Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit Review – Making Tracks

There's an old truism in gaming circles that Nintendo is a toy company at its core. This is both praise and critique, expressing a sense of wonderment over the company's ability to tap into childlike playfulness and bafflement at some of its...

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit Review – Making Tracks

There's an old truism in gaming circles that Nintendo is a toy company at its core. This is both praise and critique, expressing a sense of wonderment over the company's ability to tap into childlike playfulness and bafflement at some of its esoteric hardware decisions. Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit may be the purest recent expression of the "Nintendo as toy company" ethos. For one, it revolves almost entirely around an actual toy: a tiny camera-equipped go-kart that you race around your real-life house. But more broadly, it behaves the way the simplest toys do, by giving back only as much as the effort you put into creative play.

That's because the core pillar of Mario Kart Live is making your own tracks. The game comes with four numbered gates that help define your track. These are made out of unfolding cardboard, like the natural evolution of Nintendo Labo. Once you've laid down your track and any real-life objects as hazards, you need to run through it once, pace-car style, before starting the race. Choosing the main Grand Prix mode populates your Augmented Reality (AR) track with four Koopaling opponents, and then you're off to the races.

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit screenshots provided by Nintendo

Once you're actually in a race, it operates like any other Mario Kart game. You keep your eyes on the screen--watching your real-life kart is a surefire way to lose--and you see visual effects like Item Blocks and virtual hazards littering the track. And while the kart actually moves relatively slowly in its slowest setting, it actually looks reasonably fast on-screen with the camera set so low to the ground.

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