Nintendo’s Mario Kart IRL with AR brings pure racing fun indoors, goodbye binge-watching Netflix!

The popular gaming franchise Mario Kart by Nintendo is a spin-off from the Super Mario series and it goes a long way back when first released in 1992 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The game has seen generations of players battling it together over the years for pure fun, it is indeed nostalgia personified in every sense. The game has evolved in the last decade or so – becoming a staple for a gaming console and mobile device users alike. So what would have been the next big leap for Nintendo to take?

Bring the game environment to the real-world in a mixed reality experience which sees you and your pals racing for supremacy in the cozy confines of your home this Holiday Season. Yes, that’s true as you can turn your living room into a race track for the most exciting entertainment because binge-watching Netflix is so mainstream! Nintendo calls it Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit which fuses classic kart racing in the real-world with an augmented reality environment. It is actually a two-part acquisition – one you have to download the game from Nintendo Switch eShop which solves the gaming interface bit, and the other a $99.99 RC kart (with either Mario or Luigi) and a stack of 4 cardboard gates which shape the racing track in any space inside your home. These cardboards are the checkpoints for the race circuit and the kart needs to pass through them, till the last one to register a complete lap. The track’s turns and straights are left to your creative building – using things like sofas, tables, kids’ toys, or coffee cups for instance to craft the race track in a space as small as 15 x 15 feet!

The kart has an on-board camera for the live feed on your Nintendo Switch to get the close-up racing action. Mixed with the augmented reality elements, the experience promises countless hours of fun with up to three other players. The only requirement being – each player needs to have a separate Switch to participate in live races against each other. The idea is purely fun and resonates with everyone stuck indoors who loves the sense of adventure. Of course, there are things like your grumpy cat (who doesn’t like things moving on wheels) to consider which brings an unexpected twist to the racing environment. Nintendo has got this right and the prospect of getting creative indoors in such a volatile environment outside will keep you hooked for hours at end!

Designer: Nintendo

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Super Mario Stained Glass Ornaments 1up Any Space

Out of all of the power-ups in video game history, the mushrooms in the Super Mario Bros. series are among the most iconic. I always liked to think that they taste more like marshmallow fluff than mushrooms, but that’s just because that’s what the mushrooms in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory looked like they were made from when Mike Teavee’s mom takes a bite of one. If you’ve always loved the look of Mario’s mushrooms, then check out these fun stained glass ornaments.

Etsy seller Brian’s Cellar makes these Super Mario inspired stained glass pieces that look just like the Super Mushroom and 1up Mushrooms that pop out of question mark blocks in the Mushroom Kingdom. The red one makes you bigger and stronger, while the elusive green one gives you an extra life. Each one measures about 7″ tall and 7″ wide, which would make them perfectly proportioned if you decide to cosplay as Mario.

You can buy them individually for $27.50 each, or grab the set of two for $49.50. I think these would look great with a stained glass Fire Flower.

Lego built a real-life customizable Super Mario kit with drainpipes, killer mushrooms, and Bowser!

Children will perhaps never understand what it was like to plug an NES into your CRT television, blow on the back of a game cassette before plunging it into the console and praying that the game would work. These small idiosyncrasies were just as part of the Super Mario experience as the actual gameplay was. Pressing harder on the buttons and somehow expecting Mario to jump higher, and just having absolute contempt for those shellback birds known as Koopas. All this was baked into the Mario experience that playing on a smartphone emulator or on a Switch just doesn’t capture. How does one bring that tactile experience back to Super Mario for the younger generation then? Well, LEGO has a fitting solution! Meet the LEGO Super Mario Interactive Building Sets, a Mario gameplay experience that brings the beloved Italian plumber to life along with his entire world.

The starter kit comes with a LEGO Mario, complete with dynamic eyes, a screen on his torso, and even vocal effects that should light up your eyes when you hear the familiar high-pitched “It’sa Meee!” The series also comes with multiple expansion packs including popular environments like the Piranha Plant Power Slide, Boomer Bill Barrage, Mario’s House & Yoshi, Toad’s Treasure Hunt, Bowser’s Castle Boss Battle, and King Boo and the Haunted Yard. You get the ability to custom-build Mario’s obstacle course using the blocks provided, and Mario even appropriately reacts to blocks, creating sound effects when he punches blocks and collects coins, or dying when he gets hit by a bullet or steps in lava. The kit even comes with Mario’s friends and nemeses, complete with killer mushrooms, those blasted Koopas, Bowser, Yoshi, and many more! The LEGO set says it’s made for kids above the age of 6 but that won’t stop me from adding it to my wishlist.

Designer: LEGO