Good smartphone games are like crack: a drug that Peep Show’s Super Hans best described as ‘really more-ish’. Whether it's Candy Crush Saga or Clash Royale, we've all had that feeling of not being able to quit an app. Even if it is 10pm, you've only got 5% battery left, and have no idea when the last train home is.
While Nintendo hasn't yet left me cursing my own absent-mindedness at Waterloo station, I've got a bad feeling about what’ll happen after 15 December. That's when Super Mario Run launches for iPhone and iPad, and believe me, like a fish attracted to shiny objects, you're going be hooked.
It's no surprise really, given that Nintendo's new title is brought to us by the same people that created the relentlessly addictive Mario Kart 8, Wii Sports and Splatoon. There was only one way this was going to go.
After jumping around as Mario in an hour-long play test session, we're already getting the sweats having gone cold turkey. Here's why:
More Pokemon Go than Miitomo
Super Mario Run isn’t Nintendo’s first smartphone game, but it is by far its best to date.
Remember, it was actually developer Niantic that created the smash hit Pokémon Go, so the only app we’ve seen from Ninty so far is the bonkers social networking creation Miitomo. And if you’re anything like me, your enjoyment of that peaked pretty soon after dressing your character up in a giant tomato hat and pyjama bottoms. Compared to Miitomo, Super Mario Run is the real deal.
Not played a Mario game since forever? Don't fret, this app will still have a hold on your attention span in no time at all. The thing grabs you in a Piranha Plant-style frenzy, thanks to a clever mix of intuitive controls and an easily recognisable structure.
Every 2D level sticks to pretty much the same formula established in the very first Super Mario Bros. You run to the right of the screen knocking your bonce into blocks, stomping on Goombas and generally being as acrobatic as possible. The twist? This is an endless runner, so your favourite red plumber only moves forward.
Missed a coin or Super Mushroom? Tough. You'll have to play through the level again. And that's how you get hooked.
As good as Galaxy?
Compared to Temple Run or Canabalt, Super Mario Run feels slightly slower, but that's because it asks more of you.
Each of its 24 levels across six kingdoms has different paths to its Goal Pole, with trickier routes rewarded by special coins and power-ups. Perfecting a stage takes some serious timing and concentration as well. You’re not simply tasked with swiping left or right at an ever-increasing rate of knots.
This is what makes Super Mario Run more than just a great app: it’s a great Mario game. One that can stand proudly alongside the likes of Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario World in a snug pair of red dungarees. It ain't no Mario Teaches Typing, folks.