There is an ongoing debate as to what was the first video game that introduced the karting sub-genre to racing titles. In 1988, SEGA released "Power Drift" for its Y Board arcade system, which technically makes it the first. However, it was not until Nintendo debuted "Super Mario Kart" for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)/ Super Famicom (Japan) in 1992, wherein it exploded in popularity. Now, the renowned franchise is finally making its jump to augmented reality (AR) with the "Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit."
When it comes to video games, Nintendo has been lauded for its innovative approaches. The 3DS introduced glass-free 3D visuals, the Wii revolutionised motion controls, and now, the Switch has combined home consoles and handheld capabilities into a hybrid system. "Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit" is a $99.99 remote-controlled (RC) car currently available in two designs: Mario and Luigi. So far, it has not been confirmed if the manufacturer will release more characters in the future.
Each of the two models feature an integrated camera just above Mario or Luigi. The package includes the motorised scale model, four cardboard gates, four cardboard arrow signs, a USB Type-C charging cable, and a code to download the digital copy of the game. According to a review published by CNN, "Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit" will need around 10 to 12 feet of unobstructed space to arrange the virtual racing course.
Using the onboard camera and special AR algorithms, players will see virtual tracks on their Switch/Switch Lite screens. Aside from the actual video feed of player's room, in-game items, obstacles, and rival racers will populate on-screen. Meanwhile, familiar power-ups and items are likewise present which can cause the actual toy to speed up, slow down, or stop relative to the in-game action.
Despite its unique approach, there are certain areas for improvement. "Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit" supports up to four players for local multiplayer, but an online option is currently unavailable. Each player needs to have their own Switch/Switch Lite and RC kart which must be within five meters of the console. It is just one of the many products Nintendo has in store for consumers to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the "Super Mario Bros." franchise.