Mario Kart is one of the most popular and critically-acclaimed arcade racing series of all-time. When the first ever MK title on mobile devices was announced in 2018, we couldn't wait for it to be released. However, when Mario Kart Tour was released, we realised we didn't get the game that we were dreaming of.
So, what went wrong? Why is Mario Kart Tour a bad game? And is it really that bad? Here's our take!
A great platform to build on
Mario Kart is no stranger to mobile devices, albeit, this was the first entry on mobile and tablet. Mario Kart: Super Circuit was released for the Game Boy Advance back in 2001 to rave reviews. Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart 7 were also released to positive reviews when they launched on the Nintendo DS and 3DS, respectively.
So, with that form, you may think Mario Kart's debut on iOS and Android would've been a smooth transition. However, like many of Nintendo's mobile games, it's been a divisive entry at best.
Microtransactions make big problems
If there's anything that all gamers can unite on, it's their collective loathing of microtransactions.
Microtransactions are an almost "pay to win" system within video games and have been extremely controversial in recent years. It's one thing to have paid add-ons, but another to give those who have said add-ons a marked advantage over those that don't.
Plenty of adults play Mario Kart regularly, in fact, there are probably more people that are 18+ in MK's player base than under-18s. However, a sizeable percentage are children and Mario Kart is clearly marketed towards them. Some would argue that the microtransactions in games are akin to gambling, but that's a polarising issue.
What isn't in doubt though, is that they shouldn't be in games to the extent they are now, especially on mobile platforms. For example, you cannot unlock the 200cc difficulty in MK Tour without subscribing to the game. For a mobile game that's free, that's incredibly deceptive tactics by Nintendo.
Something else that irks a lot of players is that Tour is strangely geared more towards single-player than multiplayer. For a mobile game and for one with a rich multiplayer history like Mario Kart, it's an odd decision to say the least.
It's not all bad, though
Despite Mario Kart Tour's obvious issues, it does have some bright spots. It's not a terrible game by any means and Tour is a victim of the series as a whole's success.
MK Tour's gameplay has been crafted well by Nintendo and feels like a true Mario Kart title. Despite the portrait orientation of the screen, the controls work well, even if they do take a little getting used to. Using items, the courses and the animations of the characters all feel authentic, which is never easy to achieve on a smaller screen.
The seasonal tours as well are a welcome breath of fresh air, as these are updated every two weeks. These new tours keep the game fresh and provide more content for the players.
Take the RPG series Mass Effect, for example. The original trilogy of games are all undeniable greats, even if you aren't a fan of certain elements of some of the entries.
ME Andromeda, in most people's books, is also a good game, but it's not on the level of ME1-3. Because of this, Andromeda is often branded as a bad game, when in reality it isn't, it's just disappointing compared to the titles that came before it.
Mario Kart Tour is similar to this, but Nintendo really didn't help themselves with the microtransactions. This game could've been great, but instead, Tour will go down as a huge missed opportunity.