'IT'S-A ME, MARIO'
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.
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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.