Here's everything we know about 'Mario Kart Tour,' the huge new game coming to smartphones in September


Super Mario / Mario Kart (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe)

  • Nintendo’s biggest franchise, “Mario Kart,” is finally heading to smartphones.
  • The game is named “Mario Kart Tour.”
  • It was planned for an early 2019 launch, but the game was delayed for a few different reasons. It’s now scheduled to arrive on September 25. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

“Mario Kart” has been a big deal for over 25 years, and now — finally— it’s coming to smartphones.

The game is named “Mario Kart Tour,” and it’s expected to arrive on September 25. 

Here’s everything we know about Nintendo’s first major “Mario Kart” game for smartphones:

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1. It’s not arriving until September 25.

Though “Mario Kart Tour” was initially planned for launch before the end of March 2019, the game was delayed into “summer 2019.” 

When Nintendo announced the delay earlier this year, it pointed to the game not living up to its quality standards; Nintendo also cited an interest in expanding the game’s post-launch strategy for the delay.

Whatever the reason, it sounds like Nintendo wasn’t satisfied with the state of “Mario Kart Tour” and decided to push it back by at least a few months. The game finally got a release date right as summer is on the verge of ending: “Mario Kart Tour” is expected to arrive on September 25 for both iOS and Android users.

2. “Mario Kart Tour” is a spinoff game, like “Super Mario Run” and “Mario Kart Arcade GP.”

You can tell from the naming convention that “Mario Kart Tour” is its own thing, separate from the main thread of “Mario Kart” games that have come out on Nintendo consoles exclusively. The latest game in that series — “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” — is the most recent main series entry. “Mario Kart Tour” is a side game, like “Mario Kart Arcade GP.”

That’s not a bad thing, necessarily.

Nintendo hasn’t made a bad “Mario Kart” game. At worst, some entries in the series have felt obligatory rather than essential. That hasn’t been the case in recent years, and there’s no reason to suspect that “Mario Kart Tour” will be anything less than good.

That the game isn’t a numbered entry isn’t the only indication that it’s a spin-off: The fact that it’s for a smartphone, not one of Nintendo’s own consoles, is another big indicator.

Nintendo’s approach to smartphone gaming has been focused on crafting its franchises specifically for the platform, rather than trying to force its console games onto a mobile device. This results in spin-off games with controls and gameplay mechanics that only make sense on smartphones and other touch-based devices.

3. So, what is “Mario Kart Tour”? It’s very similar to the “Mario Kart” games you already know and love, but adapted to smartphones.

Like the latest entries in the long-running, beloved “Mario Kart” franchise, “Mario Kart Tour” features a mix of racing, battling, and item collection.

There’s one huge difference to how the game plays: You don’t have to accelerate or brake.

Due to the nature of “Mario Kart Tour” as a smartphone game, the gas and brake are handled automatically by the game. It’s the one major adjustment I had to make when moving from traditional “Mario Kart” games to the smartphone version.

The other, more subtle adjustment: using a touchscreen to move my racer left or right. It is, frankly speaking, difficult to use — but no more difficult than any other smartphone-based racing game I’ve played.

4. The racing itself is fun, and many of the hooks from the most recent “Mario Kart” games are there.

Despite the fact that the racers drive themselves, everything from the steering to the use of items to the little speed boost you can get at the beginning of a race is a delightfully accurate re-creation of the console games.

Tapping the screen while going over a jump offers a little speed boost, and carving around corners with a great drift also offers a subtle boost.

Using items is similarly simple: a swipe down drops the item behind you, and tapping on the screen sends items ahead (or, in the case of a mushroom, sends your racer speeding ahead).

The game feels fully featured in this sense — outside of the auto-acceleration mechanic, “Mario Kart Tour” feels like a full “Mario Kart” game.

5. “Mario Kart Tour” is a free game, which is good and bad.

When “Mario Kart Tour” arrives on September 25, it won’t cost you anything to download and play.

Unlocking new courses — of which there are many, largely pulled from previous “Mario Kart” games on consoles — is a measure of playing the game rather than purchasing them outright with cash. Great!

That means there’s a lot to do in “Mario Kart Tour” right off the bat.

There are a whopping 64 courses spread across 16 different “cups.” There are 30 different drivers, and a mess of different vehicles to pilot and ways to outfit those vehicles.

But Nintendo needs to make money on this new game, and that’s where microtransactions come in. There are multiple forms of virtual currency, and they’re tied to unlocking those racers and vehicles, and even how long you play.

Nintendo released two new trailers for “Mario Kart Tour” alongside the release date news — here’s the first one:

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And here’s the second one:

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