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Hands-on review: Mario Kart Live, the toy all 90s kids wanted

By Lama Farhat, 17 Dec 2020

In the 90s, the original Mario Kart game was revolutionary. We all played that game for hours. Over the years, the game improved to become the party game we all know and love today. I was also that kid that was obsessed with remote-controlled cars. I am sure I was not the only one.

Nintendo just made all of our dreams come true and combined those two childhood passions into what they are calling Mario Kart Live. 

There are two options with Mario Kart Live: a red Mario one and a green Luigi one. Each is sold separately. While we all would love to see other characters, I understand why Nintendo started with these two. Despite Luigi being my favourite Mario brother, I got my hands on the Mario car. The box comes with the car, a USB-C charger so you can use your dock to charge the car, four gates and a couple of direction arrows. 

Set up was actually really simple. All you have to do is pair the car to the switch and set up your course. While the box only comes with the four checkpoints, it is so much more fun to build a full course. Nintendo even recommends this. I used up boxes I had lying around the house and random household items to create my masterpiece. Yes, it made the cleaning up more of a task, but it was worth it. 

After you set up the course, you drive the car around it once for the switch to draw the course. You can make it as simple or as complex as you would like. After that point, it is basically just Mario Kart. You can play a Grand Prix or even race against your ghost self to break your own record of a friend’s record.

The game will use the camera on the car alongside the AI features to render enemies and powerups and even obstacles. The game looks stunning, and if I did not have a car running around my living room, I would’ve forgotten that it wasn’t just Mario Kart in a weird course. 

I was scared of the car itself before I tried it. I assumed it would need hardwood floors and big spaces to work, but I was wrong. While the car slows down a bit on a carpet, it still performs really well. And setting up a course in a small room simply means you have to get better at tight turns which sort of makes the game even more fun. The car itself is built really well. It feels sturdy enough to last multiple crashes which are perfect considering that kids will love this. 

I think a lot of people are scared of physical Switch games after the Labo experience. This is different. I think Nintendo did a great job. And at its current price (around $179), Mario Kart Live is an excellent toy for big and small kids that will provide hours of fun. 

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