The Mario Kart Tour beta has been out for about a month, and it made me realise that Nintendo has a huge market in mobile gaming, with titles like Fire Emblem Heroes being such a huge success internationally. It would be an obvious choice to expand their mobile gaming selection to even bigger franchises. Mario Kart was an obvious pick and its early access has been performing decently, apart from micro transactions and other unfavourable choices. So let’s explore the pros and cons of Nintendo’s biggest releases on mobile.
I’m not including Super Mario Run or Pokemon Quest as they are targeted at smaller audiences.
Fire Emblem Heroes
Arguably one of Nintendo’s most successful mobile games right now, it’s a pretty casual game quite reminiscent of classic Fire Emblem games — with some gameplay balance changes and mechanic fixes for the vast majority of the cast.
The game has a summoning gacha-like system, which is a pretty fun way to summon characters. It rewards nostalgic and avid fans of the series with popular titular heroes like Lucina, Roy, Ike, Marth, and my personal favourite, Lyn. Of course those are only a few of the popular characters offered in the game. Heroes‘ cast draws from every single game in the franchise, with constant patches and updates adding new content. It’s expansive, offering varied game modes that lets players play however they want, which in my opinion is the best thing about strategy games
While this game is very good for the casual gamer, the gameplay can get stale with predictable AI, or become too hard without strong characters. It’s very tedious spending hours trying to summon characters to perfectly max out their levels, and to find an ability set that can be abused.
The Arena mode is the best solution to this problem, offering players unique and complicated setups. However the PvP is hindered by the summoning system. No matter how strategically brilliant a player can be, there is a statistical advantage that cannot be overcome except by time, money, or both. Unfortunately, microtransactions become a big part of the game.
Mario Kart Tour
Mario Kart has always been a franchise for casual players, but its competitive online multiplayer scene is just as big. They were always balanced by the fact that all players have access to everything. Aside from a few easily unlockable karts and characters, everyone starts on an even playing field.
Sadly, from the leaks from the beta of Mario Kart Tour, Nintendo has instead implemented Fire Emblem Heroes’ gacha system. Karts have ranks that you have to summon, meaning that people that spend money have an advantage on getting a better kart quicker. That’s practically pay-to-win.
There was also a leak of characters having an advantage on their themed maps (eg. Yoshi and Yoshi Falls). While I have read complaints that this is also pay-to-win, I don’t think it is. There haven’t been any confirmations on how to select a map, but there are pretty much three possibilities. The player chooses the map, the player chooses the cup (which maybe has four maps), or it’s all random. So you can either choose a map which benefits your chosen character, or RNG it. So while it isn’t pay-to-win, it is very stupid.
Of course we don’t know much about the full release, it’s only in beta. Time will tell whether the game becomes better, which I pray it does.
The Future of Nintendo Mobile
Where can Nintendo go with mobile gaming? Despite their problems they still produce very fun games. While it doesn’t look like they’ll change the microtransactions as their main source of income, they will most likely expand to other franchises if Mario Kart Tour does well. And realistically speaking, it probably will.
I think Pokémon mobile has the most potential. It’s one of the biggest and best-selling franchises, and it would be an easy choice for another gacha game like Fire Emblem Heroes. Just have gyms as weekly events, Safari Zone events, then slap in some PvP, and you pretty much got a Pokémon game on mobile.
While not as big as Pokémon, Mario Olympics does have a following, and its gameplay mechanics could translate to mobile pretty well.
These are the biggest two choices I feel that Nintendo Mobile will aim for following Mario Kart Tour’s release. I know for a fact that I would play a proper mobile Pokémon game.