Apple didn't waste time getting to the bombshells during its presentation today, and the most surprising for gaming fans has to be the fact that Nintendo is (finally?) releasing an honest-to-god Mario game for iOS devices. Shigeru Miyamoto came onstage to demo the game and discuss the finer details in both English and Japanese. The press release also notes that it will be available first on iOS devices, which sure sounds like it will be released on Android devices at some point in the future as well.
The game is called Super Mario Run, and it looks pretty damned good.
"We have created Super Mario Run to be perfect for playing on your iPhone," Shigeru Miyamoto said via press release. "Super Mario has evolved whenever he has encountered a new platform, and for the first time ever, players will be able to enjoy a full-fledged Super Mario game with just one hand, giving them the freedom to play while riding the subway or my favorite, eating a hamburger."
This is huge news for Nintendo much moreso than it is for Apple. Mario is coming to a non-Nintendo piece of hardware. The game embraces one-hand controls, allowing you to play on the go. They also stressed that this isn't a free-to-play game; you'll be able to pay one price — which will be revealed later — and play forever.
Nintendo isn't immune to the siren call of the darker side of mobile, however. According to the game's iTunes page there will be in-app purchases.
The game looks amazing, and features a sort of asynchronous multiplayer mode where you can compete against friends. This isn't like Pokémon Go, this is a game that Nintendo owns and controls 100 percent, and it's clear that the company is taking the act of breaking that particular seal with a character this big very seriously. We've known for a while that Nintendo was flirting with mobile, but a new Mario game is something else altogether.
There may be a single price to pay to play the whole game, but you'll be able to try without buying. "iOS users will be able to download and enjoy a portion of Super Mario Run for free and will be able to enjoy all of the game content available in this release after paying a set purchase price," the press release states. "More details will be disclosed at a later date."
This is Nintendo creating a game that's made for mobile devices without losing its soul to that platform. It may look like an endless runner, but the levels are finite. The design looks like pure Nintendo, and that handcrafted nature of the levels will benefit the game in a way procedural generation wouldn't.
This is all well and good, but the important detail is that Nintendo has broken the seal. If Super Mario Run is a hit, what's next? Could we see classic games being re-released on mobile devices? What could Nintendo do with Legend of Zelda on mobile devices? How could Nintendo use mobile devices to link to existing games?
This is a new Nintendo, and there's no going back. Mario is officially on iPhone, and the world is suddenly full of possibilities.