Mario is one of the longest-running franchises ever. It’s no secret that Mario games are some of the most well-loved out there. Likewise, there’s no doubt that the Mario Kart series is among the best when it comes to racing games. Nintendo released one of their only free games to play in Mario Kart Tour in September 2019. Immediately after its release, it began gaining traction and became one of the most downloaded mobile games of the year.
Mario Kart Tour Gameplay
Mario Kart Tour has gameplay that is strikingly similar to previous Mario Kart games. You play as one of the characters, race around a track, and attempt to finish first. The difference is that you can now play it on your mobile phones.
Steering in the game can actually be quite a hassle. Most of the moving is done automatically, so players can only choose which direction to move in. It has underwater racing and hang-gliding, like other Mario Kart games. You can also connect to your Nintendo account to track progress, which is convenient.
Since Mario Kart Tour is on mobile, its controls are vastly different from the original Mario Kart games. For instance, upon its release, there was only one button to steer. There wasn’t any motion control support, so you could only use one finger to move. In landscape mode, you can use the left side of your screen to move and the right side to use items.
Mario Kart Tour Characters
The Mario Kart characters are generally the same characters that you see in regular Mario Kart games. You have the original Mario Brothers, Yoshi, Princess Peach, and Bowser. There’s plenty of different characters to choose from.
However, you have to unlock many of these characters first. At the beginning of the game, you’ll have limited options with regards to characters. You’ll have to keep playing the game to get new characters.
Moreover, there are three ways you can unlock characters. The first is to unlock characters while progressing through events that have limited time. The second is to buy them with in-game currency from the store. And the last method, which is the most popular way, is by unlocking them through a gacha system.
Although we say that the gacha system is the most popular way to get characters, many people dislike it, mainly due to its gambling nature.
Controversy On Initial Release
Mario Kart Tour turned out to be an overnight sensation and instantly became one of the most downloaded mobile games. So why was there controversy? Well, a widely downloaded game isn’t necessarily a widely loved game. Mario Kart Tour had its fair share of problems when it was released. Its launch was a mess, to say the least.
Fans were absolutely furious when the Mario Kart Tour released. They expected a load of good fun with their friends and being able to play online. Players thought that the version was going to be a game that they could play with their friends in their spare time. Everyone was hyped for a Mario Kart Tour multiplayer.
Others thought there would be tournaments between the best players. Some expected Mario Kart Tour to have world leaderboards filled with records to smash. Can you imagine the faces of fans everywhere when Nintendo announced that Mario Kart Tour would be single-player only?
What would be the point of connecting your My Nintendo account to the game when multiplayer is nonexistent? Nintendo support essentially had no functions whatsoever. Reviewers even went so far as to say that it was crazy for a franchise, with its roots grounded in multiplayer yet to be released as a single-player experience.
The lack of multiplayer mode made the game repetitive. After playing it for an hour or two, it got really boring. The CPU bots weren’t challenging in the slightest, and racing through a track for hours can only be so entertaining. Mario Kart Tour only realized the importance of multiplayer recently.
Portrait Mode Only
Nintendo also surprised everyone by revealing that not only is Mario Kart Tour single-player only, it’s also portrait mode only. This means that you can’t switch to landscape mode, and you’re stuck with portrait mode.
At first, fans of the franchise were intrigued as to how this would all work. Nintendo announced it as innovative and simple controls, so many were hyped. But upon actually playing the game, people couldn’t really get behind the portrait mode only.
Portrait mode allowed players to utilize one button. This button was for steering the car, and you could use a small portion of the screen for items. On one hand, playing with it was kind of awkward. You can opt to change to tilt controls as well as manual drifting using your thumb. This makes it slightly better.
Using tilt controls makes the game playable. You use tilt mode to steer while using your thumb to drift and use items. It takes some time to get used to and is weird in the beginning, though. Nonetheless, players still couldn’t get behind it.
The portrait mode was already bad enough. The restrictive gameplay made playing Mario Kart Tour a living nightmare. Controls were unintuitive, so you could only either steer or drift. Not both at the same time, but separately.
The gameplay of Mario Kart Tour was not user-friendly as well. Driving wasn’t comfortable in the least, and drifting was an existential horror. So much so, that people started calling it the worst game in the Mario Kart series.
The controls were janky and the gameplay was quite rough. It wasn’t enjoyable in the slightest for many. Not only was the gameplay uninteresting, but the controls were buggy, and portrait mode was a bummer. It didn’t live up to people’s expectations, and so many people eventually stopped playing.
Mario Kart Tour also has a monthly subscription you can subscribe to in order to get extra content. It’s called the Gold Pass. It grants you multiple items and badges as you play. You’ll get free for two weeks and after that, you have to pay $5 every month.
In Mario Kart Tour, you have different speeds for racing. There’s 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, and 200cc. Of these, 50cc is the easiest while 200cc is the most difficult. What ticked players off about the monthly subscription isn’t the fact that it exists. It’s the fact that it made the 200cc mode locked behind a paywall.
Sure, it’s optional. It won’t really affect casual players. But this means that veteran players will have to pay if they want to test their racing skills on the fastest tracks. Imagine having a hard mode that you have to pay to access.
Mario Kart Tour sacrifices good gameplay for hefty microtransactions like this one. It also doesn’t seem like they’ll be removing it any time soon. Naturally, there are other microtransactions that exist.
Of course, the most looked down upon part of Mario Kart Tour is the gacha system. As if the subscription fee wasn’t bad enough. Some characters in the game are better than others, so they have more of an advantage in racing.
Though they aren’t needed, it’s quite tempting to spend some money. Generally, gacha games don’t really have generous rates, but Nintendo took it to another level. Normal characters have a 5% rate, while Super characters are at 1%. And that’s not all, because the best characters have a 0.3% pull rate.
The gacha system works quite well in a lot of games like Genshin Impact and Fire Emblem Heroes, but it’s not the case here. It’s right beside the already pricey monthly subscription. And the worst part is that it’s difficult to use the gacha system if you’re free to play only.
The Redemption Arc
With all of the bad things we’ve stated about Mario Kart Tour so far, why would anyone consider playing it? Well, a game that was bad when it launched isn’t necessarily going to be a bad game forever.
Take No Man’s Sky, for instance. It was so hyped up but turned out to be unimpressive. Nonetheless, it’s made a comeback. Nintendo has been slowly doing the same thing with Mario Kart Tour over the course of the past year. And now, their efforts have paid off handsomely.
It finally happened. After roughly a year of portrait mode, fans were more than happy to see that landscape mode was added. Now, you don’t need to rely on flimsy tilt controls to play. By popular demand, landscape mode was added.
Landscape mode allows you to use the left side of the screen to steer and the right side to use items. Note that you can’t put the steering controls on the right side and items on the left. The controls also aren’t perfect, since you can still accidentally use items while steering. Nonetheless, it’s an excellent start.
Another long-awaited update alongside landscape mode was multiplayer. Fans have wanted the mobile game to have multiplayer for a while now, and it’s finally here. Players both old and new started playing Mario Kart Tour a lot more upon hearing it would get multiplayer.
Although multiplayer can be glitchy at times, Nintendo is still working on it. Its staff is hard at work, making Mario Kart Tour into the game it should’ve been when it released. Nevertheless, the multiplayer mode is more than welcome in the game.
You can expect more events related to multiplayer in the near future. There will be multiplayer events and leaderboards with times. Maybe there’ll even be a good matchmaking system where you can randomly go into lobbies.
More Content And New Events
Throughout the course of the last year, Mario Kart Tour received so many updates. There are events aplenty and the content is ever-expanding. There was even a Halloween event with free and cool stuff. In addition, the new Sunset Tour features new stages and is available until November 18.
There are also new pipes, like the Sunset Pipe. Moreover, Nintendo plans to include a lot more pipes in the future. Additionally, the store has also been getting upgrades, with many new packs available.
Mario Kart Tour has more content than ever before. And you can rest assured that there will be more to arrive in the future. The gameplay also improved a lot better since its initial release. There have also been updates to quality of life overall.
The inclusion of landscape mode allows for better control options. They also fixed some problems with the portrait controls. Tilt controls are also more responsive than ever and feel natural, especially with landscape mode.
The improved controls alone probably made Mario Kart Tour worth checking out. After all, one of the biggest qualms was the restrictive controls and unintuitive gameplay. And while the controls are far from perfect, they’ve come a long way since the initial release.
Mario Kart Tour Is Actually Good Now
Nintendo has remarkably made Mario Kart Tour transform from a hilariously bad game to a genuinely good one. Although mobile games may not be their main focus, they have definitely communicated to players that they still care.
If you played Mario Kart Tour before and immediately dropped it, then consider picking it back today. It has metamorphosed into a good, fun game. If you don’t believe us, you can check the recent reviews for yourself. It’s been mostly positive lately.
Save for 200cc still being locked behind a paywall and the annoying microtransactions, overall it’s pretty fun. Mario Kart Tour has redeemed itself and then some, by way of its updates. It is unironically and genuinely a good game now.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve played Mario Kart Tour before the updates rolled out and you quit instantly, now’s the right time to consider coming back. Even if you’re new to it, you should give it a shot. There are going to be more and more updates to come.
Surely, there will be more content, more events, and new characters in the pipeline. The only thing Nintendo needs to do is lower gacha drop rates and we’re golden. Honestly, it can only get better from here.