Mario’s so vibrant, it’s a wonder how he ended up here in this hackneyed off-shoot. For a character who scaled pyramids, traveled to distant kingdoms, made friends with dinosaurs, turned into paper, and cleaned the worst of the Mushroom Kingdom’s oily gunk, now he’s here in a listless, rudimentary runner.
Plain titled Mario Run sums itself up – Mario just runs. This isn’t a world or Land of Mario. It’s not an island of Yoshi’s. Mario isn’t conquering a galaxy. He just runs. Industry visibility is important; seeing Mario penetrate onto a new platform signifies potential growth. Yet, there’s no Nintendo magic here, or rather nothing of the adventurous Nintendo that spawned the waggle-riffic Wii or cared for Mario enough to shove him into increasingly creative endeavors. To Mario veterans, the only benefit is not hiding a seething rage as newcomers ignore the run button.
Mario Run is no better than the asset-swiping clones which came before. The aesthetic, the music; that’s the same as New Super Mario Bros. (no longer new), reducing the medium’s notable, charming mascot to a plain, wholly familiar odyssey to rescue Princess Peach lest this new platform serve up progress instead of familiarity.
It’s not surprising: Familiar sells. See the NES Classic, a plastic box with a controller cord acting like a nostalgia IV. That’s enough to get by, sell millions of a thing, and with the most rudimentary of premises. So too for Mario Run.