Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit takes one of the most popular video game franchises of all time and completely reinvents it in a unique and innovative way. Fact of the matter is, I can tell you just how much I loved playing Mario Kart Live, but similarly to picking up a Wiimote for the first time to play Wii Sports, this is something that you have to experience to understand just how special it is. Hopefully, the video below can help demonstrate some of what makes it so special.
The kart is a lot bigger than I expected, but still small enough that it can fit under my couch and other objects around my house. The pairing process is simple, after downloading the game from the Nintendo eShop, you boot into the software and scan a QR code using the camera in your kart. You’re then free to set the kart down and drive around your house, and this is where the magic happens.
Obviously, if you’ve watched any trailer, you know what to expect from a gameplay point of view, but this kart is so much better than I expected. Whilst the camera isn’t the best (it does more than good enough to see where you’re going), the speed, responsiveness and turning circle of the kart is fantastic. I thought I’d have a hard time in my fairly smallish dining room/living area, but thanks to how well the kart can turn, I was able to zip around tight areas no worries.
Before we speak about the game itself, I need to talk about the insane fact that the Kart actually responds to whatever is happening in-game. If you use a mushroom, your physical kart goes faster, if you are playing on a level with a sandstorm, your kart will physically sway from side to side. If you drift and get a speed boost, it’s noticeable right in front of you. This kart has a great sense of speed and provides an AR experience unlike any other.
When it comes to battery life, I got close to two hours before needing a charge (which can be done by the included USB-C cable). The only other point that’s worth bringing up was range for the Kart was a little bit hit and miss at times. At worst, it would drop out for a second on my screen, when I got to a certain distance away from my Switch, before popping back in, so it didn’t hugely affect my experience.
The core gameplay feels familiar with some new twists. The game comes with four gates and two directional signs which feel like LABO, but are built with ease and pack down quite easily. Nintendo recommends a 3.5 x 3.5m area, but I had a little bit less and it worked just fine. The gates act as your checkpoints that you must drive through to get around the course (I believe you can miss one in GP mode) whilst the arrows light up in game and are supposed to guide you to those gates. Creating a course is easy, you just put the gates and directional signs down, and drive through them.
Something that’s new to the Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is the fact that you can change the gates (which normally have item boxes) to things such as magnets that pulls you back on course, or a speed boost or even a P block that lays coins in front of you, among other things. It added an extra level of variety that I’d love to see in other Mario Kart games.
When you’re ready to stop aimlessly driving around and get stuck into some races, you’ll spend most of your time in Grand Prix mode, where there’s eight different cups and three levels within each. You have access to 50cc and 100cc initially with the ability to go for 150cc and even 200cc as you unlock more trophies (again your physical kart will go a different speed based on which speed class you choose).
On the surface, the levels all look the same, this is primarily because the background will be your house. Where things are changed up are by effects such as an being underwater, or being in an 8-Bit world. These are reflected by obstacles on screen and also by obstacles and classic Mario enemies that hang from the gates to cause havoc.
When it comes to unlockables, the game has a better sense of progression than any Mario Kart that has come before it. You have to work your way to unlocking a number of environments, gate types, outfits, karts and horns. The game also has a radio, in which you can unlock tracks such as the classic Moo Moo Farm theme for. Another little touch, but one that’s much appreciated.
Long term, the downfall for Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit might come from the lack of online, and also lack of multiplayer unless you fork out $150 for another kart (which I’d definitely recommend if you have someone to play with). I can’t see a huge amount of reason to keep coming back after you’ve played through Gran Prix a few times and unlocked everything. That definitely shouldn’t deter you from picking this up as for $150, I think it’s really well priced.
THE NINTENDO SWITCH VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A RETAIL KIT WAS SENT BY NINTENDO. ANY SCREENSHOTS/GAMEPLAY USED IN THIS REVIEW WAS CAPTURED BY AN EXTERNAL CAPTURE DEVICE AND NOT FROM THE NINTENDO SWITCH DIRECTLY. AFFILIATE LINKS MAY BE INCLUDED IN THIS POST.
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit provides a fresh and unique gaming experience, which feels hard to come by these days. The kart is cleverly designed and well put together, responding to every precise movement. Whilst the core gameplay might get a little repetitive, the technology has a bright future, and it's guaranteed to provide fun for the whole family.
The Kart Is Extremely Responsive And Great To Drive