Review: Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is a fun way to invade your space

This is not the Mario Kart 9 you are looking for.

Mario Kart Live

Image via Nintendo

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is Nintendo’s latest attempt to show they are still the most unique company in the game industry. This is also their latest showing of a peripheral with potential, but it has a few glaring issues. To start things off, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is a very cool idea that tries to differentiate itself from the Hot Wheels Mario Kart Special Edition RC toy through the use of AR technology. The kart is bigger in comparison, but it’s surprisingly not really more impressive than the Hot Wheels product aside from the camera. 

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit RC car (left) and Hot Wheels Mario Kart Special Edition (right)

To start the game and connect your car, you scan a code on your Switch with the car’s camera, and then drive the RC car around your home. This first experience of seeing your living quarters from a shrunken point of view will make you grin. A projection of Mario is put on your Switch screen and you drive around to get used to the controls. This is the true Nintendo charm coming through. For the most part, it feels like how Mario Kart should control, although with a real object in play, you have to consider real-life physics.

I am not a fan of the gates, which are required for creating tracks but are made of what feels like cheap cardboard. As I pulled them out and folded them, I worried about doing something wrong and potentially having to print a new gate that would feel even cheaper. For $100, I really wish that Nintendo would have provided some gates made of plastic or any other strong material to race through. Still, at the end of the day, the gates work, though Nintendo does warn against separating them by walls. 

Speaking of these technical issues, the overall limitations of Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit make you feel the same frustration of getting hit by a blue spiny shell. To get the most out of this game, your home will need plenty of room. My small apartment left me relegated to only being able to change up my track a couple of different ways to account for my free space. If I lived in a smaller area, it wouldn’t be feasible to play this at all. The game is only playable indoors as well, so your options are even more limited since you can’t take it outside and make various tracks in a parking lot or driveway. The game relies on your Wi-Fi to run properly, so if your cart is too far from your Switch or your router, you will lose frames and the experience will tank. 

The verdict

Mario Kart Live
Image via Nintendo

$100 feels like a steep price for the product, but knowing Nintendo, it will not drop anytime soon. For the most part, the included cart, gates, and downloaded game work well, but only in the right situations. If you have a smaller house and/or a lot of furniture, you might want to reconsider buying this. At the end of the day, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is a really fun time that kids will probably enjoy more than adults, but in short spurts, it’s good fun for anyone.

Final score:

7 / 10

+ The AR works brilliantly
+ Having the vantage point of a mouse in your home is a novelty
The RC cart is too pricey
Outside circumstances limit your experience