The beta of Mario Kart Tour has begun, and players have started to upload footage and screenshots from the game to different online forums. The gameplay and monetization practices of Mario Kart Tour have been revealed to the internet and the impressions have been mixed so far.
Mario Kart Tour is similar to the other 3D entries in the Mario Kart series. However, as a mobile game, the player uses their finger on the phone's touchscreen in order to turn the karts left or right. The vehicles accelerate on their own. If the character hits an Item Box, then a symbol for the item will appear below the driver, which the player needs to press in order to use the item.
The player can select from thirty characters, most of which need to be unlocked (with Gold Mario being saved for the Gold Rush mode) and the beta includes thirteen different tracks. The unique items from the older Mario Kart titles have returned, with the likes of the Giant Banana being exclusive to Donkey Kong and the Fire Flower can now only be used by Mario, Luigi, and Metal Mario.
The player needs to select a kart and a glider at the start of each race, which is where the problems with the game begin to surface. In order to unlock new characters and kart pieces, the player needs to use a currency called Green Stars, which currently can be unlocked for free by completing challenges, but will likely also be a paid option when the final version of the game is released.
The most worrying aspect of Mario Kart Tour is the existence of a Stamina Meter, which takes the form of hearts that deplete over time. According to Kotaku, a heart lasts for around fifteen minutes, which means that the player is limited in how long they will be able to play for without shelling out real money, or least that it is likely how it will work in the final version of the game.
There is a third form of currency in the form of gems, which can be used to access a Coin Rush mode where the player can earn lots of gold coins. The gold coins can also be used to purchase items.
Nintendo had mostly managed to avoid the seedier traps that a lot of smartphone games fall into in the past, but it seems as if the company is going all-in with Mario Kart Tour. The game is still in its beta period, so it's possible that the microtransactions & premium currencies could be toned down for the final release.
Mario Kart Tour is excepted to be released during summer 2019.