Super Mario Run Review – Run Away

I’m going to despise writing all of this.

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Format: iOS (reviewed)
Released: December 15, 2016
Full copy purchased

Whatever one may think of Super Mario Run (and let’s get this out of the way now – I’m not impressed), it’s a landmark title marking the Mario series’ debut on iOS devices. While not Nintendo’s first foray into the mobile gaming market, it represents the first time one of the company’s historic brands has appeared with what we could charitably call a full-fledged game.

Important it may be, but it’s not exactly great.

I’m a fan of the “endless runner” genre but Nintendo’s tepid take on the idea, focusing more on repetitive social challenges than engaging content, doesn’t do enough to keep me hooked. What’s more, it’s nowhere near worth the ten dollar asking price that it unveils after several stages of masquerading as a free-to-play game.

Like most “runner” games, chirping plumber Mario automatically moves through each stage and the player taps to make him jump. The longer a finger’s held down, the higher he jumps, and tapping again while in mid-air allows him to get a little boost from a spin-move.

Rather than directly take damage from enemies, Mario autonomously hops over them, but a quick tap of the screen lets him stomp them for extra coins. This doesn’t mean Koopa Troopers and Goombas aren’t dangerous – Mario only vaults them if he’s had a bit of time to start running, so badly timed jumps might land him in trouble.

Mushrooms negate damage as one might expect, though taking a hit without the obligatory power-up doesn’t mean instant death. Instead, Mario loses some collected coins and is shunted back a little ways, undoing progress and making each level’s strict timer more of a threat. When playing a course in Tour mode (the campaign, ostensibly), this can happen only twice before death is final and the level needs restarting.

Tour mode offers six worlds with four stages as Mario encounters the usual foes and works to save Princess Peach from Bowser once again. Courses themselves aren’t particularly lengthy or challenging, and you’ll pretty much have the “story” completed within the hour if you cared to blast through it in a single go.

Replay value is contrived with special colored coins that unlock extra courses, encouraging players to return to completed levels and grab anything they missed. There are also other characters to unlock, though many of them trade-off the ability to use mushrooms for some additional jumping ability – an ability that’s not good enough to make up for the loss of the mushroom’s advantages.

Anything discussed already is fluff because the real core of Super Mario Run is Toad Rally.

Everything in this game is built to support Toad Rally, a quasi-competitive game about collecting Toads and building things. This is where Nintendo put all its attention and it shows in just how brief the more traditional mode is.

Sadly, priorities were clearly misplaced.

By spending tickets – earned in bonus games and offered as login rewards – players can take on Toad Rally courses, which are randomized “remix” versions of the stages found in Tour mode. The big twist is that recorded gameplay of another player’s run will appear as a “ghost” in the stage while the game tallies up the amount of coins they’ve accrued.

The point of Toad Rally is to pick up more coins than the player you’ve been pitted against. There are no lives to be lost, but every time you take a hit you’ll lose coins and precious seconds of progress, giving your ghostly opponent the advantage.

If you can keep collecting coins without taking too many hits you’ll enter Coin Rush and be able to nab the many additional doubloons that spew out into the stage. Invincibility Stars are also hidden in Toad Rally stages, granting not just invulnerability but a free Coin Rush as well. Should you perform particularly well, Toads will cheer you on and may grant bonus coins at the end.

Honestly? I hate writing about this game.

Winners of a Toad Rally course will acquire Toads, growing a populous of fungus-faced friends that can be used to build a personalized Mushroom Kingdom. The more Toads acquired, the higher the Kingdom’s level grows and the more things players can put in it.

When players have the requisite number and color of Toads, they’ll be able to place buildings on a map. Some of these buildings are purely decorative, while others allow bonus games to be played for extra coins and tickets.

Seriously, describing this game is like torture. I hate writing about it, and I realize fully that my displeasure is accurately reflected in the quality of this review.

Anyway, onto the real kicker of this game – Toad Rally not only costs tickets, but potentially Toads. Losing a Toad Rally course will cause a number of previously collected Toads to be lost – only a handful, but enough to make the early goings of the game really annoying at times.

There’s no real way of knowing how well an opponent will perform in a stage ahead of time – Super Mario Run only shows their username and the amount of Toads they’ve earned overall. Additionally, you don’t get to choose the course – a list will be offered to you, and if only one of the stages on that list has the purple or green Toads you need, you’re at Nintendo’s random mercy.

Winning Toad Rally is satisfying enough, but losing is more than frustrating – it can feel like an active waste of time. If you’re trying to get a certain type of Toad to unlock a desirable building but have a run of bad luck, you’ll be made to sit and watch as you only slip further away from your goal.

More than that, however, the need to replay the same old levels in order to get more Toads turns into a boring grind at a rapid pace. I was over the whole process on the game’s launch day, and I’ve not felt particularly compelled to continue beyond that. I’ve dipped back in, but I’m doing so out of some grim sense of obligation rather than a genuine desire to play.

The idea of building a Mushroom Kingdom and unlocking inhabitants via gameplay is great, but I’d rather have seen it as its own full production. As a tacked-on way of extending Super Mario Run‘s lifespan, it’s ill-conceived and frankly offputting in its current incarnation.

Super Mario Run would have been better if it had committed to a single idea. Instead, we’ve got a lacking runner game melded to a half-baked city builder that relies on repetition and artificial setbacks in order to pad itself out. With a premium cost – as well as a data-hogging always-online requirement – this is a game that’s worth neither the time nor the money it’s demanding.

I was really excited about Super Mario Run before it launched, but it’s just not got enough going on to earn its keep. Like Miitomo, this is yet another promising mobile effort from Nintendo that gets old fast and just can’t justify any investment on the part of the audience.

I despised writing all of this.

5/10
Mediocre

Polishfury5000
Guest
Polishfury5000

Mediocre? Sounds more like Mariocre!

I’ll see myself out…

Davorbasic
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Davorbasic

You should be ashamed of yourself for that

Polishfury5000
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Polishfury5000

Pfffft, I should be a lot of things.

Charlie Koszulinski
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Charlie Koszulinski

Sounds more like Mariokee!

Hello everyone, My name is Charles and I’m here to announce my new idea for a Mario Karaoke game. Ya take Mario, ya take karaoke, ya put them together, ya get Mariokee. I’m looking for a $1,000,000 grant in exchage for 5% of the profits. Your move, sharks.

Calamity2007
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Calamity2007

That Deadpool avatar makes that comment more funnier and fitting than it should be.

09philj
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09philj

Super Mario Run’s core mechanic is good. If it was a little cheaper and had more conventional platforming challenges, it would be an excellent mobile runner. As is, it’s an overpriced mess.

Marcos Danilo
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Marcos Danilo

dont forget, that it has DRM as well. because nintedo thinks people wont buy them if they can pirate(which is fair, since the game isnt worth the price they want for it).

Qui-mono
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Qui-mono

There is a better version of this game. It’s called rayman adventures or rayman party. It also run automatically but you are able to control the character in any direction and there is a lot stuff to do in each level. There is more content. And you can spend more days playing it until you are sick of. It suprise me that Nintendo delivered a very shallow game about Mario. Rayman mobile may not be the best but at least it’s more fun.

SilentPony
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SilentPony

$10?! Fuck me! That’s a Fallout 4 expansion! Fuck that!

Benj
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Benj

For an endless runner mobile game? Fuck that.

At least the game hasn’t been made articially scarce so Nintendo loyalists aren’t forced to buy them from scammers off ebay for $80+

Ivan Sorensen
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Ivan Sorensen

Plot twist: We learn later that they will disable the download after 392 sales 😀

Charlie Koszulinski
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Charlie Koszulinski

Sound like someone from Konami moved to Nintendo.

Lewis w
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Lewis w

I assumed there would be some boiling piss in the comments section, but obviously not. Not yet, at least.

SilentPony
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SilentPony

People boiled their piss off on the YouTube comments of the Top 5. Not enough piss to go around.

Charlie Koszulinski
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Charlie Koszulinski

I’ll throw my piss in the ring!

greyXstar
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greyXstar

With the way Nintendo has handled amiibo, the NES Classic and their mobile games this year, I’m a ton less hopeful for the Switch. They needed new people in charge years ago.

RaikuNH
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RaikuNH

Dont forget Rainfall

Powermad80
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Powermad80

For what it’s worth all amiibo have been plentiful in stores for a long time now and the NES Classic was confirmed to have rolling out new shipments real soon after it released.

Linkfan112
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Linkfan112

Nice to hear that amiibos are a little more readily available, but Nintendo gets no applause for shipping new NES classics. They made the supply absurdly small the first time on purpose in order to drive demand to artificially high levels. That way this new batch will sell like fricken cocaine flapjacks. We’ve seen people being forced to pay exorbitant amounts of money in order to get one because of this. The fact that a sleazeball move like that isn’t illegal is a crime in itself.

Powermad80
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Powermad80
Those exorbitant amounts of money aren’t going to Nintendo so they have nothing to gain from that, you’d do well to read up on how much more complex it is to produce and ship a toy like this in decent quantity to retail outlets across an entire planet. Retail outlets are stingy with shelf space and sitting on stock costs money, and they’re all familiar with the market of plug ‘n play consoles. They were a trend for sometime but no Wal-Mart, Target, etc. expects them to be a door-buster product people line up for, so they aren’t willing to… Read more »
BAH!
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BAH!

This is very much my thoughts on the matter. One problem, though, is that the supply was impossibly small- regardless of the reason. It made no sense to ship so few when anyone with any knowledge of the power of nostalgia would have been able to guess that demand would be so high.

Miles Saintborough
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Miles Saintborough

Agreed. Not even newly released copies of video games are stocked that low unless it was some shovelware shit. Nintendo rode the amiibo train to death and they’re doing it again with the NES Classic because they damn well know people will be willing to wait to get one.

BAH!
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BAH!

Amiibo are being stocked fairly well at launch now. Of course, it might be that people aren’t as rabid about them anymore. Hard to say.

I just can’t figure out why Nintendo lowballs the supply so badly. Demand for the NES Classic (for example) is already over 9000, and it won’t get much higher. I just… I don’t know.

Watchmedance
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Watchmedance

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the retailers are colluding with Nintendo (or implying that Nintendo would do it in the first place) but when Nintendo is consistently at the center of inventory scarcity, it sure looks like it is artificial.

Linkfan112
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Linkfan112
I never said that Nintendo benefited from retailers overcharging for the NES Classic, just that it came about due to the scarcity of the product. The sheer difficulty of mass producing and shipping a product like this to a world wide market doesn’t change the fact that Nintendo does it on a regular basis. I don’t want to fall back on the old “They can do it, they have soooo much money” argument, but facts are facts. This is what Nintendo does and they do it well. Retailers may be “stingy” with shelf space, but even with a sixty dollar… Read more »
09philj
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09philj

The Switch still looks appealing to me. I just hope it can get enough support. I also really hope that it gets some Wii U ports. I really like the look of Tokyo Mirage Sessions, and it would be a real shame for it to just be an also-ran game on an also-ran system.

Ron Baron
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Ron Baron

This sounds like about what I expected. Too bad.

Scott John Harrison
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Scott John Harrison
When this game was announced I was excited because I really liked Rayman Jungle Run/Rayman Feasta Run – but actually playing it – It is frustrating like you said – The Coin challenges in Tour mode (And there are three sets of 5 coins to collect, Pink, Purple, Black.) is a task of “I missed the coin – intentionally die. repeat. retry”. The fact objects in the Kingdom builder are locked behind Toads makes getting them – including Limited time Objects added today makes me annoyed. They want me to play hours of the game a day and not five… Read more »
InShortSight
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InShortSight
“you’ll pretty much have the “story” completed within the hour if you cared to blast through it in a single go” This bit though, it’s a 2D mario game, a cheaply made one at that, and those are already cheap for Nintendo. Even the proper 2D mario games have relatively short main campaigns, but the long term draw to them is completion, like champions road in 3D world, and here this fat lovely man doesn’t even sound like he collected all of the easy level pink coins! “You can beat it in an hour” ignores the fact that the levels… Read more »
MJC
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MJC
Champion’s Road in 3D World would have been more fun if not for the two worlds of absolutely dull level replays you have to slog through to get to it. World Mushroom and World Fire Flower were dogshit and the game would have been better if they had not been included. If Super Mario Run is like those two worlds from 3D World, plus always online DRM, then double fuck Super Mario Run. Collecting all of the “easy level pink coins” also sounds a lot like collecting the green stars in Super Mario Galaxy 2, another task that was boring,… Read more »
BAH!
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BAH!

Opinions are weird, yeah? I personally cannot stand NSMBU, and loved SM3DW. And I felt Galaxy 2 had a few notable improvements over 1. It’s crazy how differently people experience the same products.

InShortSight
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InShortSight

I enjoyed collecting almost everything in NSMB:U, and in 3D world, but actually don’t think I even completed the second ‘world’ (set of planets?) in Mario Galaxy 2. That game just felt like I was playing a remix of Galaxy 1.

Opinions ARE weird. My sister would probably describe 3D world as boring and repetitive. I don’t think she likes mario 2D collectathon games much at all. But then Banjo Kazooie and Tooie both probably rank among her favourite games.

People are weird.

BAH!
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BAH!

It’s funny you should score it a 5, because that’s exactly what I felt would be a good price. Though apparently plenty of people disagree, what with the $5M the game’s supposedly made.

Justin Graham
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Justin Graham

Trying to fairly price a game’s full content in a market saturated with free-to-play titles filled with microtransactions can’t be easy. There are people giving the game poor reviews on the app store simply because they refuse to pay $10 when, compared to so many free-to-play titles already out there, it’s actually a bargain in that $10 is all you’ll ever have to pay to see everything that the game has to offer.

Other free-to-play games, you’d be paying microtransactions left and right just to have any hope of progressing.

BAH!
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BAH!

I would think “the cheaper the better” would be a good rule of thumb, but Nintendo does like to go premium. That said, you’re right that even $10 can he a bargain in comparison, even with well-balanced F2P games.

Snatch Gaming
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Snatch Gaming

You have to be a completionist or be big into high scores to like this one I think (aside from the obvious: being a huge Nintendo fan). I didn’t feel the need to spend the $10 given I’d probably play each course once and never again.

The leveling of your castle made me groan. “Your castle has reached level 3!”. What the hell does that even mean and why should I care? Seems like this was padded out with things like that in order to justify a high price tag.

Iftekhar Ahmed
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Iftekhar Ahmed

You should review Kingdom Hearts Unchained X if you’re willing to go into the foray of mobile gaming!

Killer Gnomestar
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Killer Gnomestar

another great review by #1 Boglin boy

Watchmedance
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Watchmedance

I have to admit, besides not actually being able to play this since I will never own an Apple device again, I still likely won’t be playing it since it costs $10. Combine that with the limited controls and the online connection requirement, and you have the recipe for what sounds like a waste of time to me.

XrosBlader821
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XrosBlader821

The thing is Rayman mobile games not only are F2P, have controller support and aren’t apple exclusive.

Watchmedance
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Watchmedance

Yeah they sound like they’re way more up my alley than Super Mario Run.

Anton
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Anton

What a shill review… for the clicks…. bet you don’t even like videogames, you SJW…. ah fuck it I don’t have the energy.

SilentPony
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SilentPony

No problem, Anton, I’ll pick it up here.

Collusion! Go back to Call of Duty to scrub console kiddie! Get a real job! YouTube = feminism! Bogglins are cancer!
Ron Paul 2012!

catsniffer
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catsniffer

You’re trying too hard to be The Cool One. Relax, kiddo.

The Outsider
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The Outsider

Well, he did tell you to run away, didn’t he? FROM THIS SHILL WEBSITE THAT IS

DeadlyYellow
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DeadlyYellow

Not nearly enough acronyms to resemble a reddit post.

Helmic
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Helmic

No cucks? You’re not even trying.

Benj
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Benj

Not enough energy? Where’s your planned reserve of Mountain Dew and Doritos.

Fuckin’ scrub.

Imperial soul
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Imperial soul

I upgraded to monster and monster munch that’s a monster combo .

Giorgos Katsas
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Giorgos Katsas

No problem. An above comment from an idiot called Darkus has you covered.

Brad Fang
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Brad Fang

The success of this, Pokemon Go, the NES Classic, and amiibo worries me. I wonder how Nintendo will be informed by little effort, high return game design. I hope they hold back from artificially inflating demand (and prices) with short-stocking. I dunno. The Switch sounds fine, but if Nintendo takes the wrong lesson from their recent successes, it will be gimped out of the gate.

CaitSeith
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CaitSeith

Was this successful?

Brad Fang
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Brad Fang

Seems like it so far.

Ron Baron
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Ron Baron

I don’t see mobile design bleeding into Switch games. I think Nintendo just isn’t very experienced with Mobile and tried to make things that appealed to that market, seemingly succesfully. And I wouldn’t call the NES Classic low effort. The emulation is of signfcantly higher quality than the Wii U’s virtual console. Since it appears that Pokémon Go helped S&M’s sales, I think Nintendo will stick to high quality design for the Switch

Brad Fang
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Brad Fang

The controllers super short cables, but I agree that the Classic is pretty rad. I was equating amiibo and the Classic to each other by way of Nintendo’s short stocking, and P Go with Run by being just…bad, low effort games.

Ron Baron
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Ron Baron

Ok, I see. Yeah, the short stocking is BS and I was not impressed by Pokémon Go or SM Run. Mobile games tend to be bad and low effort, but I was hoping Nintendo would bring it up.

Nathan Aldana
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Nathan Aldana

theyll be informed the same way every other entertainment industry has been. In that most people will cheerfully shell out money for shit just long enough to make a lot of money before it destroys a franchise

goodbyejojo
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goodbyejojo

more like super mediocre run so far for nintendo, amrite?

CaitSeith
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CaitSeith

No MTs?

steve2911
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steve2911

I feel like I’ve disagreed with Jim in a major on the majority of games I’ve played this year. So I’ll definitely be giving this a look.

Jumwa
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Rarely do I find myself disagreeing with Jim, but I love and still play Miitomo, getting a kick out of my friends and I’s antics. And this one sounds great too. I love runners that don’t bog themselves down in too many antics.

Common Sense
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Common Sense

Think they should have went the freemium way.. of course they can always add on, but as I write this the game is very underwhelming.

Pax
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Pax

Clearly you’re not a fan of the game, but I don’t understand what it is about writing the review in particular that you despised so much. Bad frame of mind during the writing? So little to talk about there wasn’t room for creativity? I’m honestly curious.

trn
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trn

I suspect it was the fact he was having to talk about Mario using the language of mobile gaming; that he was having to describe a Nintendo game which employs tropes that he has been riling against for years. That’s why I hated reading it, anyway.

Zejgar
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Zejgar

Very intriguing reading this review and Jim’s Sonic Runners review back-to-back.

bartimaeuso
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bartimaeuso

So it is just as good as Dishonored 2.

Bionichute
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Bionichute

mediocre fucking mario!!!

Jamesworkshop
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Jamesworkshop
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