Nintendo released its first mobile game—which you can’t play when many people are mobile

Mario can go underground, but you can’t.
Mario can go underground, but you can’t.
Image: Nintendo
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Super Mario Run, Nintendo’s first real mobile game, was released for the iPhone and iPad Dec. 15. Its creator, Nintendo creative lead Shigeru Miyamoto, designed the game to be played with one hand, as Mario runs continually in the game, meaning you only need one finger to control his jumps. Theoretically, that makes it the perfect game to play on a smartphone as you cling to a pole on a packed subway car on your morning commute, hoping to find some fleeting escapism in the Mushroom Kingdom before work starts.

But Super Mario Run, rather cruelly, cannot be played in the area that it’s best suited for. The game requires a constant internet connection, meaning it won’t work any place where there’s spotty wifi or no cellular data available. That makes most subway commutes out of the question, along with many plane rides (unless you pay for the painfully expensive in-flight wifi).

This game, albeit simple and relatively short (there are only 24 levels, each of which lasts about 60 to 90 seconds), is the perfect kind of game to get lost in on a subway commute. Much like Temple RunCanabaltJetpack Joyride, and Sonic Dash before it, Super Mario Run is just difficult enough to keep your attention, but simple enough to play that you want to complete it. But considering that the full game costs $10, it’s worth considering whether that investment will be worth it if you can’t play it on your commute. Many other running games that don’t feature Nintendo’s most iconic character are also far cheaper (or free) and feel about the same.

There are certain aspects of the game, such as multiplayer mode where you pit your running skills against strangers on the internet, that obviously require a web connection to work. But the main game, the 24 levels where Mario is trying to save Princess Peach and restore her to the throne of the Mushroom Kingdom, could easily be played without a constant internet connection.

When asked about the rationale behind requiring the game to be connected to the internet at all times, Nintendo told Quartz, “Super Mario Run is not a static experience, but rather one that players can continue to return to again and again to enjoy something new and unexpected.”

Perhaps Nintendo is just trying to save our appetites for the Switch, the hybrid gaming console it’s releasing in May 2017 that can be played as easily at home as it could on the subway.