Sure, Nintendo tried to make the announcement as dull as possible. When 28% of a tweet comprising 194 characters are the words “new mobile application” and “fiscal year ending in March 2019,” then you wouldn’t expect retweets in the thousands. And yet the words in between were super important: Mario Kart Tour is in development and will be out at some point in the next 14 months.
It’s a good thing those words are so exciting because we’ve got precious little else to go on. No details as to whether this will be iOS-first – like Super Mario Run – or a simultaneous Android release like Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, let alone whether it will be paid or freemium. We have no other details, really – just that it’s happening and will be with us by March 2019. A bit like Brexit, in that respect, only more colourful and something younger demographics would actually vote for in large numbers given the chance.
How Mario Kart will actually transfer to mobile devices is an interesting one – despite its perceived simplicity, the console versions are reasonably complex with at least six inputs given you have to steer left and right, accelerate, brake, drift, and discard banana skins like a healthy-eating litterbug.
Touch controls sound unconvincing for that, and tilting the screen is generally uncomfortable, so what? Super Mario Run rethought the whole control scheme, by making the game closer to an endless runner, with taps controlling jumps, but Mario Kart is a whole different kettle of Cheep-cheeps. Adding gamepad support would seem sensible, but it’s not really Nintendo’s style to try and change the way a platform operates, and the company rightly knows that most people aren’t going to adopt new habits just because there’s a chance of a blue shell at the end of it.
When asked why Nintendo was making Super Mario Run a whole different kind of game, the plumber’s creator Shigeru Miyamoto told Wired that “it wouldn’t be interesting work to just take the existing Super Mario Bros. game, put it on an iPhone, (and) emulate a plus control pad.”
“That’s not very fun creatively. We’re more interested in looking at how we can be creative with Mario, and design for iPhone in a way that takes advantage of the uniquenesses of that device and the uniquenesses of that input and the features that that device has. For us, that is much more rewarding creative work.”
For now, we’ll just have to speculate on how that philosophy will extend to Mario Kart Tour. On the bright side, we have a maximum of 14 months to wait.