Nintendo has announced that Mario Kart Tour will be available for iOS and Android from September 25, and it is free to download.
The Kart Racer is similar in style to previous installments from the iconic Nintendo franchise, with all of the characters you would expect, and tracks lifted from the familiar Mushroom Kingdom.
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The game, which was announced in January 2018 then delayed after missing its original March 2019 release date, will be free to download (and can be pre-ordered now), and uses the popular but often contentious 'freemium' model. This means that, while the game itself is free, there will be extra content available to unlock by paying. This content is likely to include certain game characters, race track and special features.
Instead of using a traditional gaming controller setup, where two thumbs are used to control the game in landscape orientation, Mario Kart Tour is played one-handed and held in portrait. That way, you can hold your phone and swipe at the screen with your thumb to control the kart. It's the same approach Nintendo took with Super Mario Run, when that launched as the first Mario game for smartphones back in 2017.
Mario Kart purists might be disappointed by this decision, but Nintendo says there are four difficulty levels to pick from, and while the karts accelerate automatically by default, a manual mode is available.
Apart from the portrait orientation, the game looks almost identical to previous installments in the Mario Kart franchise, like those for the Nintendo Switch and Wii consoles. The soundtrack is also the same as on previous versions of the game.
As well familiar circuits from the Mushroom Kingdom, players will also get to race around tracks inspired by real-world cities, which rotate every two weeks.
The free game can be pre-ordered now on iOS and Android, and doing so means you'll be notified when the game is available to download and play, sometime on September 25.
Putting the iconic Mario Kart on smartphones should be a recipe for sure-fire success. But Nintendo received a healthy dose of backlash after it launched Super Mario Run as a freemium game, instead of charging a one-off payment for it. We hope Nintendo has fine-tuned its approach to the freemium model with Mario Kart Tour, otherwise gamers may once again be left disappointed by a game with huge potential, but which is too restricted to enjoy without regular in-game payments.