Mario Kart Tour – Early reviews and impressions from Closed Beta

On June 2nd, closed beta for Mario Kart Tour ended and with it came lots of early reviews for the game. Sadly, as Canadians, we did not get access to the closed beta, but that did not stop us from reaching out to a few individuals to collect their impressions and feedback in order to provide you with an early review of the game.

The game includes a large variety of characters from the franchise including Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Toad, Toadette, Rosalina, Waluigi, Baby Peach, Baby Daisy, Baby Rosalina, Metal Mario, Larry, Lemmy, etc. Some are reportedly rarer than others, which adds a collection aspect to the game that will be appreciated by most.

The game is produced by Nintendo and developed by DeNA; and will be available on both iOS and Android for free this summer! Keep in mind that features mentioned below could differ from the official release. The screenshots below were taken from various Reddit threads, and yes, the game is only playable vertically, which is very disappointing if you ask us.

The good stuff

Luckily, the gameplay and mechanics is extremely similar to what has been experienced in the Mario Kart series for the past 25 years, which is a huge relief, but also makes sense as most of the success of the game comes from this. Your kart accelerates on its own, and all you need to do is use your fingers to steer left and right, or tap the screen to use items such as boosts (new items) or weapons (what we’re familiar with).

The tracks have been reported to be, for the most part, recycled versions of tracks known from previous versions of the series. Furthermore, the game provides a Field of View to allow for a broader perspective of the race as it is difficult to provide as much details on a smaller screen such as smartphones compared to TVs.

Mario Kart Tour is also developed so that karts will automatically slide into shortcuts should you be close enough to it or driving towards it. In fact, it is impossible to fall off racetracks or by having karts automatically drive through near-wall collisions. While this is a positive aspect to the game’s mechanics for a mobile device, we must admit that the rage on a friend’s face for hitting a wall trying take a shortcut has always been a joyful moment while playing Mario Kart, so that side of the game will sure be missed.

Another feature which has been appreciated by the testers is how some aspects of the driving are customizable. For instance, drifting. By default, the game will automatically have karts drift when taking a turn, but many have reported preferring to disable automatic drifting in order to manually chain drifts and boosts while taking a turn.

In short, reports and reviews are all systematically positive in terms of game mechanics, i.e. while being on the racetracks and the customization of your settings according to your driving style. That being said, how the free-to-play aspect is being managed/abused has understandably not been well received by the community…

The bad stuff

First, the game relies on timers. Through a “hearts” system, where a single race costs one heart (players have five hearts available at first, and this can be increased as you level-up); a single heart refreshes every 12 minutes unless players decide to spend an “emerald” which is collected in the game or eventually through in-game purchases. While timers can help prevent fatigue from a game, it can also affect someone’s progression and experience of a game by preventing them from actually playing the game when they could.

Although we hate the “pay-2-win” concept, when PvP is a feature, a game can rapidly fall into this category, and it appears that Mario Kart Tour (at least for the closed beta) was quickly labelled pay-2-win and as promoting micro-transactions through the purchase of emeralds (in-game currency).

Loot boxes… The concept of loot boxes has been part of a heated argument lately in various countries, some regions going as far as modifying their legislation to prevent companies from growing revenues from them as their content is purely random. Despite all this, Nintendo decided to opt for loot boxes (which are obtained in exchange of emeralds) to unlock new characters, karts, gliders, etc. These items affect performance, i.e. certain karts will perform better on certain racetracks. Therefore, one literally has to pay to unlock items that will improve his performance. So we can see why beta testers felt that the game is pay-2-win and promotes micro-transactions rather than in-game grinding.

Parting Words

Let’s be honest, all these negative aspects are extremely frequent nowadays in mobile gaming. Not that it excuses the use and abuse of the free-to-play format to encourage micro-transactions, but it certainly allows game developers to swoop it in and keep quiet about it until death do us part.

Nonetheless, it certainly sounds like the game has a lot to offer and that it, at the very least, is extremely faithful to the Mario Kart series. We are extremely excited to be able to race with our favorite characters anywhere we go and compete with our friends.

What do you think? Does the abuse of the free-to-play format will prevent you from enjoying the game? Or will you be able to focus on the excellent game mechanics that Mario Kart Tour has to offer?

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