Mario Kart Live Home Circuit, augmented reality is coming to your living room

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We have been promised for years that virtual reality and augmented reality will change the way we work, learn, distract ourselves or interact with our smartphones and computers. But it is clear that the revolution is long overdue. The equipment is still expensive, restrictive (helmets, glasses more or less bulky) and the applications or games for the moment too few and varied to appeal to a wide audience. And yet, NintendoNintendo has just brilliantly demonstrated to us how augmented reality can transform our approach to video games, by merging the real and the virtual in a new way.

Launched recently, the Mario Kart Live Home Circuit kit offers owners of a Nintendo Switch console to transform their interior into a racing circuit where they run a remote-controlled version of the famous plumber’s car. Equipped with a camera, the replica is connected via Wi-Fi with the Switch and films its movements in real time. The whole thing is transmitted to a special version of Mario Kart that we download for free. The kit costs 100 euros.

Click here to buy Mario Kart Live Home Circuit

The game consists of driving your kart in immersive view on a circuit that you have previously traced in your living room or other rooms. You have to avoid the physical and physical obstacles while facing virtual competitors and a variety of spells and pitfalls that Mario Kart fans know well (Piranha plants, Thwomps, bombs, tortoise shells)…).

A technological tour de force executed with disconcerting simplicity

We tested Mario Kart Live Home Circuit with our two children aged 8 and 11. Let’s admit that when we opened the box and started the installation, we were convinced that we had to go through a long and tedious process as the technology at work seemed elaborate to us. Mistake! Less than ten minutes later, we were already immersed in our first race, slaloming between the dining room table, the lounge chairs and many obstacles that we had taken great pleasure in disseminating throughout the long course. The ease with which this technology is tamed and forgotten is impressive. The video game is there, alive, in the living room, and the craze is immediate.

On the left, the Mario Kart circuit without its virtual effects. On the right, we see how augmented reality transforms the setting and the atmosphere of the game. © Mark Zaffagni

In the box, in addition to the go-kart with Mario (also available in a version with Luigi), there are four sports gates and two cardboard arrow signs which are used to materialize the key points of the circuit. Then, it must be traced virtually by rolling the kart a first time on the course, so that it is recorded by the console. We can modify our circuit between each race if we wish, provided we repeat the operation we have just described. It is possible to play with the Switch in portable configuration or on the TV. The Nintendo Switch Lite is also compatible.

More communicative fun

Mario Kart Live offers the same options as the classic version, with the choice of personalized racing, time trial or Grand Prix mode with 8 cups and 24 races against virtual characters from the game. Each time, the virtual setting, obstacles and objects to collect change. They appear throughout the circuit, come to press themselves on the cardboard gantries, skillfully blurring the border between the real and the virtual. The effect is all the more stunning that the low blows of the opponents and the spells that litter the circuit translate into a real impact on the kart that will slow down or even stop. Likewise, the four available speed modes (50 cc, 100 cc, 150 cc and 200 cc) can be felt physically. Moreover, driving in the 150 or 200 cc configuration requires a lot of skill to avoid accidental accidents! The feeling of speed in the game is very close to the classic Mario Kart.

In addition to the technical prowess, one of the things that we liked about Mario Kart Live Home Circuit is the way spectators can invite themselves into a race and put their grain of salt, for example by adding or moving a physical obstacle or by being filmed by the camera as the kart passes. Usually, watching someone play Mario Kart without participating in it is nothing exciting. There, we can literally enter the game and this emergence can be the source of sacred laughter shared.

Mario Kart Live Home Circuit, enter the game… © Mark Zaffagni

How long will the “wow” effect last?

This is the question that arises and to which we do not yet have an answer. At the moment, Mario Kart Live Home Circuit is the new attraction that has taken over the other Switch games at home. But will it last long? Although Nintendo has really sought to offer a maximum of varieties by allowing you to freely draw your circuit and by offering bonuses (new skins for the character, new vehicles and scenery…), we feel an inevitable repetitive side coming.

Another point a little blocking, it is necessary to take care not to exceed the five meters distance between the console and the car under penalty of losing the connection. As a result, it is impossible to afford a little delirium by inventing giant circuits that cross the entire house, except to move from room to room, which is much less fun. We can also argue about the fact that everyone must have their own console (Switch or Switch Lite) and their Mario Kart Live kit to be able to play with several (up to four people).

The opinion of Futura

Mario Kart Live Home Circuit offers us a really convincing overview of what augmented reality can bring to a video game by merging it with our world. Nintendo has managed to make its technology completely transparent and intuitive, which is no small feat. An innovation that augurs great developments in the coming years. If you own a Nintendo Switch and want to discover this windowwindow on the future, the price of 100 euros seems surprisingly affordable considering the unprecedented experience that Mario Kart Live Home Circuit provides.

Click here to buy Mario Kart Live Home Circuit

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