The words “Mario Kart Tour” strike dread into the hearts of many gamers, thanks to its tainting of the brand by being yet another free-to-play game riddled with microtransactions. Especially the gacha mechanics that seemingly plague the industry right now. Look no further than questionable franchise installments like Dungeon Keeper Mobile, Final Fantasy: All the Bravest, and The Simpsons Tapped Out for the market’s oversaturation.
What's more baffling about the state of the game is a new revelation that Bandai Namco and Nintendo are working together on this mobile project. Quite the partnership when you consider that most of Nintendo’s success has been in consoles, Bandai Namco in the arcades, and this is a mobile gacha game. Then again, when you’ve helped create the two biggest character in gaming, Mario and Pac Man respectively, a partnership is all but inevitable.
What makes these two companies great on their own is the number of storied franchises they each individually are responsible, with Nintendo owning hardcore hits Zelda and Metroid, while Bandai Namco has the rights to storied series like Soulcaliber and Tekken.
As it says on the Bandai Namco website, “We partially implemented in-games and 3D visual assets for courses, characters and machines. We also produced approximately half of bonus challenges.” Its work paid off, as the graphics were praised and could easily be at home in a Nintendo console, with little to no downgrading to accommodate for the lesser power of a smartphone.
Then again, this partnership between Nintendo and Bandai Namco is actually a partnership that is many years strong. The companies also worked together on multiple Nintendo games with competitive elements to them like Mario Kart 8 & Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Smash Bro Ultimate, and Super Smash Bros for 3DS & Wii U, among others. Bandai Namco was even tapped to work on Metroid Prime 4, until Nintendo decided to scrap the project and start from scratch with the original developer of the first three Metroid Prime games, Retro Studios.
Though if this partnership continues on its current trajectory, we can be sure to see more promising releases in the future. Mario Kart Tour, questionable mechanics aside, is proving to be a successful business venture. So maybe microtransaction mobile Nintendo is the future.