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Mario Kart Tour: The ultimate guide

Mario Kart Tour on iPhone surrounded by amiibo
(Image credit: iMore)

DeNA and Nintendo have worked together to create a lot of new mobile games from Nintendo's original IPs, and Mario Kart Tour is one of the most successful projects from this collaboration. Designed from the ground up with mobile gaming in mind, this Mario Kart has features that no other version has had before.

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Mario Kart Tour

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!

Download from: App Store (opens in new tab) | Google Play (opens in new tab)

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. For instance, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Nintendo Switch also lets you play as Link from Zelda, Isabell from Animal Crossing, and Inklings from Splatoon. 

The goal of these games, of course, is 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 and some will boost you.

What's the mobile gameplay like?

As you can see above, the mobile gameplay follows much the same format as the original game's gameplay for Switch. You hop in a kart, pick your favorite character, and go! Along the track you will be able to pick up items that can help you take down other characters or speed past them. 

Visuals

When Mario Kart Tour first launched as an iOS game and Android game, it only supported portrait mode, but an update has gone up since then that allows for horizontal screen viewing as well. The game visuals, while not mindblowing in any way are pleasant to look at and are clear enough to easily distinguish during races.  This means you can still see all of the action that's happening on the track with a frustrating camera view. 

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. So you'll need to get the hang of the controls to race effectively. 

Drifting

Drifting in Mario Kart Tour 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. The players that master drifting are often the ones that finish in the lead. 

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. The action might feel awkward when your screen is at a tilted viewing angle, so you'll just need to decide the way to play that works best for you. 

What is there to collect?

Mario Kart Tour Character select

(Image credit: 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 Tour using items

(Image credit: iMore)

Mario Kart Tour Items are as classic as the main gameplay itself. They 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.

Leveling up and getting more powerful

In order to level up, players must take advantage of level-boost tickets. Each kart, glider, and driver has a gauge that increases its skill level with the help of these tickets. You'll unlock more abilities and perks. Level-boost tickets are gained by racing or by paying for the Gold Pass. 

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.

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 Microtransactions?

Yes, there are microtransactions as is usually the case with modern mobile games. All of the characters and karts you can buy with real money can also be earned in the game with the in-game currency or microtransactions. However, it might take you a lot longer to unlock them the old-fashioned way.

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 do is grind to grab the characters you want.

See you on the track

Mario Kart Tour has been one of Nintendo's most successful iPhone games since it launched in 2019. While you can spend money in-game if you'd like, you don't have to pay to win and there's still plenty of fun to be had without ever opening your wallet. 

The game not only offers more playable characters than any other Mario Kart game ever made but also provides several different outfits for each one. You can unlock these fun skins by racing or by paying for the Gold Pass. 

Have fun tearing up the track and proving to players from around the world that you are the best Mario Kart racer out there. Remember that every player has their own skills and preferred tracks. Make use of the items you gather, drift when there's time to do so, and make use of Frenzy mode to get ahead. 

(opens in new tab)

Mario Kart Tour

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!

Download from: App Store (opens in new tab) | Google Play (opens in new tab)

James is a lover of all things new and shiny. From 3D printing to Nintendo he stays current with all the technology that will lead us into the future.

With contributions from