Welcome dear guests. For those who follow me on Twitter, I haven’t been exactly keeping it a secret that I really enjoy my time with Mario Kart Tour. Reactions from across the web however have been less than stellar. Since I write about everything geeky now, let’s take a closer look at whats up.
Mario Kart Tour like most mobile in this day and age is a Gacha game, meaning we can spend premium currency to get characters, karts and gliders. This premium currency can be earned but also purchased and characters karts and gliders come in three rarity grades. (Silver, gold and sparkly Pink) So far it’s like every Gacha game ever, but pinker, not doing anything special. However Mario Kart Tour also has a subscription plan, allowing you for more and better ‘quest ‘ rewards. For the nominal fee of about €5+change a month you can gain extra gems ,extra stars and even get offered some free high(er) tier karts or characters if you perform well enough. I signed up for this deal because of the amount of time I already spend with the game , completely justifying it for me. I’ll recognise the game without the description would be a bit barebones but I will not mark it down for it. Over time we have developed the idea that games SHOULD be free to play and even free to finish but I very much disagree. If someone makes something I enjoy I want to reward them for it.. and Mario Kart Tour is no exception. What I get for those 5 and a bit euro’s is well worth it.
People tend to demonise these practices, calling everything a company does greedy, but in reality, servers have to run and they have to keep a constant staff on these sort of games so it’s also understandable. The Internet also say Nintendo is greedy for not throwing buckets of free gems their way as any new game “SHOULD” but again this is a skewed perception. Companies hand out free gems to promote their games, to get you to play them,it makes sense they try that with freebies, realistically speaking this is Mario Kart.. an established name, by an established company, they do not buy your love. They kinda already have it, and there is nothing to criminal in them knowing it already. I’ll admit it isn’t ‘nice’ of them.. but it doesn’t make them greedy either. They know the value of their IP and simply aren’t your pal, they aren’t demons for not being your friend though. That is basically how I feel on the entire Gatcha aspect of it.
Mario Kart Tour is different then it’s older brothers. Every two weeks, we as the player get a New Tour, which rotates us through a dozen or so cups of three races and a special challenge. It is up to you , not only to win the races but also to set a high score. Scores will unlock Power Stars, and gathering enough Power Stars will open gift boxes and new cups. Each stage has a number of favoured racers karts and gliders that allow you to get more items, combo time or flat-out more points. The higher the quality of the items the better the chance of you getting good items or ‘Frenzy’. Each track two to four racers get three items per item box, get 3 of a kind and you can use that item infinitely for a brief period of time, really sending your high scores through the roof. The internet rightfully so, complains about how races oftenly are more about having the right character but once more this is used to make Nintendo seem greedy and evil, but does it really? Having played through the first two tours I would have to say no. My subscription allowed me to gain enough rewards to completely max out every single cup , only missing out on some of the final gift boxes, which I basically just do not want to grind out but could trough daily challenges. While I can’t always max out a cup or race from the very start, as the weeks progress I gain the resources to do so in a leisurely pace. I might have had incredible luck, but in fact I missed out on almost every single one of the most rare units, except for New York Mario. Except for the time trials everything feels very forgiving and over the course of the weeks you get better and better and update. I found it really enjoyable to tweak my high scores, especially of the ranked cups and it was a blast. Each item I managed to buy that helps me felt like sweet rewards and kept me playing. It feels deliciously retro to go for that sweet sweet high score again.
Something that gets the most flack on the internet is Nintendo’s choice to limit the resources you can gether per day. You can only grind out 300 coins per day and the experience to level up your characters karts and gliders is also capped. This does not include any rewards from ‘quests’ or from spending premium currency to do a coin event. I can only say that I might be the only person in the world that LOVES this choice Nintendo made. Leveling up drivers makes them worth more points, coins can give you new drivers, karts and gliders. By keeping a cap on these, the playing field in the competitive cup is equalised. We don’t need to spend energy and race to our hearts content.. but we are blocked from infinitely grinding. I can work on my highscores as much as I want but no one is allowed to spend every waking hour to grind out every character to destroy my high scores, we are all subjected to the same amount of luck. It allows me to pick up my phone when I want. Dailies are REALLY easy and as each tour unlocks more and more over the course of two weeks never do you HAVE to play more than like half an hour , maybe an hour if you have trouble. I love how you can compete casually. THIS is what I want in a mobile game!
The technical aspects I left to the end, It’s mario kart, you know it’s not going to be bad. Very befitting of a highscore game, Mario Kart Tour is easy to learn difficult to master. The game offers a wide variation of control methods and safety nets so that everyone can play to their hearts contents. You can use gyro-controls or not, you can simply steer the kart by swiping your finger or turn on manual drift which makes it so that you can fully control how much drifting you get done. Steering aid will prevent you from moving into sandpits but make it a lot harder to sacrifice speed for that hidden shortcut, it is up to you to figure out what works best for you. I must admit I wished I grasped the concept on how to manual drift better.. but hey I haven’t needed it until the Paris tour , now I end up slipping everywhere.. because I can’t grasp the concept just yet. Youtube might provide an answer for me in the near future though. I always have other options though. The manual drift could have been handled better but otherwise I do think it’s Mario Kart trough and trough. However I do have my gripes with the game as well. Each tour has about 8 or 10 stages, we alternate between given that we visit about 40 or so stages that means a lot of repeats. Cleverly hazards have been altered and sometimes the track is mirrored, but not all tracks are long enough for it to be noticable and can feel kinda stale on their third and fourth roulation. Some elements can feel tacked on in the final quarter of the cups. Characters no longer have their own drive feeling, everyone’s the same, Bowser handles exactly like Toad. they just affect your score. Luckily they sometimes can have semi-unique weapons available to them and unluckily they shout out their catchphrases aplenty. All in all I wish there was a bit more ‘soul’ and control, but technically I can’t expect much more than I got for this type of game.
While all the negatives that are said about this game are true, that doesn’t apply to the conclusion people make about this game. Yes there are plenty of grinding caps, yes you are restricted by luck and yes Nintendo is very stingy with free stuff. The luck requirement is basically prevalent in the entire Gatcha genre. Don’t compare it to the console or mobile Mario Kart titles, that would be unfair. You pay to play those, it’s just not the same thing. Compare it to Dragonball Z Dokkan Battle or Fate Grand Order and you’ll get a much more fair comparison. Gameplay in a Gatcha is a secondary element. Mario Kart was never a hardcore game, casuals being much more a demographic and Nintendo acknowledges that with these caps. While it might not be fun .. if you want to grind out everything in a single day the strategy makes it excellent to just pick up AND put down. For the price of a regular Mario Kart game I can play this one for at least 10 month’s with new tours arrivery every two weeks and unlocking most of what the game can offer me and that is perfectly fine.
It’s not the best Mario Kart game, nor is it the best mobile game I ever played but it is a perfectly playable game that people just love to turn into something evil. It’s not guys .. it’s really not. It’s quite OKiwi.