Nintendo brings Mario Kart into the real world with AR RC cars
Mario Kart is the latest game to cross over into the real world via augmented reality (AR). Nintendo has now unveiled Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, which lets you drive a little remote-controlled kart around the floor using the Switch console, dodging virtual racers and items.
Nintendo says the controls for driving the kart are the same as any regular Mario Kart game, although we’d imagine there’d be a bit less drifting and jumping. Players first set up the four included gates to design the track, then take the car for a spin so the game learns the layout.
Then it’s time to race. Through a camera mounted on the back, players get an over-the-shoulder view of Mario or Luigi in the kart. You’ll see the real world obviously, but the AR element means virtual characters, items and environments are laid over the top.
Bowser’s bratty kids appear as your virtual competitors, and in true Mario Kart style you can cheat your way to the front by picking up the familiar item boxes that appear under the gates. But your opponents can fight back of course, and getting hit by a shell or a banana will stop your little remote-controlled kart for a few seconds. On the plus side, get a mushroom and your physical kart will get a speed boost.
The camera also seems to recognize the gates, laying animations over them. Even your driver isn’t just a static plastic figure in the middle of the screen – an animated Mario or Luigi appears over the top. And the finishing touch is that the game will spruce up your boring old living room with a lick of virtual paint to make it look like a desert, underwater track, ice world and other usual Mario locales.
Up to four people can jump in to play locally, but the catch is that each player will need their own kart, copy of the game and Nintendo Switch console. That could be a pricey games night.
It looks like a ton of fun, but we’re a little wary that the novelty might wear off fairly quickly. Then again, it might depend on your own creativity, and you could squeeze extra fun out of it by setting up elaborate obstacle courses of boxes, toys, ramps, tunnels and whatever else is on hand.
The Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit set comes with either a Mario or Luigi kart, four gates, two arrow markers and a USB charging cable. It launches on October 16 for US$99.99.
The announcement of the game came during a Nintendo Direct presentation dedicated to the 35th anniversary of Super Mario Bros. To celebrate, Nintendo is also releasing a Mario-themed Game & Watch, the original handheld first released back in 1980. This new version will come preloaded with Super Mario Bros and The Lost Levels, and will drop on November 13 for $49.99.
The other headliner is Super Mario 3D All-Stars, which brings slightly spruced-up versions of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy to the Nintendo Switch on September 18.
It’s a good year to be a Mario fan. Check out Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit in action in the video below.