Mario Kart Tour: tricks, tips, and how collect all the characters and karts

Mario Kart Tour
Mario Kart Tour (Image credit: Nintendo)

Mario Kart Tour is a mobile version of the popular and long-running Mario Kart series, released in late 2019 for Android and iOS smartphones, and it's proven popular ever since.

The main Mario Kart Tour game is centered around the race seasons mode, which offers a variety of incentives to keep you coming back to race for each new season. While you don't race other real players live in this mode, your device will still require an internet connection so you can play.

Since launch, an online multiplayer mode has also been added to Mario Kart Tour, so you can compete in live online races against other drivers from around the world.

Plus, the selection of playable characters, karts, gliders and courses have been greatly expanded since launch, providing you with new ways and places to race.

While Mario Kart Tour is centered around a very simple premise - winning races - it can get very complicated. There are three different types of currency that do different things, the characters, karts and gliders have different stats that you can improve in different ways, and there are a few mechanics in the races that can make the difference between winning and losing.

We've come up with this comprehensive list detailing the different parts of the game,  helping you work out how to win races both online and offline, how to collect and spend the different types of in-game currency, and how to bulk out your collection of characters, karts and gliders, as well as level them all up.

Hopefully soon, you'll be decked out with all the best kit, winning every race and racking up huge amounts of points.

What is Mario Kart Tour? The basics, explained

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Most of what you'll be doing in Mario Kart Tour is racing. You'll be charging around courses collecting items and coins, and (hopefully) overtaking your opponents, while finding shortcuts, using those items to get ahead and taunting your digital opponents.

Most races are against AI bots (albeit ones with player-sounding names), but after Mario Kart Tour's launch a multiplayer mode was added that lets you play against real people online.

Outside the races, the game is organized by Tours which last two weeks. These dictate the theme of lots of the courses as well as any new character costumes and karts available during the season.

Each tour is a series of 'Cups', each one consisting of three core races and a bonus race. At the start of the tour only some of the Cups are available to play, but one new one opens each day up to a total of 12.

If you just want to drive cartoonish karts and races around cartoonish tracks, you can ignore Tours and Cups, and many of the intricate details of character levels, score multipliers and the currencies too, but if you want to experience all facets of the game, and collect all the characters and pieces of gear, it's worth playing through the Tours.

How to win races and earn loads of points

There are some key things to remember in order to win your Mario Kart Tour races.

Firstly, learn how to drift. This is an invaluable skill that lets you turn corners quicker and earn small boosts as you do, and when you get really good you can use drifting to quickly shift to the side to pick up coins and item boxes. 

Drifting is key

Drifting is key (Image credit: Nintendo / TechRadar)

When you're drifting, look at your tires - a blue flame will appear, when you let go, you'll get a small boost forward - gold and purple flames respectively will give you longer charges, but you have to drift for longer to get them.

You can't fall off the map in Mario Kart Tour, so feel free to drift more aggressively than you otherwise would. You can drift quicker by moving your finger nearer to the side of the screen you're drifting too - this'll help you earn boost quicker, but you'll turn the corner faster too.

Moving your finger the other way will be good if you're turning a wider corner (or aren't turning a corner, just drifting cleverly to build boost), as it stops you turning as quickly.

Next, you can easily get a boost when you're starting by holding down the screen on the countdown when '2' appears. Long time Mario Kart series fans will know this already as it's a stalwart feature of the games, and it's really good for starting the race ahead of everyone else (except in later CCs or multiplayer where everyone else does it too).

Learn how to earn boosts, and where they are on each track, as they can help you get ahead. Jumps, however minor, will give you boosts, as will drifting, certain areas of floor (shown by arrows pointing forwards), and some rewards in item boxes.

Finally, be smart about shortcuts and ramps off the side of the course, as not all of them will actually help you. 

Many will actually slow you down in order to get to them, like ramps in grassy areas, so only approach these if you have a boost to get over the slow patch, and some are actually longer detours that offer more coins or item boxes instead. If coming first is your goal, usually following the track is ideal - but sometimes you don't want to win.

Points are key in Mario Kart Tour

Points are key in Mario Kart Tour (Image credit: Nintendo)

In Mario Kart Tour winning isn't the whole point of each race - but it is the most fun part of it. You see, you're given a score after each race that takes into account three things - the points of your character and gear (these can be leveled up, which we'll explore later on), what position you came in the race, and how many points you earned through tricks in the race.

Position is easy - you get more points for winning than you do coming second place, and more for second than third, and so on. The amount of points you get for coming each position depends on your level and what CC - what difficulty of race - you're in. 

50CC is pretty slow and easy, and thus the points are lower, 100CC is medium difficulty and speed, and 150CC is hardest and fastest, with more points awarded as a result. When you get Gold Pass, you can play 200CC too.

Your gear is something that's predetermined, based on which character, kart and glider you choose, and what points level they're at. Don't worry, we'll explain all about Base Points later on.

Finally, there are Bonus Points which are points you earn over the course of the race. There are many actions that earn these like collecting coins, hitting opponents with items and drifting well - the Mario Wiki has a more succinct breakdown - and if you pick the right kart you'll get a multiplier on these. 

You can get combos during the race if you earn Bonus Points for different things in a row, which is a really great way to collect more points, and the glider you pick can make the combo even more effective.

Together your Bonus Points, Base Points and Position Points will create your score for each course, which is a way of comparing your skills to your friends. You also want to get points because this score will reward you some extra coins (one for each thousand points) and Grand Stars, depending on how well you performed.

Mario Kart Tour: how to win in multiplayer

Points work the same way in multiplayer as they do in the offline game, and you should utilize similar tactics to win, but there are some extra things to bear in mind.

First, drifting isn't just important in online multiplayer - it's vital. Everyone does it, and you generally won't have a chance at winning if you aren't a master at it.

When you're playing 'offline' you can generally use items whenever you want, because there are so many other racers you're bound to hit one, but there are often fewer players in a multiplayer race, so it's worth being clever about when you use items.

Only throw a red shell if there's definitely someone ahead of you, and if you're first try and save a banana until someone's directly behind you. It's always worth saving an item to act as your shield as well, because most of the time if someone attacks you, it'll bounce off an item you have in reserve.

What are gold coins and how do you collect them?

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Coins are the basic currency in Mario Kart Tour, and you'll be spending them in the shop on new characters, karts and gliders. Generally basic karts and gliders cost 500 coins, while characters cost 800, and that price goes up for gold or purple-tier as well as rarer pieces of gear. Coins can be collected in a variety of ways, but many of them are pretty slow.

Firstly, you can collect physical coins in races, and generally you'll pick up between five and 15 depending on the course. You lose coins if you're hit, so try and make sure that doesn't happen much, though this works for your opponents too so if you play aggressively you can pick more up. 

In addition, as we've already said, you get a course bonus based on points, though this won't net you many coins.

Each 'Cup' in the game consists of three levels and a bonus round with different rules - some of these bonus rounds can be particularly lucrative for picking up coins, so always make sure to do them.

Leveling up is an easy way to get coins in Mario Kart Tour, as you tend to get 100 coins every time you level up in the game. This will happen naturally as you play, and will keep your bank account getting bigger.

Another way of getting 100-coin jackpots is by completing challenges (you can find these from the menu) as when you complete a line of the multiplayer or standard challenges, you'll get a 100-coin combo care package. 

When you're playing online, if you ever find yourself waiting around for other players to join, you're actually slowly amassing coins - look at the animation at the bottom, as this tells you how many you've earned. You can get up to 100 a day just through waiting for online games.

Finally, Coin Rush is a special mode accessed in the shop where you play a race as Gold Mario, picking up as many coins as possible, and if you play well you can amass upwards of 300 coins just from the race. 

To play this mode, you need to spend rubies, the second form of currency, which we'll look at next.

What are rubies and how do you collect them?

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Rubies are Mario Kart Tour's premium currency, and they're much harder to acquire, but they have a bigger variety of uses. 

You can use them to play Coin Rush and launch the Peach Pipe to win a random selection of characters, karts and gliders (this is basically a lootbox), and this latter method is the best for getting new gear.

Rubies (or gems, as some call them) are generally hard to acquire, but you can easily buy them if you want. This is what 'premium currency' tends to mean in mobile gaming, and if you're enjoying Mario Kart Tour you can put money in to it to get rubies for the Peach Pipe. Saying that, there are some ways of getting them in-game too.

The best way of winning rubies is through the weekly rankings. Each week, a certain cup will play host to a ranking, where you'll be lumped with 20 strangers, and ranked by how many points you get in the three races of the cup. The person with the most points overall gets 20 rubies, second place gets 15, third gets 10 and players 4-6 all get five.

If you're good at the game you can get loads of rubies easily this way, however depending on your performance you get bumped into higher tiers, competing with better players, so each week it'll be harder to win that top spot.

There are other ways to get rubies though. One is through challenges, as completing these will net you one, two or three rubies depending on the challenge, and these will slowly add up.

Finally, you can get rubies as a reward for earning Grand Stars in each tour. The Grand Stars you earn in each tour slowly earn you reward boxes as well as access to free Peach Pipe uses, and sometimes these boxes can get you some rubies. Want to know more about Grand Stars? Well good, because that's the next section of this article.

What are Grand Stars and how do you collect them?

(Image credit: Nintendo)

When you're on the Mario Kart Tour menu, you can see your coins and rubies at the top but you can't see your grand stars, so some players don't realize they're actually a key part of the rewards you get as part of a Tour.

On the main Tour menu, if you scroll along past the cups, you'll see various Tour Gift icons and Pipes, each one with a figure of grand stars next to it. As you play the Tours, and collect stars, you'll earn some of these, though it's worth pointing out looking at these figures on the reward icons is the only way you can figure out how many stars you've actually got.

It's not too hard to collect Grand Stars when you work out what they are and how to collect them. The main way of getting them is in each race, as you'll earn up to five depending on how many points you score, although three is the max in bonus levels. 

Generally if you don't lose horribly, you can get three or four stars per level with the gear you start the game with, but to reach that fifth star you'll need a fair mix of skill and top-tier gear. You can replay races once you get better gear to improve your scores.

You can collect one Grand Star per day by completing a daily challenge, which you'll be notified of when you turn the app on each morning. One challenge appears each day, though you can store up to three, but then you’ll need to complete one to get any more.

Finally, some of the challenges reward Grand Stars, not rubies - these are the Tour Challenges, which reset every time the tour changes. You'll probably collect a fair few of these naturally over the course of a tour, but if not you can check them out from the menu to find which you missed. It's worth pointing out half the challenges only unlock after the tour has been running for a week, so keep checking back to the app.

How to collect all the characters, karts and gliders in Mario Kart Tour

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Now you've worked out how to collect all the different forms of currency, it's time to look at how you can collect as many characters, karts and gliders as possible, so you can get more points and in turn win more races and collect more coins.

The reason you'll want plenty of different types of gear - well, other than so you can play as your favorites - is because each one has a few 'favored' race tracks, and the higher-level pieces of gear have more. Using the optimal piece of gear can transform your racing experience.

A character will offer you three items instead of one from an item box on their favored courses, and two items in a selection of other courses. Karts will give you a 1.5x multiplier on bonus points on some courses and a 2x multiplier on their favored ones. 

Gliders will give you 2x combo bonus for some courses, and a more lenient time restriction between tricks before your combo is dropped, and on some others they'll offer you 3x bonus and an even longer combo-time boost.

The easiest way to collect gear is to buy them with real money - certain timely karts, characters and gliders can be bought in bundles, which sometimes include rubies too, and this can be the quickest way to get rarer items. You can earn plenty of things through gameplay though, so you don't always need to spend real cash.

One of the best ways to get gear is through Peach Pipes - when you spend 5 rubies you get a random character, kart or glider, though you can spend 45 rubies to get 10 spins - we'd recommend saving up your rubies to be able to do this, as that works out as you getting one for free.

The other way to buy items is through the main store, which lets you buy them with gold coins, though the prices can be a little steep, especially for higher-tier items.

When you start playing Mario Kart Tour, you're only allowed to see one row of store items at once (so one character, one glider, and one kart), but when you reach level 7, then 12, you unlock a second and third row. We'd recommend saving your money for then, so you can see more of your options, and also because these subsequent rows tend to offer rarer items.

The items in the shop change daily, but given the huge number of characters, karts and gliders in the game, it'll take you a long time to unlock them all, especially given the price. 

How to improve characters, karts and gliders

(Image credit: Mario Kart Tour)

Characters, karts and gliders have two different metrics to show how well they perform - a score, which indicates how many points you get per race just for choosing it, and a level, which functions as a form of multiplier for bonus points in races.

There's only one way to improve the level, that second stat, and that's by getting duplicate pieces of gear in the shop or peach pipes. Since the former is random, you may sometimes feel irked that you picked a duplicate instead of getting an entirely new piece of gear, so the level up and subsequent point multiplier might make that a little bit less galling.

It's easy to improve the base score of a character, kart or glider in Mario Kart Tour. Simply using the gear in a race will grant it some experience points which help it increase levels, so a trusty kart or your favored character can quickly become a high level powerhouse.

If you've just drawn a new super-rare character but they’re a much lower level than your favorites, you can use vouchers to level them up without using them. These Tickets, as they're called, can be gained in a huge variety of ways, including daily log-in bonuses, tour rewards, challenge rewards and more.

Using Tickets on a piece of gear will grant it some experience points, so if you use a few you can quickly use them to get your new character, kart or glider to a high level. 

It's worth pointing out there's a max base level dictated by which piece of equipment it is (characters can have more than karts or gliders) and the rarity (purple items have a higher limit than gold, which has a higher limit than the base pieces of kit).

When you have a top-level purple item, especially a top-level character, kart and glider all in use at once, you're going in to races with 2,800 base points already, which will ensure you plenty of grand stars and gold coins, and you'll get even more if any of those have high levels from duplicates.

What is the Gold Pass and should I buy it?

Mario Kart Tour has a season-pass-style item called the Gold Pass, which you can buy monthly if you really want to get the most out of the game. It gives you a few extra rewards and unlocks a new game mode.

Gold Pass gives you extra gift rewards in tours, including sometimes gold-tier and purple-tier character, karts and gliders, as well as extra rubies - frequent players will find it a lucrative way of boosting their gear count.

A new round of challenges is available to Gold Pass members too, which gives you an extra way of earning grand stars to help you get those extra rewards.

Finally, the Gold Pass unlocks 200CC mode, which is a faster and harder version of racing which ensures you more position points. 

If you play Mario Kart Tour frequently and are invested in getting as many characters, karts and gliders as possible, Gold Pass will likely help you get them faster, and let you enjoy them more. 

However if you just like to pick up Mario Kart Tour for some fun racing action from time-to-time, you might not feel the need to get Gold Pass.

It’s worth pointing out there's a two-week free trial for Gold Pass so if you're not sure whether it's for you, you can test it out for free.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.