Apple started their show with a showstopper: Super Mario Bros. is coming to the iPhone.
At their keynote presentation on Wednesday, where the company is showing off new hardware and software, Apple CEO Tim Cook spent some time upfront bragging about the App Store and noting the important place that video games have in that ecosystem. "Gaming is the biggest and most popular category on the App Store, with more than half a million games to choose from," he said. He then noted that one very important character had been missing.
Then Shigeru Miyamoto, legendary creator of Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda and many other Nintendo franchises took the stage to announce Super Mario Run.
Twitter went crazy.
Oh, and Nintendo's stock went up.
As the name implies, the game is a "runner," a popular mobile genre of action games in which the character on screen is always running forward. Tapping the screen makes Mario jump, allowing you to play the game with only one hand.
It's not an "endless" runner, though. The game features a selection of pre-designed levels to play through. If you're worried about replayability, there will also be a mode in which you can "challenge the play data of other people's completed courses." So, y'know. High score boards. As you'd probably expect.
In addition, there will be a mode of the game that focuses on creating your own Mushroom Kingdom. You do so using coins collected by playing the runner.
"We have created Super Mario Run to be perfect for playing on your iPhone," Miyamoto said. "Super Mario has evolved whenever he has encountered a new platform, and for the first time ever, players will be able to enjoy a full-fledged Super Mario game with just one hand, giving them the freedom to play while riding the subway or my favorite, eating a hamburger."
Miyamoto also stressed that the game would not be free-to-play, as many of the App Store's biggest hits are.
"iOS users will be able to download and enjoy a portion of Super Mario Run for free and will be able to enjoy all of the game content available in this release after paying a set purchase price," Nintendo said in a press release sent out after the announcement.
Miyamoto said on-stage that Nintendo is forgoing the free-to-play model to guarantee that players will never have to worry about sinking more and more money into the game. Buy it once, play it as much as you like.
That said, they didn't announce the price for the game, only saying it would be coming in time for this holiday season.
After Miyamoto's presentation, Tim Cook made a point to say that Super Mario Run is coming to iOS first (emphasis added). That implies that the game will be a timed exclusive for Apple, but will probably head to Android at a later date.
Like Nintendo's other mobile projects, Super Mario Run is a partnership with mobile developer DeNA. They helped create Nintendo's first mobile app, Miitomo, and they're working on 2017 releases in the Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem franchises.
As an aside, Nintendo also announced that Super Mario stickers are coming to iMessage, and they'll launch alongside iOS 10. That sticker price will be free.