Mario Kart Tour
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Mario Kart Tour is a mobile game in the Mario Kart series set to be released in the summer of 2019. The game was first announced during a financial briefing on January 31, 2018. Mario Kart Tour will be the second Mario mobile game after Super Mario Run, and like that game, it will be free-to-start from the App Store and Google Play. Unlike Super Mario Run, however, the game more heavily incorporates a traditional free to play gacha economy, where players have restrictions and timers unless they spend some of the various types of currencies in-game, as well as having loot boxes in the form of items being launched out of pipes. The game reuses many assets from Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8, as well as returning gameplay mechanics such as gliding and character specific special items. In addition, the game introduces some features new to the Mario Kart franchise such as reverse tracks and ability to deploy a large amount of any item during a race, including Spiny Shells and Bullet Bills. On April 23, 2019, Nintendo opened applications for participating in a closed beta test of the game to Android users in North America and Japan, which began on May 22, 2019 and will end on June 4, 2019.
As a racing game, the goal of Mario Kart Tour is to best rivals and come in first, using items obtained by driving through Item Boxes to the player's advantage. The game is played in a portrait position, where the phone's touch controls are used to play the game, such as dragging the finger across the screen to steer the kart. Unlike other Mario Kart games in the series, karts automatically accelerate and can steer players away from walls and drops if they approach too closely. The game returns the gliding mechanics from Mario Kart 7, where players can glide through the course whenever they drive over certain ramps, and players can perform tricks. Unlike Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8, however, players cannot customize their vehicle's tires.
Every time players complete a race, they are awarded with Grand Stars and emeralds, emeralds being the game's premium currency. Emeralds are used to purchase pipes which randomly shoot out a driver, a kart, or a glider, all which have their own rarities. Each driver, kart, and glider have favored courses, where they offer advantages if they are used on particular tracks. A character that drives on a preferred course earns extra items per Item Box. Rarer characters have better bonuses and more preferred courses. In addition, characters have special items exclusive to them, similar to Mario Kart: Double Dash!!'s item system. All drivers and karts can be leveled up, and they all come with upgrades when done so. Duplicates can be earned from pipes, and those go towards the repeat character's level up progress.
Further elements seen in other free-to-play games include a stamina bar consisting of five hearts total. One heart gets consumed every time a player races and once the stamina is depleted, players cannot play until it recharges. Players replenish hearts when they level up, if they wait out the timer, or if they purchase hearts with emeralds. Coins can be obtained in races as well depending on the player's performance, and these can be used to purchase new items from the store and also can be used to purchase more emeralds. Emeralds can also be spent in Coin Rush where players can obtain as many coins as possible.
The cups in the game are restricted by timers, with the timer duration increasing every new cup after a player clears a cup. Unlike other Mario Kart entries, Mario Kart Tour has a different naming scheme for the cups, where they are named after characters rather than items, such as Toadette Cup or Wario Cup.
Players start with either Toad or Toadette. Unlike other Mario Kart games, there are no weight classes between characters, but they are sorted by their rarity of unlocking them, via opening up randomized green pipes with emeralds. There are three tiers of rarity: common, rare, and super rare. While the common characters are easier to unlock, rarer characters have a greater amount of starting points, have a higher top speed, higher coin-earning rates, likelihood of picking up mid-race weapons and items, and have more favored courses. Once players clear the tutorial, they are rewarded with a random rare class character. In Gold Rush, players play as Gold Mario.
The following lists the playable characters and their special item.
Initial impressions of the beta have been mixed. Journalists have praised the gameplay and graphics, but have criticized the free-to-play gacha elements of the game. Sam Machkovech of Ars Technica has compared the game's in-app purchases to Spiny Shells, blowing up the classic Mario Kart experience. He has suggested that "the developers pick a side: attach an annoying economy to a deeper control scheme and more legitimate online options, or make it cheaper and less obnoxious to watch Mario drive himself." Ethan Gach of Kotaku has also stated that the game is "a mostly faithful but stripped-down recreation of Mario Kart decked out with all the microtransactions and lottery mechanics mobile games are infamous for" and also lamenting the lack of a multiplayer mode. Steven Asarch of Newsweek has complained about the game's "freemium greed" and that it is "ruined by microtransactions".