One of Nintendo’s most anticipated mobile games has finally been released as “Mario Kart Tour” brings pure chaos to smart phones everywhere. While the game brings the fun of playing Mario Kart in a bite sized chunk, the game suffers from poor controls that force players into two distinct play styles with no compromises. The abysmal amount of content in the game with only promises of future updates adds to players’ frustrations. Nintendo and DeNa’s collaboration resulted in a game plagued with major pay-to-win aspects that are severely lacking in multiple areas where it shouldn’t. It’s unfortunate that the racing giant fails to live up to the hype it was hoping to cultivate.
One of Mario Kart’s best features is the driving mechanics. In any other iteration of the series, players are always treated to a balanced driving system that rewards players for precise drifting and steering. This all changed when Nintendo had to develop for a platform with only a touchscreen as the game splits its core concepts into two play methods. Drifting and steering, two mechanics that are integral to the original game are now entirely separate which trivializes the driving into a non-uniform style that doesn’t control well. The touchscreen controls are just not a good fit for a hectic racing experience like Mario Kart.
Each play method has their pros and cons; the steering control form is much easier for users to play with, but gives diminishing returns as time goes on. The drifting style makes turning quite difficult but allows for quicker boosts. The computers, however, have no such issue with making tight turns and boosting past the player that can only be described as unfair. This only worsens as the artificial intelligence difficulty increases. As you progress into the game, the cups only get harder with more stiff requirements to increase your score and star count. However, towards the end of the game’s content, the difficulty spikes to levels that require the player to pay for the chance to fully complete the game. To make matters worse, the game has no multiplayer functionality as of the writing of this review.
As time goes on, the CPU’s play in ways that just aren’t humanly possible which makes it feel as if the game is cheating. This only pushes players to pay money to get an advantage ahead of the computer-generated difficulty that is playing disingenuously. The game is less skill dependent, which only harms the games’ longevity. The game works on a score system that determines how many stars a player is given after a race. Early on, the system is forgiving and gives stars quite often, yet when the difficulty ramps up unfairly, the game becomes much more shrewd when paying out. This is only heightened by the disappointing amount of content offered. The mobile game is devoid of original racetracks for players to enjoy. Each track is directly taken from a previous iteration of Mario Kart, even from the earliest game on the Super Nintendo. The game relies on the same seven tracks with only minor variation to set them apart from each other. These variations hardly give the players any type of replayability because of its bland, uninspiring tracks that offer nothing to those looking for more out of the experience. The game is anything but original and it comes off as uninventive. The experience worsens when players discover how predatory the developers are in pushing the microtransactions.
Like any other mobile game, “Mario Kart Tour” features monetization aspects in the form of in-game currency, Rubies. This currency is sparsely given to players for completing challenges and course cups. The game also limits players’ progress to keep receiving rewards. Experience and coins are earned with completion of courses to level up and buy more drivers, karts and gliders. This system is great, but there is a limit to how much can be earned each day, effectively forcing people to purchase in-game currency to keep earning rewards. The cap set on rewards is disappointing because it limits the enjoyment people who can’t or won’t pay will have with the game. It only forces players to pay for power in the form of microtransactions which makes the free to play format null. The game is full of these small monetization aspects to incrementally improve your play with benefits players pay for. It’s clear that the Rubies are merely an attempt by the developers to collect more money out of players in a free to play game. The game also offers a gold pass for five dollars a month. The pass gives players vanity items including a faster speed of racing and many more rewards. These rewards are outright essential to anyone who plans on fully completing the game and trying to get the best score in every course. Clearly, the game is trying to get players to pay for rewards before they discover the game has nothing new to offer. “Mario Kart Tour” has its fun moments in the beginning, but the magic wears thin after the first few courses; the game will likely continue to feel underwhelming unless Nintendo can support the game with big updates.
In the past, Nintendo’s mobile games have had big content updates that shake up the gameplay and add new content to the existing experience to help boost interest. The developers have already promised a future update with multiplayer so it isn’t a far cry to say that more content might be on the way too. This wouldn’t be uncommon for them as games like “Fire Emblem Heroes” already has two seasons and “Super Mario Run” had new levels added to it following its initial launch. While there isn’t much to be said about how Nintendo might fix the gameplay, they might be able to push out more original content to at least add something for players to enjoy.
Despite the flaws in Nintendo’s newest mobile outing, “Mario Kart Tour” offers an enjoyable experience for a while until players discover that the game repeats itself for hours on end with no real end goal. This continuous grind becomes extremely boring and players will see all that the game has to offer in the first hours of gameplay. I got through all the game has to offer and it was, frankly, not worth the effort. Until significant updates are made, Nintendo and DeNa’s big mobile outing is unfortunately a huge let down.
While the racing will give players some fun for a few hours, it’s hard to recommend for a long-term mobile game experience. In its current state, the game devoids the player of having fun because of its predatory microtransactions, unjust computer opponents and dreadful control.