Five to Try: Super Mario Run finally arrives, and Samsung unpacks its Galaxy S8 event app

Nintendo's on-the-go adventure headlines a fresh batch of Android releases.

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Credit: Andrew Hayward

It’s-a-here: Super Mario Run finally zipped its way into the Play Store this week, bringing a streamlined, one-handed take on Nintendo’s classic to your Android phone. That’s well worth a download, but if you need options, our latest Five to Try column can point you towards other hot new Android releases.

The Galaxy S8-revealing Unpacked 2017 event is just days away, and Samsung’s new app will put the live stream (and a countdown for now) on your current phone, no matter the maker. Elsewhere, Bit City is a slick and approachable urban building simulation, Hypebae lets you tap into women’s sneaker and fashion culture, and the APEX HQ companion app lets players of Mass Effect: Andromeda stay connected even when they’re not at home.

Super Mario Run

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Super Mario Run reimagines the Nintendo classic as a single-tap auto-runner.

No more waiting! Super Mario Run brings Nintendo’s beloved plumber to Android in a tweaked form: it looks like the classic entries, but is now well suited for one-thumbed play. Essentially, it’s Mario as an auto-runner, albeit with a lot of the familiar power-ups, enemies, and blocks along the way. You’ll tap primarily just to jump, with most of your focus put on dodging hazards and snagging coins en route to the flag at the end.

The campaign spans 24 compact courses, with solid incentive to dive back in and replay them once you’re done, plus a Toad Rally mode pits you against an A.I. version of a friend or random foe to produce the most stylish run. Also, Android users get the 2.0 version from the start, which implements various tweaks and enhancements.

As on iOS, Super Mario Run’s pricing model might shock some Android users: it’s a free download, but that essentially just gives you a quick demo, with the rest of the game sold as a $10 in-app purchase. There are no other in-app purchases, however, and I’d argue that it’s a fair price to pay for a premium Nintendo experience on your phone. And since it’s free at first, you can decide whether to spend based on the initial levels.

Samsung Unpacked 2017

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You can’t do much with the app right now, but it’ll be ground zero for the Galaxy S8 on Wednesday.

We are just days away from the initial unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy S8, and while leaks have spoiled much of the surprise, it’s still sure to be an exciting event. Want to follow along live next Wednesday, March 29? Now you can do it easily from any Android 4.3+ phone using Samsung’s official Unpacked 2017 app. 

It’s a pretty limited offering overall, and doesn’t offer a ton to experience before the show. There’s a giant countdown timer to the Unpacked event, quick access to a couple of teaser videos, and details on the impending stream for now. But if you’re planning on tuning in next week and aren’t sure if you’ll be in front of your PC, you might as well grab the app so you can catch all of the reveals as they happen. 

Bit City

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Once you hit a certain objective, you can bounce to a larger new city and begin a more ambitious build.

NimbleBit’s Tiny Tower was one of the first big free-to-play mobile smashes, letting you build your own skyscraper level by level, and now the studio is thinking bigger with Bit City. This fresh freebie takes a whole new approach, as you build up city after city from a humble little town into a vast, functional metropolis. 

Despite the added scale, Bit City actually keeps things super simplistic: you’ll accrue more and more tax money as the city expands, but there’s little to the action besides navigating menus and tapping the “Build” button to generate automatic building upgrades. Bit City is part mindless clicker, part urban planning simulation, and finds the sweet spot in the middle of being very approachable and easy to understand. It could be a grind if you’re not willing to gradually enjoy the game around its freemium limitations, however. 

Hypebae

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Hypebae highlights women’s streetwear and sneaker culture, as well as the people shaping it.

Spun off from Hypebeast, the popular male-centric sneaker and fashion website, Hypebae shifts its focus to women—and now is available as an Android app, as well. Hypebae’s purview is not only fashion (particularly streetwear and kicks), but also the female creators and influencers driving the culture, plus the wide-ranging editorial focus manages to touch on travel and entertainment, amongst other topics.

The Android app presents the web articles in an easier-to-read, native format, letting you view the latest or most popular stories in separate tabs, as well as dig into the various categories of coverage. Whether you’re a sneakerhead, eager to eye the latest fashion, or want to learn more about the women involved in the culture, Hypebae seems like an ideal resource for all of those things. 

Mass Effect: Andromeda APEX HQ

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Pair the app with your EA account and you can interact with the console and PC blockbuster.

EA’s Mass Effect: Andromeda is one of the most anticipated AAA game releases in recent memory, and while critical reviews have been a bit spottier than expected, millions of series fans are still eagerly exploring its vast sci-fi universe. And if you’re looking for a bit of assistance amidst all of that exploration, you might want to grab the official companion app.

Released alongside the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC game this week, the Mass Effect: Andromeda APEX HQ app plugs into the game’s multiplayer combat mode, letting you customize weapon loadouts on the go, view stats, and check mission status. Most notably, it also lets you send out Strike Teams on missions, thus earning bonus rewards that you can use when you jump back in on your console or computer.

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