Mario Kart Tour’s first beta test kicked off this week. Nintendo asked testers to refrain from posting images and videos online, but that was never going to happen. And that’s great for those of us who didn’t get beta invites.
Screenshots and clips of the game have now started popping up all over the place. There’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a Mario Kart fan, but it’s not all good news.
Tour is the first official Mario Kart game for mobile, and therefore one of Nintendo’s most anticipated titles to date. Nintendo has told us very little about the game so far — other than the fact that it’s coming this year.
But thanks to images and videos that have been leaked by beta testers, we’re quickly finding out a lot more. Here’s what you can look forward to when Mario Kart Tour finally makes its debut this summer.
First look at Mario Kart Tour
Unsurprisingly the game will feature a whole host of beloved characters from the Mario franchise. Those include Mario himself, his brother Luigi, Princess Peach, Daisy, Toad, Toadette, Rosalina, Waluigi, and more.
Some of these characters will be available as soon as you start playing the game, while others will be unlocked as you progress. You’ll be rewarded with stars after each race, and that’s what you’ll use to access more content.
The tracks appear to be pulled from previous titles in the Mario Kart series. You’ll find Choco Island 2 from the SNES, Toad Circuit from the 3DS, and Dino Dino Jungle from the GameCube.
There are just two laps per race, which is great for those who want to squeeze in a few minutes of play time in between other tasks. And like in other Mario Kart titles, you’ll pick up items as you race around.
Only one hand required
Mario Kart Tour plays in portrait mode, like Super Mario Run, and is designed to be controlled with just one hand. You simply drag your thumb along the bottom of the screen to direct your kart.
Some items, like stars, are triggered automatically. Others, like shells, will need to be triggered manually by tapping toward the bottom of the screen. You will drift automatically if you turn sharp and late into corners.
Drifting will provide you with a quick speed boost when you straighten up again, like in previous titles.
The bad and the ugly
Mario Kart Tour is a free-to-play game like almost all of Nintendo’s mobile games. You don’t have to spend any cash, but in-app purchases are present, and they’re pushed more aggressively than in other Nintendo titles.
For instance, there’s an in-game stamina bar made up of hearts. Each heart is said to last for about 15 minutes, so the more you play, the faster you burn through them. Once they’re gone, you have to stop racing.
Your stamina bar refills slowly over time, but if you don’t want to wait, you’ll have to cough up your cash and purchase more hearts.
You will also need to spend if you want to unlock additional characters, karts, and drivers faster. The only problem is, you don’t know what you’ll be purchasing; each unlock is random.
No proper multiplayer
Another big complaint about Tour so far concerns its multiplayer system. It seems that you never actually race against other players in real-time.
GameXplain discovered that, despite entering a matchmaking phase prior to multiplayer races, you aren’t actually paired with anyone. Instead, you’ll race against a profile of those players controlled by the game.
This is similar to the Toad Rally multiplayer mode in Super Mario Run, in which you compete against someone’s previous run, rather than racing against them in real-time.
This has its advantages. In Tour, you can actually quite the game during a multiplayer race and come back to it later to finish it off. You can even play offline after finding a multiplayer race.
But it’s not the kind of multiplayer fans would have wanted.
Don’t be too worried … yet
We have to remember that Mario Kart Tour is still in beta. In fact, this is the very first testing phase. A lot could change dramatically before the game makes its public debut later this year.
Don’t be too disappointed by the aggressive monetization and the disappointing multiplayer system just yet, then. There’s still time for Nintendo to make lots of improvements.