Nepal | May 29, 2020

Nintendo’s Mario takes driving seat in race for mobile hit

Share Now:
  • First major Nintendo console franchise to come to mobile
  • Mario Kart Tour launches worldwide on Wednesday
  • Release is a test of Nintendo expansion outside consoles
  • Game expected to feature Japan’s gacha in-game payment mechanic

TOKYO: Nintendo Co Ltd is set to bring one of its most successful franchises to mobile for the first time on Wednesday with the global launch of Mario Kart Tour, in a test of the gaming firm’s strategy to drive growth beyond consoles.

Mario Kart Tour will feature gameplay familiar to longtime Nintendo fans but with controls optimised for mobile devices. Players steer characters such as Mario, Wario and Toad as they race karts through Tokyo and other cities while laying traps for opponents.

Bringing the Mario Kart franchise to smartphones offers the Japanese firm a chance to reverse a run of lacklustre releases including this year’s Dr Mario World, a reboot of a minor title which gamers criticised as unpolished. Since its 1992 launch, the Mario Kart series has sold tens of millions of units.

But Mario Kart Tour faces potential roadblocks of its own. It will initially lack a multiplayer option – which analysts expect to come later – and is likely to use an in-game payment system popular in Japan but which has been compared to gambling.

“This is probably Nintendo’s most critical mobile release in a long time, if not ever,” said Serkan Toto, founder of game industry consultancy Kantan Games.

Expectations among investors and gamers alike have been heightened for Mario Kart Tour because of the franchise’s console success and due to the title’s long development time, with the release date pushed back from early this year, Toto said.


A test version of the game developed with partner DeNA Co Ltd featured in-game payment mechanics including gacha where players pay to receive random rewards – such as rare drivers and karts.

A mainstay of Japan’s highest-grossing mobile titles, gacha has been criticised for encouraging impulsive spending.

“It’s going to be a challenge to apply Japanese-style gacha mechanics in the West,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, who sees Mario Kart Tour struggling to hold players’ interest long enough to sustain in-game spending.

It also remains to be seen whether Nintendo will be able to square the use of gacha with its famous family-friendly image. The Japanese firm is known for cartoon-like games that eschew the realistic violence and gore found in Western rival titles.


Mario Kart’s mobile outing is the latest title steered by the moustachioed plumber Mario, known for his exaggerated, Italian-accented English. Since his debut in the game Donkey Kong in 1981, Mario has become Nintendo’s virtual face and a mark of quality for many of the industry’s top-selling titles.

Despite the rise of mobile gaming, Nintendo remains committed to developing its own hardware for its top titles.

“For Nintendo, hardware and software are one,” said analyst Hideki Yasuda at Ace Securities.

“It sees smartphones as an optimal way for users to come into contact with its intellectual property and to connect to hardware sales,” he said, adding that monetisation of mobile games is a secondary goal.

Mario Kart Tour’s release comes ahead of a number of games for Nintendo’s hybrid home-handheld Switch console designed to appeal to more casual players, including two Pokemon titles in November and island life simulator Animal Crossing: New Horizons in March.

Analysts expect those games to drive demand for the Switch Lite, a handheld-only version of the device that launched on Friday retailing for a third less than the original.

Nintendo, which is yet to incorporate the new device into its forecasts, expects to sell 18 million Switch units in the year ending March.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Are we doing enough for the mental health of healthcare workers?

The number of coronavirus patients has been increasing over the past few days in Nepal. In the current scenario, it seems like the numbers would further increase in the coming days. Given that healthcare workers and frontline staff are the first responders to manage the ongoing pandemic with limited Read More...

Police recover two muzzle-loader guns in Kohalpur

NEPALGUNJ: Armed Police Force personnel recovered two abandoned muzzle-loader guns in Kohalpur Municipality-8 in Banke district, today. Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Shyam Kumar Karki said that they recovered the weapons along with ammunition, shrapnel shells, and other items under Sikta Read More...

Nepal Electricity Authority

1300 MW electricity to be added to the national grid

KATHMANDU: The government is all set to add 1,300-MW electricity to the national power grid of the country within the next fiscal year. A goal has been set to complete all the ongoing hydropower projects and expedite the under-construction projects in the country. The government is planning to Read More...

More European leagues set to return to action

BERN: European football will continue its cautious return to play following the COVID-19 stoppage over the next week as a number of the continent's smaller leagues restart with some novelties and one team in serious trouble for breaking coronavirus rules. Portugal, Denmark, Poland, Serbia, Aust Read More...

India open to engaging with Nepal on the basis of mutual sensitivity, respect: MEA India

KATHMANDU: The External Affairs Ministry of India has expressed that it is willing to hold talks with Nepal in regard to the existing boundary issue between the two countries. Speaking at a presser today, the Indian MEA's official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said India is monitoring the situat Read More...

Miss Nepal Shrinkhala calls for action to help migrant workers stranded at Nepal-India border

Kathmandu, May 28 Miss Nepal World 2018 Shrinkhala Khatiwada is indeed a beauty with a purpose. She has lent her voice to the issues of migrants stranded on the Nepal-India border, showing her support for CNN Hero of the Year of 2015 Maggie Doyne and how we can help them. In a short video post Read More...

Italy's Serie A gets green light for June 20 restart

Sports minister Spadafora says top-flight soccer can resume Italian Cup matches could be staged before league restarts Serie A will be fourth of Europe's top five leagues to return Juventus hold one point lead over Lazio with 12 games left ROME: Italy's top-flight Serie A soccer le Read More...

English Premier League announces June 17 restart

League to resume season subject to safety requirements Starts with Villa v Sheffield Utd and Man City v Arsenal Full fixture list scheduled for weekend of June 19-21 All of the remaining 92 fixtures to be broadcast live MANCHESTER, ENGLAND: The Premier League season will restart Read More...