Mario Kart Tour Closed Beta Reveals First Details, Rases F2P Concerns
It's-a me, free-to-play.
The mobile spin-off Mario Kart Tour has just launched its closed beta, available to select users who pre-registered. Those early impressions are giving us some of our first indications for what to expect from this new type of Mario Kart game.
On the whole, it seems like a greatest hits of tracks and racers from throughout Mario Kart history. And mechanically, it appears stripped down and simple, but functional; you drag from one side to the other to steer your go-kart around the tracks. Like Mario Kart 8, your loadout includes a racer, kart, and glider selection. It also uses auto-accelerate similar to the Mario Kart 8 option.
However, the game is facing criticism over its approach toward microtransactions. Rather than a traditional Mario Kart game with unlockable racers, Mario Kart Tour is said to have free-to-play loot mechanics for earning additional racers and karts.
In a preview, Kotaku reported green gems serve as the premium currency. You can use those to pull a random racer, kart, or glider out of a golden pipe. But some characters get bonuses based on the track, so it's possible that to compete at higher levels you may need to use particular characters, creating a loot grind. The game also uses a stamina mechanic, represented by hearts, which bars further play once you run out. You can either wait a requisite time for them to refresh on their own or you can pay the premium currency to refill them.
This is a beta test, so Nintendo could still be testing and balancing these mechanics. The company recently announced it will be pulling Animal Crossing Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes from Belgium, due to the country's recent laws against loot box mechanics in games. Meanwhile US Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) has recently proposed a bill that would forbid loot box mechanics in games targeted at minors, which would likely impact most of Nintendo's catalog including Mario Kart Tour if passed.