Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. And then wait on the start line a little bit longer, because although Mario Kart Tour is now available to download for iOS and Android, you won’t be able to start your first race for an hour or so yet.
Boot up the game now, and you’ll be greeted with the news that the game is down for maintenance, but the good news is that we know approximately when that ends. The servers will open at 9AM BST – or 4AM ET, 1AM PT and 10AM CEST, depending on precisely where you’re firing your red shells from.
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While you wait, it’d be a good idea to register for a Nintendo account – or remember what your password is, so you’re good to go when the flag lifts for the first time.
Once that’s done, the video above – the first edition of Mario Kart Tour News – will give you some of the game’s basics, including where the Tour will be for the first two weeks of launch. If you don’t like the suspense of the video, it’s the New York City-based course. Yes, the courses are based on real-world locations, and they’ll rotate every couple of weeks.
Each period also has exclusive drivers during set times. For the New York section of the Tour, the game will let you unlock Musician Mario and Pauline from the New Donk City section of Super Mario Odyssey. As well as looking different, both have a unique skill: Musician Mario can throw two bombs at once, while Pauline has the special seven-item wheel you get on recent Mario Kart games when you’re struggling to break the top half.
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Being a mobile game, the controls are appropriately simplified, and like Super Mario Run, it can be controlled with just one hand. You swipe left and right to steer, and up and down to use items.
While the game is free to play, early beta players have noted it’s quite heavy on the microtransactions – though this may have become a bit more balanced now it’s ready for a global audience. All the same, you can expect to spend gems on new drivers, karts and gliders which give different advantages on specific courses, and there’s a stamina system that will limit the amount you can play in a day – unless you pay for earlier access.
For some, though, the joy of playing Mario Kart without Nintendo hardware will make these mobile annoyances a price worth paying. See you on the start grid.
Will you be playing Mario Kart Tour today, or are you happy with Mario Kart 8 on the Switch? Let us know on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.