Mario is almost an institution these days, such is his fame, popularity, and brand recognition. But you need a Nintendo game console or handheld in order to get in on the fun. So what are you to do when you have a hankering for some Super Mario action on your Android phone or tablet? Why, you try one of these games!
I’ve rounded up five of the best Android titles that replicate the run-and-jump style and substance of Super Mario games from the NES and Super Nintendo eras. Go ahead and take these Mario-wannabes for a spin.
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Lep’s World plays on the old folk tales about leprechauns and rainbows. In a Mushroom Kingdom-esque world, you guide Lep past enemies and precipitous drops in search of his gold. Each of the 40 levels concludes when Lep finds the end of the rainbow. It’s a cute twist on the Mario formula, and it comes with many of the little touches you’d expect from the Nintendo platformer.
Social players can brag and challenge their friends through the Scoreloop integration, while the rest of us will be content searching for that pot of gold and picking up the clover leafs, corns, and acorns that aid Lep’s progress and improve his score.
Imagine Super Mario Brothers 3 with randomized levels. Now change all the colors and replace Mario with a ghostly apparition of the Android mascot. That’s pretty much what Super Androix gives you, albeit without the secret pipes. You go through eight worlds, each consisting of nearly a dozen levels and a boss fight, on a map that’s been ripped from the original Mario game. Each world is randomly generated at the start of the game. The virtual buttons can be resized or swapped for either a physical keyboard or accelerometer controls with gestures.
Super Androix straddles the line between homage and clone, oscillating from one side to the other in a solid 2D platforming experience that comes about as close as you’ll get to playing a Mario game without…you know, playing a Mario game.
Like Super Androix, Rufio Adventures looks and feels remarkably similar to a Super Mario game. It stars Irish brothers Shamus and Rufio — what is it with the Irish thing? — who work in “sewage and drain maintenance and repair.” Rufio needs to collect as many coins as he can to save his family from a potato famine, and of course his adventures involve jumping on the heads of baddies and opening mysterious question-mark boxes with his head.
For all its pastiche-ridden plot, Rufio Adventures is little more than a Super Mario Bros 3 clone with random levels, more varied backdrops, a few new powerups, and way less polish. Hamstrung by a total absence of music and sound effects, combined with a control scheme that screams for an actual — physical — gamepad, Rufio Adventures never fulfills its potential for greatness.
Back in 1987, Commodore 64 owners were treated to a Mario game of their own, only it didn’t come from Nintendo. The Great Giana Sisters replaced the two Italian plumbers with Giana and her sister Maria stuck in a strange dream world. With more than a passing similarity to Super Mario Bros — the first level was a blatant copy of World 1-1 — the game was ripped from store shelves but still attained huge popularity and infamy. Giana Sisters was remade and expanded a few years ago on the Nintendo DS, then ported to iOS and Android in late 2011.
This rendition includes remastered versions of the 33 original levels, plus 80 new ones and modern graphics. The controls feel a tad off at times, but they did in The Great Giana Sisters too, so that’s to be expected. Giana Sisters is nonetheless a competent, fun, and nostalgia-filled platformer true to the spirit of the early Super Mario games.
Google Play link: Giana Sisters
Developer: Kaasa Games
Stardash is like Game Boy classic Super Mario Land on steroids. Its masochistic gameplay will tempt you to hurl your phone across the room in frustration, but that’s no knock against its quality — there’s a sense of polish here, and you get a great rush from managing a successful run from beginning to end of a level without stopping. The tinted-monochrome visuals appear as though ripped from an early 90s Game Boy title, while the catchy chiptunes music encourages a light-hearted approach to dying.
That’s good, because you’ll die a lot. The fast-paced platforming offers little room for error and often demands pixel-perfect precision in the timing of your jumps. Easy to drop in and out from, Stardash’s short run-and-jump levels are great for playing on the run. The free version runs ads between levels and on menus, but is otherwise identical to the paid offering.
Those are my picks, but there are loads of other Mario-like games for Android. Which ones have you tried? And how do you feel about the more overt clones in the Play Store, some of which even steal art assets from Nintendo’s classic releases? Let us know in the comments below.