Why Mobile Mario is a mess


Kaitlyn De Armas ('21)

Claire Diepenbrock (‘21) plays an intense Mario Kart race in the library.

Your fingers are cramping as your thumb glides across the screen, but you can’t stop now. Your car follows the movement of your fingers as you race to the finish line. So close, yet so far, you can see the banner approaching in the distance. 

You’re in first place and your opponents are so far behind you can practically taste the victory. As you approach the line, something strikes your car, flipping you over in a blur of stars. You’ve been hit by a shell, but still manage to beat your opponent and take home another victory, earning five Grand Stars.

This experience may be familiar to the 90 million users of Mario Kart Tour, the new mobile Mario Kart app. This game was released on September 25th, and in just a week it became Nintendo’s biggest mobile launch to date. 

Marshall Olmos (‘21) said, “Mario Kart was a part of my childhood, so old Mario Games are really nostalgic for me. Mario Kart on the phone, albeit is a little worse because of in-game purchases, but it is still Mario Kart, which is great.”

Although the app may be good in theory because of the childhood memories it evokes, the execution was overall not ideal for some players. 

Claire Diepenbrock (‘21) said, “It was cool, but it took up too much storage, so I had to delete it.”

After hearing both sides on the successes and failures of the app, I decided to see for myself. Like Claire mentioned, the first issue I encountered with the game was the size. I didn’t have enough storage for it, so I had to go through and delete other apps and pictures to be able to even try it out.

Following this first small setback, I logged into my Nintendo account and the game began. Thankfully, it started with a short practice level that walked me through each step of the game. It was helpful to practice the controls before being thrown into the game. It also made learning the game more fun than just reading an instruction guide because I got to race my character around the track, practice turn and drift skills, and aim at the translucent floating item boxes.

Initially, the controls were difficult to get used to. The player only needs to direct the car, since there is no gas or break button. Although this system makes game play easier, the side-to-side movement that directs the car is very sensitive. It took me some time to be able to make such small movements that would allow me to turn without flying off the track and into a nearby tree. There is also a setting that allows the player to steer by tilting the entire device called gyro-handling, instead of through touch on the screen. For me, this method was easier to use and more effective because I felt that I had more control. 

When I first joined the game, I was disappointed to discover that I wasn’t competing against other people. Instead, the player races against AI players in the game. This gameplay also means that at the moment, players cannot compete against their friends. One of the most enjoyable parts about the original Mario Kart games is that gamers can have fun racing their friends. This lack of connection takes away from some of the fun and competition because you aren’t playing an entertaining game with real people; you are playing against your phone.

Overall, I was unimpressed with Mario Kart Tour. The game took too much storage, the controls were difficult to use, and I couldn’t race with other players, let alone with my friends. I hoped this app would have the same easy-to-use and competitive gameplay as the original Mario Kart, but I found myself getting bored struggling to drive ahead of the computer’s players. Hopefully, there will be new updates and versions of the game that make it more user-friendly, but until then Mario Kart Tour will not be my go-to gaming app.