When beloved designer Shigeru Miyamoto took the stage at this year’s Apple Special Event to announce Nintendo’s first Mario game on mobile, we don’t think anyone was really surprised. After Miitomo, Pokémon Go, and announcements of Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem, we expected the company’s mustachioed mascot would make the move at some point. What was pleasantly surprising was the gameplay they featured in their short demo: Mario collected mushrooms, nabbed coins, de-shelled koopas, wall –jumped over lava, and looked at home in a classic Mario setting.
The one-touch auto-runner will allow players to get their platforming fix in any location—as Miyamoto said, like on the subway or eating a hamburger—while still being rewarded for skill and precision tapping. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait to do so until December. If, like us, you’re all revved up from hitting that “Notify” button until your finger bleeds, here are some great alternatives to play in the interim with gameplay similar to Super Mario Run and quality worthy of the Nintendo Seal.
Rayman Fiesta Run
The Rayman Run games are quintessential entries in the mobile platforming genre, with both Jungle Run and Fiesta Run earning five stars here at Gamezebo. The gameplay is fast but buttery smooth, sending players jumping, bouncing, and looping around gorgeous levels that offer multiple paths to completion. As a console-to-mobile superstar, Rayman is a perfect example for Mario to follow.
Although slightly more lo-fi than Rayman or Mario, the Mikey series is a great example of how precision platforming can make all the difference in a mobile runner. Like Mario, Mikey has an insatiable appetite for coins that are positioned precariously close to spikes, lava, speeding rockets, and dozens of other run-ending obstacles. Mikey’s power-ups—his hook, shorts, and boots—allow him to traverse these corridors of doom with razor-thin margins, and thus thrilling gameplay.
If you prefer your Mikeys with hooks and your Marios more like Link, then Hook Champ is the game for you. Despite being one of the older titles on our list, Hook Champ is still a worthwhile experience, tasking players with traveling through lava and other hazard-filled levels by swinging rather than running. The level design, with unique elements being introduced in each new map location, keeps the game fresh long after you’ve mastered basic hookery, and the ghost system reminds us of racing ourselves in Mario Kart, always aiming for that just-slightly-better time.
- App Store ($2.99)
While more vertical-dropper than side-scroller, Journey Below embodies the essence of Mario platforming with its precision jumps and save-the-kingdom goal. It features a slower rate of progression, seeing our heroic knight walk more than run, but his path is overloaded with obstacles that must be slashed or dodged with perfect timing. Many of Ravenous Games’ catalogue could satisfy your platforming needs, but this latest offering simultaneously scratches the dungeon-crawling itch.
- App Store ($2.99)
For anyone hoping Yoshi makes an appearance in Super Mario Run, we recommend Mega Run: Redford’s Adventure. The dino-like star of Get Set Games’ Mega series moved from vertical jumping to side-scrolling in this colorful platformer, and it was definitely a leap in the right direction. The single-touch gameplay offers a simple point of entry, but the multi-path levels allow for more complex movement and decision-making as you progress through the explosive, enemy- and coin-packed environments.
- App Store (free)
A frustratingly addictive platformer slash penguin fashion show, Adventure Beaks combines the silky smooth movement of a Mario game with the rage-inducing jump timing of Mega Man. Its one-touch jump controls belie its complexity, thanks to intricate levels that must be played multiple times for full completion and perfectly placed obstacles that will knock your penguin crew down a few pegs before you inevitably come back for more.
Cordy may not have reached Mario-levels of stardom, but the charming robot hero of his titular series stole our hearts years ago. Cordy 2 is simple platforming joy, featuring varied environments to traverse, tons of power-ups to unlock, and even a star collection system. The little robot that could features a few more abilities in his arsenal than mobile Mario, ranging from block-pushing to helicopter blade flight, but the essence is still simple gameplay with rewarding results.
We have a soft spot for Splot—and not just because he’s a gooey squish ball. This short-burst speedrunning platformer demands quick reflexes and precise wall-jumps and rewards both with an exhilarating head-to-head race between Splot and his sprinting nemesis. Splot is what we imagine a Kirby mobile game might look like if inspired by the Kirby vs. King Dedede gourmet race, a dream that may not be so far-fetched after all.
- App Store ($0.99)
King of Thieves
While levels in King of Thieves are much more self-contained, almost puzzle-like experiences for your auto-running thief, we think that the stellar gameplay and multiplayer challenges of the game will appeal to the Mario crowd. Super Mario Run will reportedly feature both a “Toad Rally” mode where you challenge other players’ best scores, as well as a way to “build your own Mushroom Kingdom,” which we hope hints at a potential Mario Maker-esque level editor. If you’re hoping for this, too, you’ll probably enjoy building your own trap-laden dungeon in King of Thieves.
Wind-Up Knight 2
The wall-jumping, spike-dodging, coin-collecting wind-up knight could very well be Mario in a suit of armor. Wind-Up Knight 2’s level-based world is packed with hidden challenges, kingdom-threatening enemies, and lovely pseudo-3D graphics that provide an atmospheric depth to dank castles and towering beanstalks. Our knightly hero runs automatically, and it’s up to the player to ensure he jumps and rolls in time to escape harm; or to simply try again after falling in a pit of spikes.
If King of Thieves doesn’t fulfill your Toad Rally dreams, ReRunners just might. The primary gameplay revolves around racing other real players’ ghosts through auto-running stages and earning higher scores by collecting coins. Sound familiar? In case that isn’t Super Mario Run enough for you, some stages feature giant bouncy mushrooms and there are stars hidden around the world to collect. Let’s-a go!
Super Phantom Cat
Super Phantom Cat is much more classic Mario platformer than Super Mario Run specifically, but we just couldn’t leave it off the list. Your smirky feline hero will head-bump blocks, discover secret passageways, jump on armless enemies, and unlock powerful abilities as he progresses through the levels, all while accompanied by retro sound effects and tricky platforming challenges. We know Mario is a cat person, and we think he’d be a Super Phantom Cat person, too.