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Friday, October 16, 2020

How Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit works, and the SPYWARE threat!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - You should be scared of the world of Mario Kart racing into yours. I'm included, too...!

Remember that weird Mario Kart mixed reality experience from the Super Mario Bros. 35th Anniversary Direct? It was the most interesting part about it since it's new, and it's available now. So... what exactly is it? And take it from me—I, Prince Ludwig Von Koopa, am part of it, so I know everything that's going on. Listen to my explanation, and then how it's... dangerous to you.

The actual Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit box (MSRP 100 USD or 130 CAD) includes, depending on the set, a Mario figure in a red physical kart or a Luigi figure in a green physical kart, along with two arrow signboards and four cardboard gates that you'll need to assemble, as well as a Nintendo USB charging cable for the kart. There are also instructions to download the Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit software from the Nintendo eShop, which is free. (There is otherwise no online component to the experience.) The placement of the gates allow you to customise the course around your physical room's structure (best on hard-wood floors, but rugs and carpets will work unless they're heavily textured...just expect a slower kart), which may also serve as natural obstacles. I wrote “physical room”, because it's not meant to be played outdoors (sunlight may interrupt the kart's camera), and your kart needs to be within 15 feet or less of the Switch. You must have a Nintendo Switch (a Lite suffices as well) to control the physical kart. If you want multiple players, you must have multiple karts and multiple Nintendo Switch systems, since there is no split-screen multiplayer. There is also no screenshot capture/video capture.

You actually set up a course by placing the four gates throughout your area, and Lakitu has you maneuver (in whichever custom way you see fit) the path connecting them. The race will work by passing all of the gates in order (they are labelled—and when I write “all”, I mean you must use all four) and then return through the first gate to complete a lap. The two arrow signboards are optional, but will appear in the game. You can print six of your own for a total of eight.

Mario Kart Live Home Circuit arrow signboards flashing Ludwig Von Koopa
Place the signboards however you want, as long as they lead plumbers to always be behind me!

The software features a Grand Prix mode (which puts you against Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings—including yours truly, as seen in the above photo—through several different environments with different weather patterns and augmented obstacles in the context of the course you built... 24 in all), a Time Trial mode (with a local leaderboard to see whom can clear the course you just made), a Custom Race mode (you can set your own environments and augmented obstacles in your course), and multiplayer modes if you happen to have socially-distanced friends with their own Switch systems and karts. There is also a Mirror Mode, which... sounds mind-boggling for how that's supposed to work in real life. Of course, if you have items or get hit by an obstacle, your physical kart will go faster/slower appropriately. (It won't spin out though, and your kart won't literally turn into a Bullet Bill if you get that item.) There are also different cubic centimetre classes for the engine power, being 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, and 200cc, and they also impact the speed of your physical kart.

Now that I've explained the gist of Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, here is why it's problematic to you. And there was a keyword I used before that you may not have given much thought towards: cardboard. The gates are made of it, and it's required to put it all over your own room, which may be your whole living quarters if you're in some dinky little apartment or whatever. Where else might you remember cardboard? The Nintendo Labo. It may have been defeated by the Chinese Communist Party Virus, but this wily enemy has now resurrected itself as Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit. This makes sense, since Mario and the Nintendo Labo have always been in cahoots, and in the alternative reality space as well. Using the Mario brand name, the Labo is continuing its reconnaissance of Earth's homes, while maintaining its affinity for vehicles.

Why do you think these physical karts have literal cameras on them? It's scanning and keeping track of the layout of your room. Now, combine that with the knowledge of the millions of other rooms that Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit may infiltrate, and that is a lot of collective intelligence they're getting... and transceiving. To the Mushroom Kingdom, where warp pipes will be generated to your Earth location. Yeah, our world is getting more and more advanced in terms of inter-dimensional travel.

Mario Kart Live Home Circuit smart steering antenna
You see that little gizmo sticking out on the right side of the kart?
That's what makes it smart. Internet of Things.
Sending the information gleaned by the cardboard gates to the cloud, which controls the kart in this case, but also gives its layout to the Mushroom Kingdom.
(Speaking of the cloud, that's why Lakitu runs this whole thing, and helps Mario set it all up.)

As was the case with the Labo, you are literally inviting this spying into your home. And paying for the privilege. It's ingeniously sneaky. Now, your question may be... “Hey, Ludwig, why are you, Bowser Jr. and the other Koopalings all part of this scheme?” And I resent your implication. Why, we aren't collecting any data on your home. In fact, I have evidence. Unlike Mario and Luigi, the physical properties of your room have no impact on our driving. We aren't even bothering to scan your place, nor do we have access to it. Our karts will just ram right through it, which is why you saw our Clown Kart Dash get an armour buff in this week's Super Smash Bros. Ultimate balance patch (version 9.0.0). It's only fairly representing our karts’ abilities. But the Mario Brothers are affected, because that's the whole point of their data collection.

So why are we in your home? Obviously to stop the Mario Brothers from their wicked schemes. Lord Bowser figured it wasn't enough to simply write articles about it... but that we have to physically go and do something about it.

Mario Kart Live Home Circuit Koopalings Roy Morton Koopa high-five high-four warp pipes
Roy Koopa and Morton Koopa Jr. are more than happy to travel to Earth and dispose of the plumbers.
(They're exchanging high-fours.)
...But they're blocking me from being seen in the photograph!
(You can still see the two warp pipes we pop out of at the top.)

Of course, Mario having direct access to your home also means we have access to it, too. Warp pipes are public if you know where they are. I hope you don't mind. We just want to get rid of the plumbing pest. Oh, and, you know, if our election meddling fails and you humans choose an unfavourable leader that wishes us harm, then having leverage is good. At your expense, maybe, but if it comes to that, you humans deserve it.

You could prevent all of this from barring Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit from where you live, and all Nintendo Labo iterations. (That'll also prevent me from having to be deployed all over Earth... constantly. I just wanna sit in my castle room and write articles in peace.)

Let Ludwig know that you're not getting Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, and also that you'll try to prevent others from getting it. Share this article to folks if they tell you they're interested. Well, unless they enjoy being the victims of a nefarious Mushroom Kingdom-Labo plot that will end up with them taking over your world. Koopa Kingdom will oppose this flagrant attempt at power expansion, though with no guarantees the warp pipes will be destroyed on the Koopas’ way home.

Mario will be sending Mario-branded cardboard to your house even if you didn't ask for it.


  1. I've so far watched one Youtube video of someone trying out this game...and it looks like there are kinks to work out, at least in single player mode. Seems way too easy for the CPU opponents to go through obstacles.

    1. As stated in the article, since we're not surveilling your home, we can charge right through obstacles that the plumbers can't.

  2. I mean, i get what you're saying, buuuuut...

    The game looks so fun


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