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Super Mario for the iPhone

December 15, 2016

Video game maker Nintendo is launching "Super Mario Run" for the iPhone, marking the company's first ever smartphone game. With this move, the Japanese pursue a double strategy, market analysts say.

Super Mario
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/K. Ota

Japanese video game publisher Nintendo is launching its first ever smartphone game on Thursday. Super Mario Run is only meant for Apple iPhones and marks a shift in strategy for the company that's so far focused on its console games.

In an interview for "USA Today," famed game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, who helped bring Mario and other Nintendo protagonists to life, recalled the original Super Mario Bros, noting a big reason for its popularity was how easy it was to play.

Drawing on that experience, Super Mario Run for the smartphone is indeed easy to handle, too.

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"We thought if we were to focus in on a game where you don't have to worry about controlling Mario with the control pad, and instead you could just focus in on Mario's jumping, then it would make the game simpler for a wider audience to enjoy."

The freemium concept

The company said the smartphone version of Super Mario was free to download, but accessing all the levels would cost $9.99 (9.4 euros).

Nintendo added the game had three different modes, notably World Tour, Toad Rally and Kingdom Builder. Players only control how Mario jumps while the character moves automatically in infinite running mode.

For the Japanese video game maker, its entry into the smartphone games market is coming rather late, with the company hesitant for almost a decade to release any games for the surging number of mobile phone owners.

Nintendo Super Mario
With its Super Mario Run iPhone launch, Nintendo has high-flying ambitions

It reckons that Mario is popular enough among all generations to raise enough interest for its smartphone launch and win over new customers, says "USA Today."

But while interested in conquering a new market segment, Nintendo certainly doesn't look inclined to neglect its console-based business. On the contrary, the Japanese are hoping that they can eventually "pull some of its new smartphone players to more in-depth experiences on Nintendo devices."

"Super Mario Run was less about simply bringing the same experience to iPhones," said tech writer Brett Molina. "Instead, it was about focusing on who is that casual player on an iPhone and what's an appropriate casual Mario game they can enjoy."

hg/jd (dpa, USA Today)