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Mario Kart Tour: first details from the beta

Character, course, and currency details revealed for Mario Kart mobile

Artwork of Mario from Mario Kart 8
Mario and his kart from Mario Kart 8.
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Nintendo’s newest mobile game, Mario Kart Tour, is now in closed beta in the U.S. and Japan on Android devices. The mobile spin on Mario Kart is being co-developed by DeNA, which Nintendo partnered with on Fire Emblem Heroes, and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Early details on Mario Kart Tour indicate that Nintendo’s latest mobile effort will, like some of DeNA’s other games, rely heavily on microtransactions and “gacha”-style mechanics.

Mario Kart Tour’s gameplay mechanics appear to be simplified to cater to touchscreen controls. Players steer their kart by swiping left or right to aim an on-screen arrow, and using items like mushrooms and shells require a tap of the screen just below the driver.

The roster of Nintendo characters appears pretty long — about 30 so far. Characters like Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Rosalina, Bowser, and the Koopa kids are playable, as are variants like Baby Peach, Dry Bowser, and Metal Mario. Like other gacha games, characters are unlockable and have a rarity level associated with them. Luigi, for example, is listed as a rare character unlock, while Dry Bowser and King Boo are categorized as ultra rare.

In terms of courses, the lineup looks like a greatest hits collection of tracks from Mario Kart games spanning the SNES to the Nintendo 3DS. Confirmed courses include Choco Island 2, Rainbow Road, Luigi’s Mansion, Koopa Troopa Beach, and Dino Dino Jungle. Players start with 50cc speeds, and can unlock 100cc and 200cc speeds.

Here’s a brief look at Dry Bowser racing on Choco Island 2:

Mario Kart Tour’s characters, as well as additional karts and gliders, can be earned through a slot machine-like golden pipe which dispenses a random reward. While Mario Kart players may stick with a character for their main driver, Mario Kart Tour appears to incentivize unlocking and playing as other characters and karts by associating bonuses with each. Playing as Toad on the Toad Circuit course, for example, will grant him additional items slots, as will playing as Luigi on the Luigi’s Mansion course. Karts can offer speed boosts and gliders can offer item luck bonuses, depending on rarity.

The mobile game appears to have a number of currencies and time-gating mechanics. By completing races and racking up points, players can earn stars, which they can use to unlock additional cups and purchase gifts. Those gifts can contain green gems, Mario Kart Tour’s premium currency, to get random items from the slot machine pipe. The ability to play Mario Kart Tour is governed by a stamina meter.

Of course, the mobile game is currently in beta, and all of these mechanics could change based on player feedback. Mario Kart Tour is due out sometime this year for Android and iOS devices.

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