Mario strikes at MAC

New Mario Kart Tour app for mobile devices makes its way into student culture


Madelynn Niles

RAPID RACERS: Sophomores Bridget Cole and Anna Schlett complete a quick race before class begins. “I just love the competitive nature of (the app),” Cole said. “It’s also super fun to add your friends and keep track of eachother’s scores.”

By Madelynn Niles, McCallum High School

Everything is tense. The stillness seems to last an eternity. It is the moment you have been preparing for for far too long. All that surrounds you now is the sound of your engine rumbling and the serene clouds of Cheep Cheep Lagoon, and for a moment, you forget to breathe, but there’s no time to think about any of this because the looming yellow countdown of the clock begins. 3… 2… 1… your next Mario Kart Tour race has started.

On Friday, Sept. 25, the Mario Kart Tour app was released worldwide for mobile devices, prompting an immediate and overwhelming 90 million downloads of the game within the first week of its availability, 20 million of which occurred in the first day alone, according to Apptopia, an online data source about mobile apps.

This response was not only groundbreaking for the history of Nintendo mobile applications, but for all mobile apps on the internet, breaking the previous record of 6.7 million first day downloads held by Pokémon Go. Since then, the sweet and distant memories of blue shells and banana peels have once again become a reality for millions of people worldwide, and have found their way into the McCallum culture.

“It’s a lot more accessible that normal, because Mario Kart is usually on console,” sophomore Marios Petropoulos stated. “It’s just opened up a new world for Nintendo users at MAC.”

Although, like many students, he is a general fan of the game, he does feel that there are some drawbacks of the mobile version.

“The steering’s a little difficult, but you get used to it the more you play it. Usually people play on their phones during free time at school, and Mario Kart is just really fun… because it’s such a good way to pass time. Overall, a solid eight (out of 10).”

This difference in steering, along with other aspects of the game such as the $4.99 monthly fee for a Gold Pass, has brought controversy upon the otherwise successful game. For Petropoulos, it is not a major concern, but for other racers, these are important downfalls to note when considering playing the game. For these people, the app seems to feel more like a not-so ”Cheap-Cheap” lagoon, and for this reason, sticking with the console seems more logical. Others feel simply that it’s just not the same as the original.

Madelynn Niles
HANDS ON: Sophomore Maeve McGeady completes the Mario Kart Tour app tutorial that appears when it is first downloaded, teaching the basic controls and rules.

“I grew up playing Mario Kart on my Wii,” sophomore Scarlet Frese said when asked about the app, “and honestly the new one is just not the same. It’s convenient and all, and I guess that’s kind of the point, but I don’t really understand the hype around it. … The excitement of the app lasted a couple days, but then I was over it.”

Chemistry teacher Robert Ely, whose classroom has been host to countless Smash Bros matches, also feels otherwise about this new obsession among the campus.

“It was alright” he stated. “It wasn’t as fun as other Mario Karts I’ve played. It’s neat to see that it was on a mobile platform, but it just ain’t the same.”

This opinion seems to be prominent among the users of the app at McCallum, with gamers appreciating the mobile edition but missing that classic Mario magic. Ely feels, however, that Nintendo games in general are a good source of unity, bringing together different groups of people and allowing them to share a common passion.

“It’s great to see all these different groups of kids with different interests, but they’re coming together to play this game,” he said, referring to the typical crowd in his room at lunch for games. “But I mean, come on. (The new Mario Kart App) doesn’t even hold a candle to Smash Brothers.”

With all factors considered, the consensus at McCallum seems to be approval of the app, despite the lack of the console features and feel.

An online poll done through the Macjournalism Instagram account on Oct. 8 revealed that 70 percent of the 349 survey respondents have the game installed on their phone, and when asked who the “pro racers” at McCallum were, 75 percent responded with themselves, an indication of confidence that also suggests that many students regularly use and enjoy playing the game, despite professing mixed feelings.

With the announcement that Nintendo will soon release an update allowing multi-player usage of the game, it seems that the new Mario Kart Tour mobile app is here to stay, its popularity among students will spike as new additions are made and drawbacks are considered, and you’ll still have to beware of red shells.

This story was originally published on The Shield Online on October 29, 2019.