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"Mario Kart Live" review: full of creativity, obvious shortcomings

From Amiibo, Labo to the fitness ring that has been popular in the past year, Nintendo has always had a variety of peripheral games. In this issue, we will talk about Nintendo’s “Mario Kart Live: Family Tour”. This game integrates real-life scenes into the game screen through AR technology. Players can fully use their imagination to arrange the room as a racetrack and race at home from a unique perspective. Such an experience is undoubtedly very novel and interesting, but due to the current level of technology, the actual performance of “Mario Kart Live” still cannot be compared with traditional Mario Kart or similar games.

[Game peripherals]

Mario Kart Live is essentially a combination of remote control racing and carriage games through AR technology. During the racing process, the camera on the back will capture the real scenery along the way. The scenery will be displayed on the game screen after special “processing”, so we can see the track effects, props, and other opponents, etc.

The game’s peripheral components mainly include a physical racing car, four gates, and two road signs.

The material of the racing car as the main body is equivalent to that of a regular four-wheel drive car, but the volume is slightly larger. The exterior design of the car body is very simple, and the workmanship and coloring are exquisite and exquisite. It is also a good choice for collection besides gaming. The racing tires can be flexibly turned, and the tire body is relatively soft, so it is only suitable for driving on smooth roads. In addition, the front part of the car is equipped with a layer of rubber ring as a buffer, which allows the car to withstand a certain impact force, and players do not have to worry too much about collision damage.

The gate and road signs are used as the basis for setting up the track frame. Both are made of cardboard material, and their usage is similar to the previous Labo. After simple folding and placing them in the track, the racing camera can recognize them and transmit them to the screen.

There are two styles of racing cars: Mario and Luigi

The official website provides pattern styles for gates and road signs, and players can also print and produce them themselves

The first time you play the game, you need to make some simple settings. For example, scan the QR code to connect the car to the game, make a driver’s license, complete the control tutorial, and so on. These steps are very simple and clear, and players can basically easily complete and start the game smoothly.

[Production track]

After mastering the basic teaching, you can start building the “racetrack”. The basic process of making a racetrack is to arrange the four gates, then control the cars to drive through the gates in order, and the trajectory will automatically become a racetrack.

Each gate has a serial number, and players need to pass through each gate in sequence to complete a lap in the game

This process seems very simple at first glance, but in addition to using personal imagination and hands-on ability, many practical factors also need to be considered when actually starting a track. Especially for a complex and large-scale track, it requires players to spend a lot of energy and time.

The size of the indoor space is the biggest factor restricting the design of the track. If the room is not large enough or the layout is too compact, it is easy to cause the car to frequently collide with furniture and walls, and it is impossible to create a track of sufficient length. It is difficult for players to have a smooth and enjoyable driving experience. From a creative perspective, a sufficient open space is also more conducive to players’ free play. For example, designing a more winding route, using tables, chairs, empty boxes, etc. to make large tunnels, etc. If there are toys such as building blocks at home, the presentation effect of the track is believed to be better.

In addition to designing and decorating the route, players also need to consider the signal issue. The distance between the car and the Switch should be kept within five meters. If they are too far away, the signal will deteriorate, leading to abnormal situations such as frame drops and screen tearing in the game. Therefore, it is undoubtedly more convenient to experience the game through the handheld mode. Players can move their position at any time to maintain the distance from the car.

In addition, the signal will also be affected by the interference of walls and other electronic devices. The route and gate should basically avoid being blocked by large obstacles such as walls. For example, designing more winding routes, using tables, chairs, empty boxes, etc. to make large tunnels, etc. If there are toys such as building blocks at home, the presentation effect of the track is believed to be better.

On the other hand, the setting of the track is often not achieved overnight. For inexperienced players, the amplitude of the bend, the placement of obstacles, etc. all need to be tried repeatedly to reach the ideal level. Turning the table corner into a pillar, arranging the packaging box into the shape of the track, adding various toys and figurines as decorations along the way… Creating and transforming the familiar environment for oneself , and finally projecting it into the game screen, is a very novel and interesting process. However, no matter how well a track is designed, driving a few laps in a row will always make people lose their freshness. Whether it is redrawing the route on the screen or changing the pattern of obstacles and decorations, the process is relatively cumbersome, which makes it easy for players to lose the power of heavy reconstruction .

[Driving experience]

The gameplay of “Mario Kart Live” basically inherits all the elements of traditional Mario Kart, so the operation and mechanism are relatively simple and there is not much threshold to get started. After starting the race, the combination of real scenes and various virtual objects is very attractive. I have to hold the turtle shell in my hand to hit the opponent, and occasionally turn to bypass the table corner obstacles in reality; when the car hits the wall, there will be obvious impact effects, and familiar reward and punishment mechanisms such as gold coins and banana peels will still appear on the road.

Although the game is very fast, the speed of racing cars in reality is not very fast. When using handheld mode and sitting in the center of the track with good signal, there will be no obvious delay in the game’s operation feedback. Players can achieve drifting actions in the game. Although drifting will not be reflected in the physical car, the subsequent acceleration effect will be reflected. The position of the camera is just right, the field of vision is wide enough, and players can intuitively see the situation on both sides in front. The game’s camera resolution is not high, only 720p, but the physical scene performs well with various virtual special effects.

The game mainly has several competition modes such as timing, customization, and grand prix. Players can exchange Mario and racing skins by collecting coins, and obtaining trophies can unlock faster 150cc and 200cc modes. However, faster speed also means that you have to expand the scale and length of the track, which has higher requirements for room area.

This game includes a variety of track themes. Under different themes, the visual effects, weather, obstacles, mechanisms, etc. along the road will change. For example, storms will appear on the desert map to interfere with driving, and this simulation effect is excellent. Players will really feel that the car is blown to the edge. In some themes, Kameke will perform mirroring reversals to change your game screen and direction. At this time, it is necessary to test the player’s reaction speed. The weather will affect the changes of some objects on the track, and the types of enemies and mechanisms on the road are also relatively rich, such as classic elements such as cannibalistic flowers and pixel mushrooms. In addition, players can also adjust the types of mechanisms in the gates, so even on the same track, they can play many tricks. However, the types of props are reduced compared to traditional carriages, so the fun of interactive games with AI drivers is also reduced.

However, in some themes, the display of the track is not very clear. Moreover, some mechanisms in the game and obstacles in reality only work for players. Sometimes, when some chairs with large gaps are placed horizontally on the way, AI drivers can ignore the stool legs and pass directly; storms will not blow them onto real obstacles such as walls or chairs.

The light source is also a factor to consider when playing games, which will affect the visibility while driving. In addition, if the light is too strong, it seems that the camera cannot recognize the gate number

If the track is not close enough to the obstacle, the AI will pass directly from the side

Racing cars can pass through some slopes with smaller angles, provided that the connection between the ground and the slope is smooth enough. Otherwise, it is easy to get stuck during the crossing process. AI drivers will not react significantly to slopes, and their performance is basically the same as driving on flat roads. They cannot create complex terrain effects or achieve special actions such as flying through the air… Due to various technical constraints, this game still has a significant gap in level and handling experience compared to traditional carriages.

During the game, we also experienced the two-player mode. The matching connection of the multiplayer mode is very convenient. After the console creates the room track, other players can directly join the competition. The experience of the two-player game is not much different from that of the single player. Under the condition of keeping enough distance from their respective cars, the operation is also very smooth, and there is basically no mutual interference. However, unless intentionally stopping or colliding with each other, there are not many opportunities for interaction between players. I think if it is a four-player competition, the interaction between players may be stronger.

It’s not bad to play with cats or explore corners of the room with racing cars

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