Mario Kart is back and this time it’s mobile! Nintendo has been hitting the nostalgia button hard, first with Pokemon Masters and now with Mario Kart Tour complete with classic maps. Mario Kart Tour released on September 25, 2019 on Android and iOS devices across the world.
Mario Kart Tour looks like the Mario Kart fans have come to know and love, or learned to lovingly hate with how it could easily tear apart friendships, though it doesn’t feel anything remotely like the classic title. The controls are as simple as a phone game could possibly be: swipe left or right to turn the kart, tap on the screen to use an item or flick backwards to send the item backwards, should the item be sent forward usually. The maps are all throwbacks, none of which are original to this particular Mario Kart entry, though that’s not necessarily bad. Nintendo, however, tried to add a layer of complexity to the mobile Mario Kart through a manual drift mode, which if mastered could allow the player to be ‘faster’ than others. This feature doesn’t feel very rewarding as much as it feels clunky and overall goes unused. The normal mechanics are still relevant; race to the finish line, throw shells, bananas, use mushrooms and the like all in an effort to dominate the competition, though it does fall short more than it does good.
For a game that has always been about friendly competition, granted there would almost always be an AI of some kind controlling the excess drivers, Mario Kart Tour does not have that aspect. The player engineered racer is always pitted against the AI, never another player through an online match, which can lead to frustrating moments in racing games.
The major flaws of the game stem from its gacha and monthly subscription based system. Like most free to play mobile games, Mario Kart Tour is a gacha game that relies on cash based currency to stay afloat, which would be alright if that was where the pay to win stopped. For Mario Kart Tour, there is a monthly subscription that the player may start up at any time to get a handful of rewards. They don’t feel rewarding enough to fit the price tag of $4.99 a month in order to get 3 gems per reward box when a Summon goes for 45 gems, which aren’t easy to get in the first place. In gacha game fashion, the summon pull rates are rather low, which isn’t uncommon, though Mario Kart Tour tries to be “fair” by limiting the amount of items in the pool, as in there is only one featured kart, one featured driver, and one featured parachute. This seems like a good idea on paper. The problem is that in order to upgrade drivers you need duplicates or one time usable items in order to make that particular driver/kart/parachute better.
With all things said and done, Mario Kart Tour is a hollow entry to the Mario Kart series. The lack of content, the monthly subscription and the gacha aspect weigh down what could have been used to be a fun to play, multiplayer competitive, racing, mobile game.