Arts & CultureCultural Affairs

DatApp​: Mario Kart Tour

Mario Kart Tour was built to exist, but not to last

Mario Kart Tour
Free
For Android and iOS

If you have a smartphone, you should be able to race with the best of ‘em. At least, that’s what Nintendo thought when they made Mario Kart Tour as a mobile app.

The graphics of this app stand out the most. They’re smooth and have depth, with lots of different things happening on the screen. So many mobile games are filled with lag, and are so flat that it looks like someone is moving a paper cut-out over a paper background. Naturally, it’s difficult to make a game that is both aesthetically pleasing and doesn’t cause a phone to instantly burst into flames. That being said, it’s nice to see someone try to make mobile games aesthetically pleasing.

This app does have its drawbacks. The gameplay feels like I’m just touching a TV screen at the same time something pre-recorded is played on screen. Sometimes, if interrupted while playing a race, I’ll put down my phone for a moment. However, when I unlock my phone, I am mysteriously in the same place I was when I put it down, which makes me question the validity of the race when, supposedly, time is of the essence.

One of the big challenges of playing Mario Kart is the handling of the kart. If the kart accelerates too fast, it becomes easy to drift off the road into oblivion, and then by the time you’re back on track, you’ve lost your place in the race. 

Yet, in the app, there are barriers at the edge of the road in each level that ensure you stay on the asphalt. That takes away the whole challenge of the game. This game isn’t about handling your kart at a higher speed or even using your shells in the most strategic way, but more who can bounce along the walls fastest to make it to the finish line first. It’s the Mario Kart equivalent of bowling with the bumpers up.

Overall, the game is visually pleasing in a way that raises the bar for all mobile games. It calls back to tracks and themes from other Nintendo games so it’s not a brand-new experience, but rather a similar game on a different device. However, their ham-fisted approach to gameplay leaves something to be desired from the game itself. Lacking that key component of the app leads me to believe Mario Kart Tour was built to exist, but not to last.

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