Mario Kart Tour Has Been Out for Almost Two Months so It’s Time to Determine If It’s Worth Your Time and Money
It’s hard to believe that Mario Kart Tour has been out for so long already. It feels just like yesterday that I heard classic Mario Kart sounds coming from my girlfriend’s phone and being very confused until she showed me that a mobile version of one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises had just released that day. So obviously I downloaded it to try it out.
After giving it a test run, I wanted to wait a little while to give my opinion on the mobile kart racer. It was a little barebones at release (I mean they didn’t even have Luigi in the game yet), so I wanted to see how the game would develop over time. So now that we’re almost two months in here’s my consensus: It’s quite average.
Let’s Start with the Pros
For being just a mobile game, the game is still a lot of fun. The controls take a little getting used to but once you get the hang of it, the gameplay is quite enjoyable. I find myself getting on to do only a race or two, then then next thing I know 30 minutes have passed because I was having such a good time with the game.
The races play out just like any other Mario Kart game, the only big differences are the tracks are only two laps instead of three and progression is based more on points, not just coming in first place. Points are obtained by doing different actions during the race. Hitting jumps, drifting, and using items are just a few ways you earn points throughout the track. You do get a bonus depending on what place you come in, but it’s still possible to get five stars without coming in first.
Points are mostly decided from what driver, kart, and glider you choose to use on that track. The driver determines how many items you get per item box, the kart determines how many bonus points you get per action, and the glider determines your combo bonus and how long it lasts. It encourages you to use different characters, karts, and gliders depending on which track you’re on because each item has higher bonuses depending on the track. You also get more points at the start of the race depending on the level of each item. The points you get are higher if it is a high-end item or if you have leveled it up through gameplay and level-up tickets that you earn along the way. There is a lot more to this system, but those are the basics that I need to cover for this analysis.
Some people don’t like this new system, but I think it’s a good change since it’s just a mobile game. If this got implemented into the next game of the Mario Kart series, I wouldn’t like it as much, but it’s good for casual play and really encourages you to try combos of characters, karts, and gliders that you probably wouldn’t try in a main series game.
Another thing I like about the game is how they vary up the tracks so they don’t get too boring. Tracks labeled with an “R” are reversed so you do race through them backwards. Ramps and detours are added so you don’t get stuck in areas that you otherwise would if you went backwards on the normal version of the track. There are also “T” variants that add a bunch of ramps for you to do tricks off of. These are the tracks that are the easiest to rack up a lot of points on. I really like how these types are implemented and would like to see them utilized in future Mario Kart games.
Mario Kart Tour also lets you add friends so you can compare scores. That way you know who actually deserves to have bragging rights when talking about the game. There is multiplayer planned for the future, which will definitely add to the experiences you and your friends can have together.
One major plus that I didn’t even notice until I was through my first week of playing is the fact that there are no ads in the game. Other than putting a couple weeks into Pokémon Go, this is the first Nintendo mobile game I’ve played so I didn’t really realize they didn’t put ads in their games. It’s super rare that a free mobile game doesn’t have any ads, so I definitely have to commend Nintendo on that.
Now onto the Cons
So obviously with no ads and a free price tag for the game, Nintendo has to make their money somehow, and that is done through microtransactions and a season pass. While the costs of these things aren’t as egregious as ones seen in many other games these days, they are still something that needs to be talked about.
When you start the game, you have very few characters, karts, and gliders to choose from, which like I explained before, will make it harder earn enough points to gain five stars from each race and progress. Because of this you have to either buy these items from the shop or get them randomly through loot boxes. The shop is nice but you can only earn 300 coins a day from races, so it will take a while to earn what you want. You can earn more coins through challenges and gifts that you receive from earning stars, however.
The loot boxes are the best way to earn new items, but those cost rubies. Rubies are what you get in exchange for real world money, but you can earn them in-game through challenges and gifts as well. You can also use those rubies to play a game that earns you more coins if there is something you want specifically from the shop.
If you want to be able to earn even more stars from challenges and get more items from your in-game gifts, you can pay $4.99 a month for the Gold Pass. I didn’t pay for it myself, but I tried the two-week trial of it, and it did make it a little bit easier to earn items through playing the game.
However, in my experience, I don’t think the gold pass is worth it. Even with the bonuses it gave me, I still wasn’t able to fully complete the two-week event that I used it on. Some of the races at the end of the event are way too hard to get five stars on unless you have all of the best items for that particular track.
Also, some of the challenges that you get stars from for completing challenges are way too hard or even straight up impossible unless you have to right items. These are the types of things that drive people to spend hundreds of dollars just to get the chance of maybe getting what they need.
The last thing that is bad about this game is the fact that they are constantly adding more tracks, characters, karts and gliders to the game. Normally that would be a good thing, but since points are largely determined by the items that you currently own, you have to make sure you keep getting new items in order to get the best scores. This is something that leads to either a huge time dedication on your part or having to pay real world money for rubies that you then spend on loot boxes.
This is also a good time to mention that the drop rates for the loot boxes aren’t that great. During the Halloween Event, I was able to earn enough rubies to open about 40 boxes, but I still didn’t get the Luigi’s Mansion version of King Boo that I wanted. I was able to get his car and Metal Mario (another high-end character), but the rest of what I got wasn’t that great. Even though I play a lot during that event, I wasn’t able to get the thing that I worked so hard for. I know for a fact that these are the types of mechanics that lead people to pull out their wallets and spend their hard-earned cash on a silly mobile game because I considered doing that very thing myself.
Nintendo has always been good about putting their customers first, so it kind of hurts to see them make so many decisions for a game of theirs based around money. Since it is just a mobile game, I don’t want to hold it against them too hard. I just don’t want to see them go down the path so many other game developers have gone down and start implementing greedy microtransactions in their console games as well. We all know that Nintendo is better than that, but games like this give us reason to worry.
Even though it may look like the cons outweigh the pros from what I have told you, I’m still going to stick by my decision that this is an average game because it’s still a lot of fun to play in moderation. The only way to keep up with the game and try to be the best is to either spend a lot of money or dedicate your life to a mobile game.
So whether you’re already playing it or are trying to decide if you want to download it or not, just do your best to not get too hooked to the game. Play it when you have some downtime. Don’t set aside a couple hours a day for this game. Use it as a fun little break. If you want to dedicate more time to a Mario Kart game, buy one from the mainline series. It will be much more worth your time.