Mario Kart allstarsSource: iMore

DeNA and Nintendo have been working together to create a lot of new mobile games from Nintendo's original IP's, and Mario Kart Tour is the latest game to come from that collaboration.

Designed from the ground up with mobile gaming in mind, this Mario Kart has features that no other version has had before.

Start your engines

Mario Kart Tour

Race Mario Characters on your phone

Designed from the ground up to be a mobile experience, Mario Kart Tour has all the best and worst features of a mobile game. Still, it's Mario Kart!

What is Mario Kart?

For those of you who may have never played video games in your life, Mario Kart is a racing game from Nintendo that features characters from its game franchises — mainly from the Super Mario games, but sometimes other characters too — who race around tracks in go-karts or motorbikes.

The goal is, of course, to win the races. You can collect power-ups along the way that will help you succeed against the other racers; some will hurt them, some will boost you.

What's the mobile gameplay like?

Mario Kart MarioMario Kart YoshiSource: iMore

Visuals

In a word, Portrait. Nintendo is clearly trying to differentiate its mobile games from its offerings on the Nintendo Switch, and a good way to do that is to limit the screen real estate they take up. The portrait is not terrible as the controls don't actually show on the screen. This means you can still see all of the action that's happening on the track.

Controls

The game uses the auto acceleration of the latest Mario Kart games, meaning even if you do nothing, your kart will make it to the end of the race. The control comes from sliding your finger from left to right to steer and tapping the screen to fire your items.

Unfortunately, the game also uses an automatic control system for moving left and right too. That means if you try and cut corners, you are likely to be pulled back into place. I really hope that this doesn't make it into the full game, or if it does, we can toggle it on or off.

While I understand why some players might like help with controls, it seems to defeat the purpose of playing a game. If I leave the game to its own devices and my character can finish the race — sometimes in the top three — then how can I be sure what I'm doing is actually making a difference?

Drifting

Drifting is at least one thing you can control. By holding your finger down as you turn, you can build up a drift. When you let go, you can give yourself a little boost in speed. In a game that has a lot of automation, being able to give yourself a boost in speed is extremely helpful.

Tilt Controls

Mario Kart Tour does have the ability to use your phone's gyroscope to control your direction, but it's a little strange. Because you are playing the game in portrait mode, the steering feels unnatural compared to landscape mode.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who will like playing it like this, but for me, having the screen move as you turn the wheel is a hindrance, not a help.

What is there to collect?

Character selectSource: iMore

In a word, lots. As you play you can collect coins to buy new racers, karts, and gliders. Each of them can also be randomly collected buy using the rubies you are awarded and that you can buy for real money. They are a lot of choices here but you don't have to spend real money to collect them if you are patient.

Most of the things you can collect can also be upgraded. As you play each race the driver, kart, and glider you use will level up very slowly using the XP awarded to you. You can get XP boost tickets as well. These are rewarded for completing challenges and can be purchased as well.

How do the items work?

Mario Kart Bob ombMario glidingMario squidSource: iMore

Items are a classic part of the Mario Kart game and allow you to help yourself and hinder others in a variety of ways. Some, like the mushroom, help by increasing your speed, while others, like the red shell, will slow your enemies down to allow you to catch up.

Mario Kart Tour has some fun new ways to use Items as well including an exclusive Frenzy Mode to help maximize your bonuses.

Number of items

The amount of items you can carry depends on the player you are using and the track you are playing on. Most of the smaller players have only one item slot while the bigger characters, like Donkey Kong, have two. This changes, however, if they are on a preferred track.

Preferred tracks

Do you know how a lot of the tracks look like they are connected to your characters? Well, in Mario Kart Tour they are. One of the tracks in the game is the Toad circuit from the 3DS, and it is the preferred track of both Toad and Toadette. Both these characters get three items on these tracks and get the ability to enter Frenzy mode.

All of the characters have at least one preferred track, and the characters you can buy for more money will have more, making them more likely to frenzy on other tracks.

Frenzy Mode

If you collect three of the same item on your preferred track, then you can enter Frenzy mode. Frenzy makes your racer invincible for a short period, increasing their speed and drifting skill, while also giving you an unlimited supply of the item you picked up.

This adds an element of tactics to which racer you choose on which tracks. Having a favorite racer may not work as well on Mario Kart Tour as on other games.

Are there Micro transactions?

Of course, there are, this is a modern mobile game, after all. Happily, it seems that all of the characters and karts you can buy for real money can also be earned in the game with the in-game currency.

Like DeNA's Pokémon game Pokémon Masters the game offers you a shortcut to buying characters you may want, rather than offering specials that can only be purchased with real money. This is great because it means all you need to is grind to grab the characters you want.

Start your engines

Mario Kart Tour

Race Mario Characters on your phone

Designed from the ground up to be a mobile experience, Mario Kart Tour has all the best and worst features of a mobile game. Still, it's Mario Kart!

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