I want to make this very clear: I am a massive Nintendo fan. I always have been, and likely always will be. I adore Mario Kart, and have put over 100 hours into Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Nintendo Switch, and I even put a fair amount of time - at least a dozen hours - playing Mario Kart Tour, Nintendo's mobile adaptation of the franchise.
And I get what they were going for. They turned Mario Kart into a point-chasing game, which was heavily leaning into gacha mechanics. It played fine, and Nintendo made clear that if their characters are to appear on mobile, then they want a good amount of profit to come out of the venture, not a small amount. This understandably turned people off the game, though.
Well, the answer may finally be here. KartRider Rush+ is a brand new mobile kart racing game from Nexon, and this is exactly what you would expect from a kart racer. Am I saying that this game is better than Nintendo own attempt at a Mario Kart game? Yes. Yes I am.
Mobile kart racing
We've already talked about what Mario Kart Tour is. It's a high-score chaser that can see you replaying stages countless times, especially if you don't have the recommended karts and drivers thanks to the gacha system. Instead of being continually rewarding, it ends up being immensely frustrating.
What Mario Kart Tour needed out of the gate was a decent story-mode style progression, and more than anything, a multiplayer system that actually allowed you to race against your friends easily. Unfortunately, it had neither of these things, and I can't blame anyone for not returning to the game.
But we all downloaded it because we believed in the promise of a mobile Mario Kart, and we all want that game. And KartRider Rush+ does a better job of being that game than Mario Kart did.
Story mode? Check. Dozens of karts and drivers? Check. Online multiplayer? You know it. Everything you expect from a kart racer is here, and it's actually just, great. After playing Mario Kart Tour it's almost as if Nintendo had convinced me that a quality kart racer on mobile wasn't possible, but KartRider Rush+ has proven to be it's more than possible, and it should've been done already.
Making the most of it
Now, KartRider Rush+ isn't perfect. In many ways it has issues. For example, it's still a gacha game, though you won't feel punished for not having the ideal driver or kart. It has a very clean UI design, but on the main menu you won't be blamed for being overwhelmed with the sheer amount of options, and different things you can spend premium currency on.
But every moment you spend in races, it's consistently a better experience than Mario Kart Tour. You can turn and drift independently, use items on foes with a decent amount of accuracy, earn and use a variety of boosts to get you ahead of opponents, and more.
In story mode you'll be racing against various enemies, and even defeating bosses in challenge modes which require item mastery. It makes for some unique racing challenges that you don't even see in mainline Mario Kart games. Outside of story mode you'll be able to earn licenses to unlock more races, collect all the drivers and karts, and that really is the tip of the iceberg.
So, I'm left with a question. What is the point of Mario Kart Tour now? I liked Mario Kart Tour, don't get me wrong, but it is absolutely, without a doubt, not the best Mario Kart game. It's not the same. If you want a kart racer with those characters, you will inevitably play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, or something along those lines. But when it comes to playing a kart game on mobile, there's no reason to pick anything other than KartRider Rush+.
It's almost frustrating saying all of this. As I said, I love Mario Kart, and I've been a Nintendo fan for as long as I can remember. But this is a key reminder that, when it comes to supporting mobile devices, Nintendo is simply not doing enough.