“Mario Kart Tour” (ture)

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MISHAWAKA--Nintendo’s mobile version of its classic kart racing franchise, Mario Kart, drifted into the App Store on Sept. 25, and has kept many a player enraptured by its iconic gameplay. However, not everyone is ready to head off to the races with Nintendo’s flagship character. 

I will defend the title by saying I am an avid Mario Kart fan. I have extensively played six of the Mario Kart games: “Double Dash!!”, “Mario Kart DS”, “Mario Kart Wii”, “Mario Kart 7”, “Mario Kart 8” and “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe”. I consider myself well-versed in the ways of throwing banana peels, physically questionable drifting and leaving many Nintendo controllers in tatters on my friends’ floors. I was intrigued to hear about the release of a Mario Kart mobile game. Hopeful but skeptical summed up my thoughts succinctly.  

Flash forward to the release of “Mario Kart Tour”, and I saw the game being played by quite a few of my friends. I saw screenshots of it on various social media sites, watched its YouTube advertisements, and heard glowing reviews mixed in with the occasional dissenter. So, with my Mario Kart hat on and my homework tossed haphazardly in the corner, I decided to download “Mario Kart Tour”. After fifteen minutes, six races and a lot of settings adjustments later, I reached my conclusion on the game. The conclusion of closing the app, turning on my Nintendo Switch and playing “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe”. 

My biggest gripe with the game is the controls. Trying to control that game, as a fanatic of the traditional karting simulator, resembles bowling with my arms on backwards. Now, I’m being a little hyperbolic, yes, but control of the vehicle should be paramount in a racing game. In the previous versions of Mario Kart, players would have an analogue stick or directional buttons to turn, and a separate button to press to initiate a drift. “Mario Kart Tour” takes a different approach. All-or-nothing describes their philosophy quite well. To turn, racers must slide their fingers in the direction they want to go. Depending on the player setting, the kart might immediately begin to drift sharply or consider the idea of taking a turn wider than the Pacific Ocean. I believe they could have given people a haptic interface of directional buttons, like several emulators, but far be it from me to question the wisdom of the developers. There is a reason why they are making games, and why I am sitting in my dorm room wrapped in a blanket critiquing an app for a college newspaper.  

One more tiny feature that bugs me about the game is that the most exciting game mode, 200cc, is locked behind a paywall. For players to experience what many fans consider to be the most action-packed way to play, they must shell out five dollars a month. This was the last nail in the coffin of this game for me; the reason I laughed, tossed my phone onto my bed and sent an email to Nintendo asking them why they thought they needed more of my money. 

Summarily, “Mario Kart Tour” is not a bad game. I can easily see why people would be drawn to it: Mario Kart fun that is on the go, in the palm of your hand and at an accessible level. Though fans of the series have their issues with it, it is a great way to pass the time for those with smartphones and an internet connection. If the players are having fun, that’s what matters. That is why “Mario Kart Tour” will never again grace the screen of my phone. 

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