Mario Kart is the sort of game that anyone can enjoy. If you’ve played any one of the entrants in Nintendo‘s hit franchise, you’ll know that the series strikes a fine balance between competitiveness and lighthearted fun, and Mario Kart Tour is no different. In case you didn’t know, Mario Kart Tour is the mobile version of the game—it’s free to play, relatively simple, and controls are touch-based. Oh, and the entire game is played out in portrait orientation.
The game was launched last year, although there was a notable exception as far as game modes go: multiplayer. I don’t know about you, but one of the best things about games in the Mario Kart franchise is the ability to pit yourself against friends or… the rest of the world. At launch (and the ensuing 6 months), the only way to play online was via a beta test, which only happened in December. Then, a second beta test was organised—one that was open to players who weren’t subscribed to the US$4.99 (about RM20.90) pass.
Now, Mario Kart Tour is finally getting the official multiplayer mode for both Android and iOS mobile devices, with the game mode being rolled out on the 8th of March, 12pm Malaysian time. Gamers will be able to play with up to 7 players locally or online, along with all that Mario Kart entails—drifting around hair bends, throwing boomerangs at other players, and so on.
But the game will continue to have a premium currency for players to spend on characters and vehicles to play with. It also looks like 200cc will continue to be a mode that is exclusive to monthly pass subscribers, which might be somewhat disappointing to hear for regular Mario Kart-ers who inevitably find the slower modes to be somewhat boring.
Despite some complaints over the price of the monthly pass as well as the missing multiplayer mode (prior to this), Mario Kart Tour has been an unqualified success as far as mobile games are concerned. Within the first 24 hours of its release, the game was downloaded 20 million times, with that figure shooting up to 123 million by the end of the first month of availability. The mobile racer was also recognised as the most downloaded game of 2019 on the App Store for iOS, outperforming the much-vaunted Call of Duty Mobile and Fortnite.
Still, I think the addition of multiplayer is one that has been coming for awhile. Perhaps one of the reasons that the mode has been so slow to arrive on mobile is because Nintendo wanted to avoid cannibalising the sales of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the version available for the Nintendo Switch. But the development of mobile gaming in general means that there is huge potential for Nintendo. Mario Kart, like many of the Japanese company’s game franchises, isn’t dependent on the best graphics at all. It’s almost a throwback—fun, harmless, PG13 fun.
What is crucial to Mario Kart, however, is the interactive nature of the races. And throwing turtle shells at AI-based bots gets old, real fast.