Mario Kart Tour, Nintendo’s latest mobile phone game, has just recently released to IOS and Android phones for free download on September 25th. The game had been highly anticipated since its announcement in January 2018 and was downloaded by over 10 million players on the release date, with over 90 million downloads to date.
Mario Kart has been a long-lasting series, spanning nine games across 27 years. The games are widely received as a fun party game, and many people know the series through Mario Kart Wii, which is highest-selling title in the franchise.
The game plays just like any other Mario Kart game: players race against seven other opponents in a series of four courses, or a cup, as they vye for first place, utilizing shortcuts, speed boosts, and items to get an edge over their opponents. Players can unlock a variety of characters and kart pieces to create an optimized racing build, as they attempt to reach a high score in each race to get the maximum amount of stars. Every two weeks, the tracks change in rotation as the “tour” moves to a different real-world location, with the most recent one being the Tokyo Tour, which arrived on October 9th.
However, despite its initial hype, the game has a number of weak points.
For one, there is no system that allows people to race against one another. The exclusion of online play was obscured by the fact that opponents in each race seem to have actual player names, but in reality, players are simply racing against bots. This has caused the game to come under much scrutiny, as the main appeal of Mario Kart in recent years is the friendly competition.
Another point of criticism is the game’s free-to-play aspect. Players are forced to, in a sense, gamble for playable characters and kart pieces, which allow them to perform better in races. This system is especially skewed, however, given that each race course has specific parts and racers that can lead to a higher point gain; characters quite literally make you better at the game, giving you increased scores and item drops. This system of constantly racing and purchasing to receive better and better scores can cause the game to stagnate, especially since the race courses are so often straightforward and short.
While adding the option to play online will definitely increase the lifespan of the game, at this rate, Mario Kart tour is on track to follow the same fate as other Nintendo games: a strong start, but a lackluster finish.