Here's the news we've all been waiting for: Mario Kart is coming to smartphones. Mario Kart Tour will be the first time a game from the series has appeared anywhere outside a Nintendo console or an arcade machine, as Nintendo continues to expand its lineup of smartphone games.
Mario Kart Tour has only just been announced, so we don't know much about it yet - but here's all the info we have so far.
This is about the only concrete (if vague) info we do have. In the tweet announcing the game, Nintendo confirmed that it's due some time before March 2019.
The checkered flag has been raised and the finish line is near. A new mobile application is now in development: Mario Kart Tour! #MarioKartTour Releasing in the fiscal year ending in March 2019. pic.twitter.com/8GIyR7ZM4z— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) February 1, 2018
Obviously that's a pretty big window, but we'd expect to see it appear some time in late 2018, similar to the November 2017 release of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Presumably this will be Nintendo's next major mobile release, raising doubts about the rumours of a new Zelda game for smartphones.
Nintendo hasn't confirmed which platforms Mario Kart Tour will release on, so far describing it only as a 'new mobile application'.
While Super Mario Run initially launched as a timed iPhone exclusive, subsequent mobile games Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes have both been multiplatform from the start, so we'd expect the same from Mario Kart, with a simultaneous launch on both iOS and Android.
Again, we don't know. But we can guess.
While Super Mario Run experimented with giving away the first few levels for free and charging a one-time fee for the rest of the game, it's clear that as far as Nintendo is concerned the model didn't convert to as many sales as it hoped.
It's had much more success with Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem, both of which rely on micro-transactions, so there will almost certainly be more of the same here. Expect to pay extra to unlock certain characters, karts, or tracks - or at least to unlock them faster than you would through normal play.
Features and gameplay
So far, we have no idea, as Nintendo hasn't even released a screenshot, let alone a trailer or a description of gameplay. Still, it's a Mario Kart game, so we have some idea of what to expect: racing, Nintendo characters, and silly, colourful weapons. Hopefully this will include all the underwater and zero-gravity elements of the 5-star Mario Kart 8: Deluxe on Switch, which is arguably the best the series has ever been.
The 'Tour' element of the name might give us some clue about the specifics of this game though - to us that suggests Nintendo will be placing the focus on online multiplayer, in line with its other smartphone titles. Expect multiplayer races, online leaderboards, and some sort of friend mechanic.
Hopefully it'll include some sort of option for offline play, unlike Super Mario Run, but we wouldn't hold your breath - this probably won't be the game for anyone with a lengthy underground commute.