I’ve been playing the free version of Nintendo’s new mobile monster, Mario Kart Tour, since the first day of release. It’s probably the most fun mobile game the company has released, though there have been some frustrations here and there. Most of those frustrations had me thinking that if I upgraded to the monthly membership – for the low, low price of $4.99 per month – I might have a better chance of progressing through the game.

That’s only been partially true in the first week since I signed up for the Gold Pass. Thankfully, I’m still in the free trial for another week…

After being announced back in January 2018, Nintendo finally released Mario Kart Tour for mobile operating systems this past September. I downloaded it on day one, and I wasn’t alone. The game was reportedly downloaded more than 10 million times in the first 24 hours. The game takes the experience of console and handheld Mario Kart games and transfers it pretty well into your phone or tablet.

The game is an amazing port into the mobile world. The graphics are amazing and the gameplay is very user-friendly. Using a figure to swipe left or right to guide the kart or up and down to attack other karts with items is very intuitive and easy for players regardless of their experience with other Mario Kart games. And the idea that you can earn and win more items while playing the game adds to the replay value during every two-week tours available to players.

The app is updated regularly with new karts and gliders and even new versions of the already-released characters. Players have the option of paying for new items via package deals or trying to get them in-game either by using rubies to get new items randomly or to buy them using the coins amassed in the game.

Unfortunately, it feels like the same characters, karts and gliders are made available for purchase with coins on a rotating basis. While you can use this option to upgrade your characters to another level, it leaves people looking to use coins to get new items a little cold. Getting something new out of a pipe using the even more rare rubies is even more of a crapshoot. It’s more likely that I get a repeat item than something new, and it can get a little frustrating.

So, last week, I did the unthinkable: I signed up for the Mario Kart Tour Gold Pass.

For $4.99 every month, the Gold Pass gives you access to more challenges and more prizes for winning races – which gives you more coins, more rubies and occasionally some new racers, karts and gliders. The subscription also opens up a fourth racing speed, the 200 cc race, to join the 50, 100 and 150 cc races. Since I signed up, I’ve managed to acquire some more items than I would have otherwise, but it feels a little light for $5 each month.

While I had some initial excitement over the gains I had made with items after signing up for the Gold Pass, after a few days that went away. Now, it feels like I’m back to playing without it.

Thankfully, even after five months playing the game, Mario Kart Tour continues to impress. Offering new stages and new challenges every two weeks helps keep the game fun, as I’m always looking forward to what’s coming next.

But I doubt I’m going to keep up with the Gold Pass.