Mario Kart Tour could not have come out at a worse time. A week ago, the surprisingly excellent launch of Apple Arcade reminded people just how good sản phẩm điện thoại gaming could be when developers no longer had khổng lồ worry about squeezing in ads or in-phầm mềm purchases. In a mobile market almost completely dominated by free-to-play games that constantly demvà time and money, Apple Arcade was a breath of fresh air. Mario Kart Tour, meanwhile, is a stark reminder of those dark days.

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At its most basic, Mario Kart Tour is what it sounds like: a simplified Mario Kart you can play on your phone. It looks like Mario Kart, albeit with slightly sterile graphics, and you’ll hear familiar tunes as you race. Power-ups like red shells và banamãng cầu peels are still present, & if you’re in first place you’ll still need lớn be wary of blue shells.

That core is bland & inoffensive

The biggest change in terms of gameplay is that the entire experience is controlled via touch. Your kart will drive automatically, but you’re able lớn control it by swiping left or right lớn turn. There are a few deeper mechanics — you can drift for a speed boost, for instance — but it’s mostly very simple, and the controls are frustratingly imprecise. One good thing: using items is fairly intuitive sầu, requiring a simple tap on the screen.

You progress through the game as you would in a typical Mario Kart game. There are a series of cup events, each of which involves a handful of races, and once you earn enough stars you’ll unloông xã the next cup to play through. The tracks take place in familiar spots like Cheep Cheep Lagoon and Roông chồng Rock Mountain, but, lượt thích the controls, they’ve been extremely simplified. Whether you’re speeding across a thành phố or an underwater course, everything is straightforward. There’s none of the inventive, manic creativity of Mario Kart 8 on display here.

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That core is bl& & inoffensive, doing just enough khổng lồ feel lượt thích Mario Kart. The problem is so much of the game feels designed around monetization, as opposed lớn just being a fun game. This is particularly apparent when it comes khổng lồ unlocking new characters and karts. Like so many of Nintendo’s recent di động efforts, Mario Kart Tour utilizes loot boxes. Spover a few rubies — the game’s premium currency — and you can have the chance to lớn get a random character or vehicle. Even worse, they’ve turned the warp pipe, an iconic symbol of Super Mario, inkhổng lồ a giant cannon that shoots out your mystery prize. There’s also a store that cycles through different characters each day, which you can buy with coins collected during races or in a special mode that costs rubies lớn play.

Pholớn by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge.

Super Mario Run is going khổng lồ introduce millions of more people to the fun of Mario.” - Mario creator Shigeru Miyamokhổng lồ on bringing the series to lớn iPhone

This is generally par for the course in thiết bị di động gaming today, of course. But it feels particularly irksome in a game series so full of unabashed joy like Mario Kart. The mobile iteration even goes a step farther by offering a $4.99 monthly subscription — the same price as Apple Arcade! — that gets you access khổng lồ gold-tier items & a high-tốc độ racing mode. It’s sort of like Fortnite’s battle pass, only a much worse khuyễn mãi giảm giá. This all turns one of the best parts of Mario Kart — winning races lớn unlock new stuff — inlớn a costly enterprise.

The sad state of Mario Kart Tour is part of a steady decline in Nintendo’s Mobile efforts. Things started off promising, with an iPhone version of Super Mario designed by none other than Shigeru Miyamoto, one that was sold in its entirety for $10. After that proved lớn be a failure, Nintendo pivoted to lớn free-to-play with Fire Emblem Heroes & Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. They were fun, Nintendo-unique games with mechanics lượt thích loot boxes tacked on — & they made a lot of money. Things have sầu since taken a turn for the dire. In addition lớn Mario Kart Tour, earlier this year Nintenvì launched a puzzle game that was essentially Dr. Mario-themed Candy Crush, and both games are aggressively monetized to lớn the point that the actual game feels secondary.

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This doesn’t mean Mario Kart Tour won’t be successful. In fact, early signs point lớn the game having a record-breaking launch. But that success isn’t because the game is good, & it’s especially disappointing from a company that prides itself on chất lượng. sản phẩm điện thoại aside, Nintenvì chưng is at a creative high point, regularly launching major Switch games to lớn near-universal acclayên. They’re games that sell hardware and help players think differently about what games can be. On console, Nintenbởi vì sets its own pace; on di động, it follows.

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