Review

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit Review – An Occasional Wipeout

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Since its debut on the SNES, the Mario Kart series has been one of Nintendo’s funniest franchises. Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit invites you to bring the action into the real world, using your Switch and a remote controlled physical car with a camera to bridge the gap between reality and your screen. The concept of setting up your room as a racetrack and speeding through it as Mario is an exciting prospect, and while it’s often new and enjoyable, a few notable speedbumps keep it from winning the Trophy of gold. Mario Kart Live gives you a go-kart (with Mario or Luigi), four doors and two arrows in the box. Using these pieces, you can build the course that you can fit into the space you have. You can customize each door on the screen with unlockable items, including item blocks, boosts, piranha plants that grab you, and chain chomps that shoot you in random directions. Once your doors have been laid out and personalized, you draw the road by guiding your kart through the doors to paint the track. Then it’s off to the races against Bowser Jr. and the AI-controlled Koopalings. Once you’re in a race, the mixed reality experience works remarkably well most of the time, and it kept me entertained. I dodged the goombas by drifting into a sharp turn near my coat rack, then blasted an enemy with a red shell. However, sometimes the virtual track does not cover the ground perfectly. This issue played tricks for me and made me think the corners were earlier than they were, and on rare occasions a door didn’t recognize that I had gone through it. I have often fallen on the sides of the doors which distorts the track; your option is to deal with the changing conditions or take a break halfway to correct them. The game recommends that you put something heavy on each leg to keep it in place, but unless you have a bunch of compact, heavy items (I used 16 soda cans, two on each leg of gate), it’s something you need to put with or compensate for when designing your scenes. This frustration is further accentuated by in-game objects and environments designed to take you off course; The sandstorm environment is neat as it blows up the physical kart all over the place, but it also caused me to hit a door more than once or twice. To start with, I had to make some major adjustments in my living room, placing the coffee table against the wall and rolling up my mat as it was too thick for the kart wheels. To have any sort of creative freedom, you need a large open space, which might make this difficult for people living in smaller houses or apartments. Even in my relatively open ground floor, I struggled to come up with ideas that would fit into the space. After moving into my more open basement, I was able to flex my creative muscles a bit more, but the mat slowed the kart down enough that I quickly came back to the hardwood surface in my living room. I loved to rack my brains to find smart layouts for my space. From a simple oval track and figure 8 to a course with a long straight and a tight turn that weaved under my dining table, I had fun getting creative in a space that I already knew. I loved taking a step back and looking at my salon in new ways to understand how I might expand the course. However, since a standard run only lasted a minute or so with the space I was playing in, even my favorite designs quickly aged. Driving around your room offers the standard Mario Kart feel, even if the backdrop is your real home. Blasting your rivals while you’re powered by a star is just as exciting as it was in the main series, and getting caught by a blue shell in the final round is just as maddening. However, with a smaller bonus stable and shorter, less varied courses to cover, the experience deteriorates faster. Time trials and custom races are fun, but I spent most of my time in the three-race Grand Prix. You can reconfigure your track between each event, but with the mode applying separate effects for each race, I didn’t feel like I had to go through the long process of redrawing the track each time. Grand Prix is ​​great for collecting coins to spend on cosmetic customizations for Mario / Luigi and the kart, but it’s even better for unlocking faster speeds and new environments to apply to custom courses; once i got the zippy 150cc and 200cc i couldn’t imagine going back to anything slower. Despite its flaws, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit still brings hours of fun. While launching Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is more convenient and comprehensive, the unique version of Mario Kart Live on the series is worth checking out for those looking for some exciting twists on a well-worn concept. What about multiplayer? In addition to racing against AI characters, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is playable with up to four people locally. However, each person must have their own kart and their own Switch, which makes it an expensive proposition. Due to the limited availability of pre-launch units, I was unable to test the multiplayer component for this review.

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