Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit

Cool factor 5/5
Usability 4/5
Value for money 3/5

Nintendo’s new lockdown-friendly release, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, lets you race through your home. The game is a free digital download from the Nintendo eShop; you just need to buy the kit.

It is available as either a Mario or a Luigi kit; we got the Mario kit for review. It comes with a remote-controlled toy — the Mario character in his racing kart with a camera mounted on his head. Also included are four cardboard gates, two arrow markers and a USB charging cable. The kart is powered by a rechargeable battery.

At this point, you would have downloaded the free 1.1GB game, which displays a QR code on screen for pairing with the kart. When the lights of the power button on the right side of the kart flash, the kart is in pairing mode. It took us a few tries to get this right.

You start driving immediately by following prompts on the Switch. Controls include an accelerator, a brake and a hooter.

After a short drive to get a feel for the kart, you earn a learner driver’s permit, completed by taking a selfie.

The set of four cardboard gates is where the magic happens. You place them in your living area to create a circuit. As you drive the kart, the feed on screen uses the camera in real time to display surroundings and an overlay of digital objects, like obstacles, enemies and bonus blocks.

It is a great way to get into augmented reality gaming. Grabbing a mushroom image during the game gives your kart a physical boost and if the kart hits a red shell it stops in its tracks.

Play modes include Grand Prix, Custom Race, Time Trial and Mirror Mode. Custom Race lets you get creative by designing your own layout and adding hazards.

It is exactly what you’d expect from a Mario Kart game, except that your home is the physical circuit. The game supports up to four players. It works on Switch and Switch Lite.

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit does an excellent job of blending the real and virtual worlds seamlessly and is perfectly suited for indoor activity over the holidays. Meant for age six and up, it also promises to be fun for nostalgic adults.

It is priced at the Nintendo premium of R2,499.

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