Mario Kart Tour (Mobile)

When the first Super Mario Kart game came out on the SNES, I knew it would be big the first time I saw it.  That first game even ended up being one of my top five favorite games of all time.  But I don’t know if I realized just HOW big it would end up being, with eight games in the main series, three arcade titles, a VR attraction, an upcoming ride at Universal Studios, and tons of toys and products like slot car tracks and Hot Wheels sets!  Wow!  So naturally when Nintendo was thinking about what games to bring to mobile devices, Mario Kart would eventually be one of them.  So here comes the free-to-play Mario Kart Tour (reviewed on iPad here).  So is it any good?  You’ll just have to read on to find out!

One thing you can say right out of the bat, the game looks great and has that Nintendo polish about it.  The biggest change has to be the play control, though, as it only uses the touch screen and one finger.  Slide left and right to steer, and slide up to use items and down to use them behind you.  And that’s pretty much it.  You can choose simple controls where you simply steer and once you turn long enough you’ll power slide.  Or you can use advanced controls and you’ll immediately jump and power slide as you steer.  This will give you more speed boosts yet make it harder to control, since you turn so much more sharply.  I like the advanced controls, but since the game requires more precision steering to get anywhere (more on that later), the simple controls work just fine, too.  You can also use gyroscopic controls and tilt your mobile device to steer if you like.

The rest of the game plays pretty much how you’d expect a Mario Kart game to be.  Race as familiar characters on colorful tracks and use weapons like shells, banana peels, and mushrooms to give you an edge in a race.  There are tons of cups, with three tracks each and one special challenge that has you do certain things like drive through rings and such.  Each track is two laps and you can earn five grand stars on each track depending on how many points you get.  You get points by doing most anything from power sliding to collecting coins and using items.  So really you can get all five stars on a track and not even come in first place, although you do get more points when you do.  You unlock more cups with stars, and while I liked this point system at first, it becomes a bit broken after a while as it gets very hard to unlock new cups, as free-to-play games tend to be.  Luckily there are daily challenges and other activities set up like a bingo card that can give you more stars, but it still slows down the progress of the game quite a bit.

The biggest culprit of the game has to be the microtransactions, though.  It’s probably some of the worst I’ve seen in a mobile game, and it seems especially impactful coming from Nintendo.  I hope this doesn’t become the norm for them!  You can buy characters, gliders, and karts with coins you collect on the track, but there are also rubies you can purchase with real money that can buy more things.  There is also a subscription service that is around five dollars a month that unlocks 200cc and more bonuses.  There is a free two-week subscription trial as of this writing, but it does require your credit card and automatically charges you after that so be careful if you go that route.  It all just seems a little slightly shifty to me.  You even have to buy Mario, the star of the series (luckily I first unlocked Toad, my favorite racer anyway).

Even though you see other players before a race, there is no multiplayer as of this writing.  The game just tricks you into thinking you’re racing other players, but you’re really not.  It’s only single player for now, but later on they do plan on adding a true multiplayer mode, supposedly.  Seeing as how ‘wonderful’ Nintendo’s Switch online is, though, I can’t imagine it being that great.  But who knows?  There is only one new track set in New York in this game, and all the other tracks are from previous games.  I’m all for including old tracks in Mario Kart games, but when they repeat themselves so much here, it does get a little old.  If you want a casual and slow Mario Kart experience, I guess the mobile game isn’t too bad, but if you’ve played every other game in the series like I have, this one won’t provide much new here.

Kid Factor:

You can crash into other players and throw silly weapons at them, but they just spin out or flip over when defeated.  And that’s about as violent as it gets.  Reading skill is helpful for some of the text, but not necessary just to play.  But parental supervision is highly recommended for all the in-game purchases, though.

One Response to “Mario Kart Tour (Mobile)”

  1. Thanks for the “warning.” Huh, somehow I thought the students at school were racing other people…. (I was pretty sure they weren’t racing each other…)

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