Mario Kart Tour: a Game-Changer or a Game in Need of Change?

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Alexa Dembo, Staff Writer

Nintendo’s Mario Kart Tour has swept the globe with its recent release and popularity. The new mobile game even beat out Pokemon Go’s first-day downloads with a grand total of around 20 million downloads on September 25, 2019. Despite its current popularity, there seems to be a variety of opinions surrounding the game. The dynamics, the “Gold Pass”, and the lack of multiplayer options seem to be causing controversy. Also, there are parts of the game, such as the ranking system, that people might not know about. 

The Mario Kart Tour was a widely anticipated game release, but users felt it often failed to meet expectations. Photo via Creative Commons.

First off, the game controls are extremely different from the Wii controls we all know and love. The kart runs automatically, while the user has the choice between touch, drift, or tilting controls. It is possible to choose both “gyro handling,” which is tilt based steering, and manual drift, which is touch based and allows for speed boosts, though this method of game play often proves inconvenient. There is also a smart steering function that contributes more steering assistance. One part of the game that some see as a positive, though, is the fact that you only need to tap the screen to activate a power up. You can still choose whether to send items in front of or behind you, but there is no specific button you need to press in order to do so as is the case when playing with a traditional Wii.

One of the most disputed parts of the new game is the “Gold Pass” subscription service. This new pass will cost you $4.99 a month. In contrast to the other Mario Kart games where the player is able to receive all the rewards available for free and only pay for extension packs, Mario Kart Tour holds back half of each major reward and only allows Gold Pass holders to collect this second half of the reward. In addition, the gems that allow for the player to more easily acquire characters, karts, and gliders are extremely expensive, with only three costing you $2. Having a greater amount of available characters and cars allows players to collect higher point amounts on races, further enticing the user to pay to win. The Gold Pass also allows the user to play at 200 CCS, the fastest race speed available, and collect rewards from challenges only available to Gold Pass members. This option is just a way that Nintendo attempts to profit more by withholding major factors of the app and forcing players to dish out payments to fully experience the game. 

One other bothersome part of the game is that it seems to drain phone battery extremely fast. While there is a setting that reduces battery usage, the game appears less appealing after you take this factor into account. Even when the game is simply running in the background, it still seems to be eating up your phone’s battery.

Many hope that the promised multiplayer update will improve the app. Until then, CPUs are the only available competition for the mobile gaming experience. Photo via Creative Commons.

When the game was first released, many users expected a fully functioning multiplayer option to be available with initial download. Instead, all of the players that you see in the race lobby are actually just CPUs created by the game. While you do have the ability to add friends, there is currently no way to race them at all. The only thing this friend option gives you is the ability to see your point ranking among your friends and among players around the world. On the Menu screen, you can see that the multiplayer option is “incoming,” meaning that Nintendo will release it in a future game update. This current lack of real time multiplayer causes the game to become bland quickly. The ability to play with friends was one of the main download incentives for many. Playing against the game itself doesn’t give many the sense of victory that they yearn for. 

Overall, the game has a few positive and many negative attributes. The difference in game controls from the other Mario Kart games leaves many fans wanting, but the fact the game is now available in a mobile format is alluring. As time passes, players seem to be having more bleak feelings bout it. We all had high hopes for the game, but Nintendo just isn’t delivering.