Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, preview: Everything we know about Nintendo’s augmented reality racing game

Louis Chilton
·3-min read
'Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit' combines a Nintendo Switch game with real-life race elements (Nintendo)
'Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit' combines a Nintendo Switch game with real-life race elements (Nintendo)

With Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, Nintendo looks to reimagine one of its most popular franchises.

The augmented reality release, which combines a Nintendo Switch console game with a real-world motorised toy, was announced as part of the Super Mario Bros 35th Anniversary Direct stream last month.

Following on from the success of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Home Circuit allows players to race around their living room as beloved Mario characters on physical courses they design themselves.

The game is scheduled to be released on 18 October, with both “Mario” and “Luigi” versions available.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from the forthcoming AR racer.

Creating the courses

A spokesperson for Nintendo said that the setup for the game was designed to be “quick", meaning "you can start playing immediately”.

To create the racecourse, players must assemble and place four cardboard gates.

Then, players must drive through all four gates in sequence, with the wheels of their car “painting” the desired outline of your racetrack.

You can watch a video of someone painting their course below.

It is recommended that players setup their racecourse in an area of at least 3.5m x 3m.

Four different modes

The main gameplay mode in Mario Kart Live is Grand Prix, in which players compete against NPC “Koopalings” in a quartet of races around their chosen track.

You can see a demonstration of a car competing in the Grand Prix mode here.

There’s also Custom Race mode, which gives players more control over their courses, including where to add the AR hazards and items.

Time Trial mode lets players create a track and then compete to race around it in the fastest time possible. With only one copy of the game, players are able to compete with each other in a non-simultaneous head-to-head multiplayer Time Trial.

Mirror Mode, familiar to all Mario Kart veterans, sees the course reverse. Players are then able to race around the Grand Prix tracks using an inverted layout.

Augmented Reality

On top of the live footage from your own physical racetrack, the game is able to overlay augmented reality elements, such as items, hazards, and competitors.

What’s more, the entire aesthetic of the background can be tweaked, with effects like “underwater” or “rain” lending the racecourse a fresh look.

In the video below, you can see a demonstration of how exactly this will look, as a rain effect is overlayed over someone’s living room.

What happens in the game happens in real life

A Nintendo spokesperson confirmed that “every item has an effect both in-game and on the real-life cart”.

A glimpse at how this might work can be seen in the following clip, which shows how an in-game sandstorm is simulated on the physical toy car.

The top frame shows the Nintendo Switch screen, while the bottom two frames highlight the movement of the physical car at the same time.

Plenty of customisation options

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe represented a high point for the franchise in terms of customisation, and it’s good to see that this isn’t completely abandoned here.

The below clip provides a look at some of the options available, with players able to select different clothes and vehicle options for Mario.

Multiplayer

While the Time Trial multiplayer can be played via turn-taking with just one version of the game, up to four players can race against each other in real time if they all have their own copy of Mario Kart Live, complete with their own physical racer.