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‘Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit’ lets you drive real-life karts in your home

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This new Mario Kart game lets you create your own track

“Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit” is the latest game in the Mario Kart series. It uses augmented reality to race physical Mario and Luigi kart figures around virtual racetracks in your own home. 

The game is free on the Nintendo Switch, but a Mario or a Luigi kit for $99.99 is required. The home circuit kit comes with four cardboard gates, arrow signs, and a remote-controlled kart with a built-in camera that views the surroundings and transmits the image to the Switch screen. The camera will also be used by users to take a selfie for the in-game driver’s license. 

It even lets you create your track!

The cardboard gates are placed in the house to build a custom track where the starting gate is also the finish line. About 10 to 12 feet of space around the house is needed to set up the race track, but the game provides options for smaller areas. 

It’s just like racing an RC car. However, when playing by looking at the Switch screen through Mario or Luigi’s third-person perspective, the game incorporates AI opponents and item boxes through an augmented reality experience. Think Mario Kart, but with your living room as the environment. There’s a multiplayer mode, but players who want to join must have their karts.  

Inside the race, the physical kart reacts to the influence of in-game factors. If players get hit by opponents or slip on bananas, both the material and the in-game kart stops. Environmental effects and obstacles such as a sandstorm can make the real-life kart shake. Likewise, when the kart bumps into physical barriers such as a wall in the house, there are in-game consequences like losing coins. The game allows Mario or Luigi’s looks – through the real-life kart cannot be customized. 

Perfect for the quarantine, but with taxing requirements.

Laine Nooney, a video game historian at New York University, said, “It feels custom engineered for our ongoing pandemic, with folks stuck at home for the foreseeable future, and especially those with children,”   

“Surely Nintendo hopes Mario Kart Live will be a source of nostalgic fun for parents and at-home experimentation for kids.” 

However, the demanding requirements to play the game, such as purchasing the kit and a large-enough room inside the house, could be challenging to the sales, Nooney said

“While Nintendo may have nailed a use case for AR with Mario Kart Live, they haven’t gotten around the fact that each screen is its console — with a price tag to match,” she said. “Nintendo may have inadvertently shrunk the potential audience for this game, given its price and space constraints.” 

An engineer by profession, a writer by calling.

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