Gadgets for humans

No one but Nintendo could’ve made ‘Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit’

This is not because it owns the Mario Kart license

header image Mario Kart Live- Home Circuit

This is adapted from Plugged In, TNW’s bi-weekly newsletter on gear and gadgets. Subscribe to it (and our other great newsletters) here.

Greetings gadget fans. This week Plugged In was fed another newsletter (Mad Cow Disease-style) and is feeling… well, weird.

I’ve spent a lot of time writing about Apple of late — and for good reason: it’s the master of consistently churning out perfectly capable products. Just look at something like the Apple Watch. It’s an amazing device, but it’s made to be steady, rather than jaw-dropping.

There are no wild new features, or crazy designs. It’s simply another Apple Watch.

And that’s fine. Being normie is a-okay. It’s… you know what? Fuck, I can’t do this anymore. It’s over: releasing batshit insane gadgets will always be cooler than playing it safe.

It’s why I’ll always respect Samsung for trying to make foldable phones happen. Or LG for doing… well, whatever the hell this is:

The LG Wing — not Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit
“Whatever the hell this is” is actually the LG Wing.

There’s a downside to these products though: they aren’t very good. On the “batshit” spectrum they appear closer to the word’s second syllable than first. And this isn’t uncommon. In fact, the opposite. Making something is incredibly hard, let alone an item that stands alone in its particular category.

But, once in a blue moon, there’s an exception. A company that gets in a groove of releasing ridiculous, off-the-wall, and downright odd products that are somehow actually pretty fucking good?

And that company, friends, is Nintendo.

If Apple is Coldplay, soullessly pumping out a slightly tweaked sound time and time again, Nintendo is Bowie: an experimentalist with a populist edge. Will it sometimes release something that’s utter shit? Of course. But at its best will it be untouchable? You betcha. And right now Nintendo is on its early-70s Bowie hot streak.

Since the release of the now-normal-but-once-revolutionary SwitchNintendo has been pumping out a steady stream of weirdness. You know, like a pretend robot you have to builda plastic ring you squeeze to get ripped, and a cardboard VR kit.

And the latest in this line? Well, that’d be Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit.


That’s right: it’s real life Mario Kart.

It comes with a remote control Mario or Luigi vehicle that has a camera on top. You can either just drive around and have a good time, or create a course in your house and race against virtual competitors. 

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit Luigi
This Luigi is the dude I have in Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit

Let’s take a second to appreciate that. Take a breath. Ponder.

We’re not having a stoned conversation about remote control cars and real life Mario Kart — you can go and buy this shit right now. It’s out there. It’s available. And it’s mind-blowing.

And what makes the whole thing extra special is — and lean in close for this: Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is great.

Does it have issues? Who doesn’t? (Am I right?!?) Yeah, the lack of single console multiplayer sucks. If you could control two remote control vehicles on one Switch? And race against each other? Christmas would’ve fucked so hard.

There are other negative parts too: the camera quality isn’t amazing. There are occasional lag issues. Also, I worry about the longevity of the game compared to regular Mario Kart.

But, and you can quote me on this, I find it impossible to even begin to care. Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is magic, pure and simple.

I’m not sure what other companies can take from this apart from, I dunno, try harder? But I know what we as consumers should do: sit back and enjoy the show.

Long may Nintendo‘s batshit decisions continue — especially when they’re this good.

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Published November 3, 2020 — 14:31 UTC