an even more significant problem with the Switch.