Assuming everyone was getting tired of spending every waking hour playing video games while socially distancing at home, Nintendo released two IRL video game experiences last year that, it turns out, can be unofficially combined to create an even better real-life Mario experience.
Although a little pricy ($100 for one car, plus the cost of a Nintendo Switch console for each vehicle) we found Mario Kart Live, which turns your home into a real-life Mario Kart track, to be almost as satisfying and enjoyable to play as the popular racing game, while Lego Super Mario was a great alternative for those wanting the Mario experience but lacking the hand-eye coordination to master a controller.
Both experiences rely on image recognition to bring their respective games to life, with Mario Kart Live using an on-car camera to recognize track markers like corners and starting gates while Lego Super Mario features a scanner to read special bar codes printed on other characters and obstacles. Both have been reverse-engineered allowing anyone to create their own track markers (using Lego bricks in this case) and bar codes (using a regular household printer) which is what allowed the folks behind the YouTube channel Playfool to create this mashup which works so well you’d be tempted to believe that Nintendo planned it this way.
To allow the Lego Super Mario figure to ride along with the RC Mario Kart you’ll need to print and fold a custom paper saddle Playfool created (the template can be downloaded here) which has the figure hanging off the back of the vehicle so that the scanner underneath it can read any barcodes it drives over. The most complicated part might be adding a piece of tape so that the saddle doesn’t come undone during a particularly exciting lap.
You’ll also need to incorporate the special Lego Super Mario barcode elements into your Mario Kart Live race track, including start and finish markers that activate the timer on the Lego Mario figure, power-ups, and even bad guys to drive over. But that’s also just as easy as downloading, printing, and cutting out a collection of course elements that Playfool has already gone to the trouble of creating, and laying them out on your track.
Just keep in mind that the score-keeping and achievements you can collect and unlock in Mario Kart Live and Lego Super Mario remain completely separate; the Lego Mario figure still can’t connect to your Nintendo Switch and influence your race scores, and vice-versa. The hack doesn’t do much to enhance the Mario Kart Live experience, but if you’ve gotten bored of manually guiding Lego Super Mario around a Lego version of the Mushroom Kingdom you’ve built, this mashup should breathe some life back into that toy.