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Five simple tips to get the most out of Mario Kart Tour

Mario Kart Tour just launched on Android and iOS devices. Nintendo’s latest mobile offering is causing consternation among fans over microtransactions and unusual controls. Thankfully, the game is salvageable – even enjoyable – with a few adjustments.

Here are five tips to improve your performance in individual races and most efficiently unlock new content without spending any real money.

Get a rocket start each race

If you want to get off on the right foot each race, start with a rocket boost. This is something common across Mario Kart games. In Mario Kart Tour, all you have to do is tap and hold your finger on the screen right as the ticker counts down to two. If you time it correctly, you’ll get a boost right out of the gate. If you’re in the front of the pack already, this will give you a healthy lead. If you’re in the back of the pack, the rocket boost will vault you to the front of the pack.

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Turn on manual drift

One of the first options that the game asks you is whether you want to use “smart” steering or manual drift. The “smart” steering might be OK for absolute beginners who need what amount to kiddie bumpers at the bowling alley, but it will handicap you.

Drift, drift, and drift some more

Look, the controls are downright frustrating. I hated them at first, but once you get acquainted with them after a few races, you’ll be fine. Once you turn on the manual drift controller setting, learn how to master the skill and then drift liberally.

Drifting provides you with a crucial edge over opponents. Not only is it a more precise control method in this game, but it also gives you a boost each time you successfully “charge” your drift. The longer you hold the drift, the more it charges up to a max of three charges.

Know when to use items

This may sound plainly obvious, but it goes without saying that items can alter a race in Mario Kart. That’s no different in Tour, although you have fewer laps to catch up if you are behind, so strategy matters even more here.

If you are in first place and have a red turtle shell, it makes sense to hold onto it for safekeeping in case someone pulls ahead near the end of the race. If you have a mushroom boost, don’t waste it on a sharp corner where you’re likely to just run into the wall. Basically, use some common sense.

There is one caveat that needs to be mentioned. Mario Kart Tour automatically uses your items if you drive through an item box. This can be turned off in the game’s settings, but it is turned on by default. Depending on the setting, this may change how you approach when and how to use items. Just keep that in mind.

Be patient and save your rubies

Mario Kart Tour requires you to unlock racers, karts, and accessories. While you can spend coins that you collect throughout races to buy items in the in-game store, rubies earned through races are another option.

If you have enough rubies, the game will have you “fire off” one of the iconic green pipes from the Super Mario Bros. franchise. Basically, it’s just a random loot box. If you spend five rubies, you get one item. If you spend forty-five rubies, you get ten items. In other words, be patient. Spending your rubies for one-off shots will earn you fewer items in the long run.