Mario turns 35 this year, and Nintendo is celebrating the anniversary of its beloved Italian plumber/aspiring princess rescuer with a slew of new products. There’s a special edition retro Game & Watch device, a battle royale version of the original Super Mario Bros. for Switch, and remastered versions of 3D Mario games, which tend to be less celebrated than their 2D counterparts.
But the coolest new Mario product has to be Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, a blended experience that combines remote control cars, augmented reality, and the gameplay that made Mario Kart a classic.
Here’s how it works.
Using four “course gate markers,” you can set up a physical track in your house that a small, physical Mario Kart — both a Mario and a Luigi version are shown in the announcement video — can navigate. Each one has a camera that streams video back to your Nintendo Switch, making it possible to see where you’re going.
Classic Mario Kart items, virtual opponents, and track boundaries are overlaid on the Switch’s screen, and you play just like you would a normal Mario Kart game: targeting stars and coins, swerving to miss shells, and cursing the heavens when you get struck by lightning.
It all adds up to an experience that’s half physical and half digital, one that is definitely a gimmick but, like all good gimmicks, one that will be difficult to resist.
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit will be released on October 16 for $99.