Mario Kart Tour launched in September of last year, and it hit the market to a fairly tepid, confused response, in all honesty. Many players felt that the gacha mechanics dragged down the quality of the game, the Gold Pass subscription service felt cheeky, and the game was certainly very different to a traditional Mario Kart experience.
With very unique, different touch screen controls, some nice, and some unfamiliar stages, Mario Kart Tour was in a tough position, one that was bound to lose some of the existing fans of the series, and not guaranteed to earn any new ones - something not helped by a distinct lack of a multiplayer mode, undoubtedly the best way to play any given Mario Kart game.
But now multiplayer mode is finally being added to Mario Kart Tour, and as of the currently running open beta period, anyone can jump in and try it. We've learnt a fair few new things about the mode, and it has us asking just one question: is Mario Kart Tour worth playing yet?
Ultimate Mario Kart
When I play Mario Kart in the modern-day, I played multiplayer. I have no interest in playing against AI characters in order to improve my scores and times, and as a result, playing the primary Mario Kart Tour experience is not what I'm looking for. I'm sure many other Mario Kart fans feel the same way.
It seems unlikely that Mario Kart Tour will ever receive a Battle Mode in a similar vein to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, so for now, we'll all have to live with the fairly basic Mario Kart multiplayer experience that is provided in the open beta, and dearly hope that it is improved in the near future.
Here you'll be matched against other players until you have a lobby of 8 - and this could take some time - and then you'll race against them in the familiar Mario Kart Tour tracks. That's it. That's the game. And it's not great right now, honestly.
If it weren't for the netcode which sees players occasionally skip and dance across the track erratically, I would've easily assumed that I was facing off against AI players again. But no, these are real people, and that becomes clear to see when someone shuts off their game and you have to wait for their character to auto-drive to the finish line.
There will be fairly significant wait times at the beginning and end of each race you participate in as the game syncs up all players, and once you're racing it's not even always smooth enough for hit detection on items to function correctly - more than once I seemingly drove straight through a Bob-omb expolosion. Mysterious…
What makes things far worse is that there aren't even any rewards for multiplayer right now. Literally, even if you win, there's no fanfare, no reward, not even any real recognition that you won. You just get thrown into another race without any ceremony.
It's really unusual, and likely just because of the fact that this is still currently a beta, but it begs the question: why play it at all? There's no way to actually dictate who you play with - like, say, your actual friends - and the races don't play out differently to single player races. In fact, because of netcode and no rewards, it's arguably far worse than simply replaying single player races.
Perhaps I am being overly harsh on what is, again, an open beta to test how the service works, but even with regular coin rewards and challenges, the game isn't making a very convincing argument for itself.
I enjoyed Mario Kart Tour for the first month of release, perhaps more than I was supposed to, and genuinely played it for hours and hours on end. But once I fell off it, that was it, I was done. I wanted the multiplayer mode to be what drew me back into the game and make it feel worthwhile again, but this has soured me even more.
We all know that the gacha mechanic limiting what driver, kart, and glider you use is annoying, but in multiplayer mode, when other, real players who subscribe to the Gold Pass are playing, you just don't have a chance. In its current state, multiplayer mode is just a "smart" way to makes players feel like they're missing out by not buying into a subscription service. Amazing. Thanks Mario Kart Tour.
In case it wasn't obvious, no, Mario Kart Tour is not worth playing yet.