Nintendo Jumps as Public Gets First Taste of Super Mario Run

  • Early reactions say game is well-made, but possibly too easy
  • Game is key test of ability to compete in mobile gaming

Will Super Mario Run Be a Bigger Hit Than Pokémon Go?

Nintendo Co. rose to the highest in more than four months after starting to market its upcoming Super Mario Run smartphone game, including giving fans a chance to try out the game in Apple Inc. retail stores ahead of its Dec. 15 release.

The stock climbed 3.7 percent as of midday in Tokyo, the highest since July 19. The shares are about 8 percent below a six-year peak it reached the same month amid a speculative flurry that followed the release of the hit Pokemon Go game.

Unlike Pokemon Go, which was created by San Francisco-based Niantic Inc., Super Mario Run is developed 100 percent at Nintendo. That means most of the proceeds will flow directly to the company. It also means a potential flop would put the blame squarely with headquarters in Kyoto and would represent a major setback to the company’s long-awaited push into mobile devices.

So far, at least, reception has been mostly positive. Here’s a roundup of some of the reactions:

  • IGN showed that the first three levels will be free to play, but gamers will need to pay $10 to unlock the remaining 21 levels and other content.
  • Engadget praised the game’s graphics and wrote that “replayability should be excellent.”
  • Time said the title is “simple and the gameplay remains rich and addictive,” comparing the experience to playing Super Mario games on Nintendo’s own consoles
  • wrote the game seemed fairly easy, saying “Mario veterans will be shocked to find that they can run right through enemy goombas.”
  • Researcher SensorTower estimated the title will gross $71 million in the first month and be downloaded by more than 50 million users. In September, the researcher said Pokemon Go was downloaded more than 180 million times in the first two months.
  • In October, Apple’s Tim Cook said more than 20 million people had signed up to be notified once Super Mario Run is available.

Nintendo also began a marketing campaign on television and other media to promote the game:

  • Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto said in an interview with Time that characters besides Mario will be playable, suggesting more variety that will encourage people to replay Super Mario Go.
  • Nintendo’s U.S. head Reggie Fils-Aime appeared on The Tonight Show to promote the game. A video of the segment has been viewed more than 500,000 times in less than 24 hours since it was uploaded.
  • Separately, Fils-Aime also showed off the first ever live-demo of Nintendo’s upcoming console Switch. Fans on social media praised its graphical performance.

In October, Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima said in an interview that the game would appeal to both adults and children:

  • “In terms of the game itself, you can download it and play a certain part of it, and then pay a fixed price and then play it over and over as many times as you want without having to pay anything extra. And that should give peace of mind that kids can play it. And we’re hoping that will help it become more popular.”
  • “Our main business is the hardware/software business. In addition, our smartphone business has helped sell a lot of our existing packages. And it has really proved our original thesis: by releasing our software on the smartphone, it positively impacts our existing hardware and software business. And that’s precisely the synergy effect we were expecting. And as that has been proven correct, we have more confidence.”
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