Mario Kart Tour is Nintendo’s famous kart racing series made for mobile. It’s the fifth game in a Nintendo / DeNA partnership following Miitomo, Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. And, similar to several of the aforementioned games, Mario Kart Tour looks to be delivering a recognisable and simplified replica of the classic experience, with controls and features specifically built for smart devices.
ResetEra forum users have (so far) identified 30 playable characters and 13 race tracks. Courses appear to be mainly remakes of courses from previous Mario Kart games. Players will also be able to choose from multiple karts, gliders and to race in either 50cc, 100cc, 150cc or 200cc modes. The only thing faster than that is the rate the average data plan will disappear. The currently identified characters and race tracks are as follows.
|Baby Luigi||Daisy||King Boo||Luigi||Rosalina||Waluigi|
|Baby Mario||Donkey Kong||Koopa Troopa||Mario||Roy||Wario|
|Baby Peach||Dry Bones||Larry||Metal Mario||Shy Guy||Wendy|
|Baby Rosalina||Dry Bowser||Lemmy||Morton||Toad||Yoshi|
|SNES Choco Island 2||GBA Bowser’s Castle 1||3DS Rock Rock Mountain|
|SNES Mario Circuit 1||GCN Dino Dino Jungle||3DS Shy Guy Bazaar|
|SNES Rainbow Road||DS Luigi’s Mansion||3DS Toad Circuit|
|N64 Kalimari Desert||3DS Daisy Hills|
|N64 Koopa Troopa Beach||3DS Mario Circuit|
Staple Mario Kart weapons make a return like bananas, green shells and mushrooms. However, when freeze framing through footage of the cycling weapon selection, more interesting items can be seen. Such as the Mega Mushroom, last seen in Mario Kart Wii, and the big Bowser’s Shell, unseen since Mario Kart: Double Dash!! on the Nintendo GameCube. A ResetEra user explained that certain characters have an increased chance of acquiring certain special weapons. Karts also have special skills e.g. Slipstream Plus, Rocket Start Plus etc. and certain gliders have a higher chance of gaining a certain weapon e.g. getting Lightning while using the cloud glider. And the more each of the constituents are used, a meter fills up, indicating a levelling system of some sort. Suddenly we’re dealing with a part-Kart Racer, part-RPG.
Translating a control scheme traditionally played on a controller with multiple buttons, to (basically) a flat rectangle of a touch screen, is a huge task to overcome. As such, Mario Kart Tour takes acceleration out of the player’s hands – karts drive forward automatically and swiping left and right will veer the kart in the appropriate direction. Veer in a certain direction for long enough and the mini-turbo will be triggered.
Mario Kart Tour utilises microtransactions in a way often described as “gacha” in style. While normal coins are present in the game, players can spend real money to acquire the game’s premium currency ‘emeralds’ (it’s unclear the how quickly emeralds can be collected through normal play). Elsewhere in the game, the characters, karts and gliders can be unlocked randomly, with some being rarer than others (e.g. Metal Mario is Ultra Rare while Luigi is just Rare). We presume spending emeralds grants the player a chance to unlock one of these things.
There also seem to be multiple cooldown periods at work in the game. Arstechnia reports that playing races uses stamina represented by hearts. If players run out of stamina, a heart will replenish by itself in 12 minutes, or can be bought with emeralds. Furthermore, new cups (which consist of 3 race tracks and a mini-game challenge) have a timer which stalls everything being unlocked in one straight playthrough. This reportedly has no skip option. Some users and other online publications have expressed criticism over the heavy usage of the gacha-approach, while others have noted it as a common feature in popular mobile games.
It’s been recently reported that Nintendo will be shutting down Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp in Belgium who officially declared lootboxes as gambling. Even though gacha games create an in-game currency as an intermediate step, they may still qualify as paying money for an uncertain result. This puts Mario Kart Tour being launched in Belgium into question; and any other country that follows suit regarding legislation on lootboxes.
And as mentioned earlier, at time of writing Mario Kart Tour is still in beta. Therefore any and all game visuals and in-game systems could change prior to its launch in Summer 2019.