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5 Lessons that Independent Video Game Designers

5 Lessons that Independent Video Game Designers Can Take Away from Super Mario Run
Concepts of game design that will be of assistance to you in the creation of your own games.


Nintendo’s first game designed specifically for mobile devices is called Super Mario Run. It was made available for iOS in December of 2016, and it was made available for Android in March of 2017. If you haven’t tested it out yet, you should take advantage of the free demo version that is now available.

There are three primary game modes available in Super Mario Run:

The primary aspect of the game is called “main gameplay,” and it consists of Mario going on his own while the player touches the screen to have him leap in order to gather stuff and destroy foes.
Toad Rally is a competition in which you go head-to-head against another player.
Mushroom Kingdom is a world in which the user can construct and grow their kingdom utilizing various items.

The gameplay is based on a side-scrolling, auto-running platformer, and it has concepts that are comparable to those found in traditional Super Mario games. In order for Mario to reach the flag pole at the end of the level before time runs out, he must avoid obstacles, gather coins, and jump onto adversaries.

Simple Controls

Jumping is the sole action that can be taken in Super Mario Run because the game was developed specifically for mobile devices. The jump can be performed in a few different ways. A smaller jump can be achieved by tapping the screen, while a larger jump can be achieved by tapping and holding the screen. But that wraps things up. There is to be no swiping or other foolishness. Just tap and hold for a moment. Because of this, it is simple to play, and the fact that the game is intended to be played in the portrait orientation makes it possible to play the game with just one hand, making it perfect for casual gamers.

Because of the game’s easy-to-use controls and its auto-running mechanic, the gameplay seems very much like how an older Super Mario Brothers game would play if you tried to complete it in record time.

Mobile Friendly

It would appear that the market is shifting more and more toward games that can be played on mobile devices. Mobile games are quite popular among casual gamers, and it’s certainly safe to say that the majority of serious players also own mobile devices.

According to, there were 1.86 billion smartphone users all over the world as of the year 2015. It is anticipated that this figure would reach 2.87 billion users by the year 2020. According to, there were one billion tablet users around the world in 2015. This figure does not include users of smartphones. It is anticipated that by the year 2020, there will be 1.46 billion users worldwide. In other words, as of the year 2015, there were already 2.86 billion mobile devices in use. To put that number into perspective, reports that the PlayStation 2 (PS2) has only sold 157.68 million units all over the world. This is the console that holds the record for the most gaming consoles ever sold. That being the case, building your game for mobile devices (either as a native application or a mobile-optimized HTML5 game) offers the possibility of reaching a substantially wider audience than developing a game for a more conventional gaming console would do so. Not to mention that there are many fewer obstacles to entry, and distribution is significantly simpler.

The portability of the devices used for mobile gaming also brings with it the additional benefit of increased convenience. This translates to the games being easier and more frequently accessible on mobile devices, giving consumers the opportunity to engage in longer sessions of game play.

Fermium/Demo Pricing Model

There is a plethora of excellent gaming content accessible right now for play on mobile devices as well as online. When a gamer first decides to buy a game, especially one that was created by an independent developer, they are taking a significant risk. It is much more appealing to try out and download if there is a fermium or demo option. When the player realizes how much fun the game is, they will have the option of purchasing either the full version of the game or any extra add-ons.

Develop an Audience for a Brand, and Not Just the Game Itself

The fact that I spent endless hours of my youth playing Super Mario Brothers 3 on the NES was the impetus behind why I decided to download Super Mario Run in the first place. You have the option in Super Mario Run to take control of Mario, one of gaming’s most recognizable figures, as well as other fan favorites, like Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Toadette, and Yoshi. Not to mention the iconic foes like Goombas and Koopa Troopas, as well as Bowser himself!

gamepadMultiple Level Complexity

There are five gold coins at the end of each level in Super Mario Run. When you have collected all 5 in a single game, you will be able to acquire 5 purple coins. After you have collected all 5 purpler coins, you will be able to acquire 5 black coins. This indicates that there are at least three distinct ways to complete each level.

This permits re-playability, which in turn enables the gamers to have more hours of playtime with fewer restrictions imposed by the level design (designers only have to add new coin locations, not design completely new levels)

The user has the ability to select their own level of difficulty thanks to the several levels available. They have the ability to breeze past each and every level if they so choose. They have the option of taking on the additional task of completing all of the different iterations of each level. In Super Mario Run, you have the option of playing through each level in what is called “easy mode,” which makes the game more accessible to gamers with less experience as well as those with more. In Easy mode, the player is given a limitless amount of time and bubbles (lives).

Check out our article, “How to Become a Video Game Developer,” if you are considering a career in the game creation industry.