Once again, we are given a dark-and-dingy level to face, though this was admittedly one of the easier levels to collect all the special coins on.
For starters, there seemed to be lees volatility in the enemy (bats), and while they still presented a threat like any other flying enemy, they weren’t haphazard and, on-the-whole, a fairly conservative enemy.
The other boon for this level is that there are more chances to correct your mistakes – that is, chances to jump backwards. It might sound a bit silly, but jumping backwards in Super Mario Run is one of my favourite things to do. I don’t know whether it’s the animation or the fact that I get to pick up more coins or kill another enemy, but I find it satisfying every single time.
Lotsa deaths. Dodge bullets and mind the gap!
Either my timing is terrible, or this level is designed to try and kill you.
There is a two-fold threat in this level. The first is the bullets that come at you fairly consistently throughout, and the nature of playing on a mobile means you have less-than-ideal lead time to see them coming, and try and both dodge them, and/or use them to get to higher levels. Sometimes, doing the former leads you to a death because of the other threat – the height.
Mastering the height and the platforming levels is more a matter of timing and not being too greedy. It’s very easy to try and grab that special coin or reach a little bit higher while bouncing off a bullet – it’s also very easy to miss-time the adventure and go plummeting off-screen. I did it many, many times, and it wasn’t until I took it a bit easy and just tried to reach ‘the end’ that I made it through.
This is a level that requires a lot more practice, patience and timing to be able to get right.
This is one of my favourite levels, as it is more puzzle-solving than combat or timing – but, if I’m perfectly honest, I’m not sure that I’ve cracked the code properly as to how to clear this level perfectly.
What makes this somewhat additionally satisfying is that I played as Luigi, which playing, in what essentially amounts to a haunted house, has echoes of Luigi’s Mansion.
For starters, I explored the entire areas thoroughly, and I still wasn’t able to collect all the special coins! I suspect that it has something to do with the ‘ghosts’ and the shaking doors, but I will have to replay the level a few times and experiment with different options.
I guess the ‘deception’ in the level title is probably the first hint.
There are some fun elements to this level, including the monkey bars which you get to swing across – and usually have a special coin attached to the bars – as long as you can either time your dismount correctly, or hang in there long enough to be able to collect it.
For the most part though, this is a fairly simple run of dodge-the-bad guy until you get reach the main reason why you’re here.
The first of the bosses! This one introduces Bowser to us – though it may just be a sheep-in-wolf’s-clothing, as it seems once you ‘kill’ him he just turns into a mushroom and … well … dies.
The battle itself seems fairly innocuous, until you realise the size of Bowser and you have to time your jump perfectly to be able to clear him. Once you do though, it’s just a matter of reaching the bridge switch that sends Pseudo-Bowser into the lava below.
This is very much an up-in-the-air level, with the focus here being on platforms with springs to get you up and flying. This level also introduces a new enemy – flying turtles – which also kind of introduces another technique which is useful for later levels, in that killing flying enemies requires a jump onto the head, rather than a jump into them, which really just kills you (or shrinks you, or knocks you back a few paces in your ‘try again’ bubble).
The other thing that this appears to introduce is the ‘red rings’, which brings with it a challenge to collect five red coins. At least I think it’s five, I couldn’t find any others, and by the time I got them all the timer had run down anyway. I’m not sure what this gets you, but I’ll endeavour to learn throughout the rest of these levels.
If Level 1-1 was about the basics, 1-2 introduces the good old fashioned wall-kick to the game, which is a nifty little technique for shifting Mario backwards for a moment in order to pickup coins – collectable or otherwise.
The temptation in this level is clearly to try and tempt you to grab a few extra gold coins using the wall-kick, and for the most part, the level is structured in a way that makes it both enticing and inviting. Regardless of how you seize the opportunities of this introduction to the wall-kick, it is a handy technique that will come in handy in future levels.
Starting off with Super Mario Run is really about learning the mechanics. It starts with learning about the mystery blocks you need to break for mushrooms and coins, and a little about where and how to jump on the enemies if you either just want to pass them or, more likely, need to grab the special coins higher up.
Despite this ultimately being a tutorial level, the special coins still present a bit of a challenge for seasoned runners – the trick being all about the timing, which is something that I pretty much suck at, but it’s also something that is not insurmountable. Practice, course memory and timing would make Level 1-1 more than achievable for discerning players.
Getting right into the reeds now. My first play through of this and I was lucky to escape with anyone alive and only one star for my efforts.
The difficulty here wasn’t necessarily with any of the enemies but rather the lack of damage my team were able to inflict on the bad guys. I think part of the problem is that my team need to level up desperately, which is something that I haven’t quite mastered as a strategy, but if I keep chipping away at it, I’ll get my guys up-to-scratch soon enough.
The journey continues today with a stock-standard run in with a bunch of heavily armoured green dudes. Judging by how resiliant they were against my team (more on this in a second), it’s fair to say that this is normally a challenging encounter.
But while I was at the home screen, I noticed something. A friend request from someone I don’t know either personally or professionally, but let me tell you this – they probably saved my digital life.
Oh my goodness. I haven’t seen a loophole quite like this since I obtained the summoning bell in Bloodbourne and let all the more experienced players take out my bosses for me. With my ‘friend’s’ level thirty-something Roland, I saved up his attacks for one-hit, one-kills, and pretty much just humoured the rest.
Yes, it was as satisfying as it sounds.
And so, we kick-off the Dark Campaign, moreso because it was easier to just play the first mission rather than try and extricate myself from the pop-up tutorial dragon who insisted on teaching me how-and-where to play.
The enemies here start off at a bit of a higher level – around Level 14 or so – and the first level really just serves as a bit of an introduction to former Assassin, Sharazar (which immediately makes me think of the Pokemon, Charizard), and his pet raven, Harir.
The level itself wasn’t too complicated – but what I did particularly enjoy was the greater variety of attacks and moves. I didn’t even manage to get through them all in this round as I was too busy just checking out the new attacks – but there’s plenty of time, and plenty of opponents to defeat, so I’ll just persevere.
By the end of the level, you are told you officially ‘unlock’ Sharizar. This might prove useful if there’s a level where you can pick anyone off your roster, but I’m yet to determine how seperate the game keeps light and dark characters. I guess it would be the equivalent of whether there’d ever be a game that sees Yoda and Darth Vader team up to defeat the Wookies.