A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
There aren't overt messages promoted by the game, although the action of each race promotes competition. It isn't always fair competition, but it's competitive by nature.
Positive Role Models
Arguably, Mario (or Luigi, depending on which Kart you pick up) is a positive character, facing off against Koopalings. But there's no character development here apart from gaining access to new races.
Ease of Play
The kart is easy to control and drive, although things get more challenging based on the track you build and the speed class of the race itself. Some track conditions can also affect how easy or hard your race may be.
Violence & Scariness
Racers use shells, stars, and other items to interfere with their opponents. No blood or gore is shown, and the result is that their karts slow down or stop temporarily. This can sometimes result in a crash in real life, but that's not too damaging to the kart itself.
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Products & Purchases
This is the latest game in the Mario Kart franchise, which is a spin-off of the Super Mario Bros. franchise. The game itself is free, but the kart and the gates needed to play the game cost $59.99. Previously, each player needed their own Switch and kart to play, but now with the 2.0 update, players can hop into split-screen gameplay, as well as pass Joycons back and forth between players in a new Relay Race mode. That makes the game more affordable than before.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is a racing game exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. The game is the latest chapter in the Mario Kart franchise, which is a spin-off of the massively popular Super Mario Bros. franchise. While the game itself is a free download, the kart and the gates that players have to buy to race around your house cost $59 a piece. Previoulsy, the cost was $99, but thanks to a recent update for the game and subsequent price drop, as well as a new split-screen feature that will allow players to play on one Switch, as well as a Relay Race feature to let up to four players swap controls between laps. That makes gameplay vastly more affordable than before. Players will use shells, stars, and other items to attack other racers on the race course, who will slow down or stop temporarily when hit. The attacks are cartoonish and not violent in any way, although they can sometimes cause carts to crash into objects in your house. Aside from that, there's no inappropriate content in the game. Players should be aware though, that while the kart is easy to control, your challenge is based off the track you build, the speed class of the race, and certain track conditions.
Is It Any Good?
This racing game manages to capture the fun of the franchise, and with its adjusted price, the space of your house may be its biggest obstacle to the winner's circle. Nintendo is well-known for its peripherals, and Mario Kart Live Home Circuit is the latest in the company's tradition of thinking outside of the box (or in this case, outside of the TV). Thanks to a clever melding of the wireless kart and its camera along with a set of cardboard gates, players can create and recreate any series of tracks they can think of to test their racing skills around their house. It's hard to not be blown away by just how innovative the kart and the course creation is after just a few minutes of play. The kart is extremely responsive, and is able to move from carpet to hardwood or tile floors without missing a beat (lower speed settings may crawl as it tries to get traction on these surfaces, while higher speeds have no issue here,) In fact, you'll be up and ready to build racetracks within minutes, and if you want, you can swap them between races to test your skills on new tracks you create. It's also very cool to discover how the game scatters in coins, question blocks, and environmental threats across the virtual landscape in your house to give you a challenge. Sure, some of your opponents may drive through furniture or other obstacles that you see through the kart's camera since they aren't actually real, but for the most part, they follow the course that you've initially designed. What's also notable is that the karts have pretty solid battery life: you can get at least two hours on slower speed classes, but it'll be shorter as you race at faster speeds, especially as the kart whips around corners. The sense of speed from the kart, especially at 200cc, is incredible as well – it adds an extra challenge to your races as you drift around corners or find yourself spinning out on hairpin curves from going too fast. The latest update to version 2.0 adds some nice features as well, like the new Luigi Cup, with three new courses. Windmill Meadows and Music Broadway are fun tracks, but the stand out is King Boo's Courtyard, which flips the screen upside down and places large Boos in your view. It's also fantastic to see the addition of split-screen play, making it vastly easier for more people to play on one system, as well as Relay Race, so multiple people can trade off between laps. It helps more players hop behind the wheel, and boosts the fun. Even better, the price has been cut in half, so it's more affordable than ever to grab karts and get racing.
Home Circuit isn't perfect, especially if you happen to have pets, who will frequently choose to turn the kart into a new toy to chase around the house. You're definitely restricted by the amount of space you might have in your house, so you may have to become creative with your course layouts to keep the gameplay fresh. In fact, changing the layouts does become a challenge to prevent things from becoming repetitive, because it's up to you to make courses different, instead of relying on the tracks that Nintendo has developed in previous Mario Kart games. If you have the space, are willing to create courses on your own, and are looking for a unique racing experience, look no further than Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.