What You Need To Know About The ‘Mario Kart Tour’ Smartphone Game

If you love Nintendo’s iconic little plumber and his racetrack shenanigans with all his friends, get excited. The video game company is releasing a smartphone-based Mario Kart title this summer.

While details about this spinoff game are sparse, Nintendo watchers do know a bit. For one thing, everyone’s anticipation levels are high because Mario Kart racing games are always fun. In fact, they’re among the most popular titles in the Nintendo stable. “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” for the Switch, for example, is currently the console’s best selling game.  So, despite the new platform for a Mario Kart title, “Mario Kart Tour” could be a big hit.

Mario Kart games are fairly formulaic: favorite Nintendo characters get into their super-cute racing cars and throw things at each other while navigating courses at top speed. But what will the controls be like? Will it be free to play? Will it come out on time, given that it has already been delayed from the end of March?

At this point, we mostly have to speculate. What we know about “Mario Kart Tour” amounts to this January tweet from @NintendoAmerica and a mention of the delay in the March 31 earnings report.

It’s not much. The Mario Kart franchise is fairly straightforward, but will have to be adapted for smartphone control. If it’s like Nintendo’s 2016 phone game, Super Mario Run, a version of the Mario platformers that originally cemented the character’s popularity following his first appearance in “Donkey Kong,” it’ll use touch-based controls for character actions. But will this be the case?

As for pricing, that’s an open question. Super Mario Run offers a free limited demo, but the full version costs $10. Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp utilized a free-to-play system with in-game purchases. Pokemon Go is also free. So, it’s still not clear exactly which method “Mario Kart Tour” will use to generate income.


Nintendo does have another smartphone game coming out this summer, and it has already announced that “Dr. Mario World,” based on the super-addictive puzzle game “Dr. Mario” from the 1990s (I myself spent about 15,341 hours on it) will be free-to-play with in-game purchases. Could that be a clue as to the company’s thinking about attracting revenue through apps?

Nintendo has experienced some critical reactions to its smartphone game strategy, which it launched fairly late in the game because it was still banking on its portable systems. But reactions to the actual games have been generally fairly positive over time.

Still, whether “Mario Kart Tour” is good or not will still have to remain a bit of a mystery until it finally appears in the Android and ioS marketplaces, and fans can download it for themselves to see.