On track


photo by Sophie Woodburn

Freshman Owen Gurtner opens up his phone to play Mario Kart Tour after math class.

Sitting down to play the Wii as a kid was an easy way to relax and unwind from a rough day at elementary school. You pull out Mario Kart, the “crown jewel” of Nintendo, and reach for a white Wii controller, preparing yourself to race against randomly spawned competitors, and probably earn a solid first place. Many children know this feeling, and creators of the Mario franchise decided to bring that nostalgia straight into our hands.
Ever since the app was announced in early 2018, fans of Nintendo and Mario Kart have long awaited the release of Mario Kart Tour. Revving their engines and collecting their red shells, generations are uniting in support of the new mobile app, which was released on Sept. 25 to iOS and Android.
Other reboots of the 1992 Super Mario Kart have come to pass including: Mario Kart DS (2005), Mario Kart Wii (2008), Mario Kart 7 (2011), and Mario Kart 8 (2014). The release of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to the Nintendo switch had been the last game to come out before Tour this year
Mario Kart Tour is not the first mobile app we have seen from Nintendo either. Super Mario Run came out in 2016, though it had not been received by such a receptive audience. There is no doubt the app is popular, Mario Kart Tour had 20 million downloads from the app store upon its release, with Super Mario Run pulling in only 7 million downloads in its first day.
Even though there have been previous apps, none of them measure up to the ideas introduced in this new game. Featuring a mixture of new and original Wii characters jumping into their karts to navigate through new courses, the game allows players to win special badges along the way. Forty characters have been confirmed for the game, though not all are available yet.
New characters such as Pauline, Kimono Peach and Dry Bowser keep things interesting because many of the higher class characters are harder to learn, and this can get frustrating for less skilled players. Not only are some of the characters too challenging to earn, but you are not allowed to “fall off” the track. The mobile apps keeps players “between the lines”, making it easier to gain first place and unfair for more skilled players to keep their edge. It is not a horrible design, but one of the two downsides to the game.
Many fans of Mario Kart were a bit skeptical of the app at first. The idea of the game is for players to go on a “tour”, and each tour either goes through a major city or a previous course from the original Wii game. The tours last two weeks each, and then new tracks, challenges, carts and character designs rotate in. There will always be plenty of cups and new races to beat, so that unrelinquished thirst for first place can be quenched.
Though the overall tour scheme can get confusing, the new idea the creators have brought to the table makes up for it. Boring content or repeating races may be an issue for the future, but for right now, Mario Kart delivers.
At first glance, the app did not appear to have many characters, and the tracks were not as unique as hoped. As you enter the second tour, things start to change, and races continue to get more interesting. In the new Rosalina Cup, the first cup, takes a tour through Tokyo. Change of scenery is important and the fact that they have accepted some previous criticisms and manufactured a unique app proves their devout passion to make the game the best it can be.
Mario Kart Tour not only offers cool new courses, but there is also the opportunity to get a Gold Pass subscription, where players can unlock the 200cc mode. With this pass, there is more access to prizes that can help them gain access to bonus goals exclusive to Gold Pass holders. Once the two-week free trial period ends, it will convert to a monthly subscription for $4.99 a month, unless cancelled.
The thought is riveting, but what they offer with the basic game is enough to have fun for that five minutes break between work or school, or even the two hour race session. The Gold Pass is not necessarily a must, but it most likely made for hard core fans.
You never thought that when you put down that Wii controller, that it would be your last time. Now it doesn’t have to be, with Mario Kart Tour now available on the app store. Kids and adults agree that having a mobile Mario Kart brings back nostalgic memories we never knew we had, and reconnects all to their youth.