Mario Kart Tour disappoints with mobile gameplay

Nina Bartlomiejczyk Copy Editor

On Sept. 25, Nintendo released its new mobile game, “Mario Kart Tour” for Android and iOS, which, according to CNN Business, “was downloaded more than 90 million times in its first week.” This game marks the 14th installment in Nintendo’s “Mario Kart” series.

The mobile game allows gamers to enter the racing world of Nintendo’s endearing, classic characters on zany, fastpaced courses wherever and whenever they please.

The courses are reminiscent of classics from past “Mario Kart” games that players will be familiar with, such as those from the now-retro Nintendo 64 version. However, these courses feel more like knock-offs of the real deal and can get boring. The developers promise special world city-based courses, hence the title ‘Tour,’ but they are only available for two-week long events.

Players start out with two random characters from the roster of the game’s 35. Other characters and items can then be won via paying rubies, which are an in-game currency earned by leveling up, to gamble for a loot box containing a character, kart or parachute.

Different characters have different rarities, making some statistically harder to get than others. Depending on the course, some characters and items will have an advantage, and the player must make a wellrounded roster in order to choose the best loadout combination for the race.

Interestingly, the loadout does not affect race performance, but rather the number of points the player gets post-race, which determines the number of stars the player earns. This will help the player advance to the next course or circuit, and also ranks players when competing for the highest score on a ranked circuit. However, being able to play in ranked competition is only unlocked after players complete a certain number of circuits.

The point-only advantage erases the possibility for some players to have a better chance at winning than others due to purchasing items with superior ingame effects using actual money.’ In this game, the players can buy in-game currency, or a ludicrously priced $4.99 “Gold Pass” monthly membership for access to faster races and randomized loot boxes of more characters and items, but this does not put them at a competitive advantage during the race, which relies solely on skill and luck.

Unfortunately, this comes with drawbacks. Firstly, it discourages many players who ‘main’ a certain character from doing so. For example, if a player enjoys playing as Yoshi and wishes to play as him in every race, they will be at a point disadvantage for quite a few races, even though this has no effect on the gameplay. It also gives some players who have better items from loot boxes they purchased to get more points in ranked circuits.

This is an unfortunate truth that is perpetuated in “Mario Kart Tour;” the most frustrating of which happens directly after a player spends rubies to fire the pipe, the game’s iteration of a loot box. The loading icon spins indefinitely, and the player must shut down the app and restart. Though the
game still provides the player with the prize, this is an irritating bug.

The controls of the game are awkward, requiring the player to either tilt the phone, and consequently, the screen, to steer, or use their fingers to tap the screen to drift, which is sensitive and hard to control at times. Mastering drifting can help players get speed boosts when done correctly, but causes frustration while learning due to its sensitivity.

Overall, due to boring courses, loadout advantage functions, a loot box system, paywalls, bugs and clunky controls, “Mario Kart Tour” is largely a disappointing crash and burn.

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