The answer is a resounding yes!

Nintendo recently came out with a cool new way to enjoy Mario Kart. It’s called Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, and it lets you create a Mario Kart race course right in your home. The kit even comes with a real-life Mario or Luigi toy race kart that moves as you race in the game!

With its mixed reality (MR) technology, this game provides a whole new take on the classic kart racing game, and we’ve been really looking forward to trying it out. Now that it’s out, we’ve picked up a kit of our own, and to be honest, it has really blown us away!

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is sold in a kit that has everything you need to play for 9,900 yen (or in the US, $99.99). When you buy the game, you also get a real-life toy kart that has two varieties: a red kart driven by Mario or a green kart driven by Luigi. Because of that, the box that the kit comes in is huge.

It doesn’t come with a physical copy of the game; you have to download it (for free after you buy the kit) from the Nintendo Store. Depending on your Internet connection, it might take 30 minutes or more to fully download and install. Once we set our game to download, we checked out the rest of the box while we were waiting.

We got the Mario version of the toy kart, and it’s gigantic! We were expecting to get something like a Hot Wheels-size car, but it’s too big to fit in the palm of our hand, never mind held between our fingers.

It has a camera on the top, which is what it uses to see the world around it.

The side of the kart has a sliding panel that, when pushed up, reveals a charging port.

The kart as a whole is super detailed, replicating the characteristic rounded shapes of the Mario Kart world. The fact that it’s recreated in a real-life form and can move like a radio-controlled car is amazing!

The game hadn’t finished downloading by the time we finished admiring the kart, so we set up the cardboard gates as well. These were also a lot bigger than we’d expected.

We moved all of our furniture out of the way to set up a course, but it still felt like we didn’t have enough room. Nintendo Japan recommends that you have at least six tatami mats worth of space (or a 10 by 12 foot/3 by 3.5 meter space) to play, but living in a small Tokyo apartment, we didn’t have that much room, so we made do with what we had.

By the time we had a course set up, the download was finally finished, so we fired up the game. It was surprising that we didn’t have to type in any serial code or anything to prove that we bought the kit. Instead, the game brought up its own QR code, which the kart had to scan, so it would seem that being in possession of the kart is proof enough that you purchased the game.

Now our preparations were complete. The game started up and brought us to a tutorial. What showed up on our screen was our very own living room! When we turned the kart around, we showed up on the screen. This was kind of embarrassing–like accidentally turning your phone camera on selfie mode when you’re looking down at it–but it was pretty cool too.

What’s extra cool about Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is that when you move your kart in-game, the kart in real life moves too. It responds to everything that happens in game, in fact. You can even choose the level of speed you want to race at (50 cc, 100 cc, etc), and the kart adjusts its speed accordingly, too.

▼ We also enjoyed that when you back up, the Mario on screen turns around to look at you. The level of detail is pretty astounding.

Before starting a race, however, you have to create your own course. The Switch recognizes the kart’s path through its camera, and creates the course in the game as the kart moves. How you drive the kart makes all the difference; if you drive like a madman, your course will be full of curves and crazy turns. If you drive straight, it will be a nice, smooth track. We opted for a simple track to start with, but it would be pretty exciting to dream up lots of different courses.

The official site and the promotional videos show that you can use objects in your house like furniture and small items to decorate your course and even to create tunnels, so even if you don’t have much room to move your furniture around, you can probably still have plenty of fun (but we decided not to make our course run under the furniture in order to spare ourselves the embarrassment of showing you how dusty it was under there.)

There are lots of different game modes, but we tried out single player grand prix. Before the race race started, seven other Bowsers and Bowser Jr.’s, played by the CPU, appeared to race us. It was fun to see them pop up (on-screen) in our living room!

In addition to making the tracks, you can choose the theme of the course, which changes the gates, the weather, and the background as it all shows up on the screen.

▼ For example, you can choose to drive through an underwater world!

The black-and-white arrow signs also light up on your screen, which is pretty cool. And of course, the game knows exactly where the gates and the arrow signs are relative to the rest of your house. It’s super fun to see your own home become part of the world of Mario Kart!

Just like the rest of the games in the series, you can also get items to throw at others, or be hit by items yourself. The cool thing about Mario Kart Live is that whatever happens to you in game also happens to your kart in real life, to a certain extent. If you get hit by something and have to stop or slow down, your kart slows down too (though sadly it won’t flip over or spin like it does in the game).

It’s so fun to watch that we were torn between watching the kart go and paying attention to the screen. Of course, if you’re not looking at the screen, you probably won’t be able to win the race, but it’s so cool to see the kart move as your onscreen kart moves that it’s hard to stay focused.

You can play Mario Kart Live with up to four people as long as they bring their own Nintendo Switch and a kart. Though it’s a little disappointing that you can’t play multiplayer mode with just the one Switch, it seems like it could be a lot of fun to get together with friends to make the craziest, weirdest, longest course ever, then use the custom course maker to add your own rules and challenges before racing all of your friends to see who’s the fastest.

However, though we have been constantly touting how cool it is, as a video game we could also find some things that aren’t great about it. The fact that you need a fairly large space to make a course is a challenge for those with smaller homes. Having to set up the course every time could get annoying and time consuming. Controlling the various random factors of the game that usually make each different course unique and enjoyable may take some of the fun out of the game. And finally, the whole concept of this game sort of goes against Nintendo’s marketing for the Switch, which is touted as a system for gaming “on-the-go”.

But overall, we feel that this is a very ambitious and challenging production that brings us closer to gaming of the future. It was great fun, and also slightly mysterious, to have our actions in game have an effect on the real world, and to watch one of our favorite video game characters zooming around the floor of our own home, both in game and in real life.

Nintendo continues to impress with its creative ways of bringing gaming beyond the screen and into the real world. With innovative new accessories and games like Nintendo Labo, Ring Fit Adventure, and now Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, they continue to find new ways to keep us entertained. What’s next? We can’t wait to find out!

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[ Read in Japanese ]