Tag Archive: bowser

I’m sure like many gamers of my generation, stomping on Goombas and Koopa Troopas with Mario was the first video game experience we had. Over 30 years later, Mario’s moves and looks may have been consistently upgraded, but the simple joy of jumping on an enemy’s head and running for the flagpole goal remains ever satisfying no matter the system. So, with Mario appearing over on a mobile platform for the first time ever in Super Mario Run, I’m sure a lot of us were more than willing to make the leap with him. While the game may have the look and feel of a proper Mario, however, there are enough questionable decisions here to have made this one of my least-favorite trips to the Mushroom Kingdom.

Like the start to almost every Mario adventure, Princess Peach invites Mario over to her castle, and Mario arrives just in time to see Bowser kidnap his beloved. Again. This time, Bowser also proceeds to lay waste to the entire Mushroom Kingdom, reducing it to rubble and scattering the Toad population to the winds before he escapes to his fortress.

The bulk of Super Mario Run is comprised of 24 stages across six worlds in the game’s Tour mode. The first three stages are free to everyone who downloads the game, which I appreciate because it gives you a pretty solid taste of the game before you decide if it’s something you want to drop $9.99 for—a steep price to pay when talking about mobile games usually.

As the name would suggest, the game is an endless runner—Mario never stops moving normally, and all you have to do as the player is tap the screen to make him jump. There are special blocks carefully placed in the game that will pause everything, but if Mario misses them, he just keeps running and jumping at your command. The only other time he’s not sprinting to the right is in certain Ghost Houses and Boom Boom battles, where a wall jump will start Mario heading in the other direction.


Despite Mario’s legs always churning like a locomotive, a lot of the classic platforming challenge we’ve come to love from the series remains, and never being able to stop actually adds a new layer of difficulty to the gameplay. Of course—as Super Mario Run has more of a casual flair—there are no lives to lose or no real consequences for failure (unlike Mario’s console outings). Still, there is challenge here, since you need to beat a stage in order to advance. Timing your jumps on or over enemies becomes critical as moving platforms and other obstacles are added to each subsequent stage. And, in order to collect the three sets of five special coins (pink, purple, and black) that are scattered in each stage, you’ll need to use every trick the game gives you to grab them successfully. Since only one set of coins appears at a time, if you’re obsessed with collectibles, you know you’ll have to play through each stage at least three times to nab them all.

If collectibles aren’t your thing, then one downside to the full game of Super Mario Run is that even with the challenge steadily ramping up, it shouldn’t take you more than two or three hours to knock out all 24 stages. Drabbing all those aforementioned collectible coins does change the stages slightly (platforms and enemies move to make the new coins challenging to reach), but if you’re not a collectible fiend, you’re likely to end up disappointed at those coins being the driving force behind the main game’s replayability.

There are two other modes that do try to keep you coming back outside of the Tour mode, with the first being Toad Rally. In order to try to lure the scattered Toads back to the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario can spend a Toad Ticket—easily earned via a daily bonus and completing stages—to take on the ghost of another player in a particular stage. If Mario can outperform the ghost by collecting more coins, defeating more enemies, and just generally progressing farther than the ghost in the time given, then Mario will lure Toads back with his impressive feats and bolster the population of the player’s particular Mushroom Kingdom. If Mario loses, some Toads may leave your Kingdom, so there is a risk involved—but luring back more than you’ve lost helps level up your game, potentially leading to expansion.

Why would you want to expand it, you ask? Well, Mario can also spend collected coins to help rebuild the Mushroom Kingdom in Build mode, where you’ll use Toad Houses, statues, hills, flower fields, and other items to help bring the Kingdom back to its former glory. Build enough structures, and have enough Toads, and you can expand the Mushroom Kingdom via Rainbow Bridges. You can also unlock new characters this way, such as Luigi or Yoshi, and each handles a bit differently than Mario in the main game. If world building is something that appeals to you, Toad Rally and Build mode work together to offer an interesting alternative to just replaying all the levels again and again.


Personally, though, I didn’t find this to be enough to make me want to keep coming back to Super Mario Run. World building really isn’t what draws me into a Mario game. I admit I could see myself grinding for all the collectible coins to get more playtime out of each stage, but Super Mario Run has some technical shortcomings that really came to be fatal flaws which would keep me from doing this.

The first is something that I’ve been noticing with more and more mobile games lately, and that’s the fact that they have trouble performing on older mobile devices. I originally started playing the game on my iPad 2, and the game would lag terribly and crash after every few stages. I talked with some friends who had also tried it on older gear, and they had the same issues. When I switched to my iPhone 6, however, everything changed for the better. The lag and crashing issues dissipated, but let this serve as a warning to anyone without a more recent phone or tablet to play on.

The other technical issue is absolutely unforgivable in my book, and really soured my opinion of this game: the fact that it requires you to always be online. I think Nintendo has gotten a lot of their priorities confused lately; Super Mario Maker for the 3DS doesn’t let you go online to share stages you’ve created, and then you’ve got Super Mario Run, a mobile game, requiring you to always be online. I even put my phone in airplane mode to double check, and sure enough, you can’t even get past the title screen if you’re offline—an error message just keeps popping up, even if you paid for the entire game and not just the three demo stages.

I understand that you need the online aspects for the Toad Rally mode and the ghosts present there, but the fact you can’t play the main game offline is puzzling at the very least. With the holidays coming up, I thought Super Mario Run was going to be releasing at the perfect time considering all the long plane flights and car trips I’ve got coming up, and I’m sure I’m not the only one traveling over the next couple of weeks. The fact that I can’t play the game in a car, subway, or bus if I’m using a device without cell service, or on a plane at all—places where people are most apt to want to play mobile games—feels like Nintendo shooting Mario in his foot. This is one of the worst examples I can find of always-online gameplay, and it really hampers Super Mario Run and the potential enjoyment of it tremendously.


Super Mario Run has a solid core as a mobile game. The endless runner style is nothing we haven’t seen before, but adding Mario’s classic platforming challenge created an extra degree of difficulty we don’t always get with the genre. Unfortunately, this was the brightest spot for this game. Even with all 24 stages, the main game is short, and relies heavily on collectibles and side options like rebuilding the Mushroom Kingdom to keep you coming back for more. Couple this with the fact that it needs to always be online to even be playable, and I think Nintendo really misses the point of what mobile games are supposed to be. Super Mario Run isn’t the worst mobile offering I’ve seen, but it could—and should—have been so much better.

Publisher: Nintendo • Developer: Nintendo EPD/DeNA • ESRB: N/A • Release Date: 12.15.16
Super Mario Run does a nice job of capturing the feel of a classic Mario game. The fact that it needs to always be online in order to play deters me from grinding through its collectible driven-gameplay, however, since it limits when and where I can actually play the game—defeating one of the primary purposes of playing a mobile game in the first place.
The Good Challenging platforming that will instantly remind you of other Mario games from over the years.
The Bad The always-online aspect is infuriating how much it can hinder when and where you play.
The Ugly All the times I wanted to say, “that’s what she said” whenever someone mentioned you can play with it with just one hand.
Super Mario Run is available on iOS platforms and coming later to Android. Primary version reviewed was for iPhone 6. Review code was provided by Nintendo for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.

Trouble with Koopalings

There’s been a lot of talk lately in the game industry about sequels and what we expect from them. How much they need to change or raise the bar to keep people coming back for more. How they need to break the mold so it doesn’t seem like each game is just cut from the same cloth over and over again. One franchise, however, never felt it needed to do that. It just kept churning out sequel after sequel and rarely changed a thing. A few new powers here, a couple new worlds there, but since the very beginning, everyone’s favorite plumber, Mario, has really never changed. And somehow, he’s still as fun as ever.

To put it simply, as Mario approaches his third decade of relevance, his games continue to define platforming perfection, and New Super Mario Bros. U is the new pinnacle of his long and storied run.

Bowser kidnaps Princess Peach for the 143,658,903,279th time, and it is up to Mario to once again stomp on the seven Koopalings, Bowser Jr., Kamek, and Bowser himself across eight themed worlds in order to get her back and save the day. Moreso than any previous Mario game, New Super Mario Bros. U is the perfect love letter to the era I consider the franchise’s heyday—Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World.

Wily old Mario veterans will immediately recognize the overworld map, which has shades of Super Mario World written all over it. Then there’s the item system, where you have a stockpile that you can reach into and arm Mario with before each stage, was a Super Mario Bros. 3 invention. It’s a departure from the more recent outings, where you could only have one item in storage but were able to use it mid-stage—presumably because that approach made the past few games a little too easy. Mario wants you to hone those jumping skills again!

And it’s not just the item system that will make you want to brush up on your platforming skills, as every Mario baddie worth his salt returns to get in our mustachioed plumber’s way and make things even more perilous. The level designs are also a bit more abstract this time around, so if you think you’re going to just stockpile dozens upon dozens of lives like in the past few games, you might want to think again.

One returning element that helps counteract all these changes, however, is the our good friend Yoshi. You’re still unable to bring him with you from one stage to the next, but he’s a huge help on the levels you can use him, as they seem specifically designed for Yoshi’s unique attributes, including his new power where if eats enough fruit, he will actually…uhhhh…produce power-ups.

We also see the return of Baby Yoshis in blue, magenta, and yellow varieties, each of which provides a special ability for Mario as he carries them through a level. Yellow lights up dark caverns, Blue shoots bubbles that trap enemies and turn them into coins, and  Magenta can inflate like a balloon and carry Mario for short distances. Although they never grow into full-sized Yoshis, these babies can also eat anything that gets in your way, making it worthwhile to lug them through as many stages as possible.

Aside from a lot of features from the past returning, there are also a few new additions that might make you “oooh” and “aaah.” The most obvious is the much ballyhooed (and somewhat belated) transition to full HD graphics. Simply put, no Mario game has ever looked this good. Some of the world backgrounds are so vibrant that they look as though they’ve been painted onto your TV. They’re so gorgeous, you almost want to take a pictures and put them all in some sort of incredibly dorky museum.

We also get a new power-up in the form of the Flying Squirrel Acorn, which joins old favorites like the Fire and Ice Flowers, Invincibility Stars, and the Super and Mini Mushrooms. It certainly isn’t my favorite power-up of all-time, since you can’t really fly with it like you could the Tanooki Suit or Raccoon Leaf. Instead, you just glide gently across the stage, which isn’t nearly as useful. Still, the Acorn did help inspire a new enemy to add to Bowser’s hordes, and there’s also a much more useful P-Acorn variant (like the P-Wing from Mario 3), where Mario can infinitely glide if you perform a spin jump at the right time. I  also would’ve loved to have seen the Penguin and Frog Suits return, but with a limited item storage system, I can see why the lineup has been cut back some.

There aren’t just changes to the single player game, though, as New Super Mario Bros. U also features three multiplayer modes. Yes, you and four friends (one person can now use the Wii-U remote’s touch screen to place helpful Boost Blocks to help their friends cross especially hard gaps) can still move your way through the single player stages together and cause craziness as you “accidentally” push each other into bottomless pits.

Specific to multiplayer though is a revamped Coin Battle mode, where you and your friends compete to gather the most coins as you work your way through a level. There’s also a coin editor system, so you can design your own stages for the mode. Another multiplayer mode is Challenge Mode that offers unique obstacles for you and your friends to overcome, like seeing who can earn the most lives or get the fastest time in one run. Rounding out the multiplayer is Boost Rush, where you try to traverse scrolling stages that scroll faster and faster as you progress.

All things considered, even though Mario hasn’t really changed that much after all these years, he finds a way to keep himself just fresh enough while still maintaining the high gameplay standard that keeps us all coming back for more again and again. New Super Mario Bros. U doesn’t disappoint and is a must have launch title for anyone picking up the Wii U.

SUMMARY: A love-letter to the days of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, New Super Mario Bros. U’s multiplayer modes, insane platforming, and beautiful HD graphics offer more than enough to provide hours of fun for gamers of all stripes.

  • THE GOOD: Same classic formula with a fresh coat of paint and puzzles.
  • THE BAD: Tanooki Suit > Raccoon Leaf > Flying Squirrel Acorn.
  • THE UGLY: The unbearable pain Yoshi must feel when he craps Fire Flowers.

SCORE: 9.0

New Super Mario Bros. U is a Wii U exclusive. 

Mario loves da gold! Wa-hoooo!

Ever since Mario had to traverse eight definitely different worlds, donned his first set of raccoon ears to fly, and bashed Bowser’s seven nasty Koopalings, the formula to making a great side-scrolling Mario game hasn’t changed much over the years. New items have been introduced, and Bowser Jr. sometimes takes the place of Larry, Morton Jr., Wendy O., Iggy, Lemmy, Roy, and Ludwig, but for the most part, things have stayed relatively the same.

And this formula’s maintained once again with New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS. The Koopalings, who have a bit more of a grown-up design—they’re technically of legal drinking age now, after all—and their dad, Bowser, have kidnapped Princess Peach for the billionth time. So, it’s once again up to Mario and Luigi to storm through the Mushroom Kingdom and leave kicked turtles shells and flattened Goombas in their wake, whether alone, or by linking up for some brotherly co-op action.

The twist this time is that the Mushroom Kingdom has apparently gone through some sort of economic boom, because coins are everywhere. New Golden Fire Flowers turn blocks into coins or cause enemies to yield coins when defeated. Golden turtle shells leave a path of coins in their wake for Mario and Luigi to collect. The brothers can even carry around golden blocks that drop more coins as they jump, run, and fly through eight more worlds based in familiar Mushroom Kingdom locales. Along with these new items are the returning regular Fire Flower, Super Mushroom, Invincibility Star, and Raccoon Leaf. With the Raccoon Leaf, we also see the P-Meter return—which, when full, allows Mario and Luigi to temporarily fly through the skies of a given stage.

Aside from the new items, New Super Mario Bros. 2 does offer something that’s been critical to all Mario games, side-scrolling or 3D: tight controls and intricate puzzles that can be solved using Mario’s bevy of jumps and other abilities like the butt-stomp. This platforming perfection is what makes Mario games so fun, and in that regard, New Super Mario Bros. 2 definitely succeeds with its own share of secrets, collectibles, and branching pathways that can be unlocked depending on how you should advance through the game. The more time you put into practicing your jumps, the more you should get out of this Mario adventure.

It’s also nice to see the Koopalings gimmick taking a necessary step forward to provide us wily old Mario veterans a little bit of a challenge this time around. Not only do the Koopalings have their trademark magic wands that allow them to blast fireballs at Mario, but each one also has a lair uniquely designed to their strengths, requiring Mario to overcome extra obstacles he’s never seen before from Bowser’s seven brats. This adds a tinge of excitement to reaching the end of each level; you never knew what to expect next, as the lairs are definitely brand-new experiences.

And speaking of new, the newest game mode, Coin Rush, is probably what will help keep New Super Mario Bros. 2 fresh in people’s minds more than anything, as it provides an arcade-like replayability we haven’t seen in a Mario game in decades. Traversing through three random stages with one life and trying to set a coin high score to share with your friends via StreetPass not only keeps in line with the theme of the game—which promotes you to try to collect 1 million lifetime coins—but also gives you a chance to readily compare scores with your friends like you’d see with online leaderboards.

All in all, not much has changed since the last New Super Mario Bros., but not much really needed to change in the first place. The controls are still as tight as ever, the look and sound drips classic Mario, the platforming puzzles are expertly designed, and even the Koopalings have seen a bit of a facelift. The new Coin Rush mode adds some needed replayability, and the StreetPass leaderboards can become addictive if you’re into that arcade style of play.

The only thing you might not enjoy is the fact that the Princess still hasn’t figured out how to keep out of Bowser’s clutches, but then again, it wouldn’t quite be a Mario game if she did. New Super Mario Bros. 2 succeeds in finding a way to stay entertaining using a formula first used 25-plus years ago, and fans old and new shouldn’t wait to jump into the world’s most famous plumber’s latest adventure.

SUMMARY: Though we’ve seen this formula before, New Super Mario Bros. 2 finds a way to keep itself just fresh enough while still hitting platfroming perfection.

  • THE GOOD: Still the tightest platforming out there.
  • THE BAD: We’ve seen this formula before.
  • THE UGLY: The Mushroom Kingdom’s imminent economic collapse.

SCORE: 9.0

New Super Mario Bros. 2 is a 3DS exclusive.

Originally Published: December 11, 2010, on Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, along with Derek Buck and Kevin Lind, we discussed just what is the greatest Super Mario Bros. game of all time.

Originally Published: December 11, 2010, on Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, along with Derek Buck and Kevin Lind, we discussed just what is the greatest Super Mario Bros. game of all time.

Originally Published: November 17, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, Derek and I took an “in-depth” look at Super Mario Bros. Chess.

Originally Published: November 17, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, Derek and I took an “in-depth” look at Super Mario Bros. Chess.